A city guide to Mons, Belgium

  • City Breaks
  • Belgium
  • 7 min read
A city guide to Mons, Belgium

This city guide to Mons in Belgium gives you all the details you’ll need to make the most of your time visiting this vibrant city.

A Belgian gem and once given European City of Culture status, the city of Mons is one of the most exciting cities to visit in Belgium. To help you make the most of your visit to this fascinating place, we've put together a full city guide, from where to eat and stay, to the sights you should certainly explore.

Driving to Mons, Belgium from Calais

From Calais it’s around a 2-hour-drive to Mons, via the A25 and E42. This isn’t the longest of journeys, but you still may want to plan some stops if you have the time. You could divert north at the beginning of your drive to Dunkirk or plan some time in Lille before you cross over into Belgium.

If you are planning to explore more of Belgium after Mons, we recommend Antwerp, Ghent, or Bruges, each with its own charm and entertainment. 

A row of white stone gravestones with flowers on a neat green lawn

History & culture in Mons, Belgium

From intriguing museums to poignant war memorials, this is the best of history and culture in Mons.

St Symphorien Military Cemetery 

The cemetery at St. Symphorien was built by the German Army during the First World War as a final resting place for British and German soldiers killed at the Battle of Mons. Among those buried here is Private John Parr of the Middlesex Regiment. He became the first British soldier to be killed in action on the Western Front after being fatally wounded during an encounter with a German patrol two days before the battle. As you wander this solemn and peaceful place, you will see the graves of 229 Commonwealth and 284 German servicemen buried or commemorated, 105 of whom sadly remain unidentified.

Beaux-Arts Mons

Once known as the city's Museum of Fine Arts, the Beaux-Arts Mons (or BAM) was refurbished in 2007 by Parisian architect, Christian Menu. The gallery now includes an impressive 80-seat auditorium, a charming garden, and three levels of display space. Exhibitions past and present include the works of old and new artists, such as Van Gogh's paintings, letters, and drawings from his time in Borinage, and pieces by Andy Warhol and Serge Vandercam.

Neolithic flint mines of Spiennes

A part of Mons' municipality, the small village of Spiennes is home to a great piece of Belgian history. The Mons Neolithic Flint Mines are a UNESCO World Heritage Site that cover more than 100-hectares of land and are the earliest and largest concentration of mines in Europe. As flint was once used as one of the main components in human history's first weaponry, these mines reveal a lot about our past and development.

A beautiful stone belfry rising above greenery with a large tree to the left

Mons Belfry

A key icon of the city, Mons Belfry stands at 87-metres tall, and can be seen from most points in Mons. Originally erected in the 17th century, after the collapse of the original tower, this baroque style belfry, built from bray sandstone, is now a recognised UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors can look forward to learning more about the city's history and culture at the onsite exhibitions. And, via a swift escalator journey, or a walk up 365 steps, you'll also get to enjoy panoramic views of the city below.

Musee Francois Duesberg

This is not your typical museum as its collection of exotic clocks from 1795-1815 alone is one of the largest in the world. Essentially, this museum captures the life of French high society at the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century, from gold work, gilded bronze pieces, antique jewellery, and an array of incredibly rare and fascinating objects. Book a guided tour for extra insights into the fascinating objects on display.

La Maison Van Gogh

In Cuesmes, a village close to Mons, La Maison Van Gogh is the house that Vincent Van Gogh lived in between August 1879 and October 1880, at the beginning of his career. Inside, you can watch short films on his life, admire reproductions of his work, and even be witness to an original copy of one of his sketches, The Diggers. Bought by the city of Mons in 1979, this picture hangs proudly within Van Gogh's old home, so be sure to stop by for a glimpse of art history.

A large canal with a huge boat lift at the end set into green hillside

Fun things to do in Mons

Mons is a city that doesn’t take itself too seriously, so be sure to visit these fun places and enjoy the Mons way of life.

