Hello, fellow traveller, if you know a little bit about us , you know that we are from Belgium. Belgium may be small (30.528 km2) but believe me, it has a lot to offer. Brussels is the capital of Belgium and it’s mainly known for the Atomium, Manneken Pis and their waffles.
In this blog I will talk about the following:
What is Belgium?
Belgium is a country! The official languages of Belgium are Dutch, French, and German. There is a joke about Belgium where people say, ‘Where is it?’ Everybody knows the Netherlands, Germany, and France, but is there another country over there? Nothing else? Yes, there is, Belgium!
The Netherlands, Germany, and France are the neighboring countries of Belgium. Oh, let’s not forget about Luxembourg!
Belgium is small so it’s easy to overlook this country and to go visit one of the neighboring countries. You can easily go on a day trip in the neighboring country by car or public transport, or you can just stay in Belgium and discover this overlooked country.
You can go to one of the beaches, go on a boat trip in the romantic city Bruges or go eat some chocolate. You can explore Brussels and eat a waffle or two, watching the old buildings in Ghent, learn about World War I in Ieper (a city nearby Passendale), go partying or chilling in the university city Leuven, walking around and go shopping in Antwerp or go hiking in the hills of the Ardennes, etc. There is so much to do in this country.
Belgium is also known for football (I think we did great in the World Cup 2018, ended in the third place) and the amazing festivals. The most known festival of Belgium is Tomorrowland. Besides Tomorrowland we have a lot more amazing festivals (in the months of June, July, August, and September) to offer like Rock Werchter, Reggae Geel, Pukkelpop, Graspop, Dour, Gentse feesten, Bomboclat, Suikerrock, Cactusfestival, Laundry Day, etc.
In summer Belgians go to festivals or to summer bars but in the winter we all go to cozy Christmas markets. You’ll find them in all the big cities.
Not convinced yet? Okay, I’m going to give some more reasons why you should visit Belgium.
Some beautiful cities in Belgium
Every city in Belgium has its own charm. I’m going to summarize some amazing buildings and places that I think are worth a visit, so if you’re going to one of these cities go find those places and buildings!
Of course, there is much more to discover in Belgium and a lot more in every city than what I’m mentioning. It’s just a small introduction with the places that, for me, are the best. I hope to write different blogs about the different cities in Belgium. For now, I hope that I helped to put some cities in Belgium on your bucket list. I wrote a blog about where you can find the best fries, beers and sweets in all the cities I mention below. Check out the blog Best fries, beer & sweets in Belgium.
The cities that are described in this blog are the following:
Bruges is the city where we were born, and I think it’s one of the most beautiful cities in Belgium. It’s cozy, vivid, romantic and it has a lot of history and many legends.
The Belfry stands high in the city center. Go and climb the tower and have an amazing view over Bruges. The tower is over 83 meters high with around 366 steps to the top. It’s a lot of steps but worth the view!
In Bruges there is also nice architecture that you should see like the Provincial Palace, City Hall, Old Tolhouse, Burg Square, Palace of the Liberty of Bruges, Basilica of the Holy Blood, Bargebrug,house of the Florentines, House Boechout, ammunition dump Bruges, Burghers’ Lodge, Blacksmith’s Gate, etc.
At Rozenhoedkaai you have the most epic view of the Belfry tower and at Bonifaciusbridge you walk over a beautiful old bridge. In Bruges you’ll find a lot of swans at the Donkey’s gate and near the beguinage of Bruges. You can also do a boat tour on the canals or go in a carriage with horses to discover Bruges.
Tip: when you go early in the morning then you have some places all for yourself. During the day it gets crowded in Bruges.
There was a video made about a free runner in Bruges, you should check it out. For more information about this city, you can go to the website of visit Bruges.
This city is one of my favorites because there is always a lot to do. In Ghent you will never be bored.
Some places you should visit: the castle of the counts, St Bavo’s Cathedral, Belfry, St Nicholas’ Church, St Peter’s Abbey and the garden, the Graslei and Korenlei, KAA Gent stadium (for the soccer fans).
Another way to discover the city is from the water. You can go with a tourist boat, or you can rent a kayak. If you would love to rent a kayak you need to book in advance. It’s an amazing experience. You can book it here.
Look around in this city because there is also a lot of street art and graffiti in Ghent. Walk around and try to find the Graffiti Street it has some beautiful street art.
