Durbuy, Belgium is a beautiful Belgian city in the province of Luxemburg in Wallonia (the southern part of Belgium). Before seeing a photo of Durbuy online, I had never heard of this picture perfect Belgian city, however, when I took a road trip through Belgium, we high-tailed it to Durbuy to ensure that we had time to explore this beautiful Belgian town. Keep reading for the best things to do in Durbuy, Belgium, one of the most beautiful places in Belgium!
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The smallest city in the world?
Durbuy claims to be the smallest city in the world. However, this claim is a bit dubious and unlikely to be true given the city limits of modern Durbuy today. The medieval town was boosted to a city in the 1300s when it had the population of a town's (at that time). That said, the signs remain, and Durbuy is still a beautiful day trip from Brussels. Despite its beauty, it's still not THAT popular with tourists and you mostly only hear French/Flemish spoke on the streets. It's a bit surprising to me that this Belgian city isn't more famous besides with locals coming out for the day, but it's for the best as the cobblestoned streets without the crowds are a magical thing.
Getting lost in the medieval city of Durbuy
The medieval city of Durbuy is a delight to walk around, and most visitors come to Durbuy, especially in fall, to experience the beauty of its architecture. We were in Durbuy in November, which is when the vines were changing color to a beautiful rusty red.
The medieval city of Durbuy is pretty small, so the best one of the best things to do in Durbuy is simply walk around the old town where you'll find most of the activities in Durbuy that make it special. That said, you don't want to miss some of the most beautiful streets in Durbuy. (Durbuy wandelen.)
It's not possible to visit the castle as it's privately owned and closed to the public. However, it is a delight to view from all angles!
There are a number of half timbered houses, including the famous La Halle aux Blés. However, my favorite street was the picturesque Rue Auguste Daufresne de la Chevalerie for the castle view. However, there's a small street off it with a beautiful tower and bikes, which was my favorite to walk down.
I also discovered the cutest little private garden where you can pay to have tea inside of it.
Something that I love about Flemish/Dutch is that it has the perfect word for getting "lost" in a city: stadswandeling. Despite how brief this word is, it evokes the feeling of cobblestone streets and wanderlust in its purest form. (Maybe that's just me and my non-native speaker associations.) That's the real delight of Durbuy and the reason that you'll want to take the day trip from Brussels to Durbuy.
Rue des Récollectines and Rue Alphonse Eloy had my favorite ivy covered houses in all of Durbuy. There are numerous other streets, but I'll just end up listing them all.
That said, even the walkway to the medieval city is absolutely stunning along Rue du Comte Théodule d'Ursel with its fairy-tale esque homes. Either way, it's easy to say that Durbuy is the most beautiful city in Belgium. ;)
Topiary Park (Le Parc des Topiaries)
The Topiary Park in Durbuy is truly one of the highlights of Durbuy and one of the largest topiary gardens in the world. It is much larger than you realize and it's easy to spend a few hours admiring the immaculately cared for plants. The exhibitions change fairly regularly and the topiary gardens also have one of the best views of the castle in Durbuy (which is closed to the public).
If you're visiting Durbuy, you need to try some of the locally produced chocolate produced in Wallonia. It's possible to stop in here for a drink or go to their nearby factory for a tour. As a chocolate lover who's gone on chocolate tours and who had limited time in Durbuy, we ended up not doing the tour. However, I ended up buying several chocolates, which were delicious.
Locally produced Wallonian beer
La Durboyse is a popular artisanal Durbuy beer that is specially produced by Brasserie Lefèbvre for the shops of Durbuy. I ended up trying their Durboyse Blonde, which was a great traditional Belgian blonde. The southern part of Wallonia is really ideal for culture lovers who are into beer as the Belgians excel at beer and there's a number of speciality producers as well as monasteries closeby.
There are numerous shops in Durbuy specializing in Wallonian artisanal goods. The jam is supposed to be absolutely amazing although we didn't try it ourselves.
I had researched some outdoor activities in Durbuy. The main outdoor activities in Durbuy include kayaking on the Ourthe river and hiking. Durbuy is in the middle of the Ardennes, so you have some of the best hiking in Belgium nearby. The Ardennen forests are absolutely beautiful in fall with the changing leaves.
Getting there: Brussels to Durbuy
Durbuy is two hours each way from Brussels by train. You're most likely going to need to transfer in Liege.
By car, Durbuy is only 1.5 hours from Brussels, making it the perfect day trip from Brussels. There's a smaller parking lot on the edge of the city where you can park your car as there's minimal parking in Durbuy. We combined Durbuy with a trip to the nearby Bomol market and a larger road trip through Wallonia. In fall, I highly recommend renting a car to explore this beautiful region as driving down little roads with colorful leaves is magical.
How long to spend in Durbuy...
It's easy to spend one day in Durbuy (which makes it a lovely day trip from Brussels), however I think staying there would be lovely. We stayed just a little outside of Durbuy at a more traditional guesthouse run by a British-Belgian couple in a historic farmhouse, however you need a car to get there and we would have stayed in the city if we hadn't booked it last minute. If you have more time, head to the market in Bomol (check the schedule ahead).
There are a number of hotels within the medieval city of Durbuy in one of the historical buildings. A typical rate for a hotel in the middle of the city centre is less than $80 USD, so if you're looking for a beautiful city to explore in Belgium, consider staying overnight in Durbuy instead of staying in Brussels the entire time. It's even possible to stay in a small chateau in the middle of the city for less than $100USD in Durbuy.
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Karen and Jacob. American expats and cat lovers from New York City and Kentucky who lived in Amsterdam.... Now in Paris with moving back to the Netherlands this month.
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