The sleepy Ardennes town of Bastogne made history back in 1944 as the site of World War II’s notorious Battle of the Bulge, when the heroic efforts of besieged American soldiers managed to hold off German forces, despite freezing conditions, heavy fire and their being outnumbered 5 to 1. More than 70 years on, Bastogne hasn’t forgotten its valiant fight, and the town’s poignant monuments, war cemeteries, battle-field memorials and museums have drawn visitors from all around the globe. Roads converge on the town from every direction (a trait that made it vitally important for war efforts), making Bastogne a convenient day trip away from nearly anywhere in the Ardennes.
Nearly all the town’s points of interest relate to the iconic battle, starting with the Bastogne War Museum and its collection of modern, interactive exhibits on World War II in Belgium. A stone’s throw away is the Mardasson American War Memorial, a five-pointed star with engraved pillars listing the names of the 76,890 American soldiers killed, missing or wounded in the battle. Other war-related sites include the Wood of Peace, planted to mark the 50th anniversary of the battle, and the Sherman Tank.
Bastogne is located 150 km southeast of Brussels, close to the Luxembourg border, and is served by regular buses from Liége, as well as from a few other towns.