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Visitor Guide to Waterloo

Visitor Guide to Waterloo

Getting There | What to See | Further Afield | Much Further Afield

The Battlefield of Waterloo is in southern Belgium and is about a 2 and a half hour drive from Calais (Chunnel or Ferry). Sat nav will almost certainly take you around the Brussels ring road. All I can say is don’t go there! From Calais take the route to Lille in France and then on to Waterloo. Lille at rush hour is congested but nothing like Brussels!

The battlefield is in better shape for a visit than it has been for decades with a new underground visitors centre opened in 2015.

The battlefield actually lies some three miles south of the town of Waterloo and decisions on how to get there and where to stay, can be very important for your enjoyment of the visit. This guide has been put together to help you make the right decisions for your specific needs.

Getting there

Being situated 23km from Brussels, and about 32km from Brussels International Airport, you have a number of options depending on how you have arrived and what mode of transport you wish to use.

By car

For Satnav – Address for Battlefield is Route du Lion 315, Waterloo 1410, Belgium

Please note, that the Route du Lion is now permanently closed at the Lion Mound. Therefore it is best to approach towards the Battlefield Visitor Centre from the north west (from Braine l’Alleud) as the car park is on this side of the Lion Mound.

By Plane

Having arrived at Brussels Airport at Zaventem, you can either pick up a hire car, take a taxi or train to Waterloo.

If taking a taxi, it will cost about E40 each way and will take about 30 minutes except at peak periods for traffic around Brussels, when it could take double the time and double the cost! A taxi for a group can be quite cost effective.

If by train, catch a train from the airport to Brussels Midi station. Here you can catch a train to Waterloo, which goes about ever hour for E5 each way, (if staying in the town) or Braine l’Alleud if preferred if simply going to the battlefield for the day.

It will cost about E10 to catch a taxi from either station to the Lion Mound. However, taxis are rarely to be found at the station, be prepared to walk or have the phone number of a local taxi company handy.

By Train

Trains from London and all other international trains normally alight at Brussels Midi, from which you an easily transfer to a local train going to Waterloo or Braine l’Alleud every hour for about E5 each way.

By Bus

Catch the W Bus or the 365 Bus, both from Brussels. You can purchase a ticket off the driver.

What To See

The New Battlefield Visitor Centre

One of the best new museums at Waterloo is the fantastic new underground Visitor Centre adjacent to the Panorama. It is a thousand percent better than the old centre (for those that went there before 2015). The 3D film is actually pretty good and is highly recommended. You can view the only complete skeleton uncovered at Waterloo (named by yours truly as Private Friedrich Brandt 2nd Line Battalion King’s German Legion). Plenty to see and do for all ages.

Allow 1-2 Hours

Opening times

26th March to 30th September: 9:30AM to 6:30PM
1st October to 25th March: 10:00AM to 6:00PM
Last entry 45 minutes before closing

Ticket Prices

Individual site tickets can be purchased, but it is highly recommended buying a group ticket PASS 1815 (all Inclusive) Covers Wellington Museum, Le Caillou, Visitor Centre, Panorama, Lion Mound, Hougoumont and Mont St Jean

Adults (over 17) E21 Children Under 17 E17

Please Note

When you visit the Visitor Centre and purchase tickets it comes in two parts. The white barcoded ticket allows you into the Centre, Panorama and up the Mound. This part has to be used on the day of purchase. You also receive a card which you show at the other locations to allow you access to Le Caillou,  Hougoumont, Mont St Jean and Wellington’s HQ. You have up to one year to visit these locations.

Access to the Lion Mound and Panorama is now through the visitor centre and is included in the price of the ticket.

Those with limited mobility can enjoy full access to the Visitor Centre, but cannot see the Lion Mound or Panorama as this includes a number of steps.

Lion Mound
Lion Mound

Lion Mound

​The mound was built between 1820 and 1825 to commemorate the victory, but it has always been controversial as it significantly altered the battlefield in its construction. It does however, offer excellent views over the battlefield on a good day, but does tend to make the battlefield appear flat, which is far from true. The climb should however, only be attempted by someone who is relatively fit, as it has 226 steep steps up to the viewing platform (there is no lift).

The Panorama

Painted in 1912 by Louis Dumoulin, it attempts to portray a 360 degree view of the great cavalry charges during the middle of the battle. Although it has seen some renovation, with sounds and smells, it is of minor interest, being of its time.

Hougoumont

Hougoumont

The Chateau/Farm Complex of Hougoumont was the scene of intense fighting throughout the day and was virtually its own battle within a battle. The farm is really worth the effort of visiting it, although unfortunately at present there is little actually on site to help the visitor understand its importance. A little bit of prior knowledge is therefore an advantage. Plans are apparently afoot to improve significantly this part of the visitor experience with large signs at significant points and improved displays in the entrance area. The farm/chateau complex has recently been fully refurbished and now includes a viewing platform, the wonderful new British Memorial and a slightly odd visual presentation in the Great Barn.

