15 Things to Do in Liège, Belgium in 2024

Last Updated on February 12, 2024 by Emily Johnson

Liège, a vibrant city set in the heart of the Meuse River valley, is a dynamic blend of industrial heritage and artistic vitality, making it a must-visit destination within Belgium’s Walloon region.

Known for its lively spirit, Liège invites explorers to delve into a bustling urban landscape where centuries-old history meets modern-day exuberance.

The city’s streets are alive with the echoes of its past, from the grandeur of the Prince-Bishops’ Palace to the tranquil beauty of its many parks and gardens. Liège is renowned for its culinary delights, particularly its authentic waffles and robust coffee culture, offering a taste of local flavors that are as rich and varied as its cultural offerings.

ActivityDescription
Wander Through the Historic City CenterExplore medieval squares, churches, and cafés in Liège’s riverside historic center.
Take a River CruiseEnjoy landmarks and bridges on a riverboat cruise along the Meuse River.
Explore the Grand Curtius MuseumVisit the museum for Liège’s architectural and civic history, with a range of art collections.
Discover the Outremeuse DistrictExperience the artsy atmosphere with pedestrianized streets and lively nightlife.
Montagne de Bueren Staircase ChallengeClimb 374 steps for panoramic city views.
Explore the Atmospheric Carré DistrictWander through medieval urban planning and architecture with cafes and shops.
Mont Saint-Martin PanoramaEnjoy views of the Meuse valley and Outremeuse district from a hilltop park.
Liège Christmas MarketExperience festive markets with crafts, food, and a skating rink during Christmas.
St. Paul’s CathedralVisit the Gothic cathedral with Flemish artistic treasures.
Prince-Bishops’ PalaceTour the historical palace with Roman ruins and 18th-century décor.
Blegny Mine Day TripExplore an authentic coal mine with underground tours.
Relax in the Botanical GardenEnjoy the rich plant collections in a peaceful garden setting.
Photography MuseumExplore photography history with exhibits and archives.
Liège WafflesSample the famous sweet Liège waffles.
ConclusionEnjoy a mix of history, culture, shopping, and food in Liège.

With a calendar packed with events and festivals, alongside museums that showcase everything from contemporary art to industrial achievements, Liège offers endless opportunities for discovery and enjoyment. Whether you’re drawn to the charm of its historic quarters, the allure of its riverfront promenades, or the warmth of its welcoming locals, Liège promises a journey filled with memorable experiences.

This introduction will guide you through 15 exceptional activities that capture the essence of Liège, ensuring that your visit is filled with exploration, inspiration, and genuine Walloon hospitality.

Wander Through the Historic City Center

Name and Location: Wander Through the Historic City Center

The historic city center of Liège is located along the Meuse River and contains many examples of medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque architecture. Key landmarks include the St. Lambert’s Cathedral, the Prince-Bishops’ Palace, and the ornate town hall.

History and Significance:

Liège’s city center dates back over a thousand years and was an important mercantile hub, princely seat of power, and religious center during the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Despite destruction during wars, it retains its medieval street plan and historic buildings that speak to its past glory.

What to Expect:

Visitors can wander the atmospheric narrow streets and squares, admiring the architectural diversity and lovely riverfront setting. Key sites include the Cathedral, the steep Montagne de Bueren steps, and many museums, churches, and parks dotted throughout the center. Expect a lively city bustling with shops, cafes, and friendly locals.

Visitor Information:

The city center is compact and walkable. Guided walking tours and riverboat tours are available to hit the highlights. Museums typically close on Mondays. Dress for the weather to fully explore outside.

Liège has a wonderful historic city center filled with sights like the impressive St. Paul’s Cathedral, the richly decorated Church of St. Bartholomew, and many lovely medieval squares. Stroll the atmospheric narrow alleyways, stop in cozy cafés, and soak up the charm of this riverside city that has welcomed visitors since the 10th century.

Take a River Cruise

Name and Location: Take a River Cruise

River cruises in Liège explore the Meuse River which flows directly through the city center. Many cruises pass by and under key landmarks like the St. Lambert’s Cathedral and the Pont des Arches bridge.

