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.
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.
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. A city heavily shaped by waves of immigrants, Liège has important Italian (making up at least 5% of the population), Spanish, German, Moroccan, Turkish, and Sub-Saharan African communities (the latter being one of the largest in Belgium).
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).
phone: +32 4 221 92 21address: Féronstrée 92
Liège airportSpecialising in freight (7th biggest cargo airport in Europe), the airport sees mainly seasonal holiday charter flights to destinations around the Mediterranean. Regular passenger connections are provided by some airlines seeking opportunities to capitalize on local business interests (and charging accordingly). Reaching the city centre with public transportation is a bit tricky. Check the TEC (local city bus) website for further information.
- Brussels Airport is your most likely point of entry into Belgium. To reach Liège, take the train to Louvain/Leuven, or Brussels-Nord and change for Liège.
- Brussels South Charleroi Airport, located in Charleroi, is an alternative for low-cost airlines such as Ryanair and WizzAir. From the airport, take the city bus Line A (stop is outside of the departure hall), which costs €6 one way to Charleroi-Sud (south) train station, then the train to Liège-Guillemins. Train departs once every hour from 5:00. Last train leaves at 23:00. The trip takes approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes.
- Maastricht Airport is also close to the city. Ryanair has some service from the city (a lot less than Charleroi though). Transportation to Liège can be done by taking a bus to Maastricht station, then taking a train.
- Frankfurt Airport has a thrice daily direct high-speed train link to Liège-Guillemins. More frequencies can be found if you make a stop in Cologne.
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 €2 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-St-Lambert. 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 50 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 Liège-St-Lambert, 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 "Opéra" on their destination sign.
Liège is the crossroads for several major motorways. Its "ring" has 6 branches in clockwise order:
- the E25, to the south, towards Luxembourg and into France via Metz, Nancy, Lyon
- the E42, to the west, crosses Wallonia via Mons/Bergen before entering France via Valenciennes, Paris
- the E40, to the west, leading to the Belgian coast via Brussels
- the E313, leading to Antwerp and on to the large coastal cities of the Netherlands
- the E25, to the north, with Maastricht a stone's throw away (30 km) and the rest of the Netherlands beyond
- the E40, to the east, entering Germany via Aachen. A second branch (Actually the E42) splits off at Verviers, heading to Trier.
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 busLiège is well-connected by bus, notably in the Eurolines network on rue des Guillemins, near the train station.
By boatIndividuals 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).
By carUnlike most Belgian cities, Liège has no 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:
- the motorway E40-E25 that crosses parts of the city
- the Boulevards "d'Avroy" and "de la Sauvenière", the main route between the center and the train station
- the Quais "de la Meuse" and "de la Dérivation", which link to/from the two branches of the E25
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 bikeTravelling 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 footMost 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.
Palace of the Prince-BishopsComposed of the Palace of Justice (classic façade at Place Saint Lambert 18) and the Provincial Palace (lateral neo-gothic façade at place Notger 2). This palace is the heart of the city, and represents the political power of the old Prince-Bishops of Liège.
phone: +32 4 250 93 70an underground archeological site with the remains of the three (successive) cathedrals on the site, as well as a building from Roman times.
Hôtel de ville de Liègeaddress: place du Marché, 2Perron, and houses along the market square. The town hall, is an elegant classic building. It was built in 1714, during reconstruction after the French attacks in 1691. It can be visited on rare occasions only, except for the "salle des pas perdus" - "room of lost steps" which is freely accessible. The houses on the square, with their charming blue stone and brick faces, date from the same period. The Perron, symbol of the city's freedom, is at the center of the square above the fountain that acts as its support. The perron is one of the symbols of the city and was used to render justice.
phone: +32 4 221 9402address: Feronstrée 114Now a museum (Musée d’Ansembourg), is worth visiting for the well-preserved original interior
phone: +32 4 238 55 01address: Parc de la Boverie 3The old museum in the city closed down and moved to Boverie Parc with its works by regional painters since the Roman times.
phone: +32 04 221 68 17address: Féronstrée 136This imposing 8-story building from the start of the 17th century was the store of a rich arms merchant, art and history collections
Hôtel de Hayme de Bomaladdress: quai de Maestricht 8 and rue Feronstrée 122was an official building under French rule and twice welcomed Napoleon.
