Belgium is famous for three things. Its first-class chocolates, its delicious waffles and its fantastic beer. But that’s not really what Belgium that’s all.
Although relatively small, Belgium is one of our favourite European destinations. There are plenty of things to see and do besides drinking beer and eating chocolates, although we like to do that too. Belgium has a lot more to offer in terms of tourism: fascinating sights and attractions, breathtaking landscapes and a multitude of holiday activities all year round.
Nestled between France and Germany, this small country has a rich cultural history dating back thousands of years. You’ll find dozens of ancient buildings ideally reserved to maintain their former glory. From ancient fairytale castles and Gothic cathedrals to time-suspended battlefields and nostalgic chocolate shops, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to your itinerary.
Plus, Belgium has an excellent transport system, and the proximity of its major cities makes it easy to design weekend getaways and short road trips.
So where do we start with all the wonderful and exciting places to choose from? If you’re a first time traveller, make sure you don’t miss out on the highlights when you visit this tranquil country. We’ve put together a list to help you plan your ultimate visit to. Belgium.
So we start big and conclude with a little cool down time.
Top 10 things to see and do in Belgium.
It is not possible to draw up a list of the best places to see in Belgium without Brussels and its architecture. What makes Brussel unique is its impressive architecture. For starters, at the heart of this fantastic city lies the renowned Grand Placeone of the most visited places in Europe.
As you explore this UNESCO World Heritage Site, you will notice the incredible serenity of its streets. There are hardly any people and it is very welcoming to stroll through the well-kept parks and sidewalks. Stroll through the gold-adorned medieval baroque buildings or sip a coffee while relaxing on one of the various terraces in the main square. Take out your phone or camera for perfect moments.
Visit the famous Brussels City Hall located in Grand Placea gothic place dating from the 15th century. Once you have had enough of the Grand Place, see The majestic Royal Palace of Brussels and explore the Atomium, Brussel’s most futuristic architectural landmark. Join other tourists or take a private tour to the top for panoramic views of the city.
Another must-do during your stay in Bruges. Belgium is to get on a boat for a wild ride. The best place for this is in Bruges. From Brussels, it is an hour’s drive down to Bruges A city that transports you to antiquity. Surrounded by a vast network of canals, this picturesque city is the perfect place for a boat ride. Once you arrive at Bruges If you’re short on time, head straight to one of the designated piers, or take an exclusive gondola ride. Relax as the gondola guide takes you on one of the most exciting experiences. Take pictures of the surrounding medieval buildings while enjoying the ultimate Belgian gondola canal experience.
After the boat ride, sample some of the chocolate brands in one of the many chocolate shops or visit. the choco-story chocolate museum. If you are hungry, enjoy a plate of Moules Frites at Poules Moulesa local restaurant in Bruges.
Other notable places to visit in Bruges are. Groeninge Museum, Basilica of the Holy Bloody De Halve Maan Brewery.
Ghent competes with Brussels and Antwerp as must-see metropolitan destinations in Belgium. It was once a mighty city, but over the years it has fallen behind modernity.
Ghent lies between the Scheldt and the Leie and the chocolate-box area of the old town, where visitors flock during the summer to explore the beautiful rows of Flemish houses along the Graslei quays. Visitors can’t get enough of the Gothic medal Rising from the bastions of Gravensteen Castle.
Here, you won’t tire of tasting the famous Belgian beer from the riverside pubs, nor the delicious dishes from Moules Frites along the narrow lanes.
Find your way through the populated streets as you mingle with the cheerful people coming and going from work. There is never a dreary moment in Ghent.
Former European Capital of Culture and home to Belgium’s refined historical centre, Mons it has it all. From the European-style Luxembourg houses spread evenly across the hilly southern areas bordering France to the elaborate landscapes of the Grand Place, Mons is romantic. The attractive Grand Place square, with ornate facades of a picturesque UNESCO World Heritage-listed Belgian town hall, The Baroque bell tower.
Mons is also the home of the iconic former Dutch after-dinner entertainer Vincent Van Gogh. Visit the town during Ducasse’s eagerly awaited spring festivities. You can enjoy an impressive display of religious traditions, with scriptural re-enactments, ancient battles, horse parades and much more.
Other attractions include. The Silex Museum, The Museum of Art, Strépy-Thieu shipto name but a few.
5. Cathedral of Notre Dame in Tournai
One of the keys to the French-speaking town of Tournai is to explore the gothic style Notre-Dame Cathedral. This five-towered neoclassical and early gothic work of art is one of the most magnificent religious structures in the world.
Built between the 12th and 13th centuries, this architectural masterpiece houses . Sanctuary of Our Lady. Spend the day exploring the five-towered building.
Art lovers enjoy the beautiful artwork (by Flemish artist Peter Paul Rubens) that decorates the cathedral walls. Once you’ve had your fill of the cathedral, head up to the nearby Bell Tower Belfry to get a perfect view of Tournai city or visit the Notre Dame Cathedral, a Museum of Fine Arts.
