15 Things To Do In Tournai, Belgium - Updated 2021

Things to do in Tournai

Famed for its many beautiful architectures, Tournai, Belgium was captured by King Henry VIII, leaving this city with the unique label as the only one in Belgium that was once under British rule. Located along the River Escault, Tournai is one of the oldest cities in Belgium. Read on to learn more about the best things to do in Tournai, Belgium.

1. Admire the textile exhibits at Tournai Tapestry Museum

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Posted by TAMAT, Musée de la Tapisserie et des Arts Textiles on Monday, March 8, 2021

Referred to as musée de la Tapisserie de Tournai by locals, Tournai Tapestry Museum is a fascinating museum in the city that nests in the stunning neo-classical hotel de maître. Established by Wallonia-Brussels Federation, this museum is one of five establishments that highlight the field of textile art. Six centuries are covered by the museum’s massive collection of over 250 masterpieces. Some date back as early as the 15th century, while others are modern items. If you are into art, fashion, and culture, you will love this visit to Tournai Tapestry Museum.

Tournai Tapestry Museum

Address: Place Reine Astrid 9, 7500 Tournai, Belgium

Website: Tournai Tapestry Museum

Opening hours: Mon: 9:30am - 12pm, 2pm - 5pm; Wed - Sat: 9:30am - 12pm, 2pm - 5pm; Sun: 2pm - 5pm (closed on Tue)

Price: From 2 USD

2. Swing by the Swan Tower

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Tournai’s a city that is not only famous for its fascinating museums but also architectural landmarks that reflect Tournai’s rich history. It is part of the 13th-century fortification that has survived the test of time. It features a square base and a circular crown with rectangular openings used as a defense during the war era. Although the Swan Tower is only a symbol of the past, it is still worth a visit.

The Swan Tower

Address: Impasse de la rue du Cygne 12, 7500 Tournai, Belgium

3. See prehistoric objects at Tournai Archaeology Museum

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Tournai Archaeology Museum features objects that are part of prehistoric, Gallo-Roman, and Merovingian regional archeology. These items were recovered from different regions of Belgium. Some of them came from the Gallo-Roman necropolis and Saint District’s Merovingian cemeteries. “Treasure of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation” and “Treasury of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation” are two of the many highlights of Tournai Archaeology Museum. This museum offers free entry to those who will come by on the first Sunday of each month.

Tournai Archaeology Museum

Address: Rue des Carmes 8, 7500 Tournai, Belgium

Website: Tournai Archaeology Museum

Opening hours: Mon: 9:30am - 12pm, 2pm - 5pm; Wed - Sat: 9:30am - 12pm, 2pm - 5pm; Sun: 2pm - 5pm (closed on Tue)

Price: From 3 USD

4. Unwind at Queen Astrid Park

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Queen Astrid Park combines architecture and nature. It is a picture-perfect public park in Tournai that welcomes visitors at all hours of the day. Paved streets, perfectly manicured lawns, gorgeous blooms, and remarkable architectural wonders are found at the park. It has tracks that are popular for jogging and dog-walking. It also has seating areas for visitors who wish to unwind and just people-watch. You will also find open spaces ideal for having a picnic.

Queen Astrid Park

Address: Place Reine Astrid, 7500 Tournai, Belgium

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

5. Enjoy a peaceful time reading a book at Reine Garden

Reine Garden
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Jean-Pol GRANDMONT used under CC BY 3.0

Reine Garden is one of the many community parks in the charming city of Tournai, and it is part of Queen Astrid Park. It is teeming with life as it is home to gorgeous green spaces and beautiful flora. More so, Reine Garden is accentuated by fascinating sculptures and some lovely fountains. Grand Place serves as its picture-perfect backdrop. Paved walkways are located in the park as well as lawns with shady trees that are perfect for picnicking or reading a book.

Reine Garden

Address: Rue François-Joseph Peterinck, 7500 Tournai, Belgium

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

6. Visit the city’s UNESCO #1 World Heritage Site

Cathedral of Our Lady
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user [Unknown] used under CC BY 2.5

The Cathedral of Our Lady is one of the most striking architectural marvels you’ll encounter in Tournai, offering a mix of Romanesque and Gothic designs. Construction first started in 1141, when the city had been granted the seat of a bishop. The cathedral has 700-year-old murals and paintings like The Raising of the Cross by renowned artist Peter Paul Rubens. But the centerpiece is the Shrine of Our Lady, a beautiful gold-sculpted reliquary created by Nicholas of Verdun in 1205.

Cathedral of Our Lady

Address: Place de l'Evêché 1, 7500 Tournai, Belgium

Website: Cathedral of Our Lady

7. Tour the Museum of Natural History of Tournai

Diplocaulus fossil, in Musée d'Histoire naturelle et Vivarium, Tournai
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Donarreiskoffer used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Built in 1828, the Museum of Natural History of Tournai is the first that was made accessible to the public. Famous figures like Leopold I and Bartholomew Du Mortier. Much of its interiors are preserved from its original 19th-century architecture. The museum is split into two key areas: naturalized animals and live animals. The naturalized animals section features exhibits from all the world, from the giant tortoise of Aldabra to the Asian lion. The live animal exhibits are housed in a vivarium that is home to Chinese alligators, venomous frogs and other reptiles and invertebrates.