phone: +32 4 223 4998address: rue Saint Barthélémy 2was the last of 7 "collégiales liégeoises" to be built, near the end of the 11th century. Recently renovated, it is home to the masterwork of the Liège goldsmiths from the Middle Ages: the baptismal fonts from the old parish church of the cathedral.
phone: +32 4 237 9040address: Cour des Mineursis an ethnological mueseum hosted in an old convent
Museum of Religious Artphone: +32 4 221 4225address: rue Mère Dieu 1will be integrated into the future Museum Grand Curtius, but can now be visited separately
Montagne de BuerenClimb the imposing staircase of 373 steps framed by small houses and gardens, or opt for the smaller streets and stairways leading up to the Citadel's slopes. From the top, you'll have a lovely view of the city, from the Palace roofs to the ancient watchtower.
phone: +32 4 232 61 31address: Place de la Cathédrale 1
address: Rue Cathédrale, 6former fortified collegiate church with 12th century tower
streets Hors Château and En Feronstréeare worth a visit for the architecture of the large villas and more modest houses, most dating to the 18th century
streets Fond Saint Servais, Pierreuse and du Péryare typically quaint and lead up to the remains of the old citadel, with an ancient well, a monument commemorating the Second World War, and in particular a superb view over the city.
- The main buildings of interest in the district are:
Convent "des Récollets"address: rue Georges Simenon 2, 4, 9-13
Saint Nicolas Churchaddress: rue Fosse-aux-raines 7
Sainte Barbe" hospiceaddress: place Ste Barbe
stable of the Fonck barracksaddress: boulevard de la Constitution
Bavière hospitaladdress: boulevard de la Constitution
Destenay schooladdress: boulevard Saucy 16
Physiology Instituteaddress: place Delcourt 17
Museum of Tchantchès
Basilique Notre Dame de Chèvremontphone: +32 4 365 04 36address: Rue de Chèvremont 96, 4051 Chaudfontaine
- Visit the Carré District, where you can celebrate or party on any day, at any time. It's the preferred district of students, alternating shops and cafés, many of which allow dancing (sometimes on the tables!).
- The Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Opera, and Theater de la Place head up the cultural life in Liège.
phone: +32 4 221 47 22address: Place de l'Opéra
Theater de la Place
- Liège is the European city with the most theaters per person. Liège has an international reputation especially for its marionnette theaters, whose performances often involve the traditional folklore character Tchantchès in an unbelievably wide range of situations. The most-known marionnette theaters can be found at:
- Museum of Wallonian Life (Wednesdays and school holidays at 1430 and Sundays at 1030, Cour des Mineurs, +32 (0)4 237 9040, open even when the museum is closed.)
- Museum of Tchantchès (Oct to end Apr, Sundays at 1030 and Wednesdays at 1430, rue Surlet 56, +32 (0)4 342 7575)
Theater Al Botroulephone: +32 4 223 0576address: Rue Hocheporte 3literally, "in the belly-button"
Theater Denisphone: +32 4 224 3154address: Rue Sainte Marguerite 302
Le Trocadérois the most Liégeois of Parisian cabarets, or the most Parisian of Liège cabarets, depending on how you look at it, while two other venues (La Bouch’rit and le Comiqu'Art) offer dinner-show combinations.
- There are numerous other sports clubs including no less than three rowing clubs. RCAE, a university club but open to everyone, offers a range of sports from parachuting to spelunking. The sports fields at Xhovémont, Cointe or Sart Tilman are ideal for practice. The ice rink, dating from the water exposition of 1939, is in its last seasons before being moved, while a new swimming pool with modern facilities including a diving tower will soon be constructed in the center. (The previous one is being converted to a museum.) Other pools are spread throughout the city, notably in Outremeuse.
- For those who prefer a calmer sport, cycling or jogging is perfect along the quays of the Meuse. The woods at Coteaux de la Citadelle, Chartreuse, and Sart Tilman are all close, as are the magnificent countrysides of the Ardennes (with Condroz, Hesbaye, and Herve lending themselves particularly well to hiking and mountain-biking).
- A circuit is dedicated to Simenon (author of the Maigret stories), and a museum will be opening shortly.
- The Feast of the Assumption (15 August) is celebrated here by the entire city and countless visitors.
- The celebrations of 15 August in Outremeuse welcome more than 300,000 people each year.
