A guide for Waterloo Battlefield & Museum in Belgium

Waterloo Battlefield & Memorial? I didn’t know this place exists!

Waterloo is a town in Belgium, south of Brussels, widely known as the place where Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte lost everything, including his fame and authority, most of his army and his previous “heroic” life. Waterloo battlefield actually lies 4km south of the town and it is the main attraction of the area. The two hundredth anniversary celebration took place in 2015 along with the launch of the new Visitors Centre and the completion of the battlefield renovation. The sight hasn’t gained yet the attraction it deserves so it is often overlooked by the tourists in Belgium. Hopefully, my Waterloo Battlefield & Museum guide and post will convince you to visit this extraordinary historical place!

belgium waterloo beers 1815
Waterloo 1815 souvenirs of what else? BEER!

A visit here sounds too complicated for my Belgium itinerary! 

Not really! Waterloo Battlefield memorial is located just in between Brussels and Charleroi Airport so it can be the perfect day-trip on the first or the last day of any Belgian tour. It can also be the best choice for a stopover/ layover of at least 6 hours in Charleroi. Reaching the battlefield is not as tricky as it looks at first! just be prepared by downloading the maps of Waterloo area beforehand and here I have gathered some basic instructions (there are more routes available though).

Lion Mound waterloo

How to reach Waterloo Museum / Memorial area

1. From Brussels
By train : From Central train station take the train to Charleroi Sud/ Zuid and hop off at Braine-l’Alleud / Eigenbrakel . From the bus stop Braine-L’Alleud Gare (2 min walk) take the bus No. 36 (direction Wavre Gare) and after 7 stops you will arrive at Waterloo Monument Gordon where you have to walk approximately 5 minutes to reach the main museum/ Visitors centre. This option does not pass through Waterloo town.
By Bus : (the cheapest and easiest option but it will take longer) Take the bus 365A from Brussels Midi that passes through many towns (that’s why I rather it than the train!) including Waterloo town where you can stop if you wish to visit it too. Otherwise this bus goes directly to Waterloo Monument Gordon where you can hop off to visit the museums. This route is not very often (once per hour/ 2 hours) so plan accordingly but it will cost you less than 4€!

museum waterloo memorial
I wish we could have used this air balloon for this trip… (oh yes it is inside the museum!)
museum waterloo surrounding
My friends are seeking for rain protection down the lion hill… autumn moments!

2. From Charleroi Airport:
By Train: Thanks to Ryanair and its cheap flights this airport is becoming more and more popular. You have to catch the bus A to Charleroi Sud (train station) where you can go pretty much everywhere in Belgium. From Charleroi South you need to take the train to Anvers-Central / Antwerpen-Centraal and stop at Braine-l’Alleud / Eigenbrakel (same as previously from Brussels). Now, apart from the bus 36 we mentioned before, you can also catch the bus W towards Brussels-Midi and hop off at Braine-L’Alleud Route de Nivelles – the museum is located less than 10’ walking distance from here!

In case you decide to spend the night around here you can! There are some decent choices on the surrounding villages/ Waterloo town :


By Bus: If you want to avoid trains you can catch bus No. 67 from the stop near the airport called
Ransart Cimetière towards Jumet Madeleine. At the homonym stop you need to change bus for the 365a towards Brussels and stop at Waterloo Monument Gordon. This is the same bus and route as the one you have to catch coming from Brussels but opposite direction. Taking the buses is not a wise choice for a short layover as it will take over 2 hours just to arrive here!

museum waterloo surrounding

Fair enough! But why Waterloo Battlefield is worth a visit?

I could list many reasons but I will describe my experience / review instead so you can answer by yourself! The first thing you notice as you come closer to the battlefield is the impressive conical artificial hill with the lion statue on top that is unsurprisingly called the Lion’s Mount. We climbed the 226 steps in order to reach the peak where some observation telescopes can be found – the view from the top is fantastic and not to be missed! The construction was completed in 1826, only 11 years after the battle of Waterloo, but researchers claim it altered notably the battlefield, so much so that could lead to misleading information for the entire historical incident.

Waterloo Battlefield

Lion Mound waterloo

On the other hand, the Waterloo Battlefield Visitors Centre or Memorial 1815 is an entire experience, more than «just» a museum. Located on the foot of Lion’s Mount, it offers an amazing insight not only of the battle and the «technical» details around it but also for the social situation in Europe, the reasons / causes/ motives about each involved country , statistics and facts about everyday life etc. Tickets for adults cost 16€ (2018) including audio guide (very useful!) and the recommended visit duration is 1-2 hours – however, this is not nearly enough as the museum offers tons of information and interactive activities. We spent 3 hours in it and didn’t see/ listen to everything!

