Arlon, the capital of Luxembourg Province is, the smallest capital in Belgium and has a population of around 29,000 people. The Romans used the town as a trading post many years ago and some evidence of this remains in ruins and in the Archaeological Museum. The main reason to visit Arlon is the surrounding countryside.
The woodlands, nature trails, rolling hills and sweeping fields make for great hiking or cycling and should certainly be included in any Arlon itinerary. There is plenty of information on walking and cycling in the region and whether you are a just a tourist looking for a good bike ride or a seasoned cycling veteran, there will be a route for you. Likewise, the food on offer in the city live up to the usual high standard of Belgian cuisine and eating and drinking will no doubt take up a lot of your time spent in the city. Regional cuisine is not too different from other food in Belgium but there are some treats including Arlon’s take on a pork pie. Arlon has a good mix of fancy restaurants and gastropub style outfits which will suit all budgets and tastes.
Aside from these two main draws there are just a handful of other things to do and see in the city including a couple of very different churches, some interesting but rather small museums, a war memorial and a high tech take on a viewing platform. If you are planning to pass through Arlon on a tour of the Low Countries, allow for a couple of days to see the major sights. If you want to relax and wine and dine maybe extend that to three of four but more than this will not be necessary. With that being said, Arlon should not be missed out entirely from a tour of Belgium or the Low Countries and does have something to offer.
Lets have a look at the best things to do in Arlon:
1. Visit the Eglise St Donat
This little church perched on the city’s central hill is not one of the most spectacular in Europe but it is certainly charming.
Eglise Saint Donat was built in 1626 by Capuchin Monks and has been restored in 1851 to represent the building that you see today.
The church has been closed for much of this year due to restorative work but nevertheless the views from the hill are great and the façade of the building is worth seeing up close.
2. Take a walk to see the other church in Arlon
The Eglise Saint Donat’s main rival for architectural attention is the nearby church of Saint Martin.
This church has a much more Gothic architectural style and dominates the skyline of Arlon.
The building was constructed in 1905 and there is plenty to see within including a small area dedicated to Saint Martin himself who visited the town of Arlon during his lifetime.
3. Pop into the Archaeological Museum
The Archaeological museum on Rue des Martyrs has a fairly small but fascinating collection.
The museum explores buildings that have been discovered in the town which is believed to be one of the oldest in the country of Belgium.
Entry to the museum costs 4 euros but be warned the signage around the collection is not in English so you will need to obtain an English guide in order to appreciate the objects on show.
4. Walk around the Maison Gaspar
Just across the street from the Archaeological Museum, the Maison Gaspar can be visited for only an extra 2 euros.
The building was built in the 19th Century and looks good from the outside but it is inside where the treasure lies.
Inside the house, you will find a collection of lavish furnishings alongside sculptures and paintings.
The highlight is without a doubt the 15th Century altarpiece which is worth the 2 Euros entry cost alone.
5. Do some shopping
Arlon attracts shoppers from far and wide due to its large shopping mall, the Espace Shopping Hydrion.
The mall covers 33,000 square metres and includes over 40 shops and brands.
The mall also has a large car park and all parking is free making it easy to pop in, hassle-free and do some shopping.
The mall is open from 9:30 to 7:00 pm, Monday to Saturday.
6. Learn about the history of the bicycle
The Bicycle Museum in Arlon is a great way to learn about the humble bicycle from its very conception to its modern-day form.
The story of the bicycle begins in 1817 and can be followed through the museum with many artefacts and objects to help clarify the tale.
The various bikes on show here are weird, wacky and wonderful and make for thrilling viewing for bicycle enthusiasts.
The museum is free and is open from 7am until 10pm daily.
7. Drink some Lambic beer
As with all Belgian towns, Arlon has many good pubs and even more good beers.
One of the standout pubs in Arlon is the Taverne La Forum.
The stone-roofed Taverne is cosy and comfortable all year round and always has a good selection of beers on tap as well as some great Lambic by the bottle.
If you have never tried Lambic beer, then this is the perfect place to start.
Lambic beer is thought to be the oldest type of beer in the world and smells and tastes rather different from your usual pint.
8. Visit General Patton’s Memorial
General Patton of the United States Army was nicknamed Old Blood and Guts and was a prolific military man.
Patton is best remembered for his sweep across France into Belgium during the Second World War.
The memorial made in his honour in Arlon marks the spot where he assembled his troops prior to the Battle of the Bulge which resulted in around 175,000 casualties.
9. Eat at a Belgian Gastropub
Arlon has some great places to eat and chief amongst them is the Le Fils De Paul.
It has a great reputation and due to its fairly casual gastropub appearance, it is reasonably priced too.
The décor here is everything a cosy Belgian pub should be with wooden floorboards, a fireplace and dark hardwood furniture.
The food is just as comforting and includes good fish dishes as well as hearty stew and, of course, wine by the carafe full.
10. See Arlon’s Roman Towers
The two Roman towers in Arlon, named Jupiter and Neptune, are located on the Grand Place and were once part of the ramparts.
The walls here were built from the remains of dismantled sculptures much of which can be seen in the nearby archaeological museum.
The sculpture which represents Neptune is still somewhat intact and can be seen here beneath the tower.
11. Take a walk
The countryside surrounding Arlon is peaceful and pretty making it perfect for a walk.
The Arlon tourist board provide a great number of routes to suit people of all ages and fitness levels.
Scenery around Arlon includes hills, woodlands and the Arboretum which was created in 1991 and includes a nature trail for those looking to see some wildlife.
12. Take in a great view
If you are looking to take in all of Arlon’s beautiful countryside in one go, the Visiorama is the perfect option.
Recently installed on top of the high hill in Arlon, the Visiorama allows for views of four different countries.
The interactive Visiorama interface allows visitors to hear information about the landscapes whilst they are looking at them.
Furthermore, the information is given in three different languages to suit your needs.
13. Visit a festival
Between the months of March and May, Arlon has many festivals to mark the changing of the seasons.
The highlight of the festival season is without a doubt the festival half-way through lent.
The festival includes music, parades, food and various other festivities.
Be sure to catch the key moment of the festival in which the carnival prince is given the city keys.
This is the perfect time to experience Arlon in full swing.
14. Sample Arlon’s delicacies
Arlon, like many other cities in Belgium, is a great place to visit for gourmets.
The region specialities include pâté gaumis which is a type of pork pie and maitrank, an aperitif from the region flavoured with sweet woodruff.
Food from the Ardennes region and Gaume are also prominent with pig snacks featuring prominently on almost every menu.
15. Ride your bicycle
After visiting the highly entertaining Bicycle Museum, chances are you will want to take to two wheels yourself.
Arlon is a great place for cycling with stunning scenery, winding roads and route to match all fitness and skill levels.
The tourism office in Arlon can sort you out a bike for the duration of your trip as well some routes depending on how much of a challenge you want.
If you are a serious cyclist, there will certainly be a challenge big enough for you to take on in Arlon.