Dinant is Belgium's hidden gem

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15 Fun Things To Do In Dinant, Belgium’s Hidden Gem

The small town of Dinant is quite picturesque and one that you will likely fall in love with once you lay eyes on her. It has a ridiculous amount of charm, history, and fairytale-like qualities. If you are up for some fun, there are a number of things to do in Dinant that make for a memorable trip.

After visiting, there is no question as to why Dinant is considered Belgium’s “hidden gem”! Although small I quite enjoyed wandering the picturesque town along the La Meuse River…

Even though it can be seen on a day trip, I highly recommend spending 2 days to experience this darling city for its enchanting and unique appeal.

Dinant is the perfect weekend getaway especially for those coming from France, Germany or other regions of Belgium. Keep reading to find out what to do in Dinant, where to stay, and how to get there…

Taking a walk and looking out at the Meuse River and the pretty colorful buildings along the waterfront is one of the best things to do in Dinant, Belgium.

If you are planning to visit other cities in Belgium, explore:

How To Spend The Best Weekend In Brussels

19 Amazing Things To Do In Ghent, Belgium

The Best Way To Spend 3 Days In Bruges

Best Christmas Markets In Belgium In 2023 To Attend

A Little Recap Of Dinant History

The town of Dinant gets its name from the Celtic word “Divo-Nanto” meaning sacred valley and it isn’t hard to see why! Dinant has a fascinating and rich history but especially so since the Middle Ages.

Because of attacks by Danish Vikings in the 9th century, it prompted the town to build the citadel or fortress up on the cliff in 1040. There were many battles and attacks through the 15th century leading to a lot of rebuilding.

In more recent history (well kinda), the Battle of Dinant in 1914 between the French and Germans soon after World War I began.

Belgium was considered to be a neutral territory situated between the dueling France and Germany. Dinant sadly laid in the German’s strategic path to reach and conquer France. The Germans conquered, destroyed, and killed many civilians of Dinant during the second half of 1914.

Dinant has an intriguing history and remarkable beauty with its citadel high up on a cliff, the gothic cathedral, Meuse River, and colorful buildings.

During World War II, history repeated itself with Germany occupying Dinant. This battle is famously known as the Battle of the Bulge ending with American allied troops coming to Belgium’s aid.

It was the deadliest battle for the United States in WWII but it was successful at stopping Nazi Germany.

Although the memories of Dinant’s history have been challenging, the town is a peaceful vacation spot today. It is hard to imagine the several battles that have taken place here. Dive into exploring Dinant on your trip here!

Tip: If you are looking for a unique adventure within 30-minutes from Dinant, explore the Caves of Han. In this guide you will find out everything you need to know about visiting the UNESCO Global Geopark!

Fun Things To Do In Dinant

1. Cross The Charles De Gaulle Bridge

One of the first things that you want to do on a visit to Dinant, is to walk across the Charles De Gaulle Bridge also known as Saxophone Bridge.

It might be one of the most unique and fun bridges I have crossed. Why? Well, it is lined with several larger than life saxophone sculptures that were added in 2010.

The saxophone is a proud reminder of the instrument’s birthplace in a colorful and artistic way.

There is a saxophone representing each country in the European Union (EU) on each side of the bridge, along the waterfront, and in town.

A red saxophone statue on the Charles de Gaulle bridge, one of several colorful saxophones lining the bridge and waterfront in Dinant, Belgium.
A statue of Charles de Gaulle along the Meuse River with the citadel, cathedral, and colorful buildings behind it.

The Charles De Gaulle Bridge is centrally located in the middle of Dinant and is the main hub between the two sides of the Meuse River.

The views of the city are beautiful from the bridge as it is an excellent vantage point to see many sights.

A turquoise saxophone statue with white continents on it representing a map, each saxophone statue represents a country of the EU.

The bridge is named after Charles de Gaulle (the French general) in honor of his leadership in the French resistance against Nazi Germany during WWII.

The French were instrumental in fighting off the Germans in and around the area of Dinant.

Oh, and if you were wondering where else you have heard his name, you might recognize it from the “Charles de Gaulle” airport in France.

Tip: Take a guided walking tour of Dinant with a local and see all the top attractions!