Allow 1 Hour

Opening Times
26/03 to 30/09 09.30 to 18.30
01/10 to 25/03 10.00 to 18.00
There is a free shuttle bus from the visitor centre to Hougoumont (and return) every half an hour for those who do not wish to make the twenty-five minute walk along the allied ridge line to get there. Those with Impaired Mobility can enjoy full access although the cobbled yard can be a bit of a challenge.

La Belle Alliance
La Belle Alliance

For anybody who would like to rent a beautiful apartment on the actual battlefield for your visit, please take a look at the Landmark Trust Website.

La Belle Alliance

Although its name has made it famous, it is a nightclub and cannot be visited.

Plancenoit Village

There are a number of French and Prussian memorials at Plancenoit, but there are no museums here. The church which now dominates the village centre and the one that was a prominent part of the fighting here, are unfortunately not the same.

 

La Haye Sainte

La Haye Sainte
La Haye Sainte

The farm of La Haye Sainte is privately owned and the family request that visitors respect their privacy.

There are a number of French and Prussian memorials at Plancenoit, but there are no museums here. The church which now dominates the village centre and the one that was a prominent part of the fighting here, are unfortunately not the same.

Mont St Jean Farm

The farm was used as a major field hospital during the battle. It has recently been expertly renovated and now contains a museum on the medical aspects of the battle and a brewery for Waterloo Beer (it comes highly recommended by the author!) both of which can be visited.

Allow 30 Minutes

Mont St Jean Farm
Mont St Jean Farm

Opening Times: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Prices
Now Included in All Inclusive 1815 Ticket from the Battlefield Visitor Centre

If visited alone 7.5 Euros for Museum and additional 5 Euros for Brewery Tour including beer tasting (small).The Farm of Mont St Jean lies a few hundred metres north of the battlefield and has a carpark in its rear.

There is also a very nice restaurant on site

Further Afield

Waterloo Town

Wellington Museum

Wellington Museum
Allow one hour
Location
Chaussée de Bruxelles 147, 1410 Waterloo

Opening Times
From 1 October to 31 March 10.00hr to 17.00hr. From April 1 to September 30 of
9.30hr to 18.00hr.

Prices
4 Euros (It is also available as part of an 1815 ticket)

waterloo st joseph
St Joseph’s Chapel

The Museum is to be found in the centre of Waterloo. It was an inn in 1815 and was used by the Duke of Wellington as his headquarters. The bed in which Colonel Gordon died is still in the house. The rear building is now used for special exhibitions and there are a number of gravestones in the garden.

St Joseph’s Chapel

Opening Hours
The church is open to visitors during normal hours (outside times of services), free of
charge. There are a very large number of memorials within.

It stands opposite Wellington’s Museum.

Le Caillou

Allow 30 minutes

Location

Le Caillou
Le Caillou

1472 Vieux GenappeOpening Times
10 a.m. to 18.30 p.m.

Napoleon’s headquarters lies some 4 km south of the battlefield on the Genappe road. It has very limited parking. The small museum has recently been refurbished, but is now if possible a little too child friendly. Looking for the original artefacts? Turn the boards with images of soldiers around and there you have them. Press a button to view the French skeleton (actually a conglomeration of a number of different skeletons). In the garden there are a number of commemorative tablets and the Ossuary (a deposit for bones discovered on the battlefield).

Evere Cemetery

Allow 30 minutes
Open Tues-Sun 08.30 – 16.30​

In 1890 it was decided to have a major monument for the British dead who could be individually identified. Between 1890-4 a number of bodies interred around the Waterloo battlefield were moved here and placed in the crypt. 15 men are now buried here.

Army Museum Brussels

Allow 1 Hour
Location
Parc du Cinquantenaire 3, Brussels 1000​
Open Tues- Sun 09.00 – 17.00
Price 5 Euros

The Museum of the Armed Forces covers the history of the Belgian forces throughout history, but it does have a decent section of artefacts from the period of Waterloo

Genappe Bridge
Genappe Bridge

Genappe

Genappe village lies about 8km south of Waterloo battlefield and can be reached by bus, but car is easier (there is a large carpark at the bottom of the valley near the bridge). There are no museums here and no major monuments, whilst the course of the river has been altered and the bridge is virtually hidden now. It is however, possible to still see how restrictive the road was for the cavalry as they passed through the main street.

Quatre Bras

The battlefield of Quatre Bras lies about 12km south of Waterloo battlefield. There is a bus service, but realistically you need to drive to Quatre Bras. There are no museums here, many of the farms such as Gemioncourt are private property or converted into golf clubs. The woods have been removed and buildings continue to spring up, slowly the battlefield is disappearing. The huge farm that stood on the junction of the crossroads for over two hundred years has been recently demolished. This battlefield is now only for the real die-hard.

