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Durbuy (Belgium-Wallonia)

View of Durbuy © Durbuy

The district of Durbuy is located in southern Belgium, Wallonia, at the foot of the Ardennes. It is made up of 40 small villages and hamlets and gets its name from one of the most important villages in the area: Durbuy has been recognised as a “town” since the Middle Ages in view of the important legal bodies and commercial activities there. And so it was that the old town of Durbuy became known as ‘the smallest town in the world’, putting this humble corner of the Belgian Ardennes firmly on the map.

This small gem from the Middle Ages in no way diminishes the sparkle of neighbouring villages. Their close proximity enables tourists to discover different aspects of a Wallonia rich in colours, flavours, heritage and areas brimming with life.

Situated at the intersection of three geological regions, Durbuy offers a startling array of landscapes. Shaped by the elements, the area offers majestic and often untold panoramas, such as Roche-à-Frêne, or the view of the Falize in Durbuy’s old town. Caves run along the Ourthe and its tributaries, such as the Coléoptère cave in Juzaine, or the cave in Bohon or Villers Ste Gertrude.

The forests, densely populated with hardwood, house an extraordinary range of flora and fauna, and it is here that local authorities have laid down 175km of pedestrian footpaths.

At the heart of Europe and close by the main transport links, yet protected by the Ourthe valley, Durbuy offers the luxury of leaving the cares of the world behind, yet remains within arm’s reach.

For more than 150 years, the town has been famed for its cuisine, bringing in connoisseurs from far and wide. It is one of the driving forces behind Durbuy’s tourism economy. Numerous products are produced locally, which means the markets in other villages can also be patronised.

Mainly managed by small family businesses, the accommodation sector welcomes many tourists. Visitors will find a range of accommodation adapted to taste, length of visit and reason for stay: hotels of all types, classic or with an unusual personal touch, charming or unique guestrooms, camping areas, group accommodation, places for businesspeople for seminars or team-building exercises, rural cottages, farms or holiday villages…

Tourism, an economic pillar of the town, is moulded by two other important factors: agriculture and forestry. These are what give the area its uniqueness: all the riches of rural life.

Durbuy is already a well-known destination and sees large numbers of overnight stays. Even so, the area has been implementing a strategy for several years aiming for a more even spread in tourist fluctuations, a better targeted public and a more extensive spread of tourism activities throughout the region.

In addition to these developments, a quality procedure has been implemented by the local administration, with tourism stakeholders acting in close partnership with citizens. This collaboration, forged over several years, has a dual objective: satisfying customers’ needs and instigating sustainable development.

Baudouin Bridge © Durbuy

Durbuy has been dubbed “European tourist destination of excellence” as, in addition to these assets for boosting tourism, it is leading the way in efforts to establish a real policy of sustainable tourism, which aims to involve all partners concerned, make valuable use of all the material and immaterial resources in the area in terms of tourist activities, manage the impacts of tourism and develop a dynamic communication strategy using the internet (

To ensure the tourism sector is managed flexibly and to allow on-the-ground stakeholders to cement a sustainable partnership, Durbuy made the first steps in 2004 towards a participative approach in managing tourism.

This led to a contract-inventory of 29 operational objectives being drawn up, along with 150 progress indicators.

Among these operational objectives, the following can be highlighted:

  • In improving the range of tourist activities on offer:
    • Improve the welcoming of tourists
    • Raise awareness among clients
    • Have a range of walks on offer
    • Raise Durbuy’s profile
    • Make tourist reception areas more visible and more similar to each other
    • Encourage tourism stakeholders to abide by quality standards in their sector
    • Take into account opinions of clients in improving the service provided
    • Draw up a training policy for welcome staff
  • In local development:
    • Support the local economy through tourism
    • Keep stakeholders and citizens informed on how tourism is evolving
    • Make tourist taxes more viable
  • In sustainable development:
    • Favour out-of-season tourism
    • Protect the quality of the natural environment for each attraction and activity
    • Manage visit fluctuations during peak periods
    • Reduce the pressures on fragile areas from tourism
    • Guarantee the water quality in river areas suitable for bathing
    • Stimulate cultural tourism
    • Mitigate the various types of urban and visual pollution within the territory
  • Ethics:
    • Raise awareness among tourists of their responsibilities.

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Last update: 01/07/2011 | Top