Liège

Liège (German: Lüttich, Dutch: Luik) is the largest city of Wallonia, the French-speaking part of Belgium, and the capital city of the namesake province. Located at the foot of Ardennes on the river Meuse, it has been a prominent urban centre since the Middle Ages, but really blossomed during the industrial revolution, when it grew to become Belgium's third-largest metropolis, after Brussels and Antwerp. Thanks to its strategic position, Liège still enjoys relative affluence and economic importance, in contrast to its fellow Wallon cities farther south.

Despite its size and location in-between some of the most-visited cities in Europe, Liège sees very little tourist traffic. Those who find it along their itinerary might be surprised to find the purported industrial city to be quite green, with wide boulevards, an interesting, if a bit disorderly, mix of architecture from different periods, much greenery and picturesque riverbanks and hillsides. There are also quite a few museums and other points of interest, enough for at least a busy day trip.

Industrial revolution brought prosperity to Liège, peaking in 1905 when it hosted the Exposition Universelle"

Understand

View from Saint Martin

Liège has been an important city since the early Middle Ages. It was the capital of the Principality (prince-bishopric) of Liège, which remained an independent state until the French Revolution (around 1789). In the 19th century it became an early centre of industrialism. Today it is a large city of 200,000 inhabitants, with a total 750,000 in its metropolitan area. The city has an important Italian community, making up 5% of the population.

The central area of Liège presents itself as a rather interesting mix of a historic town centre (dotted with a few extremely brutalist buildings from the 1960s and 70s), a rather elegant new town with wide boulevards, tall apartment buildings (some Art Deco), narrow street with small businesses, a few pretty parks, and a few interesting shopping arcades. The outskirts of Liège consist mainly of 2 very distinctive areas: large industrial complexes sprawling on the river's bank in the north and the south (with the cities of Seraing and Herstal) and working-class areas in the east and the west with mainly spare green neighborhood for healthy people.

Liège is located just at the beginning of the Ardennes, which makes the landscape of the south very different than the rest of the city, with high hills and abundant forests (Sart-tilman and beyond).

Get in

By plane

Liège Airport is of minor importance for passenger traffic, but a major cargo hub

By train

Liège-Guillemins is brilliantly connected to the surrounding metropoles and features spectacular architecture by Santiago Calatrava

Liège-Guillemins is the main station, located on the southwest part of the city. Thalys and ICE high-speed trains serve Brussels, Paris, Aachen, Cologne and Frankfurt. Beware that unlike most train stations in Belgium, Liège-Guillemins is not a walking distance away from the city centre (20-25min). You can take a bus which cost €1.40 one way, or taxi which cost around 8-10 euros. The cheapest alternative being changing to another train that's heading to the station called "Liège-Palais". The fare of this trip is included in your ticket to Liège-Guillemins. The trip takes around 6 mins.

From Brussels, intercity service runs at least hourly and takes about 60 minutes from Brussels Nord. From Brussels Airport, take the airport shuttle to Leuven and take intercity service from there. From the Netherlands, connect in Maastricht. Trains run at least hourly and take about 30 minutes.

Once you are at Liège-Guillemins station, you can get to city centre by changing to a train heading for Gare du Palais, or by taking the number 1 or number 4 bus just outside the station to Place St. Lambert. Another alternative is route 48 which takes you to the Opera. Note that all routes run both ways at the stop of Liège-Guillemins station, make sure to take the buses that have either "Pl. St. Lambert" or "Opera" on their destination sign. Like aforementioned, change train to Liège-Palais station also takes you directly to centre.

Liège's position among the many "strategic triangles of Europe's major cities makes it quickly accessible from multiple major hubs

By car

Liège is the crossroads for several major motorways. Its "ring" has 6 branches in clockwise order:

Since it is a fairly large city, many motorway exits are signposted for "Liège". When coming from Germany or Netherlands, follow the E25 to its end, then follow the road signs to the center. If you are coming from Luxembourg, exit at "Angleur" and follow signs to the center, or to continue on to the exit marked "Liège-centre". Finally, coming from Paris, Lille, Brussels, or Antwerp, follow signs to Luxembourg until you reach the exit marked "Liège-centre." When coming from Flanders, Liège is named as "Luik."

