Days out in Belgium
Nature reserves with bears and wolves, the Kondaa rollercoaster, a medieval museum, a treetop footbridge, a summertime maize labyrinth, water discovery parks and a giant catapult that throws you 17 metres high. If you are looking for some ideas on where to entertain your children, then look no further.
Educational experiences and museums
Euro Space Center
Want to moonwalk, take a space flight or defy gravity? Well you can do all of that at the newly refurbished Euro Space Center at Transinne.
A great place to find out more about space and being an astronaut, or to try simulators for micro gravity and the freefall slide. It also has a 5D cinema and a planetarium, plus a Mars village. You can reserve your ticket online here. Families who want to immerse themselves in space can book one of two weekend missions - Orion or Discovery (with accommodation at the Galactic Inn and meals at the Voyager Cafe).
Chateau Fort de Bouillon
Bouillon is steeped in history. If you want to know more about this hillside town located on the banks of the Semois, you can visit the 13th century Chateau Fort de Bouillon which is filled with dark passageways and knights halls that tell of the Godefry family. Audio guides are available and there are daily falconry displays. Open during summer from 10.00 to 18.30 with torchlit night time tours also available on certain days, you can find entry prices here.
Younger children get to try 70 sensory experiences designed to help them understand the world we live in, and to use their five senses in playful hands-on challenges both indoor and outside. There’s lots to touch, feel, see and hear, and to play on at Houtopia. The interior was refurbished in 2018 and a giant outdoor playground with an adventure course was added, including a 30 meter slide across the river. Open April to June from 13.00 to 17.00 on weekdays and 11.00 to 17.00 at weekends and holidays. Under 3 years go free, and families pay a reduced ticket price of €9,50 per member, otherwise entry for anyone aged 3 to 65 years is €11. Booking is recommended.
Source O Rama (closed due to flooding and maintenance)
Source O Rama was renovated in 2018 and includes a Water House and an Art House. The water section answers all your questions about the water cycle, clouds, thunderstorms, underground water and how much water you can find on planet earth or even in your own body. It also takes a look at how much water we consume. You can take a trip following a drop of water from cloud to bottle.
The Art House has copies of all the major 20th century art works from impressionists to pop art, surrealism to abstract art. There’s also a mini-golf course.
A family ticket (two adults and two children aged 6 to 12 years) costs €25 to either of the houses, or a combined ticket €45. Whilst the museums are being refurbished, outdoor events including guided walks for families are still being organised.
Wallonia public transport museum
If your children enjoyed the one in Luxembourg City, then they’ll delight in this large-scale transport museum filled with trams and trolleybuses from yesteryear. Audio guides in English are available and you can climb aboard vehicles. Weekdays it’s open from 10.00 to 17.00 and weekends 14.00 to 18.00 with entry costing €5 for adults, €3 for children aged 6-12 years, €1 for children aged 3-5 years and free for those under 3. Family tickets for two adults and 3 children cost €14.
Take a walk around the ponds of Virelles to discover their treasures at Aquascope. A visit starts with a model of the pond, and a bit of background on the difference between ponds and lakes in terms of flora and fauna. Cameras are located in the reed beds so you can see nesting birds up close and there is a museum dedicated to revealing the secret life of the pond (which includes aquariums).
You can then take the aquatic discovery trail to the observatory and watchtower, then on to the apiaries, to another pavilion with exhibition panels recounting man’s impact on nature. Tickets cost €8,00 per adult and €4,50 for children under 12 years, and the area is open from 10.00 to 18.00. On weekends free one-hour guided tours are available for families. The pond was drained for major work from September 2021, with work due to finish at the end of March 2022, but please check with Aquascope before setting out.
A museum stretching over 30 hectares, this one on prehistory is spread out amongst the forest with each section opening a different door on the past. You can visit a classified cave, take a walk through a forest landscape or on a barefoot path, join the plain of mammoths, and see permanent and temporary exhibitions and reconstructions of prehistoric dwellings. Tickets for the permanent collection cost €15 for adults and €9 for children (aged 3-12 years) with a “tribe” reduction for groups of 4 to 15 people of 10%.
House of Medieval Heritage
Another museum taking you back in time, Medieval house is the place to discover what life was like in the Meuse Valley a few hundred years ago – with objects, dioramas, placards and maps. You can learn why castles were built in a certain way, and why the slopes on which villages were situated were vital to the success of crops. English audio guides are included (and commentary written in English is available in each exhibition room).