Museum of Natural History of Tournai

Address: Cour d'Honneur de l'Hôtel de ville, Rue Saint-Martin 52, 7500 Doornik, Belgium

Website: Museum of Natural History of Tournai

8. Visit the city’s UNESCO #2 World Heritage Site

Belfry of Tournai
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Trougnouf used under CC BY-SA 4.0

One of a set in Belgium and France registered on the UNESCO World Heritage List, the Belfry of Tournai is Belgium’s oldest, standing at 72 meters (240 feet) in height and taking 257 steps to reach the top. The tower, which is of medieval origin, has four towerlets, each of which has a soldier statue and a dragon icon around it. There are panels detailing how the belfry served the city throughout history. Visitors can also see the bell ringer’s rooms and his accompanying bells.

Belfry of Tournai

Address: Grand'Place 15, 7500 Tournai, Belgium

Website: Belfry of Tournai

9. Attend the annual International Folklore Festival

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Should you be planning to be in Tournai, be sure to check the dates for the annual International Folklore Festival. Every year, there are colorful displays of Belgian culture and heritage, celebrated through song, dance, and huge parade floats. Highlights include throwing pichous – a delicious sugar biscuit – from the top of the belfry and the ceremonial burning of the Carnival King.

International Folklore Festival

Address: Rue du Bas follet 31/2, 7500 Tournai

Website: International Folklore Festival

10. Appreciate fine art

Museum of Fine Arts
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Michielverbeek used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Built by art nouveau architect Victor Horta, the Museum of Fine Arts’ first exhibits were all thanks to Henri Van Cutsem, a rich art collector who offered his collections to the city in 1904. Among some of the collection the museum holds today are paintings from the 15th century to 17th and 18th-century masterpieces from artists like Peter Paul Rubens, Jean-Antoine Watteau, and Jacob Jordaens.

Museum of Fine Arts

Address: Rue de l'Enclos Saint-Martin 3, 7500 Tournai, Belgium

Website: Museum of Fine Arts

11. See Europe’s oldest house

Tournai - Romanesque houses
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user LimoWreck used under CC BY 2.5

The oldest houses in Europe can be found in Tournai’s rue Barre-St-Brice. With its gables, stone columns, these Romanesque houses represent the last of middle-class residences that lived between AD 1175 to AD 1200. These days, despite their age, they mostly host a Protestant church and art gallery respectively. Less than 10 minutes’ walk away is rue des Jésuites, which houses a Gothic house from the 13th century.

Europe’s oldest houses

Address: rue Barre-St-Brice, Tournai, Belgium

12. Learn how you came to be

Contenu de la tombe 6 du cimetière mérovingien du quartier Saint Brice de Tournai
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Okapi07 used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Ever wondered how you came to be? The Museum of Archaeology covers more than two million years of human history, from mankind’s origins to the kinds of environments our ancestors had to face. Visitors will learn more through displays and scale models showing the evolution of survival, including flint tools, pottery and metal-working techniques that led to producing more efficient weapons and hunting tools.

Museum of Archaeology

Address: Rue des Carmes 8, 7500 Tournai, Belgium

Website: Museum of Archaeology

13. Climb to the top

Mont-Saint-Aubert J1
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Jamain used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Head to Tournai’s higher point at Mont-Saint-Aubert. Standing at an altitude of 147 meters (490 feet), the point offers magnificent views of the Scheldt valley and the city of Tournai. Mont-Saint-Aubert is popular on the weekends with hikers and families. It is the starting point of many hiking trails. There are also several restaurants and a playground, which is ideal for families to relax. The place is also known as Mont de la Trinité, which is the same name as the medieval pilgrimage that was popular in the 14th century.


Address: Mont-Saint-Aubert, 7542 Tournai, Belgium

Website: Mont-Saint-Aubert

14. Walk along Tournai’s most prestigious medieval architecture

Pont des Trous
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Trougnouf used under CC BY-SA 4.0

You will immediately recognize this from postcards from the city center’s many souvenir stores. Pont des Trous is a reinforced water gate on the Scheldt river and is one of the oldest existing medieval bridges in Europe. It has three distinct spikes, with its origins dating to as far back as the 13th century – the left tower in 1281 and the right tower in 1302.

Pont des Trous

Address: Pont des Trous, Quai Donat Casterman, 7500 Tournai, Belgium

15. Get one for the gram

The German MV Lindenstein on the Scheldt quayside from Antwerp - 1968
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Buonasera used under CC BY-SA 3.0

In the 17th century, people lived right next to the River Scheldt. Today, there are plenty of cafes, bistros, and bars lining the river. Due to its relaxing and laidback atmosphere, it is a favorite among locals aplenty for an intimate meal or some after-work drinks. As with most riverside places, the Scheldt quayside looks beautiful at night and would make quite the pretty picture.

Scheldt quayside

Address: Scheldt River

Full of history

The city’s two UNESCO World Heritage Sites should already cement itself as one of the top historical destinations on a continent already oozing lots history, art and culture. Even if you’ve already visited the more well known European cities like, you’ll still find lots in Tournai that will impress.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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