The pretty Belgian town of Spa is an eco-travel haven: located in a forested valley and surrounded by the Ardennes Mountains, rivers and springs.
In fact it’s these cold springs, which date back to the 14th century that gives this small town its name. That and the fact that it’s on the annual Formula 1 race calendar too! The Spa Francorchamps Circuit has hosted the Belgian Grand Prix since 1925 and also hosts the Spa 24 Hours endurance race.
Hike, climb and walk
Spa’s enviable location, surrounded by forests, valleys and mountains, makes it the ideal spot for hiking and walking. Spa is located in the Walloon Region of Belgium, just to the south of the city of Liège. In fact Spa is dubbed the ‘Pearl of the Ardennes’ thanks to its spot within a magnificently lush valley of the Ardennes Mountains. And it’s these surrounding mountains and forests: Bois de Staneux, Bois de la Picherotte and Bois de Rohaimont that make Spa the perfect outdoor adventure destination.
Enjoy a spa, naturally
The local healing cold springs gave Spa its name and are thought to have been in existence since as far back as the 14th century. The small town is dotted with spa facilities which offer hot swimming pools, as well as natural mineral geysers. Stay for a few days and rejuvenate body and mind.
Explore the oldest Casino in the world
Curiously, Spa is also home to the oldest casino in the world! The Casino of Spa was built in 1763 by a prince-bishop of the nearby city of Liège. You can take a tour of the ornate building without actually having to spend a single euro!
Discover Spa’s culture
Spa successfully retains its quaint 19th century atmosphere with a handful of small museums and art galleries. Visit the unusual Laundry Museum which has 25 rooms detailing laundry methods over the years. It follows the evolution of washing methods from medieval times right through to the present day.
The Francofolies de Spa festival is also held in the town each summer and is the most important music event within the Belgian French-speaking community. Suitable for all the family, the atmosphere is lively and welcoming.
Discover the city of Liège
Just 25km (16 miles) northwest of Spa is the economic capital city of the Wallonia region; Liège. Packed with cultural and historical gems, it’s a good option for a day trip. In the heart of Liege, walk the pathways and trails around the beautiful Coteaux de la Citadelle site. Here you’ll find monuments, alleyways and courtyards and set within 86 hectares of hill and plains. Admire the majestic Church of St. Jacques, visit the interesting Curtius Museum with its rich archaeological and craft exhibitions and explore the gothic wonder of the Liege Cathedral. Liege is brimming with opera houses and theatres to take in a ballet or performance during your stay. Or simply enjoy the legendary Belgian food, beer and hospitality at one of the many local cafes, restaurants and bars.
Image Credit; Jean-Pol GRANDMONT