2. Citadel Of Dinant

Sitting high above the town of Dinant sits the prominent and fierce Citadel of Dinant (La Citadelle Dinant).

It is one of the first things you will notice when you arrive as it sits on a tall and gigantic rock face. It is the perfect spot if you are in need of a position to see potential threats coming from afar.

The Citadel or fortress was originally built in 1040 but due to destruction and damage over periods of time, the one you see today was built in 1815. There was extensive damage in the early 1900s and has had some work to repair it.

Citadel de Dinant sitting high up above the cathedral, colorful buildings in town below, and the Meuse River in Dinant, Belgium.
The stone hallway with arched ceiling leading to the Citadel's courtyard high up on a sheer cliff in Dinant, Belgium.
The large open stone courtyard of Citadel de Dinant in Dinant, Belgium.

There are three ways that you can reach the top to visit the museum and experience the breathtaking views from the fortress.

You can take the 408 steps up, take the cable car, or drive to the top. If you are decently fit, taking the stairs is a great workout! During the off-season, the cable cars may only be open on the weekends.

Once at the top you will be given a pamphlet to take a self-guided tour on the fortress grounds and museum.

There are 9 points of interest including a detailed account of the fascinating history and the important role the citadel had. Expect to spend about 45-minutes to an hour visiting the citadel.

The breathtaking panoramic view from the top of the Dinant citadel overlooking the town, the Meuse River, bridge, and cathedral.
A close-up bird's eye view of the colorful buildings, Meuse River and bridge from the top of the citadel in Dinant.

In the summer months, a guided tour is also offered. The fourth stop on the self-guided tour is the view looking out over the Meuse River and the town of Dinant.

It is the most spectacular view and one of my favorite things to do in Dinant! And quite windy at the top, so hang on to any hats or sunglasses.

Note: There is a place to get snacks and drinks but you can even bring your own lunch and enjoy it at the top.

Hours: It is open 10 am to 6 pm (April – September) and 10 am to 4:30 pm (October – March).

3. Notre Dame de Dinant Cathedral

The first view of the Cathedral pressed up against the rock wall and with the Citadel perched above it is an “Oh wow!” moment.

If you are anything like me, your jaw will drop in awe. Even though it is a church, it has a very dark and almost menacing feel about it. Yet quite beautiful and what grabs your attention.

The size and presence of Notre Dame de Dinant is phenomenal standing tall against the cliff in its dark towers and facade in Dinant, Belgium.

Without a doubt, it is one of the most impressive and dominating Gothic churches I have seen with its dark exterior and black bulbous shaped bell tower.

The Notre Dame of Dinant or Collegiate Church of Our Lady is a Catholic church built in the 13th century along the banks of the Meuse River.

No matter where you are in Dinant, you can always see the cathedral in the skyline. It is a distinctive symbol of the town.

Standing looking up at the front facade of the gothic architecture of the cathedral in Dinant, Belgium with its skilled craftsmanship.
Inside the lovely Notre Dame de Dinant with its tall columns, stained glass, and rows of pews.

Once inside, gaze up at the enormously tall ceilings and towers that leave you speechless. If the builders were going for dramatic and impactful, they succeeded!

Notice the detailed and elaborately crafted stained glass especially the largest one that is on the right side of the church near the altar.

I don’t think I have ever seen a stained glass that big. Quite incredible the craftsmanship that went into making it.

Colorful stained glass covering almost an entire wall of the cathedral and is one of the largest and most beautiful stained glasses I have seen.

Hours: The cathedral is open from 9 am to 6 pm (April – October) and 9 am to 5 pm (November – March). The entrance to the cathedral is free.

4. Visit Maison Leffe Beer

If you are a beer drinker and have had a Belgian beer, there is a good chance it was Leffe Beer.

It is exported to countries all over the world, but Leffe got its humble beginnings in the town of Dinant.

What is even more incredible, is that Leffe began its first brew by monks of the Leffe Abbey in the year 1240. I was shocked to learn that Leffe has been brewed for that long!

It might surprise you that monks would brew and drink beer regularly but they were quite smart about it. That is because beer was much safer than drinking water during that time.

