There is a surprising variety of things to do in Mons Belgium, a town of about 100,000 people located in the French speaking region of Walloon. I had the opportunity to visit Mons on a business trip this Spring and wasn't sure what to expect. As always, I make the most of every business trip opportunity to take time for some fun. I spent 3 days in Mons but I was working during that time. I think Mons really is an ideal one day city to visit if you can explore without other obligations. Here are my recommendations for what to do in Mons Belgium for a day.
Get from Brussels to Mons Belgium by Train
Mons is located about 90 minutes by train from Brussels Airport. A train ticket from Brussels to Mons cost 18.10 EUR for a second class ticket at the time of writing. Splurge on a first class upgrade for 25 EUR; just 7 EUR more. The SNCB train network in Belgium is extensive and you can even buy an open-ended 10 journey rail pass to explore different cities in Belgium. This came in handy when there was an unexpected issue on the track between Mons and Brussels on my return journey. It took me an extra hour to get back to Brussels but I was able to travel around the problem, albeit with a train change, and even had time to spend a 4 hour layover in Brussels.
SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: Looking for other off the beaten path destinations to visit in Europe? While you're in Mons, why not consider taking a detour to Luxembourg and explore the country with a Luxembourg Card. Luxembourg is about a 2.5 hour drive from Mons. One you are in Luxembourg, you can take public transit and do all sorts of day trips from Luxembourg City. You could also consider taking the train to Antwerp for a day to grab some delicious chocolate and window shop for diamonds.
Take a Morning Architecture Walk in Mons
Mons began its history as a fortified city in the 12th century. The cobbled streets of the old town have great atmosphere. Start by taking a walk down Rue de Nimy. Wander down quiet side roads lined with stately homes. Marvel at Mons' ornate brick facades with elaborate patterns.
Visit Mons' Sainte-Elizabeth Church Inside and Out
Eat Breakfast at MoMA Coffee in Mons
After getting your initial bearings on your day trip to Mons, seek out some breakfast. MoMA Coffee was my go-to place for breakfast during my visit to Mons. MoMA Coffee serves well-crafted espresso drinks and is open from 8:30 to 5 pm. MoMA Coffee also serves amazing croissants fresh from the oven. If the weather is nice, grab a table outside on the cobbled street.
Admire Mons' Sainte-Waudru Church
Sainte-Waudru Church is another architectural gem in Mons. The church is open from 9 am during the week but unfortunately, I needed to leave for work before then and didn't have a chance to explore inside. I satisfied myself with a walk around the outside where gothic gargoyles scream from the roof. The best view of Sainte-Waudru is from the small green park out front.
Have Lunch at Mons' Boule de Bleu
The food in Mons definitely exceeded my expectations. Stop for lunch at Boule de Bleu where you can choose from an amazing array of decadent salads washed down with a glass of wine. I ate what I think was literally the best salad of my life at Boule de Bleu. My salad was covered in fresh fruit, goat's cheese, apple rings, nuts, and bacon (an optional add on that simply kicks the salad up a notch). The portions at Boule de Bleu are enormous so go hungry.
Take a Street Art Walk in Mons
See it while you can!
Pay Your Respects at the War Memorial on Place du Parc in Mons
Check out Mons' Place du Parc in a quiet corner of the town. Pay your respects at the war memorial and remember the ravages of war that befell Belgium particularly during World War I.
Circle the Mons Belfry
An ornate tower dominates the town of Mons. This is the Mons Belfry (Beffroi de Mons), a 17th century UNESCO Heritage Site. If you climb the hill to the Belfry, you can also check out Parc du Château Comtal which opens at 10 am. If you aren't around when the park is open (that was my situation since I was working), get great views of the Mons Belfry from the park just to the east of Sainte-Waudru Church. It is quite expensive to climb the tower of Mons Belfry. The weather was iffy when I visited so I skipped the climb.
Check out Mons' Jardin du Mayeur
Dine on the Grand Place in Mons at La Cervoise
As with most Belgian cities, life revolves around the Grand-Place. Have dinner at Cervoise on Grand-Place de Mons. Sip a Belgian beer or two in front of the burbling fountain. Sate your appetite with a steak on the stone served with Belgian frites.
Get Some Good Luck from the Mons Guardhouse Monkey
After dinner, seek out the Guardhouse Monkey located near the entrance of Mons Hôtel de Ville. Petting this little monkey is rumored to bring good luck. Based on the sheen on the monkey's head, it's clear that many people have tried their luck at this activity.
Go Gargoyle Hunting in Mons
As the sun starts to dip in the sky after dinner, go hunting for gargoyles in Mons. Stroll the streets and parks around Sainte-Waudru Church and see how many monstrous faces you can pick out. The gargoyles really add to the Gothic atmosphere of Mons.
Get a Drink at Mons' Le Sherlock Holmes
Finish your one day in Mons with a drink at Le Sherlock Holmes. Situated down a side street near the Grand-Place, stop for a drink and a snack. Le Sherlock Holmes features friendly service, a broad selection of Belgian beers and bar snacks. I ordered a plate of onion rings that were simply perfectly prepared. Don't let the English name fool you. Le Sherlock Holmes is Belgian through and through.
Where to Stay in Mons
To get the most out of your day in Mons, I recommend staying one night. Hotel Lido at the head of Rue de Limy is an affordable and comfortable choice. Be aware that they charge a premium for rooms with air conditioning and that availability is limited. A large Delhaize grocery store is located about a 5 minute walk from Hotel Lido. Pick up Belgian beer and snacks to take home with you if you are driving or checking a bag on the plane.
What to Do in Mons Belgium Map
I hope you've enjoyed this whirlwind tour of things to do in Mons Belgium. Check out this handy map highlighting the places discussed above to help you get your bearings.