Dig beneath the rubble and unearth the stunning edgy grit of Belgium’s Charleroi. Painted in culture, cool venues and age-old atmospheric architecture, this city is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. Here’s how we think you should spend 36 hours exploring Charleroi.
Located right in the centre of the city, the Novotel sits a mere five minute walk from the Charleroi Sud train station and only 7 kilometres from the airport. Decked out in modern interiors, the 123 comfortable rooms are the ideal place to rest your head after a busy day of sight-seeing. Connected to the Rive Gauche shopping mall, access to the city’s retail outlets couldn’t be easier. Just a stone’s throw away from most of the city’s main attractions, eateries and the picturesque banks of the river Sambre, Novotel puts the best of Charleroi right on your doorstep.
Novotel Charleroi Centre – Place Verte 17
Saint Christopher Basilica – Place Charles II
An essential part of the city’s founding history, the basilica sits in the heart of the historic quarter and boasts a mismatch of old and new architectural styles. Dedicated to Saint Christopher in 1722, the highlight of the building can be found inside the copper dome choir. Created by local artist Jean Ransy, the mosaic consists of one million small square tiles of coloured glass covered in thin gold leaf. Inspired by the Byzantine artistic era, the entire interior of the basilica tells the story of biblical texts. Take a walk around the outer and inner parapets of the dome and snap the ultimate city panorama from one of the best viewing spots in Charleroi.
Bois du Cazier – Rue du Cazier
Former coal mine turned interactive museum, the Bois du Cazier is without doubt one of Charleroi’s best attractions. Paying homage to the city’s past as an industrial stronghold, the site commemorates the glory days of steel, glass and coal as well as the tragic accident on August 8th 1956. Journey through time with a series of interactive displays, photographs, films and testimonials. Located in the south of Charleroi, the museum complex sits on the edge of the idyllic Entre-Sambre-et-Meuse and is the perfect place to blend history with the unique local culture.
One thing you can’t fail to notice when visiting Charleroi is its abundance of colourful street art. The Urban Dreams project is an initiative which aims to brighten up the harsh industrial landscape. Painters from all over the country have been invited to leave their mark on the town’s walls. Stroll through the Marchienne-au-Pont district and gaze upon mural after mural. Adding vibrancy to Le Pays Noir, the city’s street art is a real sight for sore eyes and one of the best attractions on offer – better yet it won’t cost you a penny!
Charleroi Town Hall and Belfry – Place Charles II
Effortlessly merging art deco with classicism, the ornamented town hall should be next on your list of what to see when you visit Charleroi. Decked out in dramatic spiral staircases, marble sculptures, tapestries and luxurious lighting, the building is an architectural masterpiece. Whilst the structure itself is impressive, the real gem of this place is its UNESCO certified belfry that sits 70 metres above the ground. Made of white and blue brick and topped off by a bronze steeple, the belfry houses 47 bells that chime every quarter of an hour. Climb 272 steps and look out over the city below to the sounds of local bard Jacques Bertrand.
Photography Museum – Avenue Paul Pastur II
Housed in a former Carmelite convent, the city’s photography museum is renowned world-wide for both its permanent and temporary exhibitions. As the largest of its kind in Europe, the museum sees more than 50,000 visitors pass through its historic doors every year and prides itself in highlighting artistic diversity within the city creative scene. Backed by a serene park, spend the day wandering through countless rooms browsing some of the best photography in the world.
Rockerill – Rue de la Providence 136
If you’re after a night on the tiles, Rockerill is the only place to be on a Saturday night. Located in Marchienne-au-Pont, the industrial warehouse turned concert hall is a favourite amongst locals for its electronic dance events and urban nights. Doubling up as a place for alternative cultural, theatre and art exhibitions, Rockerill is always a hive of activity and definitely one to add to your Charleroi itinerary.
LaM.U – Rue de Brabant 2
Taste the city at local brewhouse and restaurant La Manufacture Urbaine. Taking over a former media library, the iconic venue allows you to experience Charleroi tradition like a true Carolo, one sip at a time. Sitting alongside the banks of the Sambre river, settle in for a home brewed beer tasting or stop by for a cup of freshly roasted coffee.
Le Pot-au-Pho – Rue de Montigny 34
Whilst not traditionally Belgian, no trip to the city of Charleroi is complete without tucking into a dish of pho at Le Pot-au-Pho. Escape the bustling streets for a while and sink into the calm atmosphere of the wooden minimalistic furniture. Unique to the city, this place is well worth checking out the next time you visit Charleroi.
Planning a trip to Charleroi soon? Make sure to tag us in your photos of what to do and see in Charleroi using the hashtag #ryanairstories, for the chance to be featured on Ryanair’s Instagram feed.
Flights to Charleroi
- Lucy Norris