There are a number of major memorials at the crossroads (turn fifty yards onto the Nivelles road), whilst the monument to the Duke of Brunswick stands a mile south of the crossroads.

Ligny
Ligny

Ligny Battlefield

The battlefield of Ligny covers a very large area and is a serious walk, it is therefore much easier to visit the area by car. Sombreffe Church maintains a French cannonball embedded in a wall and Ligny has a few farmhouses and monuments from the period, but all of these farms are private property.

Museum Gerard

Allow 30 minutes

There is a small but very good museum at Ligny, housed in a farmhouse which was used as a hospital at the time of the battle.

Museum Address
5140 Ligny, Belgium
Opening hours
Monday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, from 1pm to 5pm.
Prices
5 Euros per person (not included in the 1815 ticket)

Much Further Afield

Hotel d’Hane- Steenhuyse Ghent

Hotel d’Hane- Steenhuyse Ghent
Hotel d’Hane – Steenhuyse Ghent

​Allow One hour
Ghent is 86 km from Waterloo, allow 1 – 1 1/2 hours to get there

Address
Hotel d’Hane-Steenhuyse, Veldstraat 55, 9000 Gent

Opening Times
Fridays & Saturdays Only 1430-1700
Book in Advance!
Uitbureau Gent vzw, Veldstraat 82B, 9000 Gent
Tel: +32 92337788
Website Uitbureau Gent Vzw
Prices 6 Euros

Ballroom
Ballroom

This hidden gem, is rarely visited. It was the home of King Louis XVIII whilst in exile at Ghent during the Waterloo campaign. Visits are guided and excellent. The ballroom/reception room where the king met all of the officers of the British regiments marching to Brussels is truly magnificent. Highly recommended.

Where to stay?

Varying budgets and wants/needs mean that it is difficult to give a definitive list, but I mention here a few that I can personally recommend.

Martin’s Grand Hotel and Lodge

Chaussée de Tervuren 198, 1410 Waterloo, Belgium

The best hotel in the area, but also most expensive, is Martin’s Grand Hotel which is 4*, Rooms are good and the breakfast (full English) and other facilities, excellent. (Average price 140- 200 Euros per room per night including breakfast). The hotel provides free parking but is 3 miles from the battlefield. It is however, a very short walk from Waterloo town centre, its museums, restaurants and excellent shops.

Hint

​If you can, book into the Lodge, a newer development which stands alongside the main Hotel. It provides 3* accommodation, hence cheaper (although the rooms are very well equipped), but you still get to enjoy breakfast and all other facilities of the main hotel included! (Average 100-160 Euros)

1815 Hotel

​Route du Lion 367-369, 1410 Waterloo, Belgium

This hotel is 3* but has a 5* location, being the only hotel actually on the battlefield. It’s rooms are however pretty basic and the restaurant very French in every way!(no English spoken). It has no air conditioning and the rooms in the roof get stiflingly hot in very warm periods. Breakfast is an adequate continental breakfast. Has free parking.

Best Features

Location, views (ask for a 1st floor room overlooking the road – great vistas of battlefield), excellent restaurants next door, cheap (average E 70-90 per night for a room).

Ibis Hotel 3*

Boulevard Henri Rolin 5A, Waterloo 1410, Belgium –

Central Location in Waterloo town, within a mile of the main restaurant area, Hotel nice friendly staff and modern, you get what you would expect from an Ibis, no more no less. Breakfast a good standard

Prices around 80E Per night.

There are a number of other hotels, but I am unable to make recommendations not having used them. If others would like to supply me their recommendations I will happily include them.

Le Joli Bois – Rue Sainte-Anne 59, Waterloo 1410, Belgium – Good Basic Hotel

Eating Out

This is not an exhaustive list of eateries, but again ones I can thoroughly recommend. If you want to recommend others, then please let me know.

Italian
Les Deux Sil – Route du Lion 377, Waterloo 1410, Belgium Tel: 023840918 18.00-22.00

Asian
Le Jardin D’Asie – Chaussee de Bruxelles 492b, Waterloo 1410, Belgium Tel: 023549793 12.00-14.30 & 18.00 – 23.00

European
L’Amusoir – Chaussee de Bruxelles 121, Waterloo 1410, Belgium Tel 023548233 12:00 – 15:00, 19:00 – 23:00

Le Sucrerie – Chaussee de Tervuren 198, Waterloo 1410, Belgium Tel 023521815 12:00 – 14:00, 19:00 – 22:00

Le Gros Velo – Place de Plancenoit 22 , Plancenoit, Lasne 1380, Belgium Tel 026331746