Set on the banks of the Meuse River against a back drop of dramatic cliffs, Dinant is easily one of the prettiest towns in Belgium. With many great things to do in Dinant, this is the ideal place to go for a weekend break or even a day trip from Brussels.
Dinant is located in the Wallonia region of Belgium’s south east which is the French speaking part of the country. It’s known for scenic landscapes of forested green hills, lush valleys and pretty medieval villages.
While most visitors to Belgium are eager to spend a few days in Brussels or take a day trip to Bruges, the southern half of the country is often overlooked by tourists. After reading this travel guide you will quickly see why this stunning region deserves a place on your Belgium itinerary.
I recently spent a weekend in Dinant and thoroughly enjoyed all that this gorgeous town has to offer. I created this detailed guide that covers all the best things to do in Dinant to ensure that you make the most of your time there.
Dinant offers the perfect combination of natural beauty, unique architecture and fascinating history. From tasting the local beers to climbing the Dinant Citadel and exploring stunning castles, you certainly won’t be bored during your time in beautiful Dinant!
Dinant is small and compact making it easy to see all of the town’s highlights in a single day. If you have more time, I have included some extra things to see and do around Dinant that can easily be included on a weekend stay.
➤Looking for a day trip to Dinant from Brussels?
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Table of Contents
13 Best Things to do in Dinant, Belgium
The most popular thing to do in Dinant is making the trek up to the Citadel which sits high on a hilltop above the town. Packed full of history and unbeatable views, this is sure to be the highlight of your time in Dinant.
You can either climb the 408 steps to reach the top or take the cable car instead. Once you arrive at the Citadel you will be rewarded with an amazing panoramic view over the Meuse River and the town of Dinant below.
The Citadel of Dinant was constructed during the early 19th century when the Dutch occupied Belgium. It was built on the site of an old castle from the 11th century. This fortress has always been an important landmark of Dinant, defending the town against attacks and invasions for centuries.
The Citadel is home to a fantastic museum which takes you back in time through the history of Dinant. From the sacking of Dinant in 1466 to the German invasion of Dinant during the WWI and everything in between.
The Citadel museum features plenty of interactive displays which makes it fun for all ages. You will walk through the soldier’s sleeping quarters, see many historic weapons and a replica of the WWI trenches. The Citadel’s viewing platform is a big highlight where you can take some memorable photos and see the best view of Dinant.
I would recommend beginning your sightseeing day in Dinant by visiting the Citadel to avoid the crowds and tour groups later in the day. You can also choose to park at the Citadel’s free parking lot and then walk into town or take the cable car down after your visit.
Tickets to the Citadel can be purchased on arrival and include access to the cable car. If you are planning to do a river cruise while visiting Dinant, you may want to purchase the 3 in 1 ticket. For €19 per person, this includes access to the Citadel, cable car and 45 minute river cruise.
Opening Hours – 10am – 4:30pm daily
Tickets – €11/adult, €9/child
Rocher Bayard Rock Formation
As you enter Dinant, you will be welcomed into town by passing through an impressive 40m tall rock spire. Driving along the narrow road that runs through the gap between the rocks is quite a dramatic way to enter or leave the town!
The best way to see this amazing rock formation up close is to take a walk along Dinant’s scenic riverside. You will eventually end up at Rocher Bayard which is located at the south end of town.
From here you can appreciate the unique rock formation and pose for a fun photo in front of it. Another way to view Rocher Bayard is by taking a river cruise along the the Meuse River.
Collegiate Church of Notre-Dame de Dinant
One of the first buildings that will catch your eye in Dinant is the massive 13th-century Gothic cathedral and its unique pear shaped bell tower.
Set on the banks of the Meuse River, this striking church is the main landmark of Dinant. The Church of Notre-Dame is free to enter and worthy of a quick stop on your explorations around the town.
Enter the church though a door on the side of the building to admire the intricately decorated interior and beautiful stained glass windows. Learn more about Dinant’s colourful history by watching a 10 minute film in one of the rooms inside the church.
Opening Hours – 9am – 6pm daily
Tickets – Free
La Maison de Monsieur Sax
One thing you may notice as you walk around Dinant is that there are statues of saxophones decorating the town. Dinant is known for being the birthplace of Adolphe Sax, the man who created the saxophone in 1841.
Take a short walk through this small museum to learn the history behind the legend who once called Dinant home. The house of Adolphe Sax is free to the public and located in the exact place where he was born.
This is only a quick stop as it won’t take you longer than 15 minutes to see the entire display. It is one of the most famous places to visit in Dinant as it’s an essential part of the town’s history!
Before you leave, be sure to take a seat on the bench and pose for a photo with a statue of the man himself.
Opening Hours – 9am – 6pm daily
Tickets – Free
Cruise on the Meuse River
Get a different perspective of Dinant by taking a 45 minute relaxing cruise along the Meuse River. Doing a river cruise is a pleasant way to not only see the sights of Dinant but also the beautiful region that surrounds it.
The river cruises depart from the docks near the centre of Dinant and take you along the Meuse River toward the town of Anseremme. Admire the stunning scenery as you pass by highlights such as the Rocher Bayard, the pretty buildings of Dinant and more.
