Bouillon is one of the sweetest towns of the Ardennes region in Belgium which is a magical paradise for tourists and nature lovers. The whole region is full of adventurous and incredible places and attractions. Bouillon town along the Semois River is one of the gems of Ardennes and is a base to enjoy the iconic landscapes of Belgium.
Bouillon is located strategically at the crossroads between Rivers of Reims, Liege and Aachen. The town also has wonderful historical castle and buildings that catch your eye as soon as you enter it. Bouillon town is small in size, but it is surely going to surprise you with its charm, attractions and summer activities. The small town is also ideal for the people who like to relax and enjoy at less crowded places and love history, food, and nature.
In short Bouillon proves to be one of the best summer holiday destinations in Belgium where you can get entertained by the whole region of Ardennes with endless activities. There are plenty of restaurants, shops, and accommodation options for those who plan to stay here to explore it completely.
13 Wonderful Things to do in Bouillon Belgium
Castle of Bouillon Belgium
Castle of Bouillon is the most prominent landmark of the town and has served the town as a defense structure for a long time. The castle is located on a rocky spur of land which sharply bends on the River Semois. This castle was first mentioned in the stories from 988, but the chambers and tunnels suggest the castle is much older than that. The castle has been renovated and restored and most of the today’s castle work is done by the French military engineer “Vauban”. He renovated and expanded the castle during Louis XIV’s wars of expansion in the 17th and 18th century.
You will be amazed by the defense mechanisms of the castle and how it withstood many sieges. The castle was strategically built with access to a constant water source and a sophisticated network of tunnels which were used to transport food and items in and out of castle. Visitors can explore all these tunnels, dungeons, and chambers to learn more about the castle’s amazing structure. You will also notice some unique weapons and will love the ramparts.
Bouillon Belvedere is an amazing observation tower in the forest, north of the town on the right bank of the River Semois. The height of the tower is 30 meters which takes you 385 meters above the sea level. From this tower you can enjoy uninterrupted views of the town, the beautiful castle along the river and wood-cloaked Ardennes region.
It is said that when you work hard the reward is great, so is the case with these 161 steps of the tower as the views are totally worth the climb. The tower and the area around it have always been important for communication between different towns and villages since the medieval times.
Musée Ducal - Bouillon Belgium
Musée Ducal is located in a pair of listed buildings from the 17th and 18th centuries which are located along the River Semois. The oldest from both building used to be a residence for the officers of the castle. This museum is a great place to know more about Bouillon and its history where you will also learn about the famous iron and steel industries that marked the importance of this town.
You will also find a lot of information on the art of Ardennes region and traditional lifestyles. There is a military scaled model of Bouillon and its surrounding areas from year 1969. This is an outstanding and detailed model of the city that is surely going to entertain you.
Le Tombeau du Géant
Le Tombeau du Géant means the tomb of the Giant which is actually a wooded ridge extending for 30 meters along the spine of the peninsula and resembles a coffin. The site is a pleasure to view and enchants many visitors with its location on one of the curves of River Semois. The beautiful location has a wooded scenery with grassy green meadows along the curved river making it a delight for the eyes. There are benches provided on the viewpoint to help you sit and absorb this wonderfully relaxing atmosphere.
Point de Vue Frahan
Point de Vue Frahan is another great viewpoint for the beauty of countryside around the Bouillon Town. This viewpoint is located in the village of Rochehaut, looking south to the hamlet “Frahan”. The beautiful landscape has a beautiful backdrop of a hill and is encircled by the river making it a photographer’s paradise. The hill used to have a castle which has turned into ruins that can be spotted from a distance. There is a coin operated telescope that can provide you with more detailed observation of the area, where you will also spot beautiful little farms and od tobacco dryers.
If you walk towards Semois downriver, you will reach Abbaye Clairefontaine in a few minutes which is a Cistercian monastery located at the riverside. Abbaye Clairefontaine was originally located near Arlon city in Belgium, but due to the suppression caused in the French Revolution, it was moved and reconstructed near the Bouillon town in 1930s.
The structure is designed by Henri Vaes a famous architect who fused the modern and gothic construction styles in this church. The church building is open for public and visitors can also take part in the Trappistine sister’s prayer. The church has a beautiful interior with stained glass designed by famous glassmakers such as Florent-Prosper Colpaert and Eugeen Yoors.