There is a good nightlife in Ghent. The students love to party at ‘Overpoort’, it’s a street with a lot of different bars. There is a bar for everybody. For nice parties you can go to Kompass.
If you love playing boardgames or other games I would recommend going to ‘Comic Sans’, it’s a bar near the Korenmarkt. Every year in July there is the ‘Gentse Feesten’ its’s a week full of activities and music all over the city. It’s a big, free music festival and worth a try.
For more information about this city, you can visit this website.
Diamond city Antwerp
The city of diamonds and the location for Belgium’s first Chocolate factory in 1831. How perfect is this city?
There are many beautiful architectural buildings that you must see like: The Central Station of Antwerp, The Port House, the town hall, Cathedral of Our Lady, Brabo fountain, New Exchange Handelbeurs, The Antwerp Whisperer, etc.
Steen Castle is a beautiful castle in Antwerp that you should visit. The ‘MAS’ is a museum that tells the story of Antwerp and its role as one of Europe’s most important port cities. You don’t need to visit the museum if you’re not interested but you can go to the top where you have an amazing view over the city.
The Meir is the shopping area but there is also a beautiful palace here. Antwerp really needs a separate blog because there is too much to do.
In the evening there are many places to go out and there are many karaoke bars. Some nice bars are ‘Bier Central’, ‘Beerlovers Bar’, ‘’t Oud Arsenaal’ and Bonaparte. There are also a lot of summer bars in Antwerp and many clubs to party like ‘The Villa’, ‘Roxy Antwerp’ and of course the ‘Carre’.
Antwerp is a big city, and there is too much to do to write down here. Just walk around and discover. You can also have a look on their website.
Brussels and Antwerp are popular cities in Belgium but in the middle of those two big cities you find a stunning hidden place called Mechelen.
I wrote a blog about Mechelen. Go check out my blog and be amazed by this overlooked city. I would recommend spending one or more nights here.
Walking around the city is the best way to discover the city. Look out for the street art and walk on the Dijlepad. Climb the Saint Rumbold’s Cathedral (Dutch: Sint-Romboutskathedraal) for a beautiful view.
There are some beautiful buildings like: town hall, Large beguinage, Palace of Margaret of Austria (Dutch: Paleis Margareta van Oostenrijk), Museum Dossin, Brussels gate, Sint-Jozef – De Duiveltjes – Het Paradijske. Want to visit Mechelen in a more special way? Then you can discover the city by boat.
More about this city you can read on my blog or check out their website.
Most people know Brussels, it’s the capital of Belgium.
There is a lot to do in Brussels like the Great Market (Grote markt), Manneken Pis, Town Hall, Royal Palace, the mountain of arts, St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral, Major townhouses by architect Victor Horta, Hôtel Tassel, Hôtel Solvay, Hôtel van Eetvelde, Victor Horta’s house and studio, Stoclet Palace, The Antoine Dansaertstraat, Atomium, etc.
There are three amazing views around the Mont des Arts (the art mountain).
- View 1: when you are at the top of the stairs of Mont des Arts. You see a view with on the left side the Royal Library. On the 5th floor of the library there is a cafeteria where you can have something nice to eat during the afternoon with a great view of the city.
- View 2: at the ‘Musical Instrument Museum’. You can ask to eat (or drink) something in the restaurant then you can go up for free. You don’t have to visit the museum (unless you want to). The restaurant has a beautiful view over Brussels, worth it!
- View 3: in the curve of the Coudenberg you have a briefly beautiful view.
There is so much more to do in this big city. For more information you can go to their website.
University city Leuven
Leuven is a city in Belgium with a lot of students. This student city has some amazing places.
On the Old Market you’ll find a lot of bars where you can chill during the day and party during the night. The Big Market is close by where you’ll find Saint Peter’s church and the Town hall of Leuven. It’s in Gothic style and there are 236 statues on the building, it’s stunning.
When you walk further in the direction of the station, you’ll find Ladeuzeplein somewhere between the streets on the right side. On Ladeuzeplein there is the university library that gives the feeling that you’re in a Harry Potter movie when you go inside. Nearby you’ll find a big park which is perfect to hang around and relax.
In 1998 the Great Beguinage in Leuven was listed as UNESCO world heritage, and it dates from the 13th century so that’s a long time ago. Now it’s a perfect place to walk around the alleys, parks, garden and courtyards with dozens of houses and convents that are made of traditional sandstone.