The sign for Maison Leffe against a brick wall located inside La Merveilleuse Hotel in Dinant, Belgium.
A small card with a barcode that when scanned at different kiosks inside, you get access to history and info on Leffe beer in Dinant.
A large lounge in the Leffe Museum with a bar and several cozy couches and leather chairs next door to the museum in Dinant, Belgium.

They didn’t understand why at the time but they knew that drinking beer wouldn’t end in death.

Heating of the beer killed off any microbes unlike that of water. If only they had realized boiling liquids killed any harmful bacteria…

The monks were king of brewing Leffe beer themselves until 1952 when the Abbey beer went commercial.

AB InBev purchased Leffe where it is brewed at the Stella Artois brewery in Leuven, Belgium today.

A closeup view of a leather couch and chairs in the bar, a perfect place to relax with a Leffe beer before or after touring the museum.
Original wooden benches with lovely craftsmanship from the old convent inside the Leffe Beer museum in Dinant.

Once you enter Leffe Museum, there is a classicly elegant bar lounge that you can sit back and enjoy a variety of Leffe beer.

Across the hall, you enter what used to be the chapel to the previous convent of Bethleem (now La Merveilleuse Hotel). It is a fantastic setting to learn and taste the magic of Leffe beer.

As you walk through the museum, there are 8 centuries of Leffe beer history that you will travel through.

At your own pace, scan the barcode you are given and various touch screens come alive to choose from. Learn about the beer-making and what is involved in the distinct steps and ingredients that go into it.

Several interactive booths to learn about the history and making of Leffe beer.
The museum's architecture is striking and lovely from the original convent church at the Leffe Beer museum in Dinant, Belgium.
The beautiful stained glass gives the Leffe museum tons of character!

At the end of your tour, taste different Leffe beers and determine which one is your favorite!

Location: The museum is inside the La Merveilleuse Hotel at Charreau des Capucins 23, 5500 Dinant, Belgium.

Hours: The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 11 am to 7 pm (April – October). During the winter months, it is open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 11 am to 6 pm.

5. Notre Dame Abbey de Leffe (Leffe Beer)

In the previous activity, I highly suggest visiting Leffe Museum to learn all about this great beer. Although you can sip and learn about its history, Leffe Beer was originally made at the Leffe Abbey down the river from the museum.

If you are standing in front of the Notre Dame Cathedral in the center of Dinant, Leffe Abbey is 0.6-miles (13-minute walk) north along the Meuse River.

Leffe beer also known as an “abbey beer” got its start by monks of the Leffe Abbey in the year 1240.

It was known that people passing through Dinant would be welcomed with a Leffe beer which was the safest thing to drink at the time.

Amid contagious diseases, beer was one of the only things that didn’t kill people as any pathogens were eliminated during the brewing process.

Heating the brew mixture to boiling temps ensured it free from microbes that were present in water and other liquids available at the time.

The abbey you see today is not the original as it has been rebuilt a few times due to fires or from battles.

Tip: If you happen to visit in July or August, you can take a guided tour on Sunday at 3:00 pm. That is the only time it is open to the public.

6. Birth of the Saxophone, Maison Sax

Prior to planning my trip to Dinant, I had no idea that the birthplace of the saxophone was in this quaint town!

Adolphe Sax invented the saxophone in 1841 and patented it in 1846 gifting the world with the sax’s exquisite sound.

His invention transformed music forever, especially its strong presence in American music particularly jazz.

The actual home of Adolphe Sax who invented the saxophone and now serves as the museum with a statue of him in front in Dinant.
A statue of the saxophone's inventor Aldophe Sax sitting on a bench in front of the museum which was once his home in the city of Dinant, Belgium.

If only he could see the impact his creation made! I guess you could say that music was in his blood as his father was a maker of wind and brass instruments.

He based his invention of the saxophone off of the bass clarinet in an attempt to improve its tone. Much of his career was spent in lawsuits and fighting crooks who were trying to copy his patent.

Sadly, even until his death in 1894, he was in several court litigations in an effort to protect his invention.

Today, you can visit a museum in Dinant dedicated to Adolphe Sax’s saxophone in the building where he was born and grew up.

Inside Maison Sax learning about the history of the saxophone from an exhibit in Dinant.

The Maison Sax museum is on the ground floor of his old home and free to visit. You can’t miss walking by Maison Sax as there is a statue in front of him sitting on a bench.

