Mons’ cobbled streets, whimsical architecture and vibrant cultural offering makes it a fantastic city to visit. However, it was also the site of a famous battle in the First World War, where the British Expeditionary Force attempted to hold firm against the forces of the German Empire.
Mons was also home to Vincent Van Gogh for a short time, which adds to its artistic heritage.
Header image credit: Gregory Mathelot
Mons is located in Wallonia, southern Belgium, just by the French border. Because of this, it’s within easy reach of our port in Dunkirk, just 90 minutes away, and Calais, which is slightly further away and can be reached within 2 hours. Alternatively, head from our port in IJmuiden, near Amsterdam, which is less than 4 hours away.
Why visit Mons?
Mons was named European Capital of Culture in 2015, thanks to its brilliant museums and artistic heritage. This victory injected the city with a renewed self-belief which has seen it host celebrations, exhibitions and more.
However, outside of its cultural successes, Mons is a beautiful city with fantastic and classically Belgian architecture, sure to enchant visitors.
Image credit: Gregory Mathelot
What to see
Mons’ most famous former resident is one Vincent Van Gogh, who retreated to a suburb just outside the city after failing to become an art dealer and teacher. After attempting to be a preacher, he eventually began sketching the workers of the local colliery. He eventually left to pursue his artistic dreams and destroyed most of the work that he created in those days. However, what does remain in the city is Maison Van Gogh, his old house, where visitors can have a nose around.
Musée du Doudou is a museum dedicated to the Ducasse Rituelle, a parade which tells the story of St George and the Dragon, right in the historic centre of Mons. Legend has it that after the first ever parade, the plague disappeared. Since 1380, the fraternity of Saint George has appeared in the procession and a reconstruction of the combat between Saint George and a dragon takes place.
Mons Memorial Museum tells the story of the military history of the City of Mons, from the Ancien Régime right up to the Second World War. With permanent exhibitions of items, artefacts and weapons, it’s sure to delight military and history buffs.
The Collegiate Church of Sainte-Waudru has one of the most beautiful collections of goldsmith's works in Belgium, ranging from the 12th to the 19th century, whether these are statues, paintings or manuscripts.
Mons is a spirited city with festivals and celebrations held throughout the year. The Ducasse du Mons (held on Trinity Sunday) is one of its most popular events. Starting with parades and processions and ending with a ceremonial fight between heroic St George and a villainous Dragon, it’s a unique and spectacular event!
If you love the music of The Beatles, head to Mons in October for the city’s Beatles Day. This annual event is the largest gathering of Beatles fans outside of the UK, and attracts tribute bands from all over the world.
The last weekend in August is always one to remember, as a living museum of armoured tanks and other historical military vehicles arrive in the centre of Mons for the Tanks in Town event. Marking the liberation of the city in 1944, this promises to be one of the largest gatherings of military vehicles in Europe!
Mons in December is a magical place, when the Grand’ Place provides a wonderful backdrop to the city’s Christmas market. With its huge Christmas tree, heart-shaped ice rink, musical performers and enchanting chalets selling Christmas gifts, decorations and delicious festive fare, it’s a wonderful place to soak up the unique atmosphere of one of Europe’s most enduring Christmas traditions.
Image credit: Gregory Mathelot
Where to stay
Our accommodation partner Booking.com offers a selection of places to stay, including everything from hotels and B&Bs to apartments.
It’s always a proud moment when you’re recognised for your good work, we’re honoured to have been named again as the World and Europe's Leading Ferry Operator 2016 at the World Travel Awards. We have been Europe’s Leading Ferry Operator for 5 years running now, and the World’s Leading Ferry Operator for 6 years.