Traveling to Dinant, Belgium and you’re not sure how to spend your time in the charming town? Then you’re definitely in the right place because this detailed guide to all the top things to do in Dinant will help you plan out an itinerary!
Dinant might be a small town but it’s got a history that few big cities can compete with. The town’s strategic position on the Meuse river has made it a battle site more than once, even during World War I. Such rich history translates to many citadels and interesting museums, which are just some of the popular attractions in the picturesque town.
Read on to learn more about the fascinating town of Dinant, and see all the top attractions you shouldn’t miss while you’re in this famous Belgian city!
Dinant is a small town in the French-speaking region of Wallonia. It doesn’t have an airport, but it is connected to other major cities in Belgium by trains and buses. If you’re traveling specifically to this charming little town, look for flights that land at Brussels South Charleroi Airport.
This is the closest international airport to Dinant, and it’s the second-largest airport in Belgium so it sees a lot of direct international flights. Driving time from the airport to Dinant is some 50 minutes, so renting a car is definitely the quickest way of traveling from the airport to the medieval town.
You can also take a train from Charleroi to Namur, and then from Namur to Dinant. The quickest option takes about an hour and 15 minutes, but that doesn’t account for the amount of time you need to travel from the airport to the South Charleroi train station. Buses also transport passengers between Charleroi and Dinant, but they’re slower than the trains.
If you’re traveling to Dinant from Brussels, the train is your best option. Again, you have to ride the (IC) train to Namur and from there the (L) train to Dinant. The average travel time is a little under two hours, and ticket prices start at some 15 Euros.
The best time to visit Dinant, Belgium is between May and September. Spring is the busiest tourist season in the town, so it’s a great time to visit if you want to have loads of things to do. However, it’s worth noting that spring is chilly in Dinant and it gets quite a bit of rain, so summer is generally considered the perfect time to visit this charming little town.
Even the summers in Dinant are mild, with average daily highs of 22 degrees Celsius and lows that usually don’t drop below 14 degrees Celsius. It’s worth noting that temperatures can get higher in July and August, but they rarely exceed 30 degrees Celsius. So, even though it’s pretty warm, it’s not so hot that you can’t stand to walk around and explore the town.
The summer months, along with April and September, are the driest months in this charming town. There’s shouldn’t be any snow on the ground during this season (but you never know), plus the chance of rain remains under 30%.
Couque de Dinant is a famous biscuit native to this lovely little Belgian town. It’s traditionally made with wheat flour and honey, and it’s very hard in texture. The dough is made from flour and honey, placed into wooden molds, and then cooked in the oven at the highest temperature possible. The wooden molds are made in many different shapes, so a true Dinant biscuit will always have an interesting motif on it.
It’s usually cooked for about 15 minutes at 300 degrees Celsius which allows the honey to caramelize. Once cooled, the biscuit becomes extremely hard and it can be preserved indefinitely, which is why it’s a popular decoration. Belgians even use it to decorate Christmas trees and to commemorate special occasions.
It’s worth noting that the rock-hard texture of the biscuit is certainly not for everyone. It’s actually not meant to be bitten into – the biscuit is supposed to be broken down into smaller pieces, which can be dipped into coffee, left to melt in the mouth, or gently sucked on.
Meuse River runs through Dinant and it’s certainly one of the highlights of this charming little town. A river cruise is a great way of discovering the lovely Belgian town from a different perspective and getting to know more about this iconic river.
Many cruises are organized by Dinant Evasion, a recreation center that offers heaps of ways to have fun in this Belgian town. They organize many different types of cruises, from simple sightseeing river cruises to themed murder mystery parties on their boats. This is definitely a unique way of exploring this quaint town, and an adventure worth experiencing if you’re looking to try something fun and exciting.
Also, it’s worth noting that it’s possible to rent houseboats on the Meuse. Consider this if you want to explore Dinant from the water at your own pace, but also if you would like to cruise to other towns in the region. You’ll get detailed instructions on how to operate a houseboat from the marina staff – they’re super easy to maneuver, and most people get the hang of it in the first 15 minutes.
Charles de Gaulle Bridge is Dinant’s main bridge over the Meuse river. It’s a simple road bridge and there’s nothing too special about it, other than the saxophone statues that can be found all over town. You can see this bridge from pretty much every corner of Dinant, and if you have any plans to get to the other side of the river bank, you’ll have to cross it.
Although the bridge itself is not very special, it does offer a spectacular view of Dinant. You can see both banks of the Meuse River, so you will get a good, 360-degree look at the picturesque town. It’s one of the best spots in town to take photographs, but also just a good place to stop for a moment and take in the pretty views.