La Ferme des Fées - Bouillon Belgium
La Ferme des Fées is a great place for art and craft lovers where you can visit and get mesmerized by a variety of hand-carved and painted ¼ scale figures. These figures represent the stories and fairy tales of Bouillon and the surrounding region. There is no doubt that the valley and town look so magical that you can also start fascinating about the fairytales and folklores.
You will also be amazed by the pictures and paintings that show culture and different aspects of daily life around the River Semois. These pictures portray the local shepherds, woodcutters, priests, washerwomen, potters, and bakers.
Agri-Musée - Bouillon Belgium
Agri-Musée is also located in Rochehaut and depicts the agricultural lifestyle of the region around the River Semois. You can enjoy 20 different exhibitions during your tour of the museum which are all amazingly designed for the visitors with sound and lighting effects. The museum also provides information about the dairy and farmhouses of the region. You can also learn about some traditional agricultural festivals of the Ardennes region. There are also many agricultural tools, machines, and appliances on display that date back to the 19th century. There is also an animal park where care is provided to the wild and domestic animals which are found in the Semoi Valley. These include Belgian draft horses, Belgian blue cattle, Ardennes sheep, Ardennes roosters and mouflons.
Le Musée du Tabac de la Semois
Le Musée du Tabac de la Semois is a museum dedicated to the famous tobacco industry of the Semois Valley that was once booming during the 19th century. Visitors do love a short visit to the museum which is located in Corbion. The Semois tobacco was famous because of its special distinct aroma and brown color that was a result of the valley’s damp climate, acidic Ardennes soil and the way it was processed. This tobacco was cultivated on around 400 hectares of land in 1910.
Although the production of tobacco has decreased a lot, but you can still find some old tobacco dryers especially when you view them from the telescope of Point de Vue Frahan. The museum provides a lot of information on the traditional stages of the tobacco production and also displays a rare collection of old smoking pipes.
Kayaking in the Semois River
Semois river is usually calm during the summers and provides great kayaking experience for the beginners. Kayaking is also a great outdoor activity to explore the beautiful valley while paddling downriver. The river has some rapid points which are great for the adrenaline experience, but these are not dangerous, and visitors mostly enjoy them a lot.
There are two famous routes for the kayaking where you start from Bouillon and either go towards the Poupehan-sur-Semois which takes around 3 hours and 30 minutes or otherwise you can take a longer route which will take you to Frahan in around 5 hours. On both ends, you will be received by a free shuttle bus that will bring you back to Bouillon town.
Wildlife Park of Bouillon Belgium
Bouillon also has a nice wildlife park in the hilly countryside towards the east. This wildlife park has more than 500 animals from a variety of species that include zebras, white lions, reindeers, tigers, wallabies, capybaras, baboons, mandrills, pygmy goats, ostriches, and cattle. There is also a large playground for kids and a two-kilometer walking trail. The park also has a nice restaurant that has an outdoor terrace where you can sit, relax and have some meal or drinks.
Église Saints-Pierre-et-Paul is the town’s parish church that is located in the center of Bouillon. The church is a wonderful structure with Neoclassical construction style and was built with limestone and sandstone in 1848. Église Saints-Pierre-et-Paul is dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul and has a beautiful interior. The church walls have display of paintings evoking the gospel and life of Jesus. There is a semicircular apse and a three-aisled nave inside the church.
The Two castles Trail from Bouillon Belgium
There is a beautiful gigantic castle 15 kilometers away from Bouillon town in the city of Sedan across the border in France. The Castle of Sedan is claimed to be the largest feudal castle in Europe as it is constructed on 30,000 Square meters of land and has seven stories.
The two castles trail is the amazing hiking and walking trail that connects Sedan city with Bouillon and as the 15 kilometer might seem a lot, but the trail is very easy to commute on foot. This green trail used to be an old railway line which connected the two cities. The line was laid in 1910 to increase industrial trade between the cities and you can witness a lot of old industrial architecture during your journey. The trail is special and very enjoyable as you pass through many areas and villages where you can rest, eat, and sleep as you like.