History and Significance:

The Meuse River has been an important trade and transportation route since medieval times. A river cruise offers visitors scenic views of Liège’s historic architecture from a unique vantage point on the water. It also provides an alternative way to orient oneself to the city.

What to Expect:

River cruises typically last 1-2 hours and pass by top sites like the Opera House, the Prince-Bishops’ Palace, and the quays lined with cafes and pubs. Most boats have both enclosed and outdoor viewing areas. Cruises run year-round but are most popular in summer and early fall.

Visitor Information:

Several operators like the Stadt Schiff Liège and River Trips Netherlands offer routine public cruises. Private charters are also available. Dress appropriately for the weather and river breezes. Ticketing/boarding is located riverside along the major quays.

A relaxing riverboat cruise along the Meuse River offers a unique vantage point to see Liège’s landmarks and bridges while learning about the city’s history and trading legacy. Several companies like the Société des Croisières offer multi-lingual sightseeing cruises ranging from one to three hours. On warm days an open-air upper deck allows great views and photo opportunities.

Explore the Grand Curtius Museum

Name and Location: Explore the Grand Curtius Museum

The Grand Curtius Museum is located in the historic heart of Liège along the Meuse River. Its collections span art, archeology, weaponry, religious artifacts, and more from the Mosan region.

History and Significance

Housed in a renovated 17th century palace, the museum takes its name from Liège’s legendary weapons inventor, Jean Curtius. Its diverse collections trace the cultural, artistic, and technological achievements of Liège & western Europe from antiquity onwards.

What to Expect

Visitors can admire paintings by local masters, glasswork, decorative arts, and one of Europe’s best arms collections spanning the 10th to 19th centuries. Don’t miss the ornamented staircase, courtyard, and period rooms that provide a glimpse into aristocratic Liège life.

Visitor Information

The museum is open Tuesday-Sunday, 10am-6pm. Audio guides are available to enhance one’s visit. An onsite café offers visitors a nice respite. Admission is around €9 for access to all collections.

Housed in an avant-garde glass and steel building, the Grand Curtius Museum should not be missed. The museum masterfully merges Liège’s architecture and civic history into one location. See archaeological artifacts, decorative arts like Mosan metalwork and enamel, religious and medieval art, as well as 20th century modern pieces – all beautifully displayed.

Discover the Outremeuse District

Name and Location: Discover the Outremeuse District

The Outremeuse District lies across the Meuse River from the historic city center. It retains a quaint, village-like atmosphere with pedestrian lanes and distinctive 16th-19th century architecture.

History and Significance

Once a separate fishing village called Outremeuse that pre-dated Liège, this area was ultimately incorporated as the city grew. It suffered repeatedly from river flooding but miraculously escaped destruction in the World Wars.

What to Expect Visitors can explore charming, tucked-away squares with elaborate stone fountains and Liberty-style townhouses now housing cafes, galleries, and shops. Don’t miss Saint Nicolas Church and Rue Hors-Château – said to be Belgium’s oldest still inhabited street.

Visitor Information The Outremeuse district lies just across Pont Saint Nicolas footbridge from the city center. No admission fees. Just come ready to wander the photogenic lanes and riverbanks at a leisurely pace.

The charming Outremeuse district on the river’s east bank oozes cozy, bohemian vibes with its pedestrianized streets, eclectic boutiques, street musicians and lively nightlife. Soak up the artsy atmosphere in this historic hood that claims to be the birthplace of the famous 15th century chronicler Jean d’Outremeuse. Great for strolling, shopping and sampling some authentic Liège gastronomy!

Take the Montagne de Bueren Staircase Challenge

Name and Location: Take the Montagne de Bueren Staircase Challenge

The Montagne de Bueren is a steep 377-stair stone staircase connecting Liège’s higher and lower downtown areas along the Meuse River valley.

History and Significance

These stairs are a major pedestrian route dating back to the 17th century. Local legend claims the staircase has as many steps as days in the year. For the fit, it’s a rewarding short climb with a sweeping reward view.

