Table of Contents
Nestled in the heart of Western Europe, Belgium is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered by travelers seeking a rich tapestry of History, culture, and culinary delights. This small but diverse country offers an array of unique experiences that cater to every traveler’s interests. From enchanting medieval towns to world-famous chocolates and beers, Belgium has something special for everyone. In this article, we will take an in-depth journey through Belgium, uncovering 10 unique and captivating experiences that will make your visit to “Things to Do in Belgium” memorable.
List of Top 10 Things to Do in Belgium
Explore the top 10 Things to Do in Belgium, from the historic Grand Place to the enchanting canals of Bruges, for an unforgettable journey.
1. Brussels: Beyond the Grand Place
Brussels, Belgium’s capital, is a cultural and political center in Europe. Known for its iconic landmarks like the Atomium and Grand Place, Brussels blends History with modernity. Famous for its chocolates, waffles, and beers, the city is a culinary paradise. It hosts museums like the Magritte Museum, showcasing artistry. As the seat of the European Union, Brussels plays a vital role in global diplomacy. Its efficient public transportation and diverse neighborhoods make it a popular destination. Explore this unique city where tradition meets innovation, creating a memorable experience for visitors.
Marolles: This historic district is known for its antique shops, vintage boutiques, and the lively Place du Jeu de Balle flea market. It’s a treasure trove for collectors and a haven for those who appreciate quirky finds.
Ixelles: An artsy and bohemian neighborhood, Ixelles is home to the Flagey building, an architectural masterpiece and cultural hub. Visit Flagey for concerts, art exhibitions, and the local market on Saturdays.
Saint-Gilles: This eclectic neighborhood boasts stunning Art Nouveau architecture, colorful houses, and a thriving food scene. Wander through the Parvis de Saint-Gilles square and enjoy a meal at one of the many international restaurants.
2. Bruges: A Timeless Tale
Bruges, a UNESCO World Heritage city in Belgium, boasts picturesque canals, historic medieval architecture, and cobblestone streets. Famous for its lacework, chocolates, and Belfry Tower, Bruges is a top European travel destination. Rich in History, art, and culture, visitors are enchanted by its fairy-tale charm, delectable cuisine, and local breweries. Ideal for romantic getaways, it offers unique experiences in every season, from boat rides to Christmas markets. Explore Bruges, the “Venice of the North,” for an unforgettable journey.
Early Morning Stroll: Wake up early to explore the city before the day-trippers arrive. Wander along the tranquil canals, capture the sunrise, and admire the medieval architecture in peaceful solitude.
Begijnhof: Visit the Begijnhof, a UNESCO World Heritage site, to experience a tranquil, hidden courtyard where beguines once lived. The place offers a peaceful retreat from the busy city streets.
Choco-Story: Dive into the world of chocolate at Choco-Story, a museum dedicated to the art and History of chocolate-making. Learn about the chocolate-making process and indulge in tastings.
3. Ghent: A Fusion of History and Creativity
Ghent, a vibrant city in Belgium, seamlessly blends medieval charm with contemporary flair. Known for its Gravensteen Castle, Saint Bavo’s Cathedral, and the iconic Ghent Altarpiece, the city is a treasure trove of History and culture. Its picturesque canals, bustling squares, and rich gastronomy attract global travelers. Home to lively festivals, Ghent offers a captivating mix of art, music, and heritage. As a sustainable, bike-friendly destination, Ghent promises an eco-conscious travel experience. Dive into the heart of Flanders and discover Ghent’s timeless allure.
Street Art: Ghent is renowned for its vibrant street art scene. Take a graffiti tour to discover colorful murals and urban art that breathe life into the city’s walls.
Design Museum: Explore the Design Museum Ghent to immerse yourself in contemporary design and discover how art and innovation intersect in this creative hub.
Gentse Feesten: If you visit in July, take advantage of the Gentse Feesten, one of Europe’s most significant cultural festivals. Enjoy live music, street performances, and a lively atmosphere.