Notre-Dame de Dinant is a Gothic 13th-century church best known for its pear-shaped bell tower. The iconic church is impossible to miss, partly because of the impressive architecture, and partly because it’s much more grandiose than all the surrounding buildings.
It’s one of the most prominent buildings in the Dinant city center, and it’s definitely one of the top tourist attractions. Impressive as it is on the outside, it’s undoubtedly worth it to go inside the Gothic church as well. See the astonishing nave, the mesmerizing stained glass windows, and all the impressive statues and decorations inside Dinant’s famous church.
It was Adolphe Sax who invented the saxophone back in the 19th century and you can visit the house he lived in if you travel to Dinant. The iconic inventor was born in Dinant to instrument designer parents, so it’s easy to see where his interest in musical instruments came from.
The house has been turned into a fascinating museum dedicated to the inventor of the saxophone. Visitors can listen to the different varieties of the instrument and experience how the saxophone is used in different music genres.
Perhaps the best thing about this museum is that entrance is entirely free of charge and there’s no need to make a reservation. The popular Dinant museum is situated in the city centre – it’s in the same row as the Notre-Dame de Dinant, and you’ll easily spot it thanks to the brass statue of Adolphe Sax right in front of the entrance.
Dinant has always been a strategically important town thanks to its position on the Meuse river. The town has been a setting for many battles and pillaging, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it’s also home to quite a few citadels. La Citadelle de Dinant is probably the most famous one, and easily one of the top tourist attractions in this town.
It’s a medieval fortress with a museum perched atop the Dinant rock. The citadel can be accessed by climbing 408 steps or taking a cable car. It’s important to note that you pay the same fee whether you opt to walk or ride the cable car, so unless you’ve got something to prove to yourself, just ride the cable car and save your energy for exploration of the medieval fortress.
Walk around the Dinant citadel grounds, visit the on-site museums, and be sure to stop at least for a moment and enjoy the panoramic view of the town and the River Meuse. It’s quite a sight, and reason enough to visit the clifftop citadel, even if you don’t care for all the history behind it.
Belgian has a long history of manufacturing beer in former monasteries and Dinant is no different. It’s home to the Leffe Beer Museum, and a trip to this museum is an absolute must for all beer lovers.
Whether or not you appreciate the intricate taste of the Belgian Leffe beers, this museum is a must-see. It features interactive displays that detail both the history and the brewing tradition of the monastery, as well as the process of brewing the beer. It’s worth noting that this is a small museum and when it gets crowded, it becomes difficult to hear the digital exhibit.
Museum tickets are about 10 Euros per person and they include a museum entrance, a Leffe beer of your choice at the end of the tour, and a gift that consists of a Leffe glass and two small beer cans.
One thing worth noting is that the museum is separate from the Our Lady of Leffe Abbey. Also, beer hasn’t been brewed in this monastery since the French Revolution, so Leffe isn’t a true Trappist beer. It’s been brewed at the Stella Artois brewery in Leuven since the 1950s.
Castle of Freÿr is situated south of Dinant but it’s such a fascinating attraction that it’s absolutely worth it to ride the bus for 10 minutes just to see this mesmerizing castle. It’s one of the most important heritage sites in the entire Wallonia region, so it’s definitely worth your time.
The fascinating Belgian castle is often compared to Versailles, but it’s considered a smaller version of the French masterpiece. This was originally a Renaissance castle but it was expanded in the 18th century, so it is possible to notice architectural elements from different time periods.
The Castle of Freÿr was once used as the dukes’ residence, and at the time it would house all the royal guests. Nowadays it’s open to the public, and visitors can go on tours of the various rooms of the castle that are mostly decorated with period furniture.
The castle gardens are even more fascinating than the rooms inside. They were designed in the style of André Le Nôtre in the 18th century, with many ponds and fountains that are more than three centuries old. Hedge mazes in the gardens are also a popular attraction, so be sure to take your time while you are exploring the grounds of the impressive Freÿr Castle.
Castle of Crevecoeur is situated north of Dinant and it can easily be accessed by public transport. Also, it’s a 25-minute walk from the Dinant city center to the castle ruins – it’s doable but not recommended since you’d have to walk along the road.
There’s no entrance fee for the site of the castle ruins – you just show up, walk around the grounds, and take in the views. It’s worth noting that there also aren’t any amenities on-site, so you’ll have to bring whatever you might need. Pack a picnic basket and spend an afternoon exploring the ruins of the Castle of Crevecoeur and admiring the panoramic views of the Belgian countryside.
