Top 10 Best things to do in Durbuy (Wallonia - Belgium)

This article first appeared in My Travelogue by Bhushavali

ULTIMATE TRAVEL GUIDE TO VISIT DURBUY, THE SMALLEST CITY IN THE WORLD

Durbuy is a 'city' and it definitely feels like one because of how busy it is and how commercialized it is, but the entire 'city centre' is just 10 streets and it feels like a 'small town' or a 'big village'. The 'feeling' in Durbuy is actually confusing! 

WHY IS DURBUY CALLED THE SMALLEST CITY IN THE WORLD
So, is it really a city? Well, technically, Durbuy city is just these 10 streets but Durbuy municipality is much larger and the most populated city of Durbuy municipality is actually the nearby town of Barvaux! So, why is Durbuy a city? Well that happened in 1331 CE when the count of Luxembourg & King of Bohemia, King John of Bohemia, gave it the city status in order to protect the fortress by raising the city wall all around resulting in a tiny city with an area of just 2 hectares. Today, Durbuy is one of the most beautiful places in Belgium.

TOP 10 BEST THINGS TO DO IN DURBUY, BELGIUM

Durbuy Beautiful places in belgium


Durbuy Anticline

GEOLOGICAL CURIOSITIES OF DURBUY - BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN DURBUY
The main reason I wanted to visit Durbuy was because it is a part of UNESCO Global Geopark Famenne Ardennes. This belt is called the 'Le Calestienne' where the rocks are easily soluble and can be eroded, which causes unique geological formations. 
The most important geological formation here is the Durbuy Anticline. Anticline is a fascinating geological formation where the core of the rock stays as it is, while the layers on top of it slowly start bending over and folding, thus creating an arch over time! Durbuy has 2 anticlines, one the major one and there's a huge fountain in front of it, making it all the most picturesque! However it is not possible to go near it since it is inside water where swimming is prohibited. The 2nd Small Anticline one is much smaller and accessible as it is located at the base of the castle. The folded limestone layers are 360 million years old. The main anticline infact has fossils of corals!

Where is Durbuy Anticline (on Google Maps)Durbuy Anticline, Small Anticline
How to reach Durbuy Anticline: Walking! It is inside Durbuy City Centre.
Durbuy Anticline opening hours: 24x7
Durbuy Anticline tickets: Free

Smallest city in the world Durbuy

Smallest city in the world Durbuy Rue Daufresne de la Chevalerie

SELF-GUIDED FREE WALKING TOUR OF DURBUY OLD TOWN - BEST THINGS TO DO IN DURBUY
Durbuy Old Town (Durbuy Vieille ville) is the historic 2 hectare area that King John of Bohemia assigned as the city. Today a self-guided walking tour of Durbuy with the map is one of the best things to do in Durbuy. The first stop is the Convent of Recollectine nuns. The Recollectine Nuns built a convent here in 1663 which existed till French Revolution in 1792. On the other side of the city is the Monastery of the Recollect Fathers. Both of the buildings have changed hands and are now private properties and cannot be accessed inside. Another important spot in Durbuy Vieille Ville is the Rue Daufresne de la Chevalerie, the oldest street in the city. It is so old that it still retains the original material that the road was paved with - pebbles of river Ourthe. The Durbuy castle called the Castle of the Counts of Ursel is currently a private property and cannot be entered. 
Very close to the Topiary Park is the reconstruction of an old water-mill. The bridge across river Ourthe was originally made of wood and was rebuilt several times. A piece of each of the old bridges with their years of construction, have been showcased here. Then there is ofcourse the Durbuy Castle which is a private property and currently not open for visits by general public. 

Where is Durbuy Tourist Office (on Google Maps)Durbuy Tourist Office
How much time would it take to do the walking tour - approx 1-1:30 hr (excluding Topiary Park/Mini Golf)

Best things to do in Durbuy Topiary Park

Best things to do in Durbuy Topiary Park

TOPIARY PARK DURBUY & MINI GOLF - BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN DURBUY
One of the important places to visit in Durbuy is the Topiary Park Durbuy (Parc des topiaries). This is entirely the brain-child of Albert Navez and most of the gorgeous bush sculptures here are his creations. Some of the unusual sculptures here include a woman in a bathtub, sunbathing Pamela Anderson. Then there are the nature inspired sculptures like squirrels, chickens, peacocks and more. Being in Belgium, there's ofcourse a Manneken Pis sculpted out of bushes too! A series of steps take you to the 2nd level which has several arches and some abstract sculptures and there's the cafe here as well. Across the river, close to the anticline is the Mini Golf with 18 holes, which we didn't manage to visit. 

