10 Things to do around Mons, Belgium

10 Things to do around Mons, Belgium

by Stacy Roman
Stripes Europe

Welcome to Belgium! Home of world-famous beer, decadent chocolates, sugary delicious waffles piled high with more sugary awesomeness and of course, arguably some of the best Frites (French fries) in Europe. While there’s a plethora of things to see and do around the capital city of Brussels and the romantic canals of Bruges, there are quite a few spots to check out a little closer Mons.

  1. Mons Belfry. Belgium is home to hundreds of belfries. However, this particular one is special. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it’s the only Baroque bell tower remaining in the country. Measuring at 87-meters tall, it provides the perfect vantage point of Mons and the surrounding area.
  2. Mons Memorial Museum. Dedicated to the memories of those who served in World War I and II, this exhibition space is home to more than 5,000 artifacts, stories and displays. Concentrating on local heroes, it provides an intimate look into how the conflicts shaped the region.
  3. Strépy-Thieu Boat Lift. If you’re an architecture buff or just want to check out an impressive feat of nautical engineering, drive about two kilometers outside the town limits and marvel at the Strépy-Thieu Boat Lift. Perched on Canal du Centre, this boat lift is one of the tallest and largest of its kind in the world. Created to assist in the movement of large cargo ships, you can tour the interpretation center and watch the lift do its magic.
  4. Paira Daiza. Just a short 30-minute drive north of Mons is one of Europe’s most beloved zoos. Paira Daiza, also known as Jardin des Mondes (world’s garden), hosts an impressive amount of wildlife, flora and fauna. Separated into different geographic regions, visitors can feed and interact with different animals and learn about their natural habitats.
  5. Maison du Marais. This simple and unassuming 19th-century farmhouse in the small village of Cuesmes is a must-visit for art buffs. During his time studying to become a theologian, Vincent van Gogh stayed at this charming home and ultimately made the choice to follow his artistic path here. Audio guides narrate the complexities of the artist’s life.
  6. The Neolithic Flint Mines of Spiennes. Approximately six kilometers from the city center, thousands of mineshafts dating back between 4200 and 2500 BC can be found. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, these mines are some of the oldest and largest in Europe. Visitors can wander through excavated tunnels deep underground.
  7. Mundaneum. Often seen as a precursor to the internet and open-source information, the Mundaneum was originally created to hold the world’s knowledge and classify it by using Universal Decimal Classification. With more than 12 million index cards and documents, this building now serves as an archive and museum.
  8. Napoleon’s Last Headquarters. Located a little further northeast from Mons is the small village of Genappes. Sitting on the outskirts is a typical Belgium home which is anything but. Now a museum, this served as Napoleon’s final headquarters and where he stayed the night before the end of his era at the nearby Battle of Waterloo.
  9. Château de Belœil. Affectionately referred to as “Le Versailles Belge” or the Belgian Versailles, this impressive castle harkens back to the 16th century. Visitors can step back in time and explore the vast halls and rooms or take a leisurely stroll through the impeccably manicured gardens and grounds.
  10. International Museum of Carnival and Mask. The unique museum in nearby Binche showcases the global influence of Carnival. Costumes, masks and other artifacts dating back centuries are on display, including interactive exhibits and demonstrations.

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