Liège is a city, situated along the Meuse River in Belgium's French-speaking Wallonia region near the borders of the Netherlands and Germany. It is an economic and cultural center with a population of just under 200,000 people. Before planning a visit there, review average weather conditions on the Liege travel weather site.
The city's location is perfect for tourists looking to experience different countries with very short travel times. The rail network takes you to Brussels, Antwerp, Namur and Charleroi, Luxembourg, Maastricht, Paris, Cologne, and Aachen. High-speed trains like the Thalys whisk you off to Brussels in just 40 minutes and Paris Nord (Paris train station map) in just over two hours. From Liege to Maastricht in the Netherlands, it's a mere 33 minutes travel time on the train.
Not only does the rail system make up one of the biggest hubs in Europe, but the Liège-Guillemins station is an architectural wonder a tourist might want to visit even if not taking a train. It was designed by the world-famous Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, responsible for his work on the Turning Torso tower in Malmö, Sweden, the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge in Dallas, Texas, and many others.
What to See and Do
- Visit Prince-Bishop's Palace: First erected in the 10th-century, it was wiped out by a fire in 1185 but rebuilt shortly after. What you see these days is the re-do by Prince-Bishop Erard de la Marck in 1526. It's a sort of drive-by attraction where you can only see the facade and the courtyard.
- La Batte Market: Do you want to see the marvels of real food on display at the largest and oldest market in Belgium? Chances are you'll get hungry for some of the town's iconic Boulets à la Liégeoise, meatballs because you'd have covered a mile's worth of stalls selling everything from stinky cheeses to flowers and local artisan products.
- Coteaux de la Citadelle: If walking the market isn't enough for you, Stroll the Coteaux de la Citadelle, a hillside area with panoramas of Liège. You can pick up a map of six recommended walks from the tourist office. If you're lucky enough to be in Liège on the first Saturday of October, you can walk it at night when the place is ablaze in candlelight from over 15,000 candles for La Nocturne.
- Visit a Museum: Do you like art? There are plenty of museums in Liege. History buffs will want to spend considerable time in the Grand Curtis Museum, which was built in the 16th-century and holds 7,000 years of regional and international artifacts, and includes an Arms museum. Musée d'ansembourg is housed inside an 18th-century residence and is devoted to the decorative arts. There's also the Museum of Walloon Art, where everyday objects from the region are on display and an aquarium for viewing water creatures.
- Explore Roman and Medieval Ruins: Discover the archéoforum under Place Saint-Lambert, which uncovers the city's lower occupational levels starting with prehistoric remains, Gallo-Roman walls, and the lower levels of Romanesque and Gothic cathedrals. Over 9,000 years of occupation have been discovered so far, and you can see it all.
- Explore the City by Boat or Bike: You can see Liege on a boat via a river cruise on the Meuse River, by bike, or by one of those little tourist trains that scoots and toots you around the city center.
What to Eat in Liège
The top culinary specialty of Liege is undoubtedly a plate of boulets-frites, beef, and pork meatballs with a pile of those wonderful Belgian fries, often served with rabbit sauce: boulettes sauce lapin. Some favorite food includes:
- Herve—for lovers of stinky cheeses
- A salade liégeoise—composed of green beans, potatoes, and diced "bacon" (lardon)
- The gaufres de Liege—special Belgian waffles. Theseus a yeast batter that includes a dose of large sugar crystals that dissolve upon cooking to become molten caramel
- Pèkèt—often called Walloon Genever, this is a young gin. Much of it is consumed on August 15 in Outremeuse (an island in the river) in a big festival in honor of the Black Virgin
- Café liégeois—a sweet dessert made from coffee-flavored ice cream
Where to Stay
The city offers many top places, including:
- Hotel Ramada Plaza Liege City Center—located on the banks of the Meuse River, the hotel is just a short walk to the center. It has a bar and a restaurant.
- Hôtel Passerelle in the Outremeuse—it is a less expensive hotel, which is family-run.
- The Best Western Univers Hotel—Liège is more centrally located near the TGV station and comes at a very reasonable price.
If you have a group or a family, or just want to take advantage of the fantastic La Batte market, perhaps a vacation rental would make more sense than a hotel, especially if you plan on using the excellent transportation facilities in Liege.