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Best Places to Visit in Belgium: Top 10 Destinations

ghent canal in belgium with boats and blue skies

Looking for the best places to visit in Belgium? Strap in, as we take you on a whirlwind tour of this charming little gem tucked away in the heart of Europe.

From awe-inspiring medieval towns to buzzing modern cities, Belgium is set to exceed your wildest expectations.

Ready to uncover these top 10 destinations? Let’s dive in!

1. Bruges

sunset over the rozenhoedkaai canal in bruges belgium

Let’s start our Belgian journey in the enchanting city of Bruges. Its cobblestone streets, whitewashed almshouses, and well-preserved medieval architecture look like they’ve been plucked straight from a fairy tale. And then there are the canals, gracefully winding their way around the city, earning Bruges the nickname ‘The Venice of the North’.

While you’re here, don’t miss the bustling Markt, an open square surrounded by colorful, gabled houses and dominated by the impressive Belfry. For art lovers, the Church of Our Lady houses Michelangelo’s Madonna and Child sculpture.

Pro Travel Tip: Delight your taste buds with local treats. Try the ‘moules frites’ (mussels and fries), wash it down with locally-brewed Brugse Zot beer, and top it off with a world-famous Belgian waffle.

2. Brussels

Brussels Belgium Grand Place market square

Next, we head to the vibrant heart of Europe, Brussels. This bustling metropolis is a melting pot of languages and cultures. As the administrative center of the European Union, Brussels offers an appealing blend of modern vibrancy and historical charm.

The Grand Place is an architectural marvel, showcasing opulent guild halls, the stunning Town Hall, and the King’s House. Just a short walk away, you’ll find the cheeky Manneken Pis statue, a symbol of Brussels’ irreverent spirit.

Don’t forget the Atomium, a striking piece of mid-century architecture, offering panoramic views of the city. And for the royalty enthusiasts among us, the Royal Palace opens its doors to the public every summer.

Pro Travel Tip: Be sure to explore the city’s comic book route – a homage to Belgium’s rich history of comic art, featuring mural paintings of characters like Tintin and the Smurfs.

3. Ghent

night time on the Ghent in Belgium

Third on our list, Ghent is the city where old meets new in a harmonious blend. Home to a large university, Ghent combines a historic core with a vibrant, youthful energy.

St. Bavo’s Cathedral is a masterpiece of Gothic architecture and houses one of the world’s most coveted artworks – the Ghent Altarpiece, also known as “The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb”. Make sure to pay a visit to Gravensteen Castle, a robust medieval fortress with panoramic views of the city.

Pro Travel Tip: For the night owls, Ghent’s music scene is worth diving into. The city’s music venues, festivals, and bustling bars make for a lively night out.

4. Antwerp

grote markt of antwerp belgium at night

Next up is Antwerp, the diamond capital of the world. It’s a city of arts, fashion, and stunning architecture that makes it a must-visit destination.

Start at the Cathedral of Our Lady, a Gothic wonder that towers over the city. For animal lovers, the Antwerp Zoo is one of the oldest and best-regarded zoos in the world. Don’t miss the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, which houses an impressive collection, including works by Rubens, Van Dyck, and other Flemish masters.

Pro Travel Tip: Indulge in some retail therapy in Antwerp’s fashion district, known for its avant-garde designers. And if you’re feeling particularly lavish, explore the Diamond District where more than 80% of the world’s diamonds are traded.

5. Dinant

Dinant row houses in belgium

Let’s now venture to the picturesque town of Dinant, nestled along the Meuse River and backed by steep cliffs. This is a place that exudes charm at every turn.

The Citadel, reached by cable car or a 408-step stairway, offers breathtaking views of the town. The Collegiate Church of Our Lady, with its distinctive onion-shaped bell tower, is another must-see. For music fans, visiting the birthplace of Adolphe Sax, the inventor of the saxophone, is a must.

Pro Travel Tip: Enjoy a tranquil boat tour on the Meuse River for a different perspective of this enchanting town.

6. Leuven

historic city of leuven in the flanders region of belgium

Historic, lively, and famed for its university, Leuven offers a different flavor of Belgium. Visit the Old Market, often referred to as the ‘longest bar in the world’ due to the multitude of cafes and bars lining the square. The Beguinage, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, offers peaceful strolls among traditional houses. Don’t forget to check out the M – Museum Leuven, which hosts a unique collection of both old and contemporary art.

Pro Travel Tip: Engage with the local student life, and make sure to sample the local beer. Leuven is home to Anheuser-Busch InBev, the largest beer company in the world!

7. Namur

Namur Belgium along the river meuse

Often overlooked, the city of Namur is a hidden gem. Sitting at the confluence of the Meuse and Sambre rivers, its crown jewel is the mighty Citadel of Namur, offering sweeping views over the city. Explore the charming streets leading to the Saint Aubin’s Cathedral and the Felicien Rops Museum, dedicated to the provocative 19th-century Belgian artist.

Pro Travel Tip: If you’re an active traveler, cycle along the Meuse River to enjoy the city’s scenic natural backdrop.

8. Liège

montagne de bueren staircase in liege belgium

We’re off next to the vibrant city of Liège, famed for its lively culture, nightlife, and friendly locals known as ‘Liégeois’. Start at the Palace of the Prince-Bishops, an impressive architectural landmark, and then take on the challenge of climbing the 374-step stairway of Bueren Mountain for panoramic views of the city.

Pro Travel Tip: Try to visit in July when the city comes alive with its famous 14th of July folk festival, ‘Le Quatorze Juillet’. Expect music, dancing, and a lot of local cheer!

9. Tournai

Cathedral of Our Lady in tournai belgium

Known as one of Belgium’s oldest cities, Tournai is steeped in rich history. The city’s star attraction is the Cathedral of Our Lady, a UNESCO World Heritage Site dating back to the 12th century. Another must-see is the Belfry of Tournai, the oldest in Belgium, which offers expansive views of the city.

Pro Travel Tip: Be sure to explore the local artisan workshops – Tournai is known for its fine porcelain.

10. Mechelen

Mechelen town hall at night

Last, but certainly not least, is the historic city of Mechelen. Located between Brussels and Antwerp, it’s a city full of charm with St. Rumbold’s Cathedral and the Mechelen Toy Museum being two of its top attractions.

Pro Travel Tip: For a breathtaking view of the city, climb the tower of St. Rumbold’s Cathedral. On a clear day, you can see as far as Brussels and Antwerp!

Conclusion

From the enchanting waterways of Bruges to the lively squares of Leuven, Belgium is a country teeming with unforgettable sights and experiences. Each city offers its unique charm and alluring attractions, promising something for every kind of traveler.

Belgium’s cultural richness, architectