Durbuy, claimed to be the world’s smallest town, is loved by some people and considered as a quintessential tourist trap by some others. It is quaint little charming town located in the Ardennes Forest and is rich in history. It has a population of only 500 and obtained the town charter during the Middle Ages making it the smallest town in this world. This honorary status has been maintained till today.
History of the Place
The earliest mention of this beautiful place can be traced back to 814 AD. Around 889 AD the first castle was built around here and the first official record of a village dates back to 11th century. In the early part of 14th century the city of Durbuy had acquired a city wall, a courthouse and police. It was accorded the status of city in 1331 by the King of Bohemia and the Count of Luxembourg. Even today, Durbuy is officially a town and not considered a village although it is rather small in size. The locals still claim this place to be the world’s smallest town although there is a Dutch province which only has 40 inhabitants!
The Major Attractions
Durbuy, though a small town, is not bereft of attractions. One of the main tourist spots, the Topiary Park, has an impressive collection of 250 clipped box trees. Some of the specimens here are more than 100 years old.
The Belvedere is located high above Durbuy on the top of a cliff. It is a good vantage point and provides good photo opportunities. It affords a great view of the town and of the River Ourthe.
Confiturerie Saint-Amour is a famous jam factory that is open to the people where one can see the jam being made in large basins made of copper. One can buy fresh jams from the factory and other foods in the surrounding area.
The Durbuy Sightseeing Train is a wonderful way to enjoy the beautiful landscape of this small town. The tourist train stops at a view point in the town which is strikingly beautiful. This is a perfect spot to enjoy the scenic green surroundings of this charming town.
Marckloff Micro Brewery is worth a visit. It produces the beers as per a brewing method that was prevalent in the 14th century. It sells the products straight from brewery at the bar. Here you get an opportunity to taste the typical beer of the town. Since admission is free, this place should feature on your list of ‘Things to do in Durbuy’.
During the month of December there is beautiful Christmas market on the main square which attracts many visitors.
Another popular tourist destination of a different kind is the castle “Petite Somme” also known as Radhadesh. It is hosting an international hinduistic community which is very open to receiving visitors. They offer guided tours daily mainly in Dutch but also in French and English if required.
Durbuy is considered as an excellent base for outdoor activities at Ardennes. There are ample parking lots outside the center and one can easily spot a large number of people taking a long walk along the river. The waters of the river can be enjoyed in myriad ways such as kayaking, canoeing and rafting. Horseback-riding and geo-catching is also very popular here.
How to Reach Here
The best option to come to Durbuy is by car. One needs to head down the E411/A4 from Brussels as it passes within 30 miles of Durbuy. This route has great views and a scenic stop-over. You need to stay on N86 till Barvaux-sur-Ourthe and then take N833 for Durbuy.
If you come by train, the closest train station is located in Barvaux-sur-Ourthe which is on the train line connecting Liege to Jemelle. If you come from Brussels you would need to take a train direction Luxemburg and then change in Marloie (on the crossing to above mentioned line) to take another short ride to Barvaux station. There is a shuttle but going from Barvaux to Durbuy bus you may prefer to hire a taxi or arrange a pick-up through your accommodation.