Mons is the capital of Hainaut province in Belgium. Offering plenty to do and see, Mons is truly a destination that leaves visitors mesmerized. It has a vibrant nature and historic culture perfectly infused, it’s no wonder Mons is known for its magic, as come alive and take strangers in as one of their own, making sure you feel welcome in their city. Whether it be a day or week, here are 10 places one must visit in Mons.
1. Maison et Jardin Victor Horta
The Maison et Jardin Victor Horta is a stunning example of the world renowned art nouveau architecture style in Mons. Consisting of two buildings, this classic city dwelling features two separate amazing gardens, with both modern and traditional design elements running throughout them. The house, as well as the garden, are filled with uniquely displayed artifacts, furniture and decorations that were created by or acquired by Victor Horta himself.
2. Parc Astrid
Parc Astrid, or the Park of the Queen of the Belgians, is a beautiful park located in the heart of Mons. Here visitors will find luscious landscapes and botanical gardens rich in vibrant colors and aromas. At the center of the park lies an ornate fountain reminiscent of years past, surrounded by meandering pathways that thread through many statues and sculptures placed throughout the park.
3. Grand Place Métropole
Grand Place Métropole is located in the centre of Mons and is set upon the cobbles streets leading up to the impressive cathedral that crowns the city. As one of the largest public squares in the region, it’s the perfect place to sit and relax while enjoying a coffee or gelato. You can also take in local street life, with plenty of open-air cafes, restaurants and bars dotted around Grand Place Métropole.
4. Parc Simonis
Parc Simonis is a peaceful oasis in the middle of the city centre. Named after a former mayor, this 11-acre public green space is framed by trees and boasts wide open fields and meadows that you can wander through. Home to a host of historic monuments such as a castle, fortifications and Flemish gardens, it’s easy to lose yourself here and forget all of your worries.
5. Canal du Centre
The Canal du Centre is more than just a canal but a representation of the culture that has lived in Mons for centuries. Spanning a total of 52 kilometres, the canal connects Mons to the nearby communes, weaving between the fields and providing a calm atmosphere for those who wish to walk or cycle along the riverside path.
6. Musée Des Beaux-Arts
The Musée Des Beaux-Arts is a stunning art museum located in the city centre of Mons. Here, visitors will find a collection of works of art from various periods dating back to the 15th century. From Renaissance paintings to Baroque recreations, the museum boasts an incredible array of exquisite pieces carefully curated in a wonderfully lit hall. The museum also houses a dedicated room to contemporary art, ensuring visitors will be able to appreciate a unique range of artwork.
7. Parc Chlorophylle
Parc Chlorophylle is a fantastical park like no other. Bright and green, the park’s central area is comprised of grassy lawns, tree-lined walkways, and thousands of plants that bring the park to bloom. But the park itself is much more than just a grassy meadow – inside it houses a mini amusement park, complete with a ferris wheel, rollercoaster, and a host of other attractions that make it the perfect spot for a family excursion.
8. Basilique Notre Dame de Grâce
Basilique Notre Dame de Grâce is a remarkable cathedral in the middle of the old town. Overlooking the square, this awe-inspiring structure consists of two smaller churches built side by side, each dedicated to a different holy figure. Visitors can also explore the cellars and crypts of this remarkable building, discovering its intriguing history and uncovering some of its secrets.
9. Mons Memorial Museum
The Mons Memorial Museum is a must-visit for anyone looking to learn more about the history of the city. Located in the large market square, the museum houses a variety of items related to the First World War, including weapons, uniforms, photographs, and interactive displays. Additionally, the museum provides visitors with special exhibitions focusing on the most important moments of Mons’s history.
10. Tramway Tour
For a unique experience of Mons, visitors can also hop aboard the city’s vintage tramway. Starting at the Radermacher Square, the tour takes passengers on a tour of the city and the surrounding area, allowing visitors to admire beautiful sights while learning more about the history and culture of Mons.
Places to Avoid in Mons
Whilst Mons is bursting with beauty and fascinating attractions, there are also some areas of the city that should be avoided. If travelling to Mons, be sure to stay away from the following five places.
1. Boussu Station
Boussu Station can be found on the north side of Mons and is home to some unsavoury activity. Best avoided at nighttime, this station sees many crowds drinking, fighting and smoking, and is known to be quite a dangerous area. Along with this, the station is often overcrowded and filled with pickpockets, meaning it should be avoided at all costs.
2. Riverbank late at night
Mons’s riverbank is a picturesque spot during the day, but late at night, it’s best to avoid the area. With few people around, it’s hard to feel safe, particularly as some parts of the riverbank can feel quite lonely and isolated. This area is also frequently filled with young people drinking alcohol and taking drugs, so make sure you don’t wander too close.
3. Derrière Monastir
Derrière Monastir is a neighbourhood located near the train station and is home to some less than desirable characters. Many visitors have noted feeling unsafe when walking in this area due to the shady activity that occurs. This district also has a reputation for being quite noisy and dirty, plus it’s also not particularly well-lit at night, making it an especially dangerous area to be.
4. Les Gaunes Road
Les Gaunes Road is located on the outskirts of the city and can be quite a scary place for visitors to find themselves. It’s an area known for high levels of crime, including drug-trafficking and vandalism, so try and steer clear if possible. Additionally, this road is also home to many homeless people, so if wandering around alone, it’s best to look out for yourself and stay vigilant.
5. Jardin Public
Surprisingly, Jardin Public is another spot in the city that is best avoided. This area is home to some of the less pleasant sides of Mons, such as rubbish and graffiti, and the park itself often feels unsafe. There is also little lighting at night and while there are occasional streetlights throughout the park, these are few and far between. With a lot of dodgy characters around, it’s best to avoid Jardin Public and any suspicious activity.