Where is Topiary Park Durbuy (on Google Maps): Parc des topiaries
Topiary Park Durbuy opening hours: 10:00AM to 4:00 (Dec) or 5:00PM (Nov) or 6:00PM (rest of the year) 
Topiary Park Durbuy tickets: €4.50 (tickets to be bought at the gate)
Where is Mini Golf Durbuy (on Google Maps)Mini Golf
Mini Golf Durbuy opening hours: 
Mini Golf Durbuy tickets: €5 (tickets to be bought at the gate)
Topiary Park & Mini Golf Durbuy combined ticket: €8
How to reach Topiary Park Durbuy & Mini Golf Durbuy: 500m from Durbuy City Centre. Can be easily walked. 

Durbuy City Walking Tour Sculptures Symposium

Durbuy City Walking Tour Sculptures Symposium

STREET-ART & SCULPTURES - BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN DURBUY
Quite amusingly Durbuy is filled with so many contemporary granite sculptures! That's because Durbuy is where the International Symposium of Monumental Stone Sculptures (Le symposium international de sculpture monumentale) every alternate years since 2005 (with an exception on 2007). It is only sensible because the region is filled with so many types of rocks and geological curiosities that sculptors would be inspired by the material itself! These sculptures are not just in Durbuy city but over the Durbuy municipality and discovering them is one of the unusual things to do in Durbuy.
The group of sculptures in the garden opposite to the anticline is called Place Hanyu, named as Durbuy's twin city in Japan. Not just sculptures, but there are also several fountains all over the city. One is ofcourse the dancing fountain in front of the anticline. Very close to it, is the spinning wheel water works. 

Where are the Durbuy sculptures & street-art located? Map of Durbuy Sculpures available at Tourist Office
How to reach Durbuy sculptures? The ones in the city can be obviously discovered by a walk. It is possible to discover the various sculptures scattered all over the municipality by car or cycle.
Durbuy street art opening hours & prices: Free

Barvaux Labyrinth Durbuy places to see
Pic Credit: Google Maps

DURBUY LABYRINTH - BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN DURBUY
Though its commonly called as Durbuy Labyrinth, it is located in Barvaux town. Every year in the summer a giant labyrinth is created in Barvaux, out of corn plantations! Unfortunately I missed it because it was cancelled, just like everything else has been, in 2020. Barvaux is not just the maze, but it includes playground, obstacle courses, performances in costumes, workshops about farming, zero waste, being ecofriendly and a lot more. Hopefully I'll get to see it next summer... Fingers crossed.

Where is Durbuy Labyrinth (on Google Maps)The Labyrinth of Barvaux-sur-Ourthe
How to reach Durbuy Labyrinth: 4.5km from Durbuy (& 1.5km Barvaux railway station). Can be reached from Durbuy by car (taxi) or cycling. There's also a shuttle bus available connecting Durbuy & Barvaux 
Durbuy Labyrinth opening hours: Open only in July to October. 
     Jul-Aug - All days: 10:00AM to 7:00PM
     Sept-Oct - Weekdays: 11:00AM to 5:00PM; Weekends: 10:00AM to 7:00PM
Durbuy Labyrinth tickets: €15 (tickets can be bought online at Labyrinth's official website)

Durbuy Smallest City in the World

Kayaking Fishing in River Ourthe

FEEDING THE FISHES / FISHING IN RIVER OURTHE - BEST THINGS TO DO IN DURBUY
Durbuy is located in the banks of River Ourthe. River Ourthe is considered the fishing paradise of Wallonia, Belgium. Well, one option is to fish, but what we did was to feed the fish and get some natural pedicure. After spending a long day in Durbuy Adventure Valley, we were tired and decided to just laydown on the grass beside River Ourthe just before entering Durbuy. When Atyudarini woke up, we just went down the river and there were fishes! I thought why not introduce feeding fishes to Atyudarini. We always carry some extra snacks since we are traveling with a toddler and today it became the fish-snack. I don't know how common it is elsewhere, but it is a very common practice in India and we mostly feed puffed rice (something like rice waffles) to the wild fishes in ponds, lakes & rivers! She had so much fun and then we had our session of natural, free fish pedicure! That's also very common in southern India, much much before it became a beauty fad!

