Top 10 Things to do in the Dinant, Belgium - Day Trip from Brussels

Top 10 Things to do in the Dinant, Belgium – Day Trip from Brussels

(Last Updated On: August 4, 2019)

Exploring the quaint and charming small towns is unequivocally one of the top things to do in Belgium. Bruges and Ghent or even the city of Antwerp may be the top choice when one is looking for the day trip options from the Belgian capital city Brussels but the city of Dinant nestled the high rocky cliffs straddling the River Meuse has a charm of its own. The historic city surrounded by nature offers some unique points of interest.

Where is Dinant, Belgium

Dinant is a beautiful city located in Wallonia, the French-speaking region of Belgium in the province of Namur. The well-connected rail network from Belgian capital Brussels to Dinant with a journey time of 90 minutes makes visiting Dinant an easy day trip from Brussels.

As the train started to approach the Dinant city we were greeted with an awe-inspiring vista. You know that you have arrived at the Dinant station when you are greeted with a postcard-perfect view of the countryside cottages set along the banks of emerald Meuse River. And the imposing bulb-shaped church spire towers high in the sky with a backdrop of rocky cliffs and citadel overlooking the charming town of Dinant and the River Meuse.

Top Things to do in Dinant Belgium

Still wondering what to do in Dinant Belgium? No worries we have got you covered for all the top Dinant attractions.

Dinant Cathedral or The Collegiate Church of Our Lady

The magnificent 13th-century Collegiate Church of Our Lady or the Notre Dame de Dinant with a pear-shaped spire is one of the major and distinctive landmarks of the city. The Gothic church set on the shores of the River Meuse with a mountainous backdrop is a sight to behold. The church was built on the location of a 10th-century Romanesque church which collapsed in 1228 but the striking feature of the church the pear-shaped bell tower was added only in the 16th-century.

Top Things to do in Dinant Belgium

Top Things to do in Dinant Belgium

The church which is open through the year has an impressive interior featuring a remarkable portal and a stained-glass window which is one of the largest in Europe, life-size statues of saints and stone columns.

Charles de Gaulle Bridge

To reach the cathedral one has to cross the river through a spectacular bridge ‘Charles de Gaulle’. The bridge itself a wonderful city landmark is bedecked with colorful saxophone on both sides commemorating the fact that Dinant is the hometown of Adolphe Sax, the famous Belgian musician who invented saxophone. Each of the Saxophone adorning the bridge and few more placed near the Adolphe Sax Museum all representing each of the countries of European Union.

Top Things to do in Dinant Belgium

Top Things to do in Dinant Belgium

Interestingly the bridge is named after ‘Charles de Gaulle’ which is nothing to do with the saxophone but honors Charles de Gaulle the former president of France who was shot in the knee during the Battle of Dinant fought by French and German forces in WWI. There is a statue of Charles de Gaulle next to the bridge.

La Maison de Monsieur Sax

For the music lovers or the Sax fans, there is an interactive museum where you can explore the life and work of Adolphe Sax and play around with different saxophones. The museum is set up in the family home where Sax was born in 1814. You will also find a lifesize bronze statue of Adolphe Sax at the entrance of the museum. Apart from the invention of the saxophone Adolphe Sax was also an instrument builder and is said to have set up a factory for instrument building. All of this and more you can learn in the Sax Museum which is open all around the year with free entrance.

Dinant Caves or Grotte La Merveilleuse

The spectacular Dinant Caves located around a km away from city center are one of the top things to see in Belgium. There are buses running from the city center to the caves which are not very frequent. We had only one day and we didn’t want to miss the next tour scheduled hence we chose to walk all the way to the caves with the road winding through lush forests and quaint houses.

Top Things to do in Dinant Belgium

The guided tour that lasts for an hour is offered in both English, as well as in Dutch. The tour walks you through the dim lit yet intriguing caves backed by the phenomena of its existence by the guide. It is believed that the location of caves was once an ocean, which explains the formations of the limestone rocks inside the caves. The caves though not very large have an abundance of white stalactites and stalagmites. The temperature inside the caves remains a constant 12 deg throughout the year hence it is recommended to dress accordingly.

Top Things to do in Dinant Belgium

The caves were discovered during a railway line construction and were handed over to geologists for further investigation. We walked through narrow paths and stairs and at a point space widened into a magnificent chamber where as per the guide musical concerts are hosted. There is a small stream at the third and lowest level of the cave, which originally formed the cave and is often flooded in winter and is believed that the stream joins the river in downtown after meandering through a course of 7 days. During the Second World War, the cave had served as a refuge to hundreds of civilians.

