Namur proves that size isn’t everything. It is a stylish, charming and politically important city in the Wallonia region of Belgium.
The old-town area of Namur is very charming provided that you are willing to delve deeper than its slightly tough looking exterior.
The undeniable highlight of the city however is without question its citadel.
Until relatively recent times, the citadel was the mightiest and most impressive of its kind in Europe.
In addition to sight-seeing and calm river walks, the city has plenty of food, drink and pampering to keep you charmed.
Lets explore the best things to do in Namur:
1. Visit the Citadel of Namur
The Citadel of Namur is immediately recognisable, it is an impressive looking fortress building originally built in the Roman era.
The citadel has since been rebuilt several times and what you can see now dates back more to the 19th Century than the 9th.
The walk up to the citadels ramparts is steep but well worth it for the commanding views they offer.
The main gates lock at 6:30pm so be sure to have your visit wrapped up by then.
2. Marvel at the Eglise St Loup
If you are touring Belgium, you may have already seen a lot of Baroque churches but be sure not to miss this one.
It is very striking and imposing and the carved confession booths, stone archways and stunning ceiling make sure this church stands out from the others you may have seen during your time in the country.
Currently (at the time of writing) the church is ran by volunteers and opened as often as they see possible.
3. Felicien Rops Museum
This museum is not one to take the children too.
Felicien Rops is a Belgian artist who specialised in erotic artwork in the 19th Century.
Entry to the museum is free on the first Sunday of each month.
Inside you will see a large collection of the artist’s work, be sure to pick up the museum guide if you don’t speak Dutch or French as the labels that accompany the art work are not in English.
4. Wallonian Cuisine
Namur is gaining something of a reputation when it comes to fine dining establishments.
Le Temps des Cerises is a particular highlight offering traditional Walloon cuisine and continually receiving positive reviews from tourists and locals alike.
The restaurant is very well decorated and you will be able to enjoy some great food in stylish surroundings.
Be sure to keep an eye open for some celebrity guests known to frequent the restaurant too.
5. Drink at Namur’s best pub
The best pub in Namur (in my humble opinion) is Le Chapitre.
The house beer (a blonde of course) is of great quality and reasonably priced at EUR3.30. If the house beer does not tempt you however there is a great selection of other beers listed on a long blackboard by the bar.
If you are visiting Namur in the summer and looking for a lively venue with an electric atmosphere and good beer, this is the place for you.
6. Have fun at the Parc Attractif
Unlike the Felicien Rops museum, this park IS a place to take children, if you have them.
The park, which was built in 1959, offers a large playground area with many different activities and attractions for children.
If you do not have kids with you, a stroll through the park is still worthwhile.
It is set in the leafy green surroundings of the Namur Citadel.
If there are a group of you visiting, you may want to consider hiring out the barbecue space.
There is no extra cost for this, just be sure to observe the park’s opening hours.
7. Visit the town square
A trip to a European city would not be complete without visiting the town square.
As you would expect the square is nice to look at and has plenty of good photo opportunities.
The square is also a good spot for eating and drinking with several good venues dotted around the outskirts.
Make sure to seek out the bronze sculptures of two figures seemingly trying to catch a snail in a cage.
The sculptures are often photographed but less often understood.
Make it your mission to find out what the sculptures represent!
8. Appreciate the city’s cathedral
As with the town square, a visit to Namur would not be complete without a visit to the cathedral.
This cathedral is impressive from the outside and almost looks like something out of a JRR Tolkien novel with its numerous stone columns and dark stone façade.
The cathedral is equally impressive inside and certainly benefits from the restorative works that have been undertaken within recent years.
The organ here is very impressive but a visit to the church can be completed fairly quickly so don’t expect to be here for hours.
9. Search for treasure in Namur
The treasure house of Tresor d’Hugo d’Oignies is truly a hidden gem in Namur.
It is one of the city’s lesser known attractions but is definitely worth a visit and may well be the place that you recommend to other travellers to Namur.
The building is very unassuming from the outside and could easily be missed if you are not looking for it.
If you love art from the Middle Ages, jewellery and paintings then you will enjoy visiting this treasure house.
The information on the collection is very helpful and you can learn about the building itself also.
10. Go for a walk in the park
If the Parc Attractif is for children, then the Parc Louise Marie is a park for adults.
It is a great place to take a relaxing walk whilst admiring the surrounding greenery, animals and even the remains of an ornate bridge.
The park is at its best in summer and is a great spot to have a picnic away from the city streets of Namur.
Be sure to take something to feed the geese and ducks that reside within the park.
11. Learn about strawberries
Don’t be reluctant to visit this museum just because it is solely focused on the history of strawberries.
It is well presented and actually very interesting.
The area of Waipon is famous for its cultivation of strawberries, hence the museum.
It is a fairly small museum with around five rooms to explore but there is plenty to learn and many artefacts and objects from the eventful history of the strawberry.
12. View the Palais des Congress
The Palais des Congress, the old stock exchange of Namur, is situated right in the heart of the city and, in my mind, is the epitome of Belgian architecture.
The architectural style is both charming and impressive and is well worth photographing.
The building itself is now commonly used for meetings and conferences for businesses after many years of renovation and modernising.
13. Learn about some forgotten history
The often-overlooked history of the Belgian Congo is explored within this small but informative museum.
The building is home to around ten rooms packed with history of the Belgian Congo each filled with information on the culture, weapons, flora and fauna of the African colony.
This museum is very underrated and employs very helpful and interesting staff who will make your visit much more enjoyable and educational.
Be sure to donate to this museum as it is one of the city’s museums that is not supported by the government.
14. Catch a show at the Jardin De Passion Theatre
The Jardin De Passion theatre in Namur was inspired by the many small theatres in Brussels and is a great place to see a live show whilst in the city.
As well as an ever changing line up of live shows, the theatre also hosts themed seasons of shows which include a variety of performances from around the country.
The theatre can be found on Rue Marie-Henriette and can be easily spotted due to it art deco signage.
15. Pamper yourself in a spa
There is no shortage of wealthy visitors to Namur and whilst this can be partly attributed to the wealth of great food and drink on offer, it is also partly to do with the great spas situated here.
The pick of the bunch is the Royal Snail Hotel which offers a great modern spa area complete with everything you would expect such as saunas, a swimming pool and sunbeds.
If you feel tired after all that pampering, you can also book a stay in one of the hotel’s spacious and stylish rooms.