Where is our fish-feeding spot in River Ourthe (on Google Maps): Banks of River Ourthe
How to reach: Walking! It is 5 mins walk away from Durbuy City Centre.
River Ourthe opening hours & prices: Free

RADHADESH - CHATEAU DE PETITE SOMME - BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN DURBUY
Radhadesh is the most famous Hindu temple in Belgium. It is an Iskcon temple housed inside a centuries old Belgian Chateau de Petite Somme, making it one of the unique places to visit in Durbuy, Belgium. It is located in the outskirts of Durbuy, Belgium. Read my article on Radhadesh - Iskcon temple in Belgium for all the information about the place.

Where is Radhadesh (on Google Maps): Radhadesh 
How to reach Radhadesh: 5km from Durbuy City Centre. Can be reached by car or cycle.
Radhadesh opening hours & tickets: Varied (refer to my article linked above)

Radhadesh Iskcon Temple in Belgium

Durbuy Adventures Best things to do in Durbuy

DURBUY ADVENTURE VALLEY  - BEST THINGS TO DO IN DURBUY
Though I wanted to visit Durbuy since a long time, the reason I kept postponing is because of Adventure Valley Durbuy. I wanted to, not miss this, on my trip and doing the adventure rides here with baby in hand would have been impossible. Now that Atyudarini is a toddler, we finally we made it! The best part of Adventure Valley Durbuy is the Ziplining. This is the longest ziplining course in Belgium, Netherlands & Luxembourg. The sky-walk inside a 3D maze over the valley, a 200m long slide which you do with an inflated tyre, a free fall from 35m height and many more. Read my article on Adventure Valley Durbuy for all the details on this best adventure park in Belgium

Where is Adventure Valley Durbuy and how to reach: Spread across 6 premises in & around Durbuy (refer to my article linked above for all details).
Adventure Valley Durbuy opening hours & tickets : Varied depending on premises & activities (refer to my article linked above)

DAY TRIP TO WERIS - BEST PLACES TO VISIT AROUND DURBUY
There are 30 villages all over Wallonia, which have the title 'Plus Beaux Villages de Wallonie' and 3 of those are located close to Durbuy including Wéris. Wéris is very special, not only because it is one of the beautiful villages of Wallonia, but also because it is one of the best preserved megalithic sites in Belgium! Wéris has a Megaliths museum as well as a couple of dolmens and several menhirs. A day trip cycling around Wéris to discover all the megalithic sites in the region is definitely one of the unique things to do in Durbuy. Read the article on my half day trip to Weris from Durbuy to know all about the village, its megalithic sites as well as how to reach there and more. 

Where is Weris, how to reach, opening hours, tickets: Refer to my article linked above