Take a break and grab a seat with him! The museum is pretty small but packs a punch in information and history of Adolphe Sax and his saxophone.

It is one of the more unique things to do in Dinant that is not to be missed!

Location: You can find Maison Sax on Rue Adolphe Sax 37 and is less than a block away from Notre Dame de Dinant.

Hours: The museum is open daily from 9 am to 7 pm and is free to visit.

7. Stroll Along The Meuse River

The Meuse River is the heart of Dinant and where the town’s life comes alive. It is also the busiest area of the small town with a lot to see.

I recommend walking along both sides of the Meuse River as it provides different views.

Although both are great, the view from the side opposite of the citadel and cathedral is pretty epic. It is also the most photographed view of Dinant.

You can capture the citadel, cathedral, colorful buildings at the base of the cliff’s side, and of course, the river.

Walking along the waterfront of the Meuse River looking down the promenade at the bridge and cathedral further down in Dinant, Belgium.
The red La Merveilleuse Hotel up on the hillside across the Meuse River in Dinant.
An overcast day with rainy clouds don't take away from the Meuse River's beauty.

Besides the gorgeous views, it is a great place to get in some exercise and get those steps in! If you are visiting in December, you will find Christmas Market booths lined up along the Meuse River.

But because this is an off-season time of year to visit, the Christmas Market is only open Friday, Saturday, and Sundays.

Walking along the waterfront is one of my favorite things to do in Dinant, as it has one of the most captivating views in every direction.

8. See The Striking Rocher Bayard

Rocher Bayard Rock is an unusual sight to see as it is a huge rock formation (needle) that has a slice cut out of it to make room for a road.

Located 1.2-miles directly south on the right bank of the Meuse River from the cathedral and shops in Dinant is Rocher Bayard.

You can take a leisurely walk there, hop in a taxi, or visit on a tour of Dinant. If you go on a river cruise, you will likely see it as you pass by too!

View of Rocher Bayard rock along the Meuse River surrounded by green foliage from across on the other side of the river in Dinant, Belgium.

Standing close to 40 meters tall there are few myths surrounding how the rock came to be split.

The most commonly told tale is that it was cut by the hoof of the horse Bayard crossing over in the 12th century.

But more likely it was done by Louis XIV in the late 1600s to make way for his army to pass through.

9. Play At Casino de Dinant

Interested in playing your odds and winning a bit of cash? Then head over to Dinant’s Grand Casino! Who knew that this tiny Belgium town would have its own casino.

The casino has over 200 slot machines and table games such as Blackjack and Roulette. Unfortunately, Poker isn’t offered but if gambling is your thing, the slot machines are open 24 hours a day.

The table games are available from 3:00 pm to 4:00 am daily. Visitors must be 21 years of age and there isn’t any formal dress code required.

Location: Boulevard des Souverains 6 is a short walk (10-15 minutes) down along the waterfront from the Charles de Gaulle bridge on the east side of the Meuse River.

10. Take A Boat Cruise On The Meuse River

Now that you have walked along the Meuse River’s lovely banks, take to the water and see her by boat.

The majority of the boat tours operate from May – September, so if you are traveling to Dinant outside this timeframe, check ahead for tour availability.

A boat docked against the promenade where boat rides take off near the Charles de Gaulle bridge.

There are two main boat cruise tour options, a 45-minute tour and a 2-hour tour both of which are roundtrip. The 45-minute boat ride will take you from Dinant to Anseremme where you will get to see the Anseremme Priory.

The 2-hour boat ride will take you from Dinant to Freyr with an opportunity to see the Freyr Castle. But if the weather is warm and you are feeling like getting in a workout, you can also kayak on the nearby Lesse River! There are various tour lengths of 12 km ( ~ 3 hours) or 21 km (~ 5 hours).

Note: You can also take a boat cruise on the Meuse River from Namur to Dinant. It is a full day there and back cruise that includes visiting Dinant for a few hours.

11. Try A Couque De Dinant

Have you ever heard of a Couque de Dinant? I know I sure hadn’t but was intrigued to see what the hype is all about. What is it exactly?

Well, it is a rather hard biscuit that is slightly sweet. For my fellow Americans, a biscuit is a similar word used for a hard cookie.

