No matter if you are planning a break for a weekend or your summer vacations, these road trips with kids are perfect for anyone living in the Netherlands. This article is a part of a three-part series. Part 2 is about Belgium.
Road trips from the Netherlands: where to go
One of the advantages of living in the Netherlands is being so close to three amazing countries: Belgium, France and Germany. Rich in History and Art, these destinations offer so many attractions that you will find quite difficult to make a choice. My recommended routes will drive you away from the best-known cities and landmarks to discover some of the most authentic regions. Follow your instincts and go for the one that you love the most.
These road trips are planned to take into account some basic requirements I always try to fulfil when I travel with kids:
-Every stage of these routes is less than 4 hours driving. Keeping children entertained for longer can be quite difficult.
-Since kids can get fussy in new places and packing and unpacking during the trip is so much work, these routes are planned to stay in only one city and do day trips by car.
-All the destinations are kid-friendly, but also enjoyable for mum and dad.
Belgium: The Ardennes
The Ardennes is the perfect region to enjoy nature and adventure sports. In the south-east of Belgium, you will find endless forests, green hills and flowing rivers that make this landscape so appealing. With most of the tourist heading into Brussels, Bruges or Gant, the Ardennes is the perfect refuge for those searching for a peaceful place to enjoy the silence. Children will have a fun time practising outdoor activities (cycling, fishing, canoeing, kayaking or horse riding), and adults will relax visiting some of the picturesque villages and enjoying the local food and beer (one of the best in the world).
La Roche en Ardennes
This small village was the one we chose to stay the long weekend we spend here. Because of the good amount of accommodation options and services (supermarket, pharmacy, petrol station, etc.), this is the perfect base camp for a trip to the Ardennes.
The beauty of La Roche en Ardennes will catch your eye as soon as you get closer and take a look from the main road. The church tower stands out in the middle of the forest and the castle ruins offer spectaculars views. If you want to learn about local history go to the Musee de la Batailee Des Ardennes, that is dedicated to the famous WW1 battle.
You will also find in La Roche many outdoors activity centres and hiking routes. You just need to go to the tourist office to get any information you need.
This medieval town nestling in valleys is probably the most captivating stop we made in our route in The Ardennes. You just have to drive half an hour from La Roche to enjoy this out of a fairytale village. These two are the main points of interest in Durbuy:
– The Castle of Count d’Ursel. Although the castle is a private property and visitors are not allowed, take a look at the impressive building. You will enjoy amazing views of the bridge over Ourthe River.
–Topiary Park. With more than 200 Buxus sculptures, this garden will delight your kids.
When you travel to Durbuy try one of the best dishes of the local cuisine, Boulettes à la liégeoise (Liège meatballs). We tasted these delicious meatballs at the restaurant La Ferme au Chene, where we also visited their local microbrewery.
Although this city doesn’t have the magical look of some small villages in the Ardennes, Dinant has a lot to offer. Strolling through the city you will run into the most emblematic places, such as the Collegiate Church of Notre Dame, embedded in the rocks; the medieval citadel with spectacular views of the city and Meuse Valley; and the Charles- de-Gaulle Bridge, lined with large painted saxophones paying tribute to Adolph Sax, inventor of this instrument and born in Dinant.
Beer lovers must cross to the other bank of Meuse River and visit Maison Leffe. Learn about the history of Leffe beer and taste it in this ancient monastery converted into museum and hotel. Children under 12 have free entry.
Before leaving Dinant, don’t forget trying the most famous biscuits in town, Couques de Dinant. But be careful, this is an extremely hard biscuit! Don’t bite it, just take a piece and melt it in your mouth.
We chose the II World War Museum in Bastogne to spend our last day in the Ardennes. This museum is perfect to learn with your kids about one of the most interesting chapters of the war, the battle of the Bulge. After visiting this region of Belgium, it was very touching to know the role that these villages had in the WW2 and how locals experienced that time.
Is there anywhere else in Belgium that you would recommend for a family-friendly trip? Let us know!