Bouillon, this picturesque village in the belgian Ardennes, is a main tourist attraction in the area. It is famous for its beautiful and majestic castle overlooking the river. When spending a day in Bouillon, you can walk through its small alleys, visit the castle and its panoramic viewpoint, enjoy the river promenade of the Semois river and follow Godfrey of Bouillon all the way to Jerusalem.
With the city pass you can visit the three main tourist attractions. The pass costs 11€, includes the castle, the ducal museum as well as the Archéscope and can be purchased at any of these attractions.
You can start your visit at the huge car park behind the football fields only 5 minutes walking distance from the city. If you are travelling in a campervan, there are some free 24h places for campers so that you can spend the night without any problem.
These are our must-sees for a day-trip to Bouillon:
The Bouillon castle is the biggest castle in Belgium and one of the most impressive in Europe. It was first mentioned in 988 but it was almost one hundred years later, in 1082, that Godefroy of Bouillon, the most famous Lord of Bouillon and leader of the first crusade, inherited the castle.
During the visit you will walk through its dark and humid alleys, path the citerns, tortue chamber and dungeons and climb all the way up to the 16th century Tour d’Autriche where you can enjoy the most breathtaking panorama over the village and the Semois river.
Several times per day, a Fauconnary show is taking place in the main courtyard. Don’t forget to look up the timetables when entering the castle in order to organise your visit accordingly.
At the entrance you can also buy a leaflet with further explanations on the castle. Even though this is a quite old-fashioned way to visit a place, we would still recommend to spend the 1,50 € extra because there are not many explanations inside the castle and it would be a pity to miss the citerns or dungeons because you simply don’t know they exist.
The ducal museum
When leaving the castle, there is a huge arrow that shows you the way right to the ducal museum, the next place on the list. However, you can also take your time and follow the walking tour (see below) in order to discover the village on food. Don’t worry, the tour will lead you just in front of the museum situated in a house of the 18th century.
The museum is seperated in two different places and exposes a bit of everything: paintings of the belgian painter Albert Raty, several objects from the everyday life in the city, a room fully dedicated to Godefroy of Bouillon with a model of the castle and last but not least a room dedicated to the famous ironwork of Bouillon, which was once the main economy of the city.
After this diverse range of historic objects, you can continue your walk down to the river, cross the bridge and walk to the Maison du Tourisme (House of Tourism). On its first floor, you can discover the next and last attraction for the day, the Archeoscope Godefroy of Bouillon.
This is where you will learn the story of Godefroy of Bouillon, this French nobleman who inherited the Bouillon castle in 1082 before selling it to the bishop of Liège in 1095 in order to lead the first crusade all the way to Jerusalem where he refused to be crowned king but accepted to be become ruler. Godefroy of Bouillon died in 1100 when his younger brother Baldwin I of Jerusalem was crowned king.
The visit consists of a video show with some special effects. Headsets with different translations are available (French, Dutch, English). After the show, an exposition of the Crusades from an islamic point of view complete the visit.
The city also provides you with a map for a self-guided walking tour. Every here and there you get some interesting facts and figures of the different places to see.
The tour gives you a great overview of the city which is much more than just the attractions I have cited before. Enjoy a walk along the Semois river, discover the narrow alleys and buy some groceries in the local shops in the city center.