Grottes de Hotton Caves of Hotton

Beautiful places to see in Belgium Grottes de Hotton

DAY TRIP TO HOTTON & NY - BEST PLACES TO VISIT AROUND DURBUY
Similar to Weris, Ny is another village to have the Plus Beaux Villages de Wallonie title. It is smaller than and much more rural & authentic compared to Weris. Read more about this, one of the most picturesque and most beautiful villages of Belgium.
At a very short distance from Ny is Hotton. Hotton is the home to Hotton Caves called Grottes de Hotton. It is fondly called the caves of 1001 nights, because of its splendid beauty. Grottes de Hotton was discovered in 1958. True to the Calestienne belt, here too the limestone rocks were eroded by a river - a tributary of river Ourthe. The galleries are in 2 levels and the lower ones go as deep as 65m. At the depth of the cave, you can still see the water. Just like Grottes de Hotton & Grottes de Lorette, here too all the stalactite & stalagmite formations can be seen including draperies, columns, as well as some fossils. The most fascinating is the Gallery of the Caving Club of Belgium (galerie du Spéléo Club de Belgique) with its exceptional dimensions of 200m x 35m x 10m. The 10m is the narrow width of the chamber that just enough for the walking platform for the visitors. The whopping 35m tall plain wall feels so imposing when you're inside an underground chamber! No photo or video can do justice to that place. Its a feeling that can only be felt when you're physically present there! 
Tips for visiting Hotton Caves: Today the caves are accessible only by a 1 hour long guided tour. The total number of steps is 580 which makes it a little bit difficult for people with less mobility or bad knees. Ofcourse, it is completely inaccessible with wheelchairs or strollers. But Atyudarini had loads of fun in the cave, sitting inside my babywearing. The temperature underground is a constant 12°C, so don't forget to carry a jacket or jumper. There is an awesome playground just outside to keep the little ones busy. Don't forget to wear comfortable, sturdy shoes.
While you're in Hotton, you may also want to check out Riveo, Jardin Calestienne, Arboretum and Rocks of Reneissart. Riveo is a like a museum + aquarium that's all about River Ourthe. Jardin Calestienne is a garden beside Hotton caves. Arboretum du parc communal de Hotton is a foresty area with a tower that lends an impressive panoramic view of the towns Hotton & Malreux. Like Durbuy Anticline, the Rocks of Reneissart is also a geological curiosity here. It is one of the best places for rock climbing in Belgium. Overlooking the river Ourthe, it is also a local picnic spot. Unfortunately my trip was cut short abruptly because this happened and I missed visiting these 4!!!

Where is Rocks of Reneissart, Hotton (On Google Maps): Zone d'escalade Hotton
How to reach Rocks of Renaissart, Hotton: Located 1km from the town centre of Hotton (10 mins walk)
Rocks of Reneissart tickets & opening hours: Free & 24x7
Where is Riveo (on Google Maps)Riveo Centre
How to reach Riveo: Located in the town centre of Hotton
Riveo Hotton tickets: €8 (can be bought online on Riveo Centre's official website)
Riveo Hotton opening hours: 10:00 to 17:00 (Closed on Mondays)
Where is Hotton Caves - Grottes de Hotton ( on Google Maps): Caves of Hotton
How to reach Caves of Hotton: Located 2km from the town centre of Hotton (25 mins walk)
Caves of Hotton tickets: €10  (can be bought online on Grottes de Hotton's official website)
Grottes de Hotton opening hours: 10:00 to 17:00 (Apr-Oct); 12:30, 14:00, 15:30 tours only during Nov-Mar

Beautiful places to visit in Belgium Hotton

Things to do in Durbuy Small Anticlinal

DURBUY ITINERARIES
1 day itinerary in Durbuy
  • Morning - Tour of Old Town & Geological curiosities, 
  • Afternoon - Challenge Park of Durbuy Adventures (or) Fly Pass Activities of Adventure Valley (or) Radhadesh.
2 days itinerary in Durbuy
  • Day 1 - Tour of Old Town & Geological curiosities, half day trip to Weris
  • Day 2 - Quick trip to Radhadesh & rest of the day at Adventure Valley Durbuy
3 days itinerary in Durbuy
  • Day 1 - Tour of Old Town & Geological curiosities, half day trip to Weris
  • Day 2 - Quick trip to Radhadesh & rest of the day at Adventure Valley Durbuy
  • Day 3 - Other activities of Durbuy Adventures like Kayaking or Escape Room etc (or) Cycling / E-Biking trip to Ny & Hotton 

COMBINED TICKETS OF DURBUY ATTRACTIONS
Topiary Park + Mini Golf -  €8
Topiary Park + Hotton Caves -  €12
Topiary Park + Maison les Megalithes Weris -  €8
Topiary Park + Radhadesh guided tour -  €11
Topiary Park + Radhadesh guided tour with lunch -  €22

DURBUY HOTELS
The thing about Durbuy is, being a 'city' it is filled with so many hotels, restaurants, fast-food joints & shops! Infact within that 'old city' limits I don't think I spotted any houses or residential buildings at all! That's exactly why Durbuy immediately gave me the city vibes inspite of the tiny size. 
So yeah, there are very many options of Durbuy hotels including many Durbuy luxury hotels and charming boutique hotels in Durbuy. Since tourism is the main business of the city, there's aren't any budget hotels in Durbuy. The nearest option for budget accommodation is Namur & Liege, located about 50km away. 