What to Expect

Montagne de Bueren offers a quad burning, cardio-boosting climb up the equivalent of a 40-story building. Take breaks to appreciate details like the adopt-a-stair plaques. Catch your breath at the top by the zoo, then admire the panorama over Liège’s romantic old town.

Visitor Information

The stairs are freely accessible year-round. Allow 15-30 minutes depending on fitness level. Visitors attempting Montagne de Bueren do so at their own risk as the original stone steps are uneven in areas. There are handrails for support.

If you’re up for a fitness challenge with rewarding city views as your prize, climb the epic Montagne de Bueren staircase. Linking the Outremeuse neighborhood to the Citadel, this staircase has a whopping 374 steps! Take breaks to admire the Meuse valley panoramas before conquering the last steps leading to the Citadel perched atop a hill.

Explore the Atmospheric Carré District

Name and Location: Explore the Atmospheric Carré District

The Carré District comprises a few small historic streets and alleys just northwest of the St. Lambert Cathedral square in central Liège.

History and Significance

Once home to Liège’s leather tanneries thanks to its canal access, the Carré retains its small town flavor with buildings dating back to medieval times when it was first developed. Wandering this area feels like discovering a hidden corner of the past.

What to Expect

Visitors can browse the little shops and houses punctuated by two beautiful churches – St. Bartholomew and St. Denys. Look out for remnants of old tanneries and charming details like decorative ironwork and stone carvings over doorways as you explore the area’s nooks and crannies.

Visitor Information

The Carré District’s small network of streets sits adjacent to the Cathedral and Place St. Lambert. No admission fees. Just come ready to wander slowly and appreciate the timeless atmosphere.

Wandering the atmospheric Carré District situated on the right bank of the Meuse River feels like time travel thanks to its wonderfully preserved medieval urban planning and architecture. Many facades hint at Liège’s industrial past growth in trades like arms making and metallurgy. Dive into the many lively cafés, restaurants and shops tucked along tiny cobbled lanes.

See the Best Panorama from Mont Saint-Martin

Name and Location: See the Best Panorama from Mont Saint-Martin

Mont Saint-Martin is a wooded hill located just west of central Liège, topped by a lookout platform and the Saint Martin Basilica church.

History and Significance

Since ancient times, this high point visible across Liège attracted strategic hill forts. The present-day church retains a beautiful Baroque interior while the hilltop platform allows sweeping views over the river valley city below.

What to Expect

The reward for climbing 150+ steps to the lookout is an unparalleled 360° panorama over Liège’s historic city center. The views perfectly capture the city’s picturesque setting along the Meuse River and its patchwork old town architecture leading up to the hill.

Visitor Information

Mont Saint-Martin can be reached on foot from central Liège in about 15 minutes. There are benches for enjoying the views over the red-tiled rooftops before descending back downtown. Admission is free.

For one of the best vantage points across Liège, take the short walk to Mont Saint-Martin. Locals flock to this peaceful hilltop park to admire views of the Meuse valley, Outremeuse district and beyond. There is also an interesting contrast between the ruined 18th century Carthusian monastery ruins and the sleek contemporary architecture of the Congrès Palace located within the park.

Visit the Liège Christmas Market

Name and Location: Visit the Liège Christmas Market

From late November through December, downtown Liège transforms into a magical Christmas village filled with festive decorations, music, lights, food, and Yuletide cheer.

History and Significance

Holiday street markets have occur in Liège dating back to the Middle Ages. Today, nearly 200 decorative wooden chalet stalls sell handicrafts, ornaments, local delicacies, sweet treats, mulled wine, and more every winter in the heart of the city.

What to Expect

Visitors can browse the bustling market and festive stalls while enjoying live music and performance acts, an ice skating rink, dazzling light displays including a giant illuminated Christmas tree, children’s carousels, and rich seasonal foods.

Visitor Information

The market runs daily from the last Saturday in November through December 30th centered around the Place de la Cathédrale. Entry is free – just dress warmly! Peak visiting times are Friday-Sunday evenings.