There are a number of covered car parks situated conveniently in the centre costing €2.20 an hour.

By bus

Liège is well-connected by bus, notably in the Eurolines network on rue des Guillemins, near the train station.

By boat

Individuals arriving with their own boat are welcome at the port des Yachts.

Many organised cruises departing from Maastricht stop in the center of Liège, on the right bank (quai Marcatchou to quai Van Beneden).

Get around

By car

Unlike most Belgian cities, Liège has no an inner ring built along the path of the old city walls. Instead, the main streets were laid out along the old branches of the river, which makes their organisation a bit obscure.

Leave your car in one of the city-center parking garages, especially if you have no map of to your destination.

Here are the main routes for cars:

By bus

As Liege has done away with trams, the city relies on its many buses, travelling on dedicated bus lines along its main boulevards, to cater for its public transport needs

TEC is the main bus company. Most lines converge towards one of the city-center bus "terminals." These terminals are located at Gare Léopold, Place Saint-Lambert, Place de la République Française, and around the Opéra/Theater (all the four are very close to one another). The names of these five sites are used to indicate the direction of the bus, according to the line taken.

Several other lines leave from the train station Liège-Guillemins. Among them, two lines link the station with city center: the #4, a circular line (direction "Bavière" to go from the station to the center, direction "d'Harscamp" for the reverse trip), and the #1 which runs train station to city center and on to Coronmeuse. There also is a few lines that start from the intersection of the Boulevard d'Avroy and the "Pont d'Avroy", the main shopping street. Unfortunately, however, few lines run after midnight.

More and more bus stops now show the waiting time for the next bus on each line, and many busses are equipped to display the next stop and adapted for people with reduced mobility. Nevertheless, be aware that the next stop screens are not always synchronised with the bus stops. For people using a bus line they're not familiar with, ask the driver to warn you when you are arriving at the bus stop you are looking for. You can ask for a free printed version of each bus schedule at the terminal of the line.

By bike

Travelling by bike in the city center is easy, but the hillsides can be a bit steep (between 5 and 15%). Reaching the higher neighborhoods will require a bit of training and a multi-speed bike!

Cycling paths are regularly added and improved, though the main roads remain a bit dangerous. Most one-way streets can be travelled in the opposite direction by cyclists. A map of cycling paths is available at the tourist information office. In addition, there's a "Ravel" (a path for walkers and cyclists) along the right bank of the river Meuse.

By foot

Most of the areas in city center are easily accessible on foot, and walking provides an interesting perspective on the city itself. The trip from the train station at Guillemins to the city center requires a bit more timeL about 30 min.

See

Historic Centre

The eclectic Place St. Lambert is where you will find some of Liège's most famous sights

  Place St. Lambert is a major square in the centre, where a number of key sights may be found. It was the site of Gothic Cathedral of Our Lady and St (Cathédrale Notre-Dame-et-Saint-Lambert), representation of religious power, torn down at the start of the 19th century after the revolution of Liège and today memorialized by metal columns and a design traced on the ground. At Place Saint Lambert 9-17, admire the neo-classic façades, dating from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. }}

The Grand Salon of Hôtel d'Ansembourg

Other sights in the historic city centre include:

Behind the unassuming facade of Musée des Beaux-Arts you will find impressive collections
Grand Curtius on the Meuse riverbank
Inside the Hôtel Hayme de Bomal

Outremeuse

Rue Ernest de Bavière in Outremeuse

On the opposite bank of the river, the Outremeuse district has few memorable buildings, notably the Rue Roture, but a welcoming atmosphere. Also the most-visited museum complex in Liège and Wallonia, comprised of the Aquarium, the House of Science, and the Zoology Museum, all housed in a neo-classic University building.

institut Zoologique at the riverside

Do

Village de Noël de Liège, the city's popylar Christmas market

Events

Learn

A university city with some 80,000 students, Liège has plenty of educational possibilities.

