Hainaut has a variety of things to do. It’s known for its mining history, carnivals, and surprising natural gems. You can still see some old mining sites, like in Charleroi, if urban exploring is your thing. Nature lovers can easily find quiet nature reserves and parks away from the crowds of other provinces. Hainaut Should be on your list since it has one of the best zoos in Belgium, Pairi Daiza, plus underrated castles.
Mons: the capital of Hainaut. Mons has medieval history with modern vibes. Discover gorgeous buildings right next to trendy restaurants.
Charleroi: THE industrial home of Belgium. It might’ve been voted one of the ugliest cities in the world, but there’s beauty to be found in its urban streets and tons of culture to discover.
Ath: the City of Giants. This part of Hainaut is known for its Ducasse festival in August. See the biblical tale of David and Goliath recreated. Outside the festival, Ath is a fairly quiet area with medieval architecture and war history in abundance.
Mouscron: known for its yummy food and pretty park. Come by to see Hurlu, a symbolic figure of the city inspired by Protestant 16th century plunderers.
Soignies: historically renowned for its glass industry and blue limestone. Today, the blue limestone quarry, and surrounding nature are must sees.
Thuin: a hidden gem for architecture lovers. Medieval sights aplenty with lovely hanging gardens to explore.
Tournai: home to one of the oldest towns in Belgium! But Tournai is more than historic sights. Take a deep breath and try out the zip lines.
Hainaut has tons of fun carnivals and festivals. Urban explorers should get into the city centres for a cultural experience. Binche is especially known for its carnival characters. Head over to the International Museum of Carnival and Mask to see all the behind-the-scenes deets and history of Hainaut's carnivals.
Need some fresh air? Escape into Hainaut's fields and nature reserves. There are tons of hiking trails for you backpack trekkers. Casual walkers have plenty to enjoy too with short and easy-going walks all around Hainaut's beautiful castles.
It wouldn't be a trip to Belgium without taking a sip of some beer. There are six special Trappist breweries in Belgium and only 14 in the world. You'll find one of them at Scourmont Abbey in Chimay. The Trappist beer here is authentic and brewed in an original way with re-fermentation in the bottle. A must-try for beer lovers.
Hainaut is full of things to do for the family. Known for its much-loved zoo Pairi Daiza, families can have a fun-packed animal-themed day with animals from all over the world right here in Hainaut. Or bring the kids along to the science museum Le Pass to learn something new.
If you’re here seeking the hidden gems of Belgium’s industrial history, you’ve come to the right place. Hainaut has preserved its mining history for all to see at Le Bois du Cazier.
Unlike major cities and busier provinces, Hainaut isn’t as well known. So there’s no big touristy crowd to avoid most of the time. It will be a bit busier in the summer when local travel is booming and everyone is on holiday. Like all of Belgium, it’s best to visit in April to October, when the weather is at its best!
Hainaut is an easy province to get to thanks to Brussels South Charleroi Airport. Budget airlines fly into the Charleroi Airport so if you’re wanting to fly on points, you’ll have to fly into the slightly further Brussels Airport. Mons does not have its own airport. Fly into Charleroi at Brussels South Charleroi Airport. Mons is a 40 minute drive away or 45 mins by train. Or fly in from Brussels Airport that is a 40 min train ride away from Mons.
You can easily reach Hainaut on the train. The major towns of Hainaut all have a train station, such as Bergen Station in Mons. There are two trains each hour from Brussels. You can reach Hainaut by train from the major surrounding European cities.
Belgium has a good coach network and is connected to major coach stations throughout Europe. You’ll have to check the specific town in Hainaut you’d like to get to (Charleroi or Mons are your best bet) to see when they will arrive.
Already in Belgium? You can get a bus directly from Brussels into Mons (the IC 3735). From Antwerp, catch bus IC 2036 to go directly to Charleroi.
With a car in Hainaut you’ll rarely be over an hour’s drive from anywhere. Mons is 40 minutes away from Charleroi and Thuin, for example. Driving is an easy way to get from city to city.
Lots of places in Hainaut have free parking nearby or on site. If you’re parking in cities and towns you may have to pay for the most convenient parking locations.
Belgium has an extensive public transport network and Hainaut is no exception. You can use the bus to get from city to city or just to speed up your day in the city centres. Some villages and towns further out from the major cities are harder to reach via public transport, so you may have to get the bus then walk a while or rent a car.
Travelling Hainaut on a budget? If you can, buy your tickets online ahead of time from TEC who runs all the buses in Hainaut here to save 0.50€ on a single ticket and even more for day passes.
You can buy online discount tickets on TEC’s e-shop. You’ll need a MOBIB card. If you don’t have a MOBIB card and are only staying in Hainaut (or Wallonia in general) for a short time, then get a disposable card instead. You can get a disposable card from an ESPACES TEC
The local tourism office Visit Mons has a tourist card to help you get discounts. It includes reduced entry to some of the museums and activities. You also get 1 adult bike for the day, so if you were planning an urban exploration and bike rental anyway it might be worth it.
For adults, the Mons Card is 18€ for 24 hours and 5€ for kids. You also have a 48-hour option at 26€ for adults and 10€ for kids. If you’re going on a family trip around the city, it’s probably worth it. Otherwise, it’s probably not for you.
Languages: Flemish (Dutch)
Emergency numbers: Police urgent: (101), Fire, ambulance, police: 112