Waterloo Museum

museum waterloo memorial

The highlight is definitely the 3D film (proper glasses provided!) that represents the entire battle and explains everything in detail in a very atmospheric way. I could watch it again and again! In my point of view this underground visitors centre is one of the best contemporary specialised museums (covering any possible aspect of the subject!) I have been to; we learnt a lot- even our Belgian friend who lives almost next to Waterloo admitted that!

museum waterloo memorial
Fun fact
museum waterloo memorial
Humanitarian fact

At the end of the museum there is the Panorama, an extraordinary artwork, hand-painted in 1912 by Louis Dumoulin who tried to create a 360-degree view of the great cavalry charges during the battle. Given its age the drawing is even more imposing. Last but not least, if you have yet to climb the Lion’s Mount this is your last chance before the museum experience finishes!

waterloo panorama museum belgiumSince there are more sights to visit in the surrounding area, purchasing the Full Pass (21€) could be a better option as it includes (breath in!) Waterloo XXL, Hougoumont farm, Last HQ of Napoleon, Mont St Jean Medical Museum, Memorial 1815, Panorama, Lion’s Mount, Wellington Museum (in Waterloo town)! If this sounds too much and you finally go for the 16€ ticket please do to not skip the Hougoumont farm (Château d’Hougoumont) that is included anyway in this price; being refurbished recently it is not an impressive building but the rather fey feeling inside it and the great visual presentation hidden in the Great Barn honestly worth the effort! There is a free shuttle bus starting from the visitors centre parking lot on weekends and public holidays but you can always walk there (roughly 15 minutes).

hougomond waterloo

hougomond waterloo

It is sign of matureness to learn about the historical mistakes, the world circumstances and the past in general. In a world being under a social and financial pressure currently, the weakest social level is -as always- the first to face the consequences. We have to be aware that we must defend the hard-earned human rights before anything else and not allow the chauvinist political agendas, that should belong to the past, to take over again- what have we been taught by the history and these statistics?

the cost of human lives waterloo battleTravelling is such a mind-opener experience, isn’t it?  So, what do you think? Now that is clear how to visit the Waterloo Visitors Centre and Napoleon Battlefield and you know what to expect…would you spend time there? If you have been to it please comment your thoughts below!


Waterloo Battlefield and Experience, what to expect


Belgium: A full Waterloo Memorial and Battlefield guide

You like my post as much as my shoes? Sharing is caring!


  1. Kiara Gallop

    That 3D film sounds like such a great way to learn about the battle. I’m not a big fan of museums where you just read a ton of text and look at artefacts, so this sounds like my kind of museum 🙂 Great for kids too!

  2. Katie

    I would never have thought about visiting, but your write up of the museum especially makes it one of the places I would visit when in the area! I think my Dad would appreciate it too – he would love the history!

  3. Nomads4Life

    I could have spent days at a museum like this, especially because I’m a history buff and it seems so interactive. I never knew this museum existed but have had heard so much about Waterloo in history class, so I will make it a point to visit if I’m in that part of the world.

  4. Angelica

    What an educational experience! It’s so true but unfortunate that the lower classes always get screwed over political agendas, but hopefully these kinds of museums keep educating people so we don’t repeat them again.

  5. Nafisa Habib

    I think it would be great to spend time there. Very historic place, and a lot to know from Waterloo Museum Memorial area. I can imagine the fantastic view from the top. Loving those Autumn leaves on the way!

  6. Lisa

    I’ll be honest, the first thing that came to mind was the Abba song! I’ve only been to Belgium 2 times, but never thought to visit this historic site. It’s good to know there’s a free shuttle bus in between the sites. Also that pass could be better value too.

  7. renata - www.byemyself.com

    I’m going to Brussels next Friday – would be great to have time visiting this place that’s so important in European history. However, I’ll see what the weather will be like and what else we’ll be doing – but will definitely try to squeeze Waterloo in.

  8. Federica

    It looks like an amazing interactive museum. I have worked in a broadcasting company for years writing the scripts of a history daily program and this Museum seems to have the great value of transporting the visitor into the atmosphere of the battle. On a personal side, I love the hot air balloon!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *