Liège is a economic and cultural center of French speaking Wallonia. It is located along the Meuse river near the borders of the Netherlands and Germany. The population is just under 200,000 people.
The city's location is perfect for the tourist 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 40 minutes and Paris Nord (Paris train station map) in just over 2 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, 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.
Liege is also a hub to the major highways in Belgium.
What to See and Do in Liège
The Prince-Bishop's Palace was first erected in the 10th century but was wiped out by a fire in 1185. 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, you can only see the facade and the courtyard; otherwise you'll have to make a written request to peek inside. Then again, viewing it is free.
Want to see the marvels of real food on display at the largest and oldest market in Belgium? Head on over to "La Batte" market on a Sunday, if you've seen it all you might get hungry for some of the towns 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.
If walking the market isn't enough for you, stroll the Coteaux de la Citadelle, the slopes of the fortress. You can pick up a map of 6 recommended walks from the tourist office. If you're lucky enough to be in Liege 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.
Like art? There are plenty of museums in Liege, 13 in all they tell me. History buffs will want to spend considerable time in the Grand Curtis Museum. The place was built in the 16th century and holds 7000 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 your water creatures. A mere 12 € (at time of writing) gets a tourist into all the museums if you purchase a Liège city pass from the tourist office (see below).
And if you want to get to the bottom of it all, the archéoforum under place Saint Lambert uncovers the city's lower occupational levels starting with prehistoric remains, Gallo-Roman walls, and the lower levels of Romanesque and Gothic cathedrals.
Over 9000 years of occupation have been discovered so far, and you can see it all.
The Liege Office of Tourism is open Monday through Friday from 9 am to 5 pm, and weekends during the tourist season. It's at Feronstrée, 92 - 4000 Liège. You can pick up walking maps or download them here.
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.
For lovers of stinky cheeses: try Herve.
A salade liégeoise is composed of green beans, potatoes, and diced "bacon" (lardon).
The gaufres de Liege are special Belgian waffles; they use a yeast batter that includes a dose of large sugar crystals that disolve upon cooking to become molten caramel.
Pèkèt is often called Walloon Genever, a young gin. Much of it is consumed on August 15th in Outremeuse (an island in the river) in a big festival in honor of the Black Virgin.
Café liégeois is a sweet dessert made from coffee flavored ice cream.
And of course there's alway the other duo that Belgium is known for: Chocolate and Beer.
Where to Stay
Very highly rated is the Hotel Ramada Plaza Liege City Center located on the banks of the Meuse river--a bit of a walk to the center though. It has a bar and restaurant.
Less expensive is the two-star, family run Hôtel Passerelle in the Outremeuse.
The Best Western Univers Hotel - Liège is more centrally located near the TGV station and comes at a very reasonble 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. HomeAway lists over 40 such properties, from country houses to city apartments in or near Liege: Liege vacation rentals.
The Belgium Travel Toolbox
Here are some tools to get you started on planning your Liege, Belgium vacation.
Our Belgium Tourist Map will allow you to get your bearings and see how easy it is to get around Belgium by train.
Your vacation will always be enhanced if you learn to speak a little of the language, especially the polite words. About's French Language site offers a beginners French travel vocabulary to help you make the most of your trip to Walloon, the French speaking section of Belgium.
When's the best time to go? Plan your vacation around the typical climate with the charts and current weather conditions: Liege Travel Weather.
Learn about the high-speed trains of Belgium: Thalys Trains. Belgium is a Benelux country (Belgium, Luxembourg, Netherlands), so you can purchase a Benelux Tourrail Pass to cover your rail ticket needs in Belgium and surrounding territories in Benelux. You can combine it with Germany or France as well.
Enjoy your vacation planning!