4. Belgian Gastronomy: Beyond Waffles and Chocolates
Belgian gastronomy is a delightful blend of rich flavors, traditional recipes, and culinary innovation. Famed for its chocolates, waffles, and beers, Belgium offers a unique taste experience. From savory dishes like moules-frites (mussels and fries) and hearty stews like carbonade flamande to indulgent desserts like speculoos and pralines, Belgian cuisine is a treat for the palate. Its diverse range of artisanal cheeses and world-class breweries exemplify its culinary craftsmanship. Embracing regional specialties and age-old techniques, Belgian gastronomy promises a flavorful journey through Europe’s gourmet heartland.
Beer Tasting: Belgium is a beer lover’s paradise. Explore local breweries and savor Belgian beers, from Trappist ales to sour lambics.
Mussels in Brussels: While it may sound cliché, enjoying moules-frites (with fries) in Brussels is a must. Try it at a cozy, traditional Belgian brasserie for an authentic experience.
Hidden Gems: Seek out hidden culinary gems, like family-run bistros and hole-in-the-wall restaurants, to discover regional specialties and meet locals passionate about their cuisine.
5. Unraveling History at Waterloo
Unraveling History at Waterloo immerses visitors in one of Europe’s most pivotal battles. Located in Belgium, the Waterloo Battlefield is a testament to the 1815 clash between Napoleon Bonaparte and the Seventh Coalition. Marked by the iconic Lion’s Mound, this historic site offers deep insights into military strategies, legendary figures, and Europe’s geopolitical shifts. Museums, interactive exhibits, and guided tours shed light on the events, tactics, and aftermath. Exploring Waterloo is not just a walk through time; it’s a journey into the heart of European History, where legacy and lessons converge.
Visitor Center: Start your journey at the Waterloo Visitor Center, which provides a comprehensive battle overview through interactive exhibits and multimedia displays.
Reenactments: If your visit coincides with reenactment events, you can witness the battle come to life with actors in period costumes, complete with cannon fire and cavalry charges.
Lion’s Mound: Climb the Lion’s Mound for a panoramic view of the battlefield and gain a better understanding of the strategic layout of the battle.
6. Antwerp: The Artistic Epicenter
Antwerp, Belgium’s diamond capital, sparkles with a rich tapestry of culture, fashion, and History. As a bustling port city, Antwerp boasts an impressive blend of Renaissance architecture, world-renowned museums, and avant-garde design. Home to the illustrious Cathedral of Our Lady and the vibrant Diamond District, the city is both a shopper’s paradise and an art lover’s dream. With its eclectic culinary scene, trendy boutiques, and thriving nightlife, Antwerp seamlessly melds its storied past with contemporary flair. Explore Antwerp’s multifaceted charm, where tradition meets modernity at every corner.
Rubenshuis: Visit the Rubenshuis, the former residence of Flemish Baroque painter Peter Paul Rubens. Explore his studio, art collection, and beautiful garden.
Museum aan de Stroom (MAS): This contemporary museum offers not only captivating exhibitions but also stunning views of the city and the port from its rooftop.
Fashion District: Antwerp is famous for its fashion scene. Explore the fashion district and discover unique boutiques, avant-garde designers, and the Royal Academy of Fine Arts.
7. Belgian Brews: More Than Just Beer
Belgian brews, a hallmark of Belgium’s rich cultural heritage, are celebrated worldwide for their diversity, depth, and unparalleled craftsmanship. From robust Trappist ales to effervescent lambics and tangy saisons, Belgian beers embody a spectrum of flavors and histories. Breweries, ranging from centuries-old monastic establishments to innovative craft producers, showcase the country’s dedication to brewing excellence. Paired with iconic beer glasses, each brew tells a story of regions, recipes, and rituals. Delve into Belgium’s beer culture, savoring each sip as a journey through the heart of Europe’s brewing mecca.
Trappist Monasteries: Visit Trappist monasteries like Westvleteren and Chimay to learn about the monastic brewing tradition and sample their exceptional beers.
Beer Pairing Dinners: Experience a beer-pairing dinner at a local restaurant, where each course is expertly matched with various Belgian beers to enhance the flavors.
Beer Festivals: If you’re lucky, your visit may coincide with one of Belgium’s numerous beer festivals, such as the Brussels Beer Weekend or Zythos Beer Festival.