Also Read: The impressive limestone cave system of St Beatus in Interlaken, Switzerland.

La Citadelle Dinant

The current citadel was built in the 1800s on the location of original fortifications from the 11th-century and is part of the Meuse Citadels which are a group of forts situated along the Meuse river. The fortified Citadel perched on the rocky cliff is one of the top places to visit in Dinant for the breathtaking vista it offers of the pear-shaped church spire and the Dinant City rooftops set along the River Meuse.

Top Things to do in Dinant Belgium - La Citadelle Dinant or Dinant Castle

The citadel can either be accessed by climbing the 408 steps or by riding the cable car.The cable car which is said to be one of the shortest and steepest in the world. The lower station for the cable car is located next to the Dinant cathedral. The ascend offers some wonderful views of the city and the river.

Top Things to do in Dinant Belgium - La Citadelle Dinant or Dinant Castle Funicular

The Citadel houses the Dinant’s Arms and history Museum and rooms recreated as prisoners’ cells and torture room.

Top Things to do in Dinant Belgium - La Citadelle Dinant or Dinant Castle

Top Things to do in Dinant Belgium - La Citadelle Dinant or Dinant Castle Museum

Top Things to do in Dinant Belgium - La Citadelle Dinant or Dinant Castle Museum

The museum has various multimedia shows and audios which portray the violent battle between French and German soldiers in Battle of Dinant (1914). The Citadel also has a playground for children, a gift shop, and a cafe. Check the open times and ticket prices before you plan a visit.

Top Things to do in Dinant Belgium - La Citadelle Dinant or Dinant Castle

Top Things to do in Dinant Belgium - La Citadelle Dinant or Dinant Castle

Cruise or a Leisurely Stroll

The picturesque city of Dinant set along the banks of the River Meuse provides with miles of beautiful riverside promenade. A leisurely stroll along the promenade offers with breathtaking vistas of the city and the lush landscapes. Or if you have less time on hand there is an alternative option. Hop onto one of the cruises and explore the city attractions and historical places of Meuse. The boat tour on the River Meuse is accompanied by commentary in Dutch, English and French languages.

Top Things to do in Dinant Belgium - Meuse River Cruises

Top Things to do in Dinant Belgium - Meuse River Cruises

They also have an option for self-drive electric boats for groups. One needs to check with the information office for the availability of the boats.

Couques de Dinant – the Local Special Biscuits

Couques de Dinant is a hard biscuit made up of honey-flour or honey-flour-sugar. The biscuits on display were of unique shapes and various sizes, some of them very huge. The biscuits had interesting carvings on them that include animals, fruits, and Dinant City landscapes. The lady at the shop instructed us not to bite into the cookie instead break off pieces and chew. True to her words, the biscuits were really hard not only to bite even to break.

Top Things to do in Dinant Belgium - Couques de Dinant

Top Things to do in Dinant Belgium - Couques de Dinant

Bayard Rock

If you are driving into the city of Dinant Bayard rock is another iconic city landmark you can visit. The Bayard Rock is a 100ft. high needle-like rock standing between the road and the river Meuse. The road passing through the rock is said to be paved by the French troops during their Dinant invasion.

Maison Leffe

Belgian Beer lovers especially the Leffe Beer wouldn’t want to miss a visit to the Maison Leffe. The Maison Leffe is housed in former Notre Dame de Leffe Abbey. The interactive museum dedicated to the history of the monastery and the tradition of Leffe Beers also offers a tasting session at the end of the museum tour.

Dinant also hosts various adventure activities like canoeing, rope bridges, nature walks, cross-country cycling and other adventures. More information here. If you are planning a visit in August then make sure not to miss the unusual boat racing on Meuse River called ‘International Regatta of Bathtubs‘ where the boats are themed around bathtubs and are a great occasion which includes visitors showcasing homemade crafts and other local creations.

Castle of Freyr

We could not visit this castle as we had only a day in Dinant. The castle sits in a lush landscaped garden on the banks of the bank of the Meuse River. The Castle of Freyr is the former summer house of the Dukes of Beaufort-Spontin and an important heritage site. The Renaissance style castle building has a sumptuous interior decorated with rich wall paintings and frescoes on the ceiling. Also not to miss is the grandeur Rococo chapel.

Top Things to do in Dinant Belgium - Castle of Freyr

The walled terrace gardens decorated with ponds and sculptures along with the ornate castle interior is said to be reminiscent of the stunning palace of Versailles in France. Regular buses ply from Dinant Gare to Castle of Freyr which takes around 10 minutes.

