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Belgium Under the Radar – Durbuy

Durbuy is a small city in the French-speaking province of Luxembourg. The city used to be known as ‘the smallest town in the world’, and its tourism board still advertises it as such. It got the status of ‘city’ as early as 1331 and until 1977 it only had 400 inhabitants, so there was some truth to this claim. In 1977, however, the town joined with several surrounding towns into a single commune of about 10,000 residents. It’s an attractive slogan though, tourism-wise, which each year still draws tens of thousands of visitors.

While in medieval times the city’s main commercial activities were industry and trade, nowadays it focuses on recreation and tourism. Lying on the banks of the Ourthe River, at the edge of the hills and forests of the Ardennes, it’s a wonderful place for outdoorsy activities in summer. The kayaking on the river is truly fantastic and there are adventure companies offering a wide range of activities. There are plenty of fine-dining restaurants and bistros, but what I loved most about this quaint little city were the dozens of craft shops and local specialty stores.

It’s a very small city; the car park is about as big as the rest of the town. Despite being so small, it’s possible to spend an entire day strolling through the medieval cobble stone alleyways, visiting the many shops and stores, having a Belgian beer (or two) and some world-class food. The houses with their gray stones are typical for the Ardennes region.

Castle of the Counts of Ursel

The castle of Durbuy is the most striking building in the city. It was built in the 11th century and rebuilt by the Ursel family in the 17th century on the ruins of the former feudal fortress.

Castle of the Counts of Ursel in Durbuy, Belgium
Castle of the Counts of Ursel besides the Ourthe River, great for kayaking

‘Roche de la Falize’

This straight and symmetrical rock formation is a fantastic example of the synclines and anticlines that were formed by tectonic movements. The region’s layers of dolomitic limestone can clearly be seen here. It’s shaped as a dome and lies just outside the city center, near the car park.

Roche de la Falize, Durbuy, Belgium
Roche de la Falize

Maze of Alleyways

The old town of Durbuy is a real maze of narrow cobble stone alleyways, stone houses with ornaments and many, many shops. It’s great fun to walk around and explore.


Cobble stone street in Durbuy, Belgium
A typical Durbuy street
Small shop in Durbuy, Belgium
Entrance door to one of the many cozy hotels
Houses in Durbuy, Belgium
Definitely a great place for pictures!
Wheat Hall of Durbuy, Belgium
The 16th-century ‘Wheat Hall’, red building on the right, is one of several important buildings in the city
Gray stone houses in Durbuy, Belgium
Typical gray stone houses of the Ardennes region
Local specialty shop in Durbuy, Belgium
Reflection in the window of a ginger bread, beer and jam shop
Cozy cobble stone street of Durbuy
Cozy narrow street with the Roche de la Falize in the background
A little square in the old town of Durbuy, Belgium
A little square in the old town of Durbuy
Quaint street in Durbuy, Belgium
That rusty old bicycle fits perfectly
Stone house in Durbuy, Belgium
A lantern, ornamental plants an an old pump
Durbuy, Belgium
Every corner has something worthy of a picture
Shop window in Durbuy, Belgium
One of the shop windows
Antique shop in Durbuy, Belgium
A door of one of the antique shops
Cobble stone streets in Durbuy, Belgium
A street panorama
Beautiful street in Durbuy, Belgium
Lastly, my favorite picture of them all!

Sources: Durbuy

Durbuy, Belgium

Other posts in this series are: LierTongeren, LeuvenDinantNamurYpres and Aalst.

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