Dinant

Dinant is a relatively small but very picturesque city in the province of Namur in Belgium. It stretches along the river Meuse against the steep rock face behind on the eastern side, with a thinner strip on the western side against a forest. Its old town is perhaps one the most impressive sights in Wallonia, but the locality is relatively remote. The main sights are all close to each other and not very numerous, while accommodation opportunities are scarce, so Dinant is probably a good option for a nice day trip from one of the larger Belgian cities.

Understand

Dinant on a late 19th-century photochrome, looking much like it does today

The site where Dinant is now located has been inhabited since neolitic times, and its name stems from Celtic for "divine valley". It grew to become an important city in the Middle Ages, specializing in producing fine objects out of a silvery brass alloy called dinanderie after its origin. Later the main industries were leather tanning, manufacturing of playing cards and the famous Dinant biscuits.

All of the time, Dinant found itself on the borders of various warring entities, also often falling in conflict with its metropole Liège and neighbour Namur, and was repeatedly pillaged and burnt down. Although at present it looks very much like an authentic old town, it was all but razed by the invading Germans in 1914, after the Battle of Dinant which went on record as one of the more important in the First World War. The city's historic part under the citadel was meticulously rebuilt and retains its pre-war appearance.

Dinant is also the birthplace of Adolphe Sax, the inventor of the saxophone. A street named after him passes in front of Dinant's most recognized landmark, the collegiate church.

Tourist Office

Tourist information can be found at the Dinant and the Upper Meuse Tourist Office, Avenue Cadoux, 8 (Near the bridge on the left bank.),  +32(82)22 28 70. 09:00 - 17:00. , only a block or two from the train station.

Get in

The only direct railway line to Dinant passes through Namur, and you need to change trains there if you are getting to Dinant from anywhere else but Namur

Dinant is not very well connected to major cities in Belgium as it is on a side railway line forking out from the mainline in Namur. It is actually easier and quicker to get to Dinant by car, thanks to Belgium's excellent motorway system.

By plane

The closest airports are Brussels (BRU), Charleroi (CRL) and Liège (LGG). Getting from either of them to Namur by public transport is a bit complicated and will take around 2-2.5 hours.

Gare de Dinant is rather unsightly, but it is ideally located a few steps away from the Meuse, right in front of the citadel and collegiate church

By train

The train station is conveniently located in the centre of Dinant, about 5 minutes walk to the river, from where you can see the Citadel and the main parts of Dinant. From Brussels, the train to Dinant takes around 1.5h, with the exact time depending on the station in Brussels you choose as your point of departure. Trains to Dinant depart every hour. From other locations in Belgium other than those close by, as well as from abroad, you need to change in either Namur or Brussels.

By car

The A4 motorway (E114) from Brussels to Luxembourg City passes immediately east of Dinant, the drive takes a little over an hour from either capital. Namur is also on the same motorway. From other major cities in Wallonia, take A15 (E42) and turn into A4 at Daussoulx. From destinations elsewhere or farther away, make your way to either of the abovementioned motorways.

Get around

No need to take public transport at all since Dinant is a very small town and the main tourist sites are within walking distance.

A view of Dinant over the river Meuse

See

Buy

Couques de Dinant at a Dinant bakery

Couque de Dinant, a type of very hard biscuits, is the local speciality, typically eaten with coffee or hot chocolate.

Eat

There are several nice restaurants along the river, some with lovely views. Next to the departure points of boat tours, there is a Match supermarket. For a cheap lunch, buy some groceries and enjoy a picnic by the riverside!

Sleep

The city of Dinant has only three proper hotels and one hostel, but if you are enticed to stay longer by the irresistible charm of the location, there are plentiful (yet pricey!) apartments and houses to rent in and around the city.

Stay safe

Being the relaxed small town it is, Dinant does not pose any major danger to travellers.

Go next

You probably have to go through Namur on your way to Dinant, so you should explore the provincial capital as well.


This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Friday, November 06, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.