Marché de la Batte

Buy

Typical purchases

Macarons (and chocolate) are a tempting purchase from the shops of Liège

Other typical purchases are food and drink products:

Shopping in city center

The best options for shopping are around Place Cathédrale and Place Saint Lambert, and in particular at Vinâve d'Ile (Celio...), Saint-Michel (Van den Borre, Delhaize, C&A), the Opera Galleries (Zara, Springfield) and the Saint Lambert Galleries (FNAC, Média Markt, Inno, Champion), as well as along the roads towards the center (rues Féronstrée, Saint-Gilles, Puits-en-Sock in Outremeuse, Grétry in Longdoz...)

Shopping outside city center

Several large commercial centers are located on the outskirts of the city:

Eat

La tarte au riz, or rice tart, a provincial specialty

In addition to the local foods mentioned above, regional specialities include:

It is hard to resist freshly baked Liège waffles, or gaufre Liège

Other local recipes are available online.

Prices unfortunately are fairly high, as in most other Belgian cities. Budget restaurants will cost about €12-€15 per person, drinks included, mid-range restaurants between €25 and €50, and splurge restaurants well over that!

For budget solutions, snack shops like any of the sanwicheries or kebab shops offer cheap yet tasty food. A Döner kebab typically costs 3-5 euro, and a sandwich is around 2-4. Note that in Liège all snack shops charge 50 cents for sauce, and usually another 50 cents for vegetables. For example you can see a meatball sandwich for 2 euro on the price list, however; after the sauce and the vegetables it will be 3 euro in total. It is recommended to look for convenient stores for soft drinks as they're over-priced in snack bars.

Obtaining meals outside of conventional times can be a challenge, many restaurant do not serve been 2 and 6 in the afternoon, those that do tend to be full and you can expect to wait some time for service.

There are Northern American fastfood chain in the city: A McDonald's is located near the Opera, a BigMac meal is about €6, a Subway can be found behind the city hall, and a Pizza Hut can be found near the Opera.

Even if you are after fast (and cheap) food, steer clear of chain outlets and head for one of the friteries for a mitraillette, a bun filled with Belgium's famous fries with a wide selection of sauces

Budget

In the warmer months, you can enjoy Parisian-style outdoor dining under colourful marquees

Mid-range

Drink

Rue du Mouton Blanc, a street in "Le Carré"

The area known as "Le Carré" offers numerous options to drink and party 365 days per year, with a young, vibrant, student atmosphere. Also worth a visit: the trendier Place du Marché, and the area around Place Cathédrale, to see and be seen.

In addition, many of the cafés in the Le Carré area are a good alternative, with plenty of dancing and typically no entrance fee.

Sleep

Stairs of Montagne de Bueren

For a city of its size, Liège has surprisingly few accommodation facilities. This is both due to the city's relatively low popularity as a tourist destination and the fact that it is between 1 to 3 hours from many major cities where business traffic to it originates. You may want to take advantage of the latter yourself and stay anywhere closer or farther and come to the city for the day.

Budget

Mid-range

Central

Near Palais des Congrès

Near Guillemins train station

Splurge

Stay safe

Liège is generally a safe city during daytime. However, be cautious at night especially for single females. It is not recommended for women to walk alone in the evenings as many foreign female students have experienced being followed late at night. Robbery is rare but harassment to single females occurs often, mostly verbal but some travelers have experienced assaults in off-downtown area. If where you're staying is more than a 5-min walk off the centre, it is suggested to take a cab (they have a line-ups around The Opera and Pont d'Avroy bus terminal) after 10PM.

Go next

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Thursday, June 11, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.