Strépy-Thieu Boat-Lift

Top choice canal in Mons

The world’s tallest ship lift (completed in 2002), raising or lowering gigantic ‘baths’ 73 vertical metres, is on a pharaonic scale, as was the €150 million it cost. Though you can watch the lift from outdoors, visits allow you to look down on the engine room, appreciate the construction via a multilingual video, watch the action from the cafe, or take part in a quiz on Belgian genius.

At 10am and 2pm daily (except Monday) from April through September, you can take a 2½-hour cruise passing through some photogenic 19th-century locks. For the vertical experience, you'll have to come on Sundays (May through August), with departures four times a day. Call ahead to reserve a spot.

Strépy-Thieu is just south of the Tournai–Brussels motorway, accessible on bus 30 from La Louvière.