This is one of the most popular Dinant attractions and the perfect activity for a sunny day. There is a bar on board the boat as well indoor and outdoor seating areas. You will have a choice of languages to hear the commentary as you go.
There are several cruise departures throughout the day but this changes throughout the year depending on season. The price of the river cruise works out to be cheaper if you buy the combined ticket with the Citadel. Find more info about hours of operation and planning your visit at the official Dinant cruise website.
Opening Hours – 10:30am – 5:00pm
Tickets – €10/adult, €7/child
Charles de Gaulle Bridge
The Charles de Gaulle Bridge crosses over the Meuse River connecting both sides of Dinant by car and foot. The bridge is lined with 28 colourful saxophones on either side. Each one is painted in a unique design and represents a different country from the European Union.
The bridge was named after Charles de Gaulle, a French general who played an important part in defending against the Nazis during WWII. The saxophones were a recent addition to the bridge and were only added in 2010.
Take a walk across the bridge to find a perfect view of Dinant from the other side of the river. This is where you will see the iconic Dinant sign which provides a great photo opportunity. With or without the sign, this was my favourite place in town to take photos.
Maison Leffe – Beer Museum & Tasting Experience
One of my favourite things to do in Dinant was tasting the iconic Leffe beer at the Maison Leffe. This is an absolute must for beer lovers and those curious to learn more about Belgium’s long history of beer making.
Once you cross over the Charles de Gaulle Bridge, continue walking for about 5 minutes to arrive at the Maison Leffe. Housed in an ancient monastery, this fantastic museum will take you through the complete history of brewing Leffe beer.
Through a series of interactive screens, follow the story of Leffe production from the year 1240 until the present day. At the end of your visit you will get the chance to taste some Leffe beer and even take a few gifts home.
This museum is very well organised and offers a great experience for a reasonable price. I would advise you to visit as early in the day as possible or in the late afternoon. When it gets busy, it is hard to hear the stories being told through the displays.
Opening Hours – 11am – 7pm daily
Tickets – €10
Taste the Dinant Cookie
As you wander through Dinant you will see a commonly occurring item in every bakery around town: the Dinant Cookie. “Couque de Dinant” is a traditional Belgian cookie that can only be found in Dinant.
It is made from using two ingredients (honey and flour) and baked at extremely high temperatures resulting in a very hard cookie. These cookies are typically decorated with elaborate drawings which also makes them great as a decoration or Christmas ornament.
Stop in a local bakery to try a Dinant cookie or pick up a few to take home as souvenirs. If you do choose to eat one, it’s best to break off little pieces as the texture is so hard it may chip a tooth!
Grotte la Merveilleuse
An easy 10 minute walk from the centre of Dinant will bring you to this amazing underground cave. Venture into the cave on your own or with a guided tour to see the impressive stalagmites and stalactites.
There is an easy path to follow making it easy to explore the cave without doing a tour. If you want to hear interesting facts and stories about Grotte La Merveilleuse then it’s best to join a guided tour.
There are quite a few steps and uneven ground so be sure to come prepared with appropriate walking shoes. Allow for around one hour to see the entire cave. Opening hours change seasonally, find updated info about planning your visit here.
Opening Hours – 1pm – 3pm (weekdays) 11am – 5pm (weekends)
Tickets – €10/adult, €7/child
Château de Vêves
This fairy tale castle is located just outside of Dinant in the nearby town of Celles. The foundations of Château de Vêves date back to the 7th century, however the castle that we see today was built in the 1500’s.
The castle is relatively small and won’t take you longer than an hour to see everything. You can explore a series of furnished rooms and take a walk around the picturesque grounds. There is also a café on-site to refuel with drinks and snacks.
Only a 10 minute drive from the town, this incredible castle is the perfect addition to your trip to Dinant. Visiting the Château de Vêves is an awesome activity for families with children. The kids will love the opportunity to dress up as princesses or knights during your visit (included in the entry ticket).
Opening Hours – 10am – 5pm daily (view current opening hours here)
Tickets – €8/adult, €5/child
Things to do in Dinant If You Have More Than One Day
Castle of Freÿr
The Castle of Freÿr and its immaculate gardens is located in a picturesque spot along the Meuse River. It’s less than a 10 minute drive from Dinant so it’s easy to work into your sightseeing schedule if you have a car.
This lovely Renaissance castle was once a summer home for nobility and hosted famous guests such as Louis XIV of France. The oldest part of the castle dates to the 16th century and it has remained in the same family for 20 generations.
The inside of the castle is just beautiful as its well kept gardens. You’ll find an impressive collection of artwork decorating the hallways. The castle’s stunning terraced gardens date to the 1700’s and some of the orange trees are actually more than 300 years old!
A visit to the Castle of Freÿr will take around 1-2 hours so this is ideal to include if you’re planning to spend a weekend in Dinant. Find more details about seasonal opening hours at the official website.
Opening Hours – 11am – 5pm
Tickets – €9/adult, €7.5/student, Free/child 12 and under
Parc de Furfooz
This pristine nature reserve is located 15 minutes from Dinant and is home to some unique sites and beautiful natural scenery. Discover some fascinating Roman ruins, explore ancient caverns and take a peaceful walk surrounded by trees and amazing views.