First off, no matter how appetizing or inviting a Couque de Dinant might be to bite into, don’t!

They are extremely hard and it wouldn’t be too far reached to say you could possibly chip a tooth on.

The tip to enjoying these is to break off a small piece, place it in your mouth and let the saliva in your mouth soften up this yummy treat.

A yummy Couque de Dinant in the shape of a bunny!

Then the magic happens! Couque de Dinant is a simple biscuit made up of only two ingredients, wheat flour, and honey in equal amounts. That’s it!

No water, yeast, eggs, or sugar are used. These biscuits or cookies have been made in Dinant since the middle ages and are very well known for them.

In more recent recipes, a bit of sugar or baking powder might be added. The biscuits are molded into various shapes of animals, fruit and well anything really.

You can find these in sizes small, medium, and large depending on how hungry you are. A few great places to purchase a Couque de Dinant is from Patisserie V. Collard or Solbrun in the town of Dinant.

12. Visit Parc de Furfooz

From spring through fall, Parc de Furfooz is a gorgeous nature preserve to explore about 5 miles from Dinant and overlooking the Lesse River.

You’ll find a path through a lush forest that takes you past several different historic ruins, caves, a fortress, and tons of beautiful foliage over a 2.5-mile loop (4 km).

And if you find yourself needing a break, there is a bar where you can grab a beer and snacks.

13. Grotte La Merveilleuse

Just a short distance from the Dinant train station and La Merveilleuse Hotel, are the prettiest caves in all of Belgium.

The town itself can’t get any prettier and so is its underground! As in its name they are marvelous to see and explore.

A Grotte La Merveilleuse sign pointing towards the underground caves just a short walk or drive from town.
Past this tunnel and La Merveilleuse Hotel are the caves!

The limestone caves have beautiful stalagmites (rock formations on the ground from the dripping).

And in contrast, there are stalactites (dripping from the ceiling of the caves) throughout it. There are three areas or chambers that you will walk through on the tour.

Hours: Open daily except for Mondays (April – October) offering tours at 11 am, 12 pm, 1 pm, 2 pm, 3 pm, and 4 pm.

Open only on the weekends (November – March) with tours at 11 am, 12 pm, 1 pm, 2 pm, and 3 pm. Expect to spend about an hour visiting the caves.

14. Visit A Nearby Chateau (Castle)

There are a number of fairytale-like chateau’s (or castles) to explore near Dinant that could make you feel like a prince or princess!

The easiest way to get around and reach most of these is with a car. But you could always hire a driver or even take a boat to one.

Chateau de Freyr (Castle Freyr) is just a few minutes north of Dinant along the Meuse River. If you take a boat tour, there is a good chance you are visiting this one.

Castle Freyr dates back to the middle ages during the 14th century and the home to the Dukes of Beaufort-Spontin. An interesting bit of history is that the first cup of coffee drunk in Belgium was at Castle Freyr!

A few other castles that you can visit depending on your time in Dinant is Chateau de Annevoie (Annevoie Castle), Chateau de Veves (Veves Castle), and Chateau de la Poste.

All three of these are within 25-minutes of Dinant which makes them great places to explore.

15. See Dinant On A Kayak Tour

During the warmer months, a fun way to get in some exercise and see the area is on a kayak!

Sign up for a kayak tour and enjoy viewing the natural beauty along the Lesse River, rocky peaks, a castle, and more.

The Lesse River is a few miles south of Dinant branching off from the right bank of the Meuse.

With kayak tours ranging up to 21 km, there is a tour just right depending on the length you are prepared to go.

You can find the best tour for your group with Dinant Evasion excursions! And if kayaking isn’t your thing, they also offer boat cruises.

Enjoying a Leffe beer at La Merveilleuse's restaurant & bar.

Disclosure: My stay is a sponsored collaboration with La Merveilleuse Hotel. As always all opinions are my own.

Where To Stay In Dinant, Belgium

If I’m not staying at a big chain hotel, I enjoy finding hotels that offer a unique setting, history, and tons of character.

My stay at La Merveilleuse Hotel covers all of these points and more! La Merveilleuse is a short walk from the train station and perched on a hill that has spectacular views of Dinant, the Meuse River, and the Citadel.