Grotte la Merveilleuse is a dramatic cave situated on the left bank of the river Meuse in Dinant. It’s a very large cave filled with white stalactites and stalagmites, but it’s worth noting that the mineral deposits aren’t quite as impressive as the sheer size of this cave.
Visitors can go inside and wander around on their own, which is a great way of experiencing this impressive cave. You might even get to spot a bat or two in the more secluded cave chambers, so keep that in mind in case you’re not too keen on hanging around in a cave with bats.
Guided tours of a cave have become a thing of the past because of reduced visitor numbers, but the entire place is so well organized that you can easily tour the cave on your own. You’ll get some instructions before you go inside the cave, which will help you find your way through this fascinating natural attraction in Dinant.
Rocher Bayard (the Bayard Rock) is a 40-meter tall needle rock in Dinant, on the bank of the river Meuse. It’s one of the most famous tourist attractions in this town and it’s truly a spectacular sight.
However, it is just a rock, so it’s not like you should go out of your way just to see it. You can go for a drive around town and you’ll get a good look at it. There’s even a road that passes between the imposing rock and a cliff – it’s a narrow road, but buses travel through here every day in Dinant.
It’s certainly an interesting experience, but definitely not for people who are even a little bit claustrophobic.
Parc de Furfooz is a nature reserve situated south of Dinant. The beautiful town is one of the closest towns to this nature reserve, so if you’re already in Dinant, it’s an excellent opportunity to experience some truly spectacular Belgian nature.
The nature preserve boasts forests, meadows, caves, and ancient Roman ruins. It’s the best spot near Dinant for all adventurers and outdoor lovers who want to explore the great outdoors. The hike through the nature preserve is an easy one that can be done with small children, so keep that in mind in case you’re traveling in Belgium with your family.
Château de Vêves is a 15th-century castle situated not too far from the Furfooz nature preserve. It’s only a 15-minute drive from Dinant, and it can be accessed by train if you don’t mind walking for 20 minutes from the train station to the imposing castle.
This impressive castle is classified as an exceptional monument and one of the most important examples of 15th-century architecture. It was destroyed in the early 13th century and then entirely rebuilt just three decades later. The castle and all its buildings burned down in a fire in the 15th century, but they were rebuilt shortly after.
All the castle buildings were transformed during Renaissance, and even more improvements were done under Louis XV. Visitors can wander around the entire castle exploring the different rooms on all the floors, feeling like they’ve somehow stepped right into a fairytale.
The Walzin Castle is situated south of Dinant, close to both Parc de Furfooz and Château de Vêves. It’s a spectacular sight and one of the most picturesque attractions in this part of Belgium, so a visit is warranted if you’re trying to capture the beauty of this spectacular country.
However, if you want to tour the interior of an ancient castle, this isn’t the one to visit. It’s not open to the public and most people who decide to visit Walzin Castle do so for the epic photographs.
There are several viewpoints in the vicinity of this castle that are popular spots for photographers, and it’s worth noting that it’s possible to go kayaking in the river just below the castle. Whether you want to take pretty pictures or you just want to explore as much of Belgium as possible, this is certainly an attraction you shouldn’t miss while you’re traveling in Dinant.
Dinant Evasion is an adventure park that offers a wide variety of fun and thrilling adventures. It’s situated in the southern area of the town, on the bank of the River Lesse. The adventure park is the best place in Dinant for anyone who wants to explore the great outdoors and engage in some exciting activities that are bound to give them an adrenaline rush.
This recreation center also organizes cruises on the Meuse and Lesse rivers, so it’s one of the best options if you want to go on a river cruise. They’re also great for kayaking, mountain biking, climbing, paintball, and a lot of other things.
Whether you’re just looking for ways to have fun and enjoy yourself or you’re serious about exploring the vast nature surrounding this Belgian town, Dinant Evasion is one of the places you shouldn’t miss while you’re in the area.
Dinant’s bathtub regatta takes place on August 15th of every year and it’s exactly what it sounds like. The one-of-a-kind event is incredibly fun to observe and even more fun to participate in, so if you happen to be traveling to Dinant in mid-August, don’t miss out on this spectacular event.
It all started in 1982 when Alberto Serpagli decided he didn’t need a boat when he could use a tub to race down the Meuse river. He was inspired by a radio story of a Frenchman who did the same thing, and little did he know that he was starting a tradition that would still be going on, four decades later.
Participants in the bathtub regatta are allowed to use any kind of float they create, as long it includes a bathtub somewhere in the design. There’s usually a theme every year that inspires their design, and it’s absolutely impressive to see just how creative some of the participants get.
All the floats must be self-propelled so no motors are allowed, and it’s worth noting that both participation and observation of the event are entirely free of charge.
Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!