So before I give up on Liege and area and visit Bruges instead as recommended, thought I'd take another shot to see if there are any Liege fans in our midst! Original thinking was to see some of the rising landscape and maybe a castle in the Wallonia region versus the flatland region of Flanders. Was first thinking of Maastricht but then the chocolate, fries, waffles and french got my attention! Any final arguments from silent Liege fans for 2-3 days in this area for me, wife and 3 year old?!? Thank you!
Before I answer any further, is there a specific reason you want to base yourself out of Liége? It would be one of my last choices in Belgium.
What Tom said....
Of the three triangle cities of Liege, Belgium, Aachen, Germany, and Maastricht, Netherlands, which are very close together - I would (and have done) pick Aachen and Maastricht by a country mile before I would look at Liege. And three days there!! Oh My!
Is there a family connection or some other pull taking you there? Of all the cities I know in both halves of Belgium, Liege has got to be last in appeal to me, maybe tied with Namur. No, Namur has some good qualities. Liege is at the bottom.
Hello Nigel and Tom
Many thanks for your thoughts on Liege. No family connection whatsoever. Just thought it would be a slower pace compared to busy Cologne and Amsterdam and the landscape sounds different from the flat landland Nederland. Also thought there may be some castles in the vicinity to give this part of our European outing some diversity. The original target was Maastrict for the above reasons and then I turned to Liege as I thought there'd be more to do- with chocolate, waffles, frites and beer on top!! That said we are totally open to choose another destination or revert to Maastricht and train down do Liege for the day if still desired. Just need to find a very unique and neat spot easily accessible by rail with a couple good things for us to do with the 3 year old before we hit the tulip fields north. Looking forward to additional feedback. Maastricht, another area of Holland, anywhere in Belgium are all possibilities- open to be influenced!!!
Anywhere in Belgium? I would pick Brugges ... it is so charming and walkable and should not be too overrun with tourists in April. I think you can also get waffles, chocolate, beer and frites there as well:) and in a beautiful location as well.
Brugge, definitely! Lots of town squares where the 3-year-old can run around a little, if the smell of chocolate and waffles don't keep him/her awake. Brugge doesn't feel like a big city (it's not), and the neighborhood layout makes it quite manageable. Your 3-year-old might enjoy a visit to the horse fountain (where all the carriage horses gather) and a look at the swans in the canal very nearby. These sights are near the Beguine community.
Belgium is a small country, but Liege and Brugge are pretty far apart. Have you used Google Maps to time out some of your plans? Do you know that you won't have to speak a word of French (or Dutch, for that matter), and that it can be tricky to start out in French in Belgium?
I personally would base in Antwerp or Gent, since they have much more to do, more restaurants, and more nightlife than Brugge. But it's a matter of taste. It might be fair to say that many major urban sights are towards the Brugge-Antwerp-Brussels side of the country. There are isolated, very attractive medieval town centers, and gorgeous outdoor hiking vistas to the East and South of Belgium. You have to make a choice with the amount of time you have. We visited the Netherlands separately from Belgium. There's plenty to see in each country. Maastricht is a much lower priority than Amsterdam, for example.
For a family with a 3-year old, you're not going hiking. And the 3-year old doesn't care about the Bokrijk Open-Air museum yet. I can't look up your previous post/thread from this OP. So I don't know if you prefer museums or Belgian beer. But your desire to stay in Liege is inexplicable. I beg you to buy (or go to the library) and glance at a Belgium guidebook. You're not getting what you need from the internet. Please put your home area in your profile so we have a vague idea about you.
A good daytrip from Maastricht for the 3 year old might be Domein Bokrijk, between the cities of Hasselt and Genk (with a "K", not the more well-known "Gent"). On site, there's a open-air historical museum, but specifically for the little one, a huge and amazingly elaborate playground.
Speaking of Hasselt... it has a large indoor kiddy amusement park, called "Plopsaland". It's based on some Belgian children's TV programs, which although probably not familiar to anyone in your party (ie, it's not the Smurfs or Tintin/Kuifje), I'm sure the kid won't mind.
BTW, the territory around Maastricht in the Netherlands is anything but flat, so don't think you need to go to Liége to see any hills. And not all of Flanders is flat either.
Well, you did ask for something good about Liège, and perhaps I have one thing to note. It's kind of known for having a rowdier-than-expected nightlife. Kind of party town, you might say. But with a preschooler in tow, I'm guessing that's not what you were looking for. Otherwise, quite frankly, it's a rather ugly city.
Thanks Tom for chiming back in. I am now officially close to ditching my idea of stopping in Liege. The Liege meatballs, fries and gravy sauce is hard to take a pass on tho! Maybe I can get this elsewhere in Belgium. The plopsaland info is very useful and this may put Maastricht back on my radar- this city was originally on my list because of the different geography- I know a couple dutchmen who speak highly of this unique area of Holland. So now it is either 10 nights all in Holland or 3 in Belgium + 7 in Holland.
"The Liege meatballs, fries and gravy sauce is hard to take a pass on tho! Maybe I can get this elsewhere in Belgium"
It's not so common in the rest of Belgium, but you can find it. If you don't see it in a restaurant, the supermarket Carrefour sells a frozen version, minus the fries.