The red brick made La Merveilleuse Hotel, previously the Bethleem Convent above the river in Dinant, Belgium.
A close up view of the entrance with the red bricks adding to the hotel's beauty.

The hotel is steeped in history as it used to be the Bethleem Convent run by Dominican nuns for over a century.

After that it became a hospital, then an orphanage, and finally a hotel in 2008 when Infiniti Resorts took over and named it La Merveilleuse.

Looking down a hallway with arched brick ceilings and old paintings on the walls are gorgeous from the old convent, now the La Merveilleuse hotel.
An old confessional box from when the current hotel used to be a convent with arched red brick ceilings.

They named it after the area of underground caves, the Grotte La Merveilleuse nearby. La Merveilleuse translates to “the marvelous or wonderful” in French and the area is truly marvelous!

The hotel has 15 rooms and 2 larger-sized rooms ideal for families. There is a restaurant and bar onsite along with the Leffe Museum located within it too.

Notice the beautifully arched windows, windows, and walkway between the restaurant and lobby.
The restaurant has a glass enclosed ceiling that used to be an outdoor courtyard from when it was a convent, arched windows and large tables.

Wandering the hallways felt like I was going back in time and could imagine the nuns living here.

I am so glad the hotel kept the architecture, stained glass and murals intact as they add so much character. They really preserved the history and blended it into the hotel well.

Make sure to walk around and appreciate the architecture and décor. The arched ceilings and windows are so distinctive of being in an old church yet have a timeless feel to them.

The original murals can be seen on the walls from when it was a convent throughout the hotel in Dinant, Belgium.
Me in a white robe laying down on the bed enjoying the comfortable bed.

If you are like me, a bed can make or break a hotel stay. The bed was fabulously comfortable and allowed me to fall asleep within minutes.

Even though the nuns lived a minimalist life, don’t worry as the hotel has all modern amenities that you will need for a heavenly stay.

Les Bains de Dinant (The Spa)

Another blissful feature at La Merveilleuse is their onsite spa, Les Bains de Dinant. It is located in the building next door to the hotel and is a place for complete relaxation.

The spa is open to anyone, not just hotel guests. There is a Roman pool (34 C), saunas, salt cave, a UV shower, a bar-lounge and an outdoor garden oasis.

If you call and book in advance, you can even schedule a massage. The spa is centered around the 5 elements of Chinese philosophy that are water, wood, fire, earth, and metal.

The Roman pool is set to a warm 34C with low lighting and a blue hue throughout at La Merveilleuse hotel.
The spa is an excellent place in Dinant to relax with its huge open shower next to the pool.
Looking vertically across the pool with low blue lighting at the hotel spa in Dinant.

After enjoying the different areas of the spa, you can relax with a cup of tea and rest on one of many comfy lounge chairs. Or if the weather permits, go out to the garden and lay out in the sun.

Spa Hours: The spa is open for hotel guests from 10 am to 12 pm and 4:45 pm to 7:45 pm. For other visitors, the spa can be accessed from 4:45 pm to 7:45 pm or booked for a private time. It is recommended to book a massage a week in advance.

Hotel Location: La Merveilleuse Hotel is at Charreau des Capucins 23, 5500 Dinant, Belgium. For more information, go to there website here.

The comfortable lounge chairs and zen like space at the spa, a perfect spot for a cup of tea and a nap.

Where To Eat In Dinant, Belgium

A few of the places that I really enjoyed eating at during my stay in Dinant are:

Chez Bouboule – is a mix of Belgian, European, and Seafood. Have excellent mussels!

Pizzeria Taormina Dinant – a tasty place to get pizza

Solbrun – is a great place to get breakfast, a coffee or something sweet…

Dinant Tours To Take

Dinant Walking Tour – This is a private tour that takes you to all the main sights including Rocher Bayard. You’ll get to learn all about the history of this beautiful town!

Day Trip To Dinant From Brussels – If you are short on time, this is an excellent tour that takes you to visit Dinant and Luxembourg from Brussels!

Where Is Dinant?

Dinant is located in southern Belgium in the region of Wallonia along the Meuse River.

Even though Dinant is located in Belgium, this area of Belgium is predominantly French-speaking as it is just 12-miles from the France-Belgium border.