Pet the good luck monkey

Just outside the entrance of the Mons city hall, try and find this small iron monkey statue and give it a pet for good luck. No one is quite sure where it came from, although it may have been a blacksmith’s ‘masterpiece’, a ritual test of skill that would grant the craftsman the title of master blacksmith. Locals insist that rubbing the monkey’s head will provide good luck and possibly even grant wishes.

Visit the “paper Google” - The Mundaneum

The Mundaneum is an archive centre and exhibition space that holds 12 million bibliographic records. That’s how it got its nickname “the Paper Google” and the New York Times refers to it as “The Web Time Forgot”. If you took every document the Mundaneum holds and laid them side by side, it would stretch 6 km, so you won’t run out of things to see on your visit!

Visit the Strépy-Thieu boat lift

On a branch of the Canal du Centre, this epic boat lift completed in 2002 was once the tallest in the world. You can watch the lift in action from outdoors, but we recommend visiting inside as you can look down on the engine room, watch a video about the construction, or enjoy refreshments in the café. 

The Mons Sunday market

There’s nothing like a lazy Sunday spent soaking up the local culture at the market. The Vieux-Marché in Mons is the place to be on Sunday if you’re looking to sample the goods of local bakers, pâtissiers, butchers, cheesemongers, and many more. You’ll find all the best producers in the region here and if you walk on from the main market to Place Simonet, you’ll find some second-hand stalls too. 

A hand petting a iron statue of a cute monkey

Where to eat

Our pick of the best places to eat delicious food and enjoy Belgian cuisine.

L'Art des Mets

For somewhere modern with a cosy atmosphere, enjoy an evening meal or relaxed lunch at L'Art des Mets. Choose from a luxury range of starters, which range from freshly caught oysters served with sea urchins, to candied bacon with caviar. For mains, we recommend trying any of the seafood options and there’s an excellent range of wines.

La Cinquiéme Saison

For a modern take on traditional Belgian cuisine, La Cinquième Saison is a great place to enjoy a romantic dinner for two. On top of the charming interiors, you can dine outside too, which makes for a pleasant way to end your day.

Twenty Buns

For a family friendly venue, that allows dogs too, head over to Twenty Buns for an American-themed evening out. Juicy burgers sandwiched between golden sesame buns, are served with a range of mouth-watering extras, including crispy bacon and fried eggs, as well as seasoned hand cut chips.

Le Paysan

In the mood for something quick, easy, and perfect for a family lunch? Take yourself and your kids along to Le Paysan, a wonderful little café that serves up crêpes and sandwiches. Enjoy your lunchtime treat with a pint of your favourite Belgian beer, or a cup of freshly brewed coffee.

A cobbled town square with Gothic buildings lining it and fountains spraying water

Where to stay in Mons, Belgium

If you need a place to rest your head after all that exploring, these are favourite places to stay. There’s something for every budget.

Budget accommodation

If you're looking to save when it comes to accommodation, a great place to book a room is Les Auberges de Jeunesse de Mons, a wonderful youth hostel that's perfect for families and groups. You can have a bed or your own private room, making it a fantastic place for those of you wanting to see more of Mons and spend less.


For somewhere that suits your needs and doesn't break the bank, book a room in Infotel, a mid-range hotel that's close to Le Pass and the city's railway station. On top of comfortable, spacious rooms, you can also look forward to a delicious, European buffet breakfast of pastries, yoghurts, and cereals, which is perfect for those of you travelling as a family.


For a luxurious experience in the city of Mons, book a stay in Dream, a 4-star hotel that's located inside a renovated 19th century Neo-Gothic style building, which was once a chapel. After a busy day exploring the city, enjoy a relaxing stay in the chic and modern rooms that have been styled to complement the archaic architecture. Enjoy a light snack or meal in the restaurant or unwind in the evening with a glass of wine or two in the hotel's bar.

Explore Mons with LeShuttle

The journey across the Channel with LeShuttle takes just 35 minutes, and with Belgium being only a short distance from the Calais terminus, the drive there is generally quick and easy. So, you'll be exploring the streets of Mons in no time at all.

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