HOW TO REACH DURBUY FROM BRUSSELS BY TRAIN
Big challenge! Durbuy is not one of the easy day trips from Brussels by train. The nearest railway station is Barvaux which is 3.5km away. There is a TEC shuttle bus available from Barvaux to Durbuy but it is not frequent. One option is to hire a taxi from Barvaux to Durbuy (we used TaxiLux (pre-booking necessary - 0032 (0) 495/47 22 73)), esp. if you have kids/luggage with you. Another option is to hire a bicycle or e-bike (Barvaux Syndicat Initiative - +32 (0) 86 21 11 65). Here's more details on bike rental prices, location etc. However do keep in mind that the terrain is not flat. 

P.S: I was invited by Wallonia Tourism to experience the region & the activities for review purposes, however the opinions are my own and this post does not to advertise the product/service.

 Top 10 Best things to do in Durbuy Belgium Pinterest Beautiful Places in Belgium Durbuy Pinterest 

Beautiful Caves in Belgium Grottes de Hotton Pinterest  Top 10 Best things to do in Durbuy Belgium Pinterest

Bhushavali

An ardent traveler by passion. Being an ex - Art History Teacher, my area of interest especially lies in Nature and Heritage. Visited 78 UNESCO World Heritage sites as of Sept 2020. I've been listed among the Top 7 Women Travel Bloggers of India, Top 50 in UK. I have been interviewed in a couple of TV Shows, Radio Channels and Events as well. Read more about me and read the testimonials of different brands

9 comments:

  1. It's so lovely I felt I was there. I am a sucker for geological stuff and the anticlines sound so amazing. GROTTO de Hotton seems like a fairy tale. I was hoping to read that you met some pixies and gnomes. Truly, you have added this smallest city to my wish list.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Durbuy sounds like a manageable day trip with only 10 streets. I love when we find statues that you can pose by! A self guided tour sounds like a good way to wander. And leave time to relax in the Topiary Park too! I would certainly want that overhead view of the labyrinth before I sent in. You are convincing me we need to add Belgium to our travel plans when things open up. (LD Holland)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Your blog is an inexhaustible resource of interesting places to see in Belgium. I've never visited this country, so I keep bookmarking your articles in the hope that I'll make it there someday. I didn't know anything about the tiny 'city' of Durbuy. So interesting that it gained a city status because of the wall that was raised in order to protect the fortress. From what you are saying, I understand there is plenty to do in Durbuy if you decide to stay there three days.

    ReplyDelete
  4. The rock formation looks cool. Surprised that there isn't any fencing around it to keep people away. Wow, a privately owned castle, who knew? The topiary garden would be a fantastic way to spend the day plus keep the little ones occupied. LOVE ziplining. Now I must visit Durbuy! 

    ReplyDelete
  5. I have to say that Durbuy is an interesting city. It looks like an amusement park, actually, with an original nature setting. And they even have a Hindu Temple. I found Topiary Park funny, especially when I read there's a sunbathing Pamela Anderson. lol. The maze looks so challenging. Too bad they didn't do it the year you visited. I guess you have a good reason to go back.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Wow, a city with just 10 streets! that sounds amazing. I would love to visit Durbuy sometime when I am in Belgium again. I had never heard of it before but I will add it to my list of places to see. I will also try the ziplining as I love that.

    ReplyDelete
  7. We love Durbuy! One of us is Belgian so we're often visiting family in Belgium. We were actually in Durbuy 2 Christmases ago, for the famed Christmas market. It's so beautiful and so walkable. Your post brought back so much memories and we'd love to visit again during another season and potentially go hiking or visiting the gardens as suggested. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I have only ever been to Bruges and not heard of Durbuy but it looks like a great place to visit with lots to do. I love gardens so a wander around them would be enjoyable and I have ziplined in many countries around the world and love this activity so I would put that on my list.

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for visiting...! Why not leave a comment.? And tell your friends..!!!
By commenting you accept to our GDPR Policy.