Have you been to Dinant, what other places do you recommend in Dinant? Share with us in comments.

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47 thoughts on “Top 10 Things to do in the Dinant, Belgium – Day Trip from Brussels

  • May 20, 2016 at 4:30 am
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    Very beautiful and interesting city. Nice pictures of saxophone and good to know that the inventor of saxophone belongs to this city.

    Reply
    • mm
      May 27, 2016 at 9:04 am
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      Thank you so much 🙂

      Reply
  • May 20, 2016 at 7:01 pm
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    I have been to Belgium a number of times, but not to this place, it looks very interesting, not sure I like the look of the biscuits…

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    • mm
      May 27, 2016 at 9:25 am
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      We completely understand Francis the biscuits arent tempting to us either 🙂

      Reply
  • May 24, 2016 at 3:38 am
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    Reminds me of the cathedrals in Spain. Beautiful photographs and I love your detailed descriptions.

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    • mm
      May 27, 2016 at 9:24 am
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      Thanks Andrea would love to check out the cathedrals in Spain too

      Reply
  • May 24, 2016 at 2:25 pm
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    Everything looks great, however I don’t think the caves would be my cup of tea. I’m very claustrophobic so I would probably freak out! Love the rustic and gothic feel to the church!

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    • mm
      May 27, 2016 at 9:24 am
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      Thanks Kerry but can assure you the caves arent any spooky its beautiful rather 😉

      Reply
  • May 24, 2016 at 4:45 pm
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    Couques de Dinant the local special biscuits look amazing and I shall remember not to bite into them because I certainly do not want my teeth to fall out lol!

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    • mm
      May 27, 2016 at 9:23 am
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      lol Ana.. Thanks for stopping by.

      Reply
  • May 24, 2016 at 5:26 pm
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    Looks really nice and interesting place! Never been there but maybe one day I have a chance to pay a visit there. The saxophones look great and funny on the bridge and that’s a great piece of information that it’s the home town of them 🙂

    Reply
    • mm
      May 27, 2016 at 9:22 am
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      True Tiina we were also surprised by the great information we discovered 🙂

      Reply
  • May 24, 2016 at 5:45 pm
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    I have to admit, I haven’t heard of this city before. Very beautiful indeed! I would gladly visit it. And I would definitely try those buscuits, hahaha. Thank you for sharing such great photos! 🙂

    Reply
    • mm
      May 27, 2016 at 9:22 am
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      Thanks Rodanthi..Glad you liked the post!

      Reply
  • May 24, 2016 at 9:14 pm
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    Oh wow! I’d definitely have to spend a lot of time exploring. These pictures are amazing. There’s so much to see!

    Reply
    • mm
      May 27, 2016 at 9:21 am
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      Thanks Liz 🙂

      Reply
  • May 25, 2016 at 1:23 am
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    The buildings along the water with the rock in the background is so pretty! I hope that one day I can make it to Belgium in my travels. I had not heard of this place before your post.

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    • mm
      May 27, 2016 at 9:20 am
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      Thanks Bella they are pretty indeed 🙂

      Reply
  • May 25, 2016 at 7:04 am
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    Gorgeous city! Looks like a very interesting place to be and man , those biscuit’s will pair with my soy latte (my mouth is watering). Thank you for sharing

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    • mm
      May 27, 2016 at 9:20 am
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      Thanks Denisa.. Would love to try biscuits with your Latte too 😉

      Reply
  • May 25, 2016 at 7:54 am
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    Your pictures completely captivated me and really caught my interest! I loved seeing all of these places! I definitely want to add this to places to go!

    Reply
    • mm
      May 27, 2016 at 9:19 am
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      Thats awesome Alison.. Glad you liked it 🙂

      Reply
  • May 25, 2016 at 9:55 am
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    Never heard of this town before but I love the architecture and it’s interesting that it’s French speaking 🙂 I study French so I’d love to visit!

    Reply
    • mm
      May 27, 2016 at 9:19 am
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      Thats nice Laura.. Thanks for stopping by.

      Reply
  • May 25, 2016 at 1:35 pm
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    I remember nearly breaking my teeth when I first tried Couques de Dinant, they are yummy though! The photos look great, a beautiful city in a beautiful country, and as a french speaker myself, I’d love to visit one day!