PS- "Holland" refers only to two provinces in the west of the Netherlands. Maastricht is in Dutch Limburg province.
You can visit Liège, but only if you have a clear specific reason for that, otherwise look for other places. The city as an industrial centre had an atmosphere of decay for a long period, but improves nowadays step by step, still not a match with other places.
For the kid I’m more thinking about a visit to the Zoo of Antwerp. And certainly look for fairytale themepark “De Efteling” north of Tilburg in The Nederlands, fun for the whole family. Thorn is a cute little village some 50km north of Maastricht, well-known for the white painted houses.
There are a lot of family-parcs with playgrounds for children in Belgium and The Netherlands, so good and safe places to stay and relax.
Btw Liège is also well-known for their own very sweet variety of waffles "Gaufre de Liège"!
Following Rick's lead, most staff here have not yet visited Liege.
@ tce north,
Are you going to have a car in the area of Liege and Maastricht, or just going to Liege by train from Aachen or Limburg? If you plan on renting a car, then I suggest go ahead with the plan to see Liege and other nearby towns (that could take up the 2-3 days), or Masstricht. Without a car, then see Liege as a day trip.
We are going to be visiting the American Cemetery just south of Liege at Neupre. My father was part of the D-Day Invasion and was injured in the Ardennes. This is a day trip but part of 24 days in Northern France and Belgium. Perhaps we should stay at Namur?
Will you have a car? Spa or Verviers, or even Hasselt, Tongeron or Maastricht might be better options for lodging.
Judy, if Namur is convenient for your daytrip you can stay there. But I question if this is the case for the places of the Battle of the Bulge or is that already settled?
Luckily, serious waffle places like Desiree de Lille in Antwerp (and I think they have some other locations) make both kinds of waffle. Since many visitors to busy, bustling, popular Bruges want waffles, I'm sure you can get both there too, although I didn't personally have waffles there. I actually like Smootebollen (perhaps translated as clotted-cream beignets?) better.
I'd guess the trip is over, but I'll throw in my 2 cents about Liege. First of all I wouldn't plan a trip to Liege with a family with a 3 year old. I recently had kids that age and know you are more catering to them and trying to get in stuff you want at the same time. I didn't really see anything that seemed kid friendly there at least not in the historic district.
I've had a few trips (business) to Liege including one over a weekend where I did a day trip to Maastricht. Fortunately I stayed right in the historic district. During the day there were a decent amount of small shops, restaurants and waffles! The pedestrian road that points straight at the Cathedral, Rue Vinave d'ile had several waffle shops on it. After you try a plain one try the type where they slide thin sticks of chocolate into the hot waffle, painfully good! There was a restaurant called the Cafateria on Rue Pont d'Avroy (it changes names a few times and intersects with Rue Vinave d'ile near the Cathedral). So many of my coworkers went there that they made English menus for us, I am Language challenged so that helped a lot. They had great food, huge portions, decent prices and a decent (Belgian) beer selection. The local mass produced beer Jupiler was easy drinking, tasty and cheap. They also had Tappists in bottles and wine. I love Belgian beer and was tickled pink.
The downtown historic area and near by is an interesting mix of old buildings still in use, new buildings, a few vacant lots and a few rundown/ abandoned buildings. Just to the north of the Cathedral area is an Opera house they were restoring while I was there, near that was a nice and large Carafore supermarket. I went there several times to buy Chocolate to bring home. I know it is sacrilege but my kids liked the mass produced Belgian candy much more then the expensive hand made stuff. Just to the north of that is a large square called Place Saint-Lambert it had a huge government building on it that looked like it may have been a palace a one time? Also on the square was a mall.
Liege is in part a college town. The Universtiy sits right next to the Historic district. There are lots and lots of bars in the historic district at night. Most of them cater to the college kids. Not only is Liege a college town but apparently it is a party town draw for college kids from the surrounding region, it can get a bit crazy in that area at night. I was there during what I believe was either Freshman hazing time or the Fraternity induction time and it was crazy. I'm not in my early 20's anymore so I was pretty much just trying to find someplace that didn't have kids puking out front (not exaggerating).
In the evenings and at night there were a decent amount of aggressive pan handlers. All young men in their 20s. I'm sure I stuck out as an American so was targeted but it was different then anything I have experienced elsewhere in Europe. I did have one cowerker mugged, he was walking back to the hotel alone late at night. Also 2 coworkers walking back to the hotel late at night that had what I would term an incipient mugging by 2 guys. They stood their ground and the guys backed off.
All that to say that I actually like Liege, but it isn't your picture perfect European city and with kids in tow I wouldn't plan more then a day tip there for waffles, meatballs and beer. The one kid friendly exception might be a street fair they set up in the fall for a month. It was big, had games rides and food and was right next to the old town. They set it up right down a large street and has been going on for over 100 years.
Maastricht by comparison only a 30 min train ride away was very tidy, clean and had good food and beer and everyone spoke a least some english and anyone young was very fluent. I wish had more then a day trip there.