From late November through December, Liège has one of Belgium’s prettiest Christmas Markets set within the fairy tale backdrop of the car-free historic center. Shop for quality crafts and holiday gifts at over 230 festive wooden chalet stalls while enjoying warm waffles, sweet treats, Glühwein (mulled wine), tasty snacks or even savory crêpes. A skating rink and Ferris wheel add to the fun!

See the Treasures of St. Paul’s Cathedral

Name and Location: See the Treasures of St. Paul’s Cathedral

Saint Paul’s Cathedral is a magnificent Gothic church dating to the 1400s located in the Old Town district of central Liège.

History and Significance

St. Paul’s Cathedral has dominated Liège’s spiritual and architectural landscape for over 500 years. Noteworthy treasures include its late medieval choir screens, the grand Baroque organ, intricately carved pulpit, and a revered statue of Our Lady of Saint Martin.

What to Expect

Visitors can take in beautiful vaulted ceilings, arched stained glass windows, many ornate altars, and a crypt containing the tombs of former Prince-Bishops of Liège. Getting to climb the church’s bell tower for stunning city views is a highlight for many.

Visitor Information

The cathedral is open daily, with self-guided visits always possible. Guided tours run April-October for €6. Modest attire is requested and no large bags are permitted inside.

Dominating Liège’s skyline, the magnificent St. Paul’s Cathedral is considered a masterpiece of Gothic architecture and the primarily late 15th century building boasts many Flemish artistic treasures. Must-sees include the late 15th century baptismal fonts by Renier de Huy, wood and stone sculptures by Jan Borreman, and Otton van der Weyden’s 1522 altarpiece.

Tour the Prince-Bishops’ Palace

Name and Location: Tour the Prince-Bishops’ Palace

The Prince-Bishops’ Palace is a historic complex of buildings situated overlooking the Meuse River in the heart of old Liège. For nearly 800 years, it functioned as the home and headquarters of the powerful Prince-Bishops who ruled the Liege region.

History and Significance

Construction on the palace began circa 1200 CE, with additions and renovations continuing up through the 1700s. Architectural styles range from Romanesque to Louis XV Rococo. Today it houses the Museum of Mosan Art & Regional Folklore – one of Belgium’s most unique local culture museums.

What to Expect

Visitors can appreciate the palace’s blend of architectural elements while browsing exhibits displaying religious art, archeological discoveries, weapons, coins, craftwork, and artifacts illuminating Wallonia’s cultural heritage. The courtyard garden and city overlook shouldn’t be missed either.

Visitor Information

The museum complex is housed in the former palace located across the river from central Liège. It’s open Tuesday-Sunday: 11am-6pm. Admission is €6 for access to all exhibits and tours.

Travel back in time with a guided visit to the Prince-Bishops’ Palace complex spanning different eras from early Roman foundations and ruins to the richly decorated 18th century palace. Learn how Liege developed under the reign of the powerful Prince-Bishops who controlled the city in the Middle Ages. Tours allow access to halls and rooms not usually open.

Take a Day Trip to Blegny Mine

Name and Location: Take a Day Trip to Blegny Mine

Blegny Mine is an old coal mine located about 30km south of Liège featuring underground shafts and tunnels converted into an industrial heritage museum that visitors can tour.

History and Significance

Coal from Blegny Mine helped fuel Liège’s industrial revolution after it opened in 1810. At its peak in the 1930s-50s, over a thousand miners toiled within its 60+ underground miles of galleries and lift cages. Closed in 1980 then preserved as a museum, it represents Wallonia’s mining past.

What to Expect

Visitors ride a train down the 1,500+ foot mine tunnels to walk through unusual caverns and historic machinery spaces. A guided tour shares what life was like for miners who spent their entire working day below ground. It’s chilly below, so bring layers!

Visitor Information

Blegny Mine is located off the A3/E40 highway near Trembleur in Belgium. Timed tours run daily year-round. Online booking is advised. Admission starts at €12 for the one hour guided visit with train ride.