There are several easy hiking trails here which are great for all ages. There is even a little café where you can stop for drinks and refreshments along the way. Be sure to bring cash as card payments are not accepted at the café.
A trip to Parc de Furfooz is a nice way to add some exercise and adventure into your weekend in Dinant while enjoying the outdoors.
Take a Day Trip from Dinant
A 45 minute drive from Dinant along scenic country roads will bring you to the world’s smallest city, Durbuy. Yes, you can actually walk from one side of Durbuy to the other in just 5 minutes!
This idyllic little city will quickly steal your heart with its narrow cobbled lanes and ivy covered buildings. There are enough things to do in Durbuy that you can easily spend a day seeing the sites and exploring the pretty streets.
It’s a great place to stop for lunch at one of the many outdoor patios around town. Take your time browsing the little shops or rent an electric bike and explore the surrounding countryside.
I found that combining a visit to Durbuy with Dinant was the perfect way to escape the city for a relaxing weekend break.
How to get to Dinant
Car – The easiest way to reach Dinant is by car. The drive from Brussels to Dinant takes around 1.5 hrs. Having your own car is definitely the best option as you will have more flexibility to explore the beauty and sites that surround Dinant.
If you need to rent a car, be sure to organise this beforehand. I would recommend checking out this website to browse from a large selection of rental car providers at the best prices.
Train – The train from Brussels to Dinant departs from Brussels-Centraal Station and runs every hour throughout the day. The route is direct and does not require changing trains.
The entire journey will take around 1hr 45mins and stops 10 times before reaching Dinant. Be sure to book your train ticket online before you go to ensure you secure the desired date/time.
Tour – Dinant can easily be seen on an organised day trip from Brussels. See the next section for my top recommendation.
How to Visit Dinant on a Day Trip from Brussels
Luxembourg & Dinant Day Trip from Brussels
Duration – 11 hrs
Included – Hotel pick up/drop off (only if private option is selected), live tour guide, transportation by air-conditioned coach.
Discover the very best of Luxembourg and Dinant by taking this popular day trip from Brussels. Begin the day by meeting your tour guide and then departing Brussels by coach for an exciting full day of adventures and beautiful scenery.
After driving through the scenic Ardennes region of Belgium you will arrive in Luxembourg City. Your tour guide will take you to all of the key highlights of the old town such as the palace, fortifications and amazing Notre-Dame Cathedral.
You will also get some free time to explore the city of Luxembourg at your own pace before the tour continues to Dinant. Upon arrival in Dinant, your guide will take you on a tour through the Dinant Citadel followed by a visit to La Maison de Monsieur Sax.
The rest of the tour will give you some free time to sightsee around Dinant and tick off some of the above mentioned attractions. Lunch and entry tickets are not included in the tour, find more details about the tour at the link below.
Best Time of Year to Visit Dinant
The busiest time of year for tourism in Dinant is during the summer months of June – August. This is when the temperatures are at their highest and crowds of tourists fill the streets.
For comfortable temperatures and minimal crowds, I would recommend planning your trip to Dinant during spring (April – May) or fall (September – October).
I recently spent a weekend in Dinant in mid October. While it wasn’t all blue skies and sunshine, the temperatures were comfortable (15-20°C) and luckily it didn’t rain at all! The best part was that there were almost no other tourists around.
When travelling during low season in Europe there will always be a higher chance of rain and cooler weather. It is worth it to avoid the large crowds and have an easier sightseeing experience.
Where to Stay in Dinant
Dinant offers many affordable and conveniently located accommodation options. When I travelled to Dinant for a weekend, I chose to stay in the nearby village of Celles which is located between the towns of Dinant and Durbuy.
In my experience, this was a good location to be based as it was right around the corner from Château de Vêves. This made it easy to reach the attractions in and around Dinant and also take a day trip to Durbuy.
Les Voisins De Mr Sax – Centrally located in the heart of Dinant, these comfortable and spacious rooms have everything you need for the perfect stay.
There is a shared kitchen on-site and some of the rooms even have views overlooking the river. For those travelling with dogs or cats, this accommodation is pet friendly.
La Clochette – This cosy little hotel is the perfect choice for a weekend stay near Dinant. It is located in the charming village of Celles, an easy 10 minute drive from Dinant.
I recently spent two nights at La Clochette and had a really nice stay. With friendly staff and comfortable rooms, I really can’t recommend this place enough.
There is a restaurant on-site serving a delicious breakfast each morning for €7 per person. I also ate dinner at La Clochette which turned out to be the best meal I had all weekend!
Castel de Pont-a-Lesse – Located in the scenic countryside about 5km from Dinant, this stunning manor house is ideal for those seeking some extra comfort. Relax and unwind in a peaceful setting surrounded by nature and beautiful views.
This highly reviewed hotel features a restaurant/bar and a heated indoor swimming pool. The rooms are spacious and comfortable and offer great views. Some rooms also include a balcony. There is an excellent buffet breakfast served every morning with plenty of choices to suit everyone.
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