Domaine de Chevetogne
Nature and playgrounds plus two museums, make this a great place to spend the day in the warmer months. One museum is an interpretation centre for children, with hundreds of books from Tom Sawyer to the 3 Musketeers. There's a gallery of heroes, a room of shadows, the obstacles of a Khmer temple and more. It's only accessible by guided tour for a minimum of 10 people, with a facilitator to help you build your story. The second museum on nature invites you to meat a siren from the South Seas, get aquainted with frogs, and is housed in a Japanese garden. A self-guided tour is included in the general admission price.
You can also walk the beautifully landscaped twelve gardens, all themed differently (guided tours are also available and there is a musical walk every Sunday morning from May to October). Garden's include Noah's Ark, with elephants, crocodiles and giraffes, a kitsch garden filled with a giant gnome, a woodland, a flower and a vegetable garden, and one with medicinal plants. There's also a small petting farm. It's also partially accessible for those with reduced mobility and stroller friendly.
There are also playgrounds, outdoor swimming and splash pools, a mini-train, and boats and canoes for hire. You can explore everything online here.
Zoos, adventure/nature parks and farms
Animal Park Bouillon
The small but lovely zoo at Bouillon features zebras, tigers, lynx, monkeys, and bears. It has a nice playground and outdoor restaurant too. Wearing a facemask is obligatory for anyone older than 12 years, you must respect a 1.5m distance, and follow the pedestrian direction indicated by arrows. Entry for children 2 years and under is free, from 3 to 12 years costs €11 and adult entry is €15. No advance reservation is currently required.
Coo adventure & Wild Park Coo
If you fancy some kayaking, climbing, rafting or paintball you can head to Coo adventure. Nearby you’ll find Wild Park Coo, a wildlife sanctuary that is home to wild pigs, wolves, deer and some alpacas. You can board a train for a 40-minute journey on a small train that travels around the park costing €9,50 for adults and €4,50 for children over 80-100cm (free for those who are smaller).
Adventure Park Wavre
If you prefer to do your own daredevil stunts, head to Wavre but veer away from Walibi to the Adventure Park. With 24 treetops courses including rope bridges and Tarzan jumps, bike and surfing above ground, and 45 ziplines (totalling 2.5km, the longest of which is 320m), plus bungee jumping, and a giant catapult that propels you 17 metres into the air.
Parc à Gibier
A chance to see wolves and other animals in their natural habitats in this wildlife park near La Roche-en-Ardennes. A one-way walking route of 1.2km allows you to see mouflons, sheep, goats, wild boar, wild cats and lynx (if you are lucky) owls and deer – sometimes new-borns. The park also offers a breakfast formula which includes an opportunity to attend the feeding of the wolves with a trainer, in addition to breakfast for up to five people. Entry to the park is €4,50 for children and €6,50 for adults.
Forestier animal and adventure park
More like a forest than a zoo, Forestier accommodates animals in their natural habitat with large amounts of space to move around. Despite the large enclosures, animals are visible and you can buy bags of feed for the deer, yaks and llamas. Highlights include bears, wolves, lynx and some 30 species native to the region which you can observe over a 5km walk. Entry prices range from €13,50 to €19,00 and you can combine your ticket with a trip to the Adventure Park which has 11 treetops courses of varying difficulty and age rating (as young as 2 years) and two giant zipwires. You must wear a mask at all times (children over 12 years and adults).
Fancy a walk in nature through a 15km high footbridge in the treetops which ends in a panoramic terrace. You can do just that at this 9 hectare forest park which includes a 2km educational trail. There’s also a parcours and a huge playground filled with 32 attractions such as climbing frames and rope bridges. It’s open from 10.00 until 17.00 and costs €6,50 per child and €8,50 per adult.
The Labyrinth (summer months only)
Head to a giant maze made of maize located in a village near Durbuy. This year it’s themed with Beauty and the Beast, and includes story telling theatres (in Dutch and French) and a big slide, and each child is given a quiz as they embark on their journey. The main labyrinth has 6km of alleys and comprises 600,000 maize plants. There are several smaller mazes within, including one with wooden fences where children must solve clues in order to open doors, a dark section, a barefoot path, plus a biodiversity and organic garden and a pumpkin patch. Open daily from 2 July until 2 October, 10.00 until 19.00 in July/August and 10.00 until 17.00 in September/October, tickets cost €15 per adult and €12 for children less than 1.5m.