A zoomed in view of the colorful buildings in red, blue, white, and yellow across the Meuse River at the base of the sheer cliffs where the citadel sits in Dinant, Belgium.

After traveling to other cities in Belgium where there was an even mix of French, Danish, German and English spoken I was surprised to only hear French!

But here, only a few people speak English which made it a tiny bit more difficult to converse in.

A unique sculpture that is in a square next to Maison Sax

Even though Dinant is quite small and in Wallonia’s countryside, it is close and easy to reach from some of Belgium’s bigger cities.

Dinant is located about 1 hour south of Brussels and 30 minutes south of Namur. So there is no excuse to miss this hidden treasure!

How To Get To Dinant

If you are flying into Belgium, you are most likely flying into Brussels at Brussels Airport (BRU). Brussels is 1 – 1.5 hours north of Dinant and super easy to get to via train.

If you plan to see the surrounding areas of Dinant, then I recommend renting a car so that you have the freedom to see the countryside, smaller towns, and castles that are further out.

Other than driving, the easiest way to get to Dinant is by train. Coming from Brussels there are multiple stations to leave from but I recommend leaving from Brussels-Midi or Brussels-Central.

The Central station will be a few minutes closer and is the biggest train station. That means there will likely be more trains leaving for Dinant.

The fun red lips on the white saxophone statue representing Greece in Dinant, Belgium.

Unless it is a major holiday, you can just purchase your train ticket at the station. They have many kiosks where you can buy your ticket or a ticket agent that can assist you.

Buying the ticket was simple, but figuring out which platform to go to was a bit challenging.

The final stop is what is listed, so make sure you know the time the train leaves and the final destination of the train, not necessarily your destination.

If you can’t figure it out don’t worry as there is an info booth at each station to help. When buying a ticket, pick one that only has one stop which will likely be in Namur.

When To Visit Dinant

Dinant is a wonderful place to visit any time of the year! But as it is a smaller town, you have more options for what to do in the spring, summer, and fall.

That’s not to say that the winter isn’t awesome as I visited in December and loved it!

A beautiful historic building on a street in Dinant.
The beautiful architecture and craftsmanship of the justice building in Dinant, Belgium.

For activities like kayaking, bike riding, or taking boat tours on the Meuse River, the winter isn’t the best time.

But if you go during the holidays you will be greeted with holiday decorations and a small Christmas Market that is open on the weekend.

For travel in the winter try to aim your visit around the weekend as that is when many sights and restaurants are open. But no matter what time of year you go, there are always many fun things to do in Dinant!

FAQ About Visiting Dinant, Belgium

Is Dinant, Belgium Worth Visiting?

Yes. Dinant is a tiny but charming city with a rich history and a beautiful setting along the Meuse River known as Belgium’s hidden gem.

Why Is Dinant Famous?

Dinant is famous for its beautiful yet imposing Gothic architecture of Notre Dame of Dinant and Dinant Citadel high up on a cliff along the Meuse River. It happens to be the birthplace of the saxophone, Leffe beer, and an important strategic site of defense in prior battles.

How Long To Spend In Dinant?

You an easily see all the main points of interest in Dinant in one day but I recommend staying the night, allowing a little more time to enjoy this idyllic town. If you are short on time, it makes for an excellent day trip from Brussels.

Do They Speak English In Dinant?

English is not widely spoken in Dinant. Other than at a hotel, don’t expect English to be spoken. French is the predominant language used in this region of Belgium but using the Google Translate app can help assist in conversing with locals.

What River Runs Through Dinant?

The Muese River runs through Dinant and adds to the appeal and beauty of the town.

What Is The Closest Airport To Dinant, Belgium?

The closest airport to Dinant with international flights is Brussels Airport (BRU) which is about 1.5-hours by train to Dinant. You’ll find the most flights per day and best prices flying into Brussels.

With more limited flight options, there is a smaller domestic airport in Dinant (Charleroi Airport) that you can fly into.

Before You Go…

As there is a good chance that you will be flying into Brussels, find out what to do in Brussels during your stay!

In my opinion, it is a very underrated city that has so much to see with its medieval architecture, comic book museum, incredible food, history, and endless shops for Belgian chocolate…

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Vanessa Shields

Vanessa Shields is the founder of Traveling Ness helping people with trip ideas, itineraries, travel planning, and boosting confidence for female travelers to take a solo trip. She has been a travel writer and content creator since 2019.