- The fair, held since the city was established, has become a fun-fair. It takes place from the first weekend in October to the second weekend in November (6 weeks).
- The Christmas Village, one of the biggest and oldest in the country, has more than one million visitors each year.
- The Celebrations of Wallonia (2nd weekend in September), the nuit des Coteaux (night events in the historic center), the Secret Gardens and Corners Day (la journée Jardins et Coins secrets - 3rd Sunday in June), and the heritage days (les journées du patrimoine - end September) are other key dates in Liège.
- The Festival of Walking, in the second half of August, offers urban walks.
- University of Liège (L'Université de Liège) . With 17,000 students and links to numerous foreign universities.
- Le pôle mosan is a platform regrouping more and more of the écoles supérieures of the region.
- Le FOREM (FORmation et EMploi - training and employment)
- L'Union des Classes Moyennes also offers classes for adults
- Le Centre J has lots of useful information for young students
- Sunday morning market at la rive gauche
- The Marché de la Batte is where most locals visit on Sundays. The one of the longest markets in Europe stretches along the Meuse River by the Université de Liège and attracts many visitors to Liège. The market typically runs from early morning to 2 o'clock in the afternoon every weekend year long. Produce, clothing, and snack vendors are the main concentration of the market.
- Flea Markets at Saint Gilles (every Saturday morning on Boulevard Louis Hillier) and Saint Pholien (every Friday morning on Boulevard de la Constitution) also attract many visitors.
- Val Saint Lambert crystal, now sold throughout the world, makes an exceptional gift in the "splurge" category.
- The tourist information office sells local artists' products including scarfs with medieval motifs and ties with contemporary artistic designs.
- Marionnettes of "Tchantchès", a character from local folklore embodying the Liégeois attitude, are available in the 6 marionette theaters in the city.
Other typical purchases are food and drink products:
- As elsewhere in Belgium, pralines (filled chocolates) and the numerous cheeses and beers are a must.
- Local products include "Herve" cheese (with a strong smell!), "Sirop de Liège" (made from a mix of apples and pears and typically used for cooking/baking), and cider (the alcoholic kind).
- "Pèkèt" (genièvre) is an alcoholic beverage available in countless varieties.
- For sweets, you can't go far without encountering the famous Liège waffles, smelling of cinnamon and sugar. They're best when freshly-cooked, though the pre-packaged variety also exists and has spread to many other countries.
- Other sweets are available depending on the season: boûkètes (dark crêpes with raisins, eaten with brown sugar) are mainly available for 15 August and at Christmas, while lacquemants/lackmans (dry waffles filled with a mix of sugar and other sweets) are found at the fairs.
- If you find them, try "cûtès peûres" (baked pears), which unfortunately seems to have disappeared from the street vendors.
- Liège coffee (café liégeois) is originally from Vienna but was rebaptised by the Parisiens to show their support for the heroic resistance in Liège at the start of the first world war.
Shopping in city centerThe 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 centerSeveral large commercial centers are located on the outskirts of the city:
address: Quai des Vennes 1North-American style shopping mall with Carrefour on site
address: Boulevard Raymond Poincaré 7126 stores
Hypermarkt Carrefour HERSTALaddress: Rue Basse Campagne 1, HerstalLarge supermarket. Has a small international section (Italian,Spain,USA,UK,Asia,North Africa) for those missing things from home.
- boulets sauce-lapin, meatballs in a sauce made from Sirop de Liège, onions, vinegar and prunes, accompanied of course by frites - french fries. The boulet even has its own critics and reviews.
- la potée liégeoise, a country dish made from beans, potatoes, and bacon bits cooked together and drenched in vinegar.
- les boûkètes, dark crêpes served at New Year's Eve or other festive occasions
- le matoufèt, a cross between a crêpe and an omelette, made from flour, eggs, milk and bacon bits, and served either salty or sweet.
- la tarte au riz, originally from the neighboring city of Verviers or the area of Tancrémont
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 sandwicheries 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 between 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 fast food chains in the city: A McDonald's is near the Opera, a BigMac meal is about €6, there's a Burger King near the Place Saint-Lambert and Pizza Hut can be found near the Opera and behind the city hall.
Délifranceaddress: Galeries St. Lambert and near Pont d'AvroySandwicherie
Point Chaudaddress: Place St. Lambert and Pont d'AvroySandwicherie
Au Tchantchèsaddress: rue Grande BècheRestaurant/Brasserie with traditional decor.