Head to the owl garden to meet this majestic and intriguing bird, with demonstrations currently taking place in hoiday periods (except Tuesdays) and at weekends at 13,50. It's recommended that your visit will last 2 hours, including the show. Entry is €10 for adults and €8 for children aged 3-12 years. You can also take a wander around the medicinal and cacti gardens
This living wool museum and sheep park near Bastogne gives children the chance to meet 25 species of woolly animals and see that stages of wool production from the beginning of the 20th century. You can also step back in time to a fully reconstructed period house. Open 9.30 to 16.30 on weekdays and 11.00 until 18.00 on Saturday (but daily in the summer months) tickets cost €8 for adults and €7 for children.
Haut Fagnes Railbike
How about a 14km railbike experience aboard a draisine (4 person rail bike or two adults 3 kids), in the heart of the Haute Fagnes region, a protected area with breath-taking scenery. The Vennbahn railway line takes you the 7km from Leykaul to Sourbrodt where you can sup up a granita or eat an ice cream in the chalet terrace before heading back and another stop this time beside a converted 1950s train wagon that now serves waffles. Open daily in summer or at weekends from 1 April until June, each rail bike costs €35 Euro.
Adventure Park SpaForest
Not far from the thermal bath town of the same name, and in the heart of the Spadois woods you can try out 8 climbing courses, a 15m high free jump orienteering, laser tag or a survival workshop at this adventure park. Parents can travel below for free and youngsters benefit from a clip lifeline which means they won’t get hurt if they fall or slip.
Horse crazy kids might enjoy 100 horses in grass, a horse rescue sanctuary that is open for visits and pony cuddles on Sunday afternoons and during the summer holidays. Goat lovers can find out more about lives of goats and visit and pet them at the Cheverie d’Oro, which charges €1 entry. There’s a donkey sanctuary with a variety of breeds of these fluffy big-eared animals which you can visit on Sundays from 14.00 to 18.00.
For a spot of kayaking on the Meuse check out the Ile d’Yvoir, and to paddle downriver on the Semois you can try Semois Kayak in Poupehan which rents boats and provides bus transport to and from start and finish points.
Amusement and fun parks
Walibi and Aqualibi
Although originally a water park with a few rides, Walibi in Wavre is now a full-on amusement park experience. Running at 50% capacity due to the pandemic, wait times can still be from 30 minutes to an hour, and it is probably best to book a dated ticket in advance (although you can choose a cheaper undated ticket valid until September but you need to be flexible about the date you then book later). Entry for tickets booked online and onsite are €42,00 for adults and €37 (under 1.40m) for children. There is an additional charge for the car park.
The highlight of Walibi is the new rollercoaster Kondaa, which travels at 113km per hour looping around the 1200m long snake-like track. Other rollercoasters include Cobra, Psyke, which launches you forward in a loop, up a spike and then backwards, the Tiki Waka, more family themed, and Vampire. There’s also water rides Pulsar and Flashback (more of a log flume).
Before you enter a ride, your hands will be sprayed with disinfectant, and masks are mandatory everywhere in the park, except if you sit down to eat. You can grab a burger or tacos.
If you prefer a splash about, try Aqualibi, with a Caribbean theme and a kids zone for 0-6years called Kiddie Bay which has splash fountains and cascades. Older kids will enjoy the numerous water slides and the wild water river and wave machines. Tickets are €23 for adults and €9,50 for children (under 1.20m) but you can benefit from midweek specials and family tickets.
Plopsa Coo is an amusement paradise for smaller kids (although reviewers say not for very small children). It has plenty of gentle rides and family rollercoasters, plus an animal meadow with goats and chickens. You can book your tickets online for a specified date (recommended), with prices for anyone over 1m at €28,50 and for those under that height €13,50. The car park costs €12,50.
Timed arrival slots are available at this theme park which includes a Big Fun Zone for kids, a large indoor play area, and rides such as spinning cups and a pirate ship. If kids get bored of these then there is mini golf and mini quads, an inflatable assault course, a petting farm and zoo with racoons and wallabies, a mini-aquarium, and a climbing wall. Probably the cheapest fun park option in Belgium, tickets cost €5 for adults and those over 12 years and €15 for children aged 3-12 years for whom the park is geared towards.