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42 Comments

    1. Dinant is such a pretty and fun place to visit and perfect for a weekend trip. Omg yes, the views from the citadel were incredible! 🙂

  1. That spa looks like the perfect way to relax after walking all around and exploring Dinant! Thanks for sharing your experience there – I would definitely splurge on an afternoon there 🙂

  2. I guess I never realized where exactly the Battle of the Bulge took place – interesting to learn that fact! Dinant looks lovely and fascinating. Those colorful buildings along the river are so picturesque. An interesting tidbit about the saxophone too – I had no idea!! I haven’t made it to Belgium but I definitely want to add Dinant to the itinerary whenever I do make it.

    1. Dinant really is full of such an interesting history on top of its beauty that makes it an excellent place to visit! I had no idea about the role it played in so many wars or the birth of the sax. It was fun to learn so much that I wasn’t expecting. 🙂

  3. Since I live in Belgium I mostly go to Dinant to hike in the surrounding areas. I never really took the time to explore the city. And the way you describe it makes me wanna leave right now to discover the city following your tips. Thank you!

    1. Oh that is so nice to say, and you are welcome! I would love to go back and do some hiking there, such a beautiful countryside. I loved everything about my visit to Belgium. 🙂

  4. Just set a reminder to my schedule for a trip planning session to Dinan, after reading the first to paragraphs 😀

    The city looks perfect for a long weekend trip! A Spa day and exploring the city! What else one want more? Thanks for sharing this and inspire me to discover a bit more of Belgium!

    1. You’re welcome! I’m so happy it has inspired you to visit Dinant as it is a perfect weekend getaway! 🙂

  5. I visited Brussels earlier last year and did not much enjoy it, but I’d love to explore more of Belgium. Dinant seems awesome! I loved your photos too. 🙂
    Krystianna

    1. Oh that’s a shame that you didn’t enjoy Brussels. I liked it but definitely liked some of the other cities more. Dinant really is a gem to visit and it was the loveliest train ride there! 🙂

    1. Oh I hope you do get the chance to visit Dinant one day, its a lovely and unique place to visit! 🙂

  6. Wow this place looks so cool! The buildings against that rock face are quite a sight! Looks like a really quaint place with plenty to do and La Merveilleuse Hotel looks dreamy!

    1. For a small town, it does have some exciting sights and full of fascinating history for sure! Staying at La Merveilleuse was a dream to stay at and somewhere I’d love to return to one day! 🙂

    1. Yes, such a fun town to visit with the beautiful river, architecture and saxophones! I really enjoyed my stay at La Merveilleuse for its interesting history and the fact that Leffe Museum is there is a definite plus! 🙂

    1. Omg, I already want to go back to Belgium too! Such a wonderful country and loved everything from the history to the food! 🙂

  7. What a stunning little town! We’d never heard of Dinant before! It looks beautiful! The cathedral is so grand and imposing, it’s such a striking feature. We’re adding Dinant to the bucket list! Thanks for sharing such a wonderful gem!

    Hannah

  8. Oh wow, how did I miss that? I’ve been to Belgium several times, but never been to Dinant. Need to add this to my itinerary next time I go, as it looks like a charming and beautiful town. Thanks for sharing

    1. That is a bummer you didn’t get the chance on your previous visits. But that just means you have a great reason to go back to Belgium! 🙂

  9. I’ve seen images of this town and always thought it looked like a wonderful destination. Now I know that it really is as you have written about some of the great things to do. I love the bird’s eye view images!!

    1. It is full of so much charm and worth a visit! Yes, I loved getting to see the entire town from the top of the citadel. 🙂

    1. Thank you! It is one of the cutest towns for sure and loved staying at the hotel for its unique history. 🙂

  10. Hey Vanessa!

    I’ve never even heard of this town before, but the history is fascinating and it looks BEAUTIFUL! The pictures remind of me of a much smaller Zurich for some reason. Either way, thank you for shedding some much needed light on Dinant!

    1. You’re welcome! It is such a pretty town to visit and one definitely worth visiting. I haven’t been to Zurich but now I’m curious to see it! 🙂

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