Dinant isn’t like its popular cousins Brussels, Bruges and Antwerp, but it has a lot to be desired. Dinant is a great place for a day trip, weekend trip or simply something off the beaten path. This charming village sits on the banks of the Meuse River. The fortified citadel looks over the village sitting on steep cliffs with a leafy backdrop. The church of our lady towers underneath, sitting beside colourful European looking buildings. All of this creates a beautiful reflective scene. Dinant is certainly a beautiful place and if you do decide to visit, here are the top things to do in Dinant.
Is Dinant worth visiting?
Dinant certainly is worth the visit. Whilst it isn’t a super tourist hub it has a lot going for it. Dinant isn’t difficult to visit, being only a train away from Brussels and along the main highway. Dinant is also the home of the Leffe Abbey and the birthplace of the man who invented the saxophone. As well as its charming appeal and lack of Instagram flocking tourist means you should certainly pay a visit to Dinant.
Getting to Dinant.
Dinant is in the Wallon region of Namur. Located in the province of Namur, about half an hour drive from Numar city, making a highly enjoyable drive.
The best way to get to Dinant is by car. Most come from Brussels or Luxembourg. As always Bla Bla car is a great European transport option. The A4 motorway (E114) from Brussels to Luxembourg city passes by Dinant and Numar is also on route.
Train: The Dinant railway station is close to the centre and only about a 5-minute pleasant walk to the river. The train from Brussels takes about 1.5 hours and departs every hour. Trains from other cities mean you have to change at Numar, Libramont or Brussels.
Things to do in Dinant
Looking over the River Meuse offering spectacular views of the town and surrounding countryside is the Citadel of Dinant. Presently located ontop a cliff over 100 meteres high. This fortification has a long history, perhaps as far back as the fourth century. Use the cable car to reach the citadel or climb 408 steps cut into the hillside. Inside the citadel is a small arms museum and other objects that tell the historical story of the Meuse town.
Notre Dame de Dinant
Just below the citadel sits the gothic 13th-century church on the bank of the river Meuse. Free to visit. This scene from across the river is the Iconic Dinant picture. At night the view from across the river of this most famous Dinant scene, lights up the reflecting river and is simply beautiful. The church is very impressive from the outside and is intricately decorated from the inside
French National Cemetery
Pay your respects at this cemetery. The resting place of 1200 soldiers. A well kept and minimalistic cemetery.
Show your love for the Saxophone
You may have noticed all the colourful painted saxophone sculptures around streets and squares, randomly placed around the city. You probably wondered why. This is a tribute to Adolphe Sax, the inventor of the Saxophone. You can visit his house in Dinant where he was born in 1814. It is free to enter. Just think… had he not been born, would Jazz music be the same! Would music be the same!
The Charles de Gaulle Bridge
This is the main bridge which goes over the River Meuse. It offers spectacular views. It also is where you can see many of those awesome colourful saxophones. It is a tribute to Charles de Gaulle who died at this bridge in WW1
Visit the Maison Leffe Abbey
Leffe beer is possibly the most popular Belgium beer around the world. How can you NOT visit the abbey where this tasty beer was first produced. Discover the history of Leffe beer and taste many samples of different leffe brews. The Maison Leffe is a beautiful building, inside and out. You can also take the audio tour and it gives you the sample tastings at the end.
Grotte la Merveilleuse
This cave is one of the most beautiful in Belgium, featuring tiny waterfalls inside. You can get a tour into the cave or go on you’re on. When you arrive, the facade of the caves is not the most modern of appealing but the inside of the caves is beautiful
Drive through the rock to get a dramatic entrance into Dinant. Perhaps take a boat tour and cruise passed this symbol of Dinant. Sitting about 40 metres high. It’s associated with the ancient Ardennes legend which said that the split was made by the horse Bayard carrying the four Aymon sons who were fleeing the Emperor Charles. As the horse climbed the rocky ridge its hooves split the rock in two. In fact Louis X1V’’s soldiers separated the rock to build an easy road next to the Meuse.
Help save the ghost of Dinant
Download the app called “The Ghost of Dinant” help Quentin de la Marck get to the other side. This quest will take you through beautiful places and show you some other sides of Dinant. Learn about the history of Dinant
Boating on the Meuse
Offering a different perspective on this city. The Meuse river is beautiful. In the summer this river is bustling with boats. It really would be a shame to not hop on one and view this beautiful city and its surrounds.
If you are driving
There is a lot to see and explore outside of Diannt city. If you are driving, take advantage of your vehicle and do some extra exploring.
Parc de Furfooz
About 8/9km from the city centre lies the Parc de Furfooz. Along the doors of the French Ardennes, along the Lesse river, there is much to explore! This beautiful natural forest land has great views overlooking the river. Enjoy a fresh hike in the great outdoors!
Vêves and Walzin Castle
Not too far from the Parc de Furfooz is the chateau de Vêves and the Walzin Castle. They are about a 12-minute drive through the parklands from each other and make for a nice trip if you have extra time.
Castle of Freÿr
A beautiful and historical castle with gardens _ . Reach the Castle of Freÿr in a pleasant 7 minute drive from the city centre which takes you along the river.
Take back home
I’m sure you’re aware that Belgium is famous for its beer and chocolate, fries (Pommes and waffles) but did you know they also do great biscuits. In this case, Coque de Dinant is the local speciality. A very hard biscuit that you can only eat if you have very good teeth. Typically eaten with coffee or hot chocolate.
And of course, take back home some Leffe beer 😀