6. Waterloo Museum
History buffs can’t get enough of Waterloo. This is where the famous Emperor Napoleon met his match and was defeated by the Duke of Wellington at Waterloo. Waterloo emblematic battle. Belgium has a deep military history: it participated in both World War I and World War II, and the famous Napoleonic Wars.
Spend the day sightseeing in the countryside where Waterloo’s battle once fought the beautiful scenery of green vegetation. Do not forget to consult the Lion MoundA towering hill crowned by a cast-iron lion overlooking the battlefield.
If you still have time, explore the Wellington Museum Or take a tour of the battlefield of Napoleon’s Last HQ. Other notable historical attractions include a Waterloo 1815 Memorial Museum, Bastogne War Museumand the Flanders Fieldthe famous battlefield of the First World War.
7. Peter’s Church, Leuven
With its pointed arcaded windows and wooden pillars.the church of San Pedro is an exact representation of Belgiums finest examples of Gothic architecture in Brabant. The church is located in the heart of Louvain, in the main square of the city, next to Grote Market Square. The first church dates from 986, but was destroyed in a later fire in 1176. It was replaced by the present church of Romanesque architecture in 1425, which took almost 55 years to complete.
The church subsequently suffered severe destruction in both World Wars I and II. In 1998, a gilded automatism was added, which occasionally rings a bell. The same year, a museum of paintings and sculptures was inaugurated with notable works of Dirk Bouts’ famed images: the Martyrdom of St. Erasmus (1465) and the Last Supper (1468).
The most striking sculpture is the gigantic and elaborate oak pulpit of 1742, carved by Jacob Bergé. One side of the pulpit has the betrayal of Jesus by Simon Peter, complete with a chiseled raven in full raven. The other side shows the 12th century bishop Norbert of Xanten falling from a horse.
Historians will fall in love with the beautiful architecture of the church. At the same time, inside, you will be treated to an extra treat of beautiful Flemish paintings that bring to life important biblical scenes. Another painting in particular not to be missed is the carved baroque painting depicting the Last Supper.
8. A visit to the water park Aqualibi
Tired of history and architecture, you can try something different which is probably more fun. You can visit AqualibiAn indoor water park. This action-packed park is an exciting place to cool off with your family after a long and tiring excursion.
The place is packed with activities to keep the kids entertained for a few days, not forgetting the adults. Your kids will have fun riding the high-speed water slides or sliding down the unobstructed whitewater channel.
Meanwhile, adults can cool off and relax in the hot tubs and whirlpool tubs. If the kids aren’t quite old enough, they can have fun splashing around in Kiddie Bay, a children’s area filled with waterfalls, fountains and slides.
9. Semois Valley
If you like nature, head for The Semois Valley for the much-needed countryside scenery after all that historic walk in the Belgium Cities. Walking through the dense forests. Ardenne region in Belgium, The Semois Valley is the ideal place for a day of hiking. Stroll through the valley, with beautiful views of the Semois Riverthe Frahan ridgesy Rochehaut.
Some of the notable attractions you’ll find while strolling through this historic land include. Fortified Castle of Bouillon. The hiking trails pass through two incredible villages of Laforet y Gros fayswhere you will have the opportunity to interact with the locals and try some Belgium traditional cuisine.
If you like fairy tales, an excursion to Namur is a must-see. Hidden in WalloniaFrench-speaking province of BelgiumThe city has a number of whimsical castles open to the public.
Did you know that there are more than 3,000 castles scattered throughout Belgium? Four hundred of them are in Wallonia Province. One castle in particular that should not be missed is the Castle of VevesWith its spooky dungeons and six-pointed towers dating back to 1400. Perched on the top of a hill overlooking the picturesque village of CellesThis castle looks like something out of a storybook.
From here, you can wander through the beautiful gardens of the Annevoie Castle. This castle is famous for the thousands of visitors who flock every year to play with the fountains and bathe in the waterfall. Another must-see castle is the Freyr Castle and GardenFreyr Castle and Garden, named after the Viking goddess of beauty. This castle is a sight to behold. Some of the things that attract tourists here are the 300 year old orange trees and a garden filled with a 7 km hedge maze – try not to get lost in it!
Surely you can’t explore all these castles in one go. But if you’ve still got time, take a look at the. Castle of Lavaux-Saint- Annesurrounded by a series of domes containing three museums and a selection of stuffed animals.
A last word
Belgium is tiny, to be sure, but as a country, it’s packed with UNESCO-acclaimed sites that will make you want to extend your stay there. There is so much to see and experience in a country that has seen two world wars. Whether you’re interested in ancient or modern history, Belgium offers a large part of European history in a small space. It is sometimes overlooked when people want to see Italy, Germany, Switzerland and Austria. But take your time and we’re sure you’ll fall in love with Belgium.
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