    Reply
    • mm
      May 27, 2016 at 9:18 am
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      Oh wow Freya where had you tried them was it in Dinant? Thanks for the compliments 🙂

      Reply
    • mm
      May 27, 2016 at 9:17 am
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      Thanks Kusum 🙂

      Reply
    • mm
      May 27, 2016 at 9:17 am
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      Sure Jennifer.. Glad you liked them 🙂

      Reply
  • May 26, 2016 at 9:44 pm
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    The view of the Cathedral is the most imposing, and tallest structure in the community. But like other catholic churches, the interiors are very similar to the rest. The pics are refreshing, and by the looks of it, it seems like the temperature is cold but still comfortable.

    Reply
    • mm
      May 27, 2016 at 9:16 am
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      True Sonnie the exterior of cathedral is the most imposing. It was a sunny day but very windy 🙂

      Reply
  • May 26, 2016 at 9:56 pm
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    It looks like a very lovely town 🙂
    Those caves look very interesting 🙂

    Reply
    • mm
      May 27, 2016 at 9:14 am
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      Agree Teky. Thanks for stopping by.

      Reply
  • May 27, 2016 at 4:49 am
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    Beautiful places! I find the local special biscuits interesting. I like how detailed they are. I wonder what`s the taste of the biscuit you ate? How much are they?

    Reply
    • mm
      May 27, 2016 at 9:14 am
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      As already mentioned there were only two flavors and we chose with sugar.. Well don’t remember the cost 🙂

      Reply
  • May 27, 2016 at 10:07 pm
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    some day I’ll be able to go there and see it in person… what an incredible experience, thanks for the pictures so that I can imagine myself there : )

    Reply
  • May 28, 2016 at 7:50 am
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    It’s great that you can have a day trip to Brussels too. Id love to see the caves! These photos make me want to be there too. I’ve been to Brussels but never dinant.

    Reply
  • June 1, 2016 at 7:40 am
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    I like your detailed descriptions! Thanks for sharing these beautiful photos with all of us! We can only imagine! I would like to visit Brussels too! Btw.: I love your blog and your adventures! Have a nice day! 🙂

    Reply
  • February 3, 2018 at 8:44 am
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    What a detailed yet succinctly written guide! Thanks for lots of very useful information and surprising tidbits. I’m a beer love so the Leffe Museum would be the major drawcard for me but I would love to also see this bathtub regatta you mention! The coques (sp?) (traditional biscuits) are quite fascinating too!

    Reply
  • February 3, 2018 at 11:56 am
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    I’ve never been to Dinant, so this looks like a great day trip. Very interesting about the sax museum and all the sax statues around the town, very quaint! Those caves look very interesting, and the biscuits are very sweet, given all those unusual shapes!

    Reply
  • February 3, 2018 at 5:49 pm
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    I think I would pass on the biscuits but take seconds on the Belgium beer. Great history with the saxophones and the D’Gaul Bridge. I was wondering why the Belgiums would have a bridge to honor a French President. If I was even remotely close, I would come out to the bathtub regatta. Seems like a great excuse for a fun time.

    Reply
  • February 4, 2018 at 2:38 am
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    Dinant is a true gem – I am so glad to discover this hidden gem. I only heard about Brussels or Bruges about Belgium, but it is good to know there are plenty of options. The Notre Dame Cathedral is impressive. As an architecture fan, that is number one on my itinerary, most probably.

    Reply
  • February 4, 2018 at 6:16 am
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    Such a cool list! I actually volunteered in Ghent for a short while and I wish I had known about this place! I think Belgium has so much to offer! I absolutely loved the caves and the biscuits! Next time I’ll skip Brussels and go straight to this place!

    Reply
  • February 4, 2018 at 3:02 pm
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    Dinant looks like a beautiful yet quaint haven near Brussels. Would love to try out the biscuits, while taking a leisure stroll in the city. Going to keep Dinant in mind, when I visit Brussels, which I plan to visit in the coming few months. The caves are one of the things that have caught my attention, and definitely going to be checking it out.

    Reply
  • February 4, 2018 at 4:45 pm
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    I love the Charles de Gaulle Bridge bedecked with colorful saxophones! What a unique view. And I would love to taste those honey-flavored Couques de Dinant with my honey-infused chamomile tea! And that photo of the Dinant Caves should be Pinned! Brugge beckons to me. But so does Dinant, so close to Brussels!

    Reply
  • February 6, 2018 at 11:52 am
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    Yet another city in Belgium that I haven’t heard about, Dinant looks really good. I particularly like the huge colourful saxophone at the Charles De Gaulle bridge and the caves. Also, a cruise on the river Meuse looks pretty cool. I’d also love to try the special local biscuits. So interesting to see the kind of places in Belgium that I don’t even know about!

    Reply

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