8. Leuven: A City of Stories
Leuven, a vibrant Belgian city, seamlessly marries its historic roots with a youthful spirit, thanks to its renowned university, KU Leuven. Famed for the Old Market Square, often dubbed “the longest bar in the world,” and the stunning Gothic Town Hall, Leuven exudes architectural grandeur. Home to M-Museum, innovative breweries, and lively festivals, this academic hub pulses with creativity and culture. Nestled in the heart of Flanders, Leuven is a fusion of scholarly pursuits, medieval charm, and contemporary dynamism. Discover Leuven, where History meets youthful exuberance in every corner.
University Library: Explore the historic University Library with its stunning reading room and take in the intricate details of its architecture.
The Stories Route: Follow the “Stories Route” to discover the tales behind the city’s landmarks, from the Fonske statue to the Groot Begijnhof.
Stella Artois Brewery: Visit the Stella Artois Brewery to discover the brewing process and savor a taste of their famous lager.
9. Ardennes: Nature’s Sanctuary
The Ardennes, a lush, rolling region spanning Belgium, Luxembourg, and France, offers an escape into nature’s serene embrace. Known for its dense forests, meandering rivers, and picturesque villages, the Ardennes beckons adventurers with hiking trails, kayaking opportunities, and historic battlefields from World War II. Its diverse landscapes house ancient castles, mysterious caves, and abundant wildlife. Culinary delights like Ardennes pâté and regional beers complement the experience. Whether seeking tranquility among its verdant hills or exploring its rich History, the Ardennes presents a timeless European getaway, brimming with natural beauty and cultural depth.
Hiking and Cycling: Discover the vast network of hiking and cycling trails that meander through the dense forests, picturesque valleys, and tranquil lakes of the Ardennes.
Kayaking: Immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the region by embarking on a kayaking adventure along scenic rivers such as Lesse and Semois.
Breathtaking Caves: Discover the underground wonders of the Ardennes by visiting caves like the Grottes de Han, featuring stunning stalactites and stalagmites.
10. Flanders Fields: Honoring History
Flanders Fields, a solemn region in Belgium, is a poignant reminder of World War I’s brutal battles. The vast stretches of poppy-laden fields, once scarred by warfare, now symbolize peace and remembrance. Monuments, cemeteries, and museums dot the landscape, paying tribute to the countless soldiers who fought and fell. The renowned Menin Gate Memorial and the haunting Last Post ceremony evoke deep reflection on the war’s profound impact. Flanders Fields isn’t merely a historical site; it’s a testament to human resilience, sacrifice, and the enduring hope for a peaceful future. Visit and reflect on History’s profound lessons.
In Flanders Fields Museum: Visit the In Flanders Fields Museum in Ypres to gain a deep. Understanding of the war’s impact on the region and the world.
Tyne Cot Cemetery: Pay your respects at Tyne Cot Cemetery, the largest Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery in the world, and reflect on the sacrifices made during the war.
Last Post Ceremony: Attend the Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate in Ypres, a daily tribute to the soldiers who died during World War I.
Belgium is an enchanting land where hidden treasures abound, offering a harmonious fusion of culture, heritage, and culinary marvels. From the splendid tapestry of Brussels’ Grand Place to the timeless charm of Bruges and from the solemnity of Ypres. Every corner of this country beckons you to explore its unique offerings. Embark on this journey, and let the allure of “Things to Do in Belgium” become a part of your travel story.
FAQs for Top 10 Things to Do in Belgium
The best time to visit Belgium is during the spring and summer months, from April to September when the weather is pleasant for outdoor activities.
Tipping is customary in Belgium, and it's generally appreciated to leave a 10% to 15% tip in restaurants.
Yes, credit cards are widely accepted in most places in Belgium, but it's a good idea to carry some cash, especially in smaller towns.
Belgium has an excellent train network that connects major cities efficiently. Trains are a convenient and scenic way to travel within the country.
Yes, the Atomium is open in the evening, and visiting at night offers a unique and beautiful experience as the spheres are illuminated.
Yes, Belgian cuisine offers a variety of vegetarian options, including delicious vegetable-based stews and dishes.