Café Lequetaddress: 17 Quai sur MeuseLocal cuisine and ambiance. Try the boulet-frites.
Le Venettoaddress: rue de la MadeleineOne of the best Italian restaurants in Liège, limited menu but great atmosphere and unbeatable prices.
Touch and Goaddress: rue des CarmesSpecialising in pitas and do-it-yourself salads. Especially popular with students.
Aux pâtes fraîchesaddress: 17 rue Saint-Gilles
L'Amaranteaddress: rue des Carmes
La Cigalièreaddress: 29 rue de la RégenceSandwiches, salads, breakfasts, and crêpes - all top quality.
Amour, Maracas et Salami (français)address: 78 rue Sur-la-Fontaine
C si bon!address: Boulevard d'Avroy 238Sandwiches, Salades & Catering Service
phone: +32 4 250 67 83address: Rue du stalon, 1-3
phone: +32 4 223 32 25address: Place du Marché 21
L'industrieaddress: 6 rue Saint Gillesnice brasserie specialising in mussels. Menu is in English, but waiters can hardly speak English. Cash only.
phone: +32 4 250 20 74address: 139 bd de la Sauvenièreconcept restaurant but friendly and warm
phone: +32 4 367 10 61address: 109 rue Val Benoit 4031 Angleur40 Beers on tap and 1200 Bottles, Fantastic food as well.
Cafe Lequetaddress: Quai sur Meuse 17For the local meatballs, Boulet à la liégeoise.
phone: +32 4 223 18 80address: Rue Saint-Gilles 149, 4000 Liège
Le Vaudrée 2address: Rue Saint-Gilleswhere you can taste a good thousand or so Belgian and foreign beers. Santé!
La Maison du Péquetmainly serves fruit-flavored versions of genièvre, known locally as péquet.
address: rue Soeurs de Hasqueis a café popular with exchange students living in the region.
Les Olivettesaddress: rue Pied du Pont des Archesoffers an ambience from an entirely different time.
address: Quai de l'Ourthe, 42is a club for alternative and underground music and culture with a non expensive bar
Le Sabor Latinois a club opening onto the boulevard de la Sauvenière.
K-féephone: +32 4 221 38 23address: Rue de la Goffe, 6Nice little café with good coffee, breakfast and brunch
phone: +32 4 221 38 23address: 37 Quai de la GoffeAnother nice, real coffee-café with breakfast and snacks. (Sit outside in summer!)
phone: +32 4 344 56 89address: Rue Georges Simenon 2Located in the middle of the Outremeuse neighborhood, in a superbly renovated old building.
L'Embrunphone: +32 4 221-1120address: Port des yachts 16A floating hotel that can also be rented out for trips
Les Acteursphone: +32 4 223-0080address: rue des Urbanistes 10Two-star hotel
Le Cygne d'Argentphone: +32 4 223-7001address: rue BeeckmanThree-star family hotel near the botanic garden
Le Petit Cygnephone: +32 4 222-4759address: Rue des Augustins 42Two-star hotel
La Passerellephone: +32 4 341-20-20address: Chaussée des Prés 24Three-star hotel
Hotel Mercurephone: +32 4 221-7711address: 100, boulevard de la SauvenièreFour-star hotel in the center, near Le Carré
Ibis Hotelphone: +32 4 230-3333address: 41 place de la République FrançaiseNear the Opera
Near Palais des Congrès
Eurotelphone: +32 4 341-1627address: Rue Léon Frédéricq 29Two-star hotel
Near Guillemins train station
Métropolephone: +32 4 252-4293address: Rue des Guillemins 141Two-star hotel
Les Nationsphone: +32 4 252-4414One-star hotel
Hotel Husa De La CouronneThree-star hotel
phone: +32 4 250-60-68address: Rue Hors Château, 62A charming hotel in the historic center
phone: +32 4 228-81-11address: Quai Saint-Léonard 36City centre hotel on the banks of the river La Meuse, built in a former convent. Free Wifi
- Neupré - World War II Ardennes American Cemetery and Memorial, commemorates the American soldiers who died in Northern Europe during WWII
- Henri-Chapelle - World War II Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery and Memorial. The final resting place for 7,992 American military dead lost during the drive into Germany