Nowadays foreign visiting professors, students, and staff of the oldest Catholic university of Europe are staying here. Another must visit is the botanical garden of Leuven because it’s the oldest one in Belgium.
For more information about Leuven, you can go to their website.
Beautiful Hasselt and around
It’s not that well known for foreigners but in and around Hasselt there is a lot to do. Around Hasselt there is a lot of nature to discover.
In Sint-Truiden you can rent a bike or a scooter and drive around the fields of Belgium. There are different routes you can follow, called the blossomroute. You pass by fruit trees which are beautiful when they bloom (from second half of April – May). Some other places you pass by are a floating chapel and a see-through church, its art placed in nature.
In Hasselt you can wander around. Go to the big market into the city center, find the ‘speculaasmannetje’ (it’s a statue), visit the national Jenever museum (Jenever it’s something like Schnaps) and visit the Japanese garden.
If you’re more into hiking, you can go to National Park Hoge Kempen. It has some beautiful hikes with different lengths. I would recommend hiking the Connecterra (now called Terhills). There are different hiking routes with short hikes and long hikes. If you want to hike the whole park it’s around five hours hiking (longest hike).
For more information check out this website.
In Belgium there is also a lot to see for the art lovers. The cities that have amazing art are Bruges, Brussels, Antwerp, Bergen, Liège, Ghent, Charleroi.
In every city there is a lot more to see but I can’t go into detail otherwise I’m writing a book instead of a blog. If you want to know something about a city, just ask, I can always write a blog specifically about one city. Believe me, this was a selection of the most well-known cities, but we have a lot more to discover.
Our beach is 65 km long and we have around 15 places to go to the beach. Every city at the beach has its own charms. I love going to Knokke-Heist, Oostende, Zeebrugge, Nieuwpoort and De Haan. Our coast offers a lot of sporting and recreational activities like sailing, fishing, surfing, renting a bike or even catching shrimp.
What you should do in Belgium is rent a go-cart! You’ll see them at the coast, it’s like biking but with more people. You can rent one for one person or two persons or even 8 persons.
Besides sports you can also lie on the beach, go shopping in ‘Knokke Heist’ or ‘Oostende’, go to a casino or chill in the beach bars.
In Belgium we don’t have high mountains, but we have beaches, a lot of forests and many hills.
Nature wise you can do a lot like hiking the GR5A, it’s a long-distance hike that forms a loop in the Flemish part of Belgium. In the Flemish part you also have the Flemish Ardennes which has beautiful routes to do with a bike or scooter. Another amazing hiking paradise is in the Kempen. There are many hikes where you have amazing views.
If you love biking, you should rent a bike in Limburg and enjoy all the biking routes. Limburg has some amazing biking routes where you bike between the trees, between water (yes, you read that right, between!) and even the heathland. This area is known for biking in nature so if you love biking you need to go there.
The Ardennes are in the French part of Belgium and it’s an amazing place to go hiking, climbing, speleology, and kayaking. The Ardennes has some amazing outdoor, adventurous activities. You’ll also find the highest hills over here it’s called Signaal van Botrange and it’s around 694 meters high.
Must visit cities in the Ardennes are Dinant, Namur, Bouillon and Durbuy. Visit the castle of Bouillon, the castle of Namur and the castle of Dinant. Besides that, there is a lot to do in and around the cities.
Near Dinant you can do Via Ferratta and climb. Another nice thing to do in the area is kayak on the river Lesse and enjoy the beautiful nature, this is an awesome thing to do! For more information go to this website. You can also hike around and pass by the stunning castle of Walzin. You can also visit the Maison of the Leffe beer. To book your visit, go to this page.
Beers and food
Belgium has some delicious food and drinks. One of the things you must eat are fries and sweets like chocolate and waffles. Besides the food, the beers are also incredible in Belgium. I wrote about all of our favorite places to get fries, sweets and beers for each big city in the blog Best fries, beer & sweets in Belgium.
I love the diversity in Belgium. I think with this blog it’s obvious how diverse Belgium is. Like I said, it’s a small country but there is so much to do. I could talk so much more about this amazing country, come on explore Belgium!
I wanted to show you how diverse Belgium is. I know this is a lot of information and it’s all in once but I’m planning to write specific blogs about a city so that you can fully explore a city. For now, I hope that you see that when you want to discover Belgium, you can’t do it in one day.
If somebody wants a blog specific about a city in Belgium just ask in a comment or contact us and I will explore the city for you, and I’ll give you some tips and hidden places.