Journey down inside Belgium’s last authentic coal deep mine at the fascinating tourist attraction Blegny Mine. Located 30km south of Liege, guides lead visitors 600m underground via shafts, steep passageways and tunnels. Learn about the difficult labor of 20th century miners during an immersive 1.5 hour visit. Surface exhibits also showcase mining history.

Relax in the Botanical Garden

Name and Location: Relax in the Botanical Garden

Founded in 1828, the Botanical Garden of Liège is a sprawling green space arboretum located a 10 minute walk from the city center displaying over 6,000 plant species across various gardens and greenhouses.

History and Significance

Initially created for researching useful plants, today the garden has evolved into an oasis of biodiversity boasting an important collection of tropical and subtropical flora – one of Europe’s oldest. Visitors can learn and be inspired by nature’s beauty here.

What to Expect

People come to stroll the botanical garden’s dozens of themed areas like rose gardens, an arboretum, conservatories displaying exotic plants + butterflies, secret garden spaces, and more across its 75 acre expanse just outside the city hustle and bustle.

Visitor Information

The gardens are easily reached via bus #4 from Liège city center. They’re open daily from April-October. Admission starts at €7. Come relax among fragrant and colorful blooms or observe rare species.

Created in 1838, the Botanical Garden of Liège University claims to hold one of the richest plant collections in Belgium. Occupying a south-facing hillside sloping down towards the River Meuse, these gardens offer a peaceful haven right near the city center. Marvel at tropical and desert greenhouses and outdoor garden displays as you take a leisurely stroll on meandering paths.

Visit the Photography Museum

Name and Location: Visit the Photography Museum

Liège’s Photography Museum is centrally located in an elegant 19th century mansion situated on the Meuse river quay in Outremeuse district, easy walking distance from downtown over the footbridge.

History and Significance

Founded in 1987, the museum holds collections spanning photography’s history from Nièpce’s 1827 heliography onwards. Exhibits profile famous photographers and movements, displaying how photography shapes history and memory while highlighting stellar examples of the artform.

What to Expect

Temporary exhibits change frequently while visitors can also browse early cameras and images capturing everything from combat photography to fashion editorials. Don’t miss the rear garden with giant pinhole cameras! Workshops allow hands-on antique photo processes.

Visitor Information

Open Tuesday-Sunday, 10am-6pm. Located at Rue des Mineurs 12 along the river. Access to all exhibits is €8. Photography enthusiasts will appreciate this lesser known museum most.

Liège has an illustrious history tied to pioneering photography thanks to native son Joseph Plateau. photography buffs will love the excellent Musée de la Photographie with over 375,000 images in its archives. See interesting exhibits featuring works spanning photographic history, innovative techniques, famous photographers plus early cameras and magic lanterns in this converted 17th century monastery.

Treat Yourself to Liège Waffles

Name and Location: Treat Yourself to Liège Waffles

Liège waffles are a delicious sweet treat made throughout the city but most iconically purchased from little street food trucks found in the pedestrian zones downtown or across Liège’s festive Christmas market.

History and Significance

These caramelized soft yeasted dough waffles studded with sugar cubes are a signature snack of Liège dating back centuries. Their distinctive rich, sweet flavor comes from pearl sugar baked directly into the waffle batter before cooking.

What to Expect

The aromas lure passersby as the steaming hot golden waffles are pressed right on the trucks for consumption. Toppings range from whipped cream to Nutella or fruit coulis – or enjoy them subtly sweet on their own pulled fresh off the iron.

No visit to Liège is complete without sampling delectable Liège waffles, Belgium’s tastiest treat! Many pastry shops craft these feather-light sweet waffles based on centuries-old recipes but be sure to seek out certified Pur Beurre artisans. The signature pearl sugar baked into Liège waffles gives them an addictive sweet crunch in each bite. Try a warm one dusted with powdered sugar or topped with ice cream!

Conclusion

With its steep history, charming medieval lanes, museums galore and festive Christmas market, Liège promises fascinating sights for culture vultures alongside great shopping, cafés and some of Belgium’s best comfort foods. Use our list of top things to see and do to fully experience this dynamic city along the shores of the River Meuse in 2024.

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