15 Best Things to Do in Mons (Belgium)

Written by Veronique Raes
Updated on
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Up until 2015, you would rarely hear a friend or relative tell you that they were planning on a trip to Mons.

But since being crowned the European City of Culture in that particular year, Mons has put itself on the tourism map.

Although it may not be as packed full of events as 2015, the city still has a great choice for travellers including a church that is often compared to the Notre Dame in Paris and some truly different museums.

Combine these attractions with the classic atmosphere, food and drink of other Wallonian cities and you can certainly see the attraction in visiting Mons.

Lets explore the best things to do in Mons:

1. St Symphorien Military Cemetery

St Symphorien Military CemeterySource: flickr
St Symphorien Military Cemetery

A visit to a cemetery might not sound like an ideal day out for everybody but the St Symphorien Military Cemetery in Mons is different to an ordinary graveyard.

The cemetery is located in beautiful tranquil surroundings, nestled between farmland and woodland.

The graves here are dedicated to the memories of German and British soldiers.

A walk around the graveyard will take about half an hour to an hour and is a short drive away from the centre of Mons.

2. Mons Memorial Museum

Mons Memorial MuseumSource: tripadvisor
Mons Memorial Museum

Whilst ‘new’ isn’t necessarily a quality looked for in a museum, the Mons Memorial Museum is well worth visiting.

The collections on show cover both World Wars and strike an even balance between the stories of ordinary civilians, soldier’s accounts and military history.

The museum is in a fitting location as Mons was hit hard by both World Wars being occupied by Germany in the first and again, 22 years later, in the 2nd World War.

3. Strépy-Thieu Boat Lift

Strepy-Thieu Boat LiftSource: amusingplanet
Strepy-Thieu Boat Lift

A truly remarkable feat of engineering and an unforgettable sight in Mons is the Strepy-Thieu Boat Lift.

It is the tallest in the world and essentially uses giant containers of water to raise boats from one level to the next.

Visitors to the lift can watch from outdoors, or pay for the privilege of seeing the lift up close as well as the engine room, an indoor café and a half an hour video about how the lift works and how it was made.

4. Collegiale Sainte-Waudru

Collegiale Sainte-Waudru Source: flickr
Collegiale Sainte-Waudru

The Collegiale Sainte-Waudru is without a doubt the most striking church in Mons.

The exterior is an impressive 15th Century gothic masterpiece and there are plenty of objects and artefacts within to keep you interested.

Highlights within the museum include the small treasury in which you can view the alleged skull of King Dagobert, who was supposedly murdered in attempt to end the bloodline of Jesus Christ.

5. The Silex Museum

The Silex MuseumSource: visitmons
The Silex Museum

The Silex Museum just South of Mons looks at first glance like any other Belgian countryside scene dissected by a large round steel structure.

The structure is just a gateway into the vast mines beneath which have been mined for various resources since Neolithic times.

Tours of the mines take place three times a day but are very popular and need to be booked in advance through the city’s tourism board.

6. Explore the Musee du Doudou

The Musee du DoudouSource: visitmons
The Musee du Doudou

The Musee du Doudou explores the exciting and intriguing festival of Ducasse which takes place in Mons every year.

The festival includes St George, dragons and a visual feast in the form of a battle re-enactment.

You will also find food and beer at the festival of course as well as audio guides, explaining the festivities, in English, French and Dutch.

7. The Artotheque Museum

The Artotheque MuseumSource: visitmons
The Artotheque Museum

Artotheque Museum Mons breaks the mould of ordinary museums with their glass cabinets and no touching rules.

The objects on show range from pre-historic tools right up to modern works of art and cover a wide range of media from canvas to cloth.

The museum works by allowing visitors to locate objects they would like to look at using interactive screens and then finding the object within the museum for up close inspection.

You will not visit a museum like this again.

8. Hotel De Ville

Hotel De VilleSource: flickr
Hotel De Ville

Yet another city in Europe with a striking and impressive Hotel De Ville.

The town hall in Mons is instantly recognisable as the most striking and beautiful building on the so-called Grand Place.

The common tradition with visitors to the town hall is to stroke the head of a monkey statue which supposedly results in the granting of a wish but originally was only supposed to help pregnant women.

The statues are located to the left of the buildings gateway.

9. The Beffroi de Mons

BeffroiSource: flickr

The Beffroi de Mons aka the Mons Belfry involves some walking to reach but it worth the trek.

The views from the top of the tower.

The building itself has recently completed an impressive restoration and has returned to its former glory.

The surroundings, the view from the tower’s summit and the building itself are equally as stunning and worth your time to visit.

10. BAM

BAMSource: archicontemporaine

The first thing that will catch your eye with BAM is the building itself.

It is a modern glass cube building, rebuilt in 2015 when Mons was the European City of Culture, which perfectly conveys the modern, contemporary art within.

The exhibits within are temporary and ever changing but there is always at least one high-profile, game changing exhibition planned for each year.

11. Musee Francois Duesberg

Musee Francois DuesbergSource: wikipedia
Musee Francois Duesberg

Right across the road from the mighty Ste-Waudru church is the impressive Musee Francois Duesberg.

This collection of art objects from the late 18th and early 19th century includes everything from rare pottery to gold and silver objects.

Aside from the nearby church this is the only other attraction in the city that has a Michelin Tourism Guide two star award.

12. Visit the “paper Google”

The MudaneumSource: visitmons
The Mudaneum

The Mundaneum in Mons likes to be known as the “paper Google” because of the graphs, statistics and charts on show within that highlight how research and learning was conducted before the inception of the internet.

The collections within the museum are based upon those of the 19th Century thinker Otlet who believed that information, rather than money, was the driving force of society.

13. Pop into Van Gogh’s House

Van GoghSource: flickr
Van Gogh

This fairly unassuming house has become famous for being one of the places Van Gogh lived before he became a world famous painter.

The house is fairly small but there is a film and plenty of other information about the time that the painter spent here.

If you have any interest in art or Van Gogh himself then this is a place worth visiting.

14. The Sunday market

Sunday marketSource: commons.wikimedia
Sunday market

A weekly tradition for many residents of Mons is the Sunday market and it is also a great spot for tourists.

The atmosphere within the market is laid back and the stall holders are friendly and will not try to talk you into buying things you do not want.

The best wares on offer include preserves and dairy goods such as cheese but many will pop to the market simply to enjoy a freshly brewed coffee or a cold beer in lively surroundings.

15. Food and Drinks

Grand PlaceSource: flickr
Grand Place

Like all of Belgiums top cities, Mons has a wide range of great places to eat and drink.

One of the best places to sample Belgian beer is La Pompe Benoit, a pub with a local following and plenty of great beers.

The pub looks quirky with the antique beer trays that adorn the walls and offers a great opportunity for souvenir photos.

For food, the Grand Place has plenty of venues, most of which serve tried and tested Wallonian grub such as mussels, steak and of course fries.

15 Best Things to Do in Mons (Belgium):

  • St Symphorien Military Cemetery
  • Mons Memorial Museum
  • Strépy-Thieu Boat Lift
  • Collegiale Sainte-Waudru
  • The Silex Museum
  • Explore the Musee du Doudou
  • 7. The Artotheque Museum
  • Hotel De Ville
  • The Beffroi de Mons
  • BAM
  • Musee Francois Duesberg
  • Visit the “paper Google”
  • Pop into Van Gogh’s House
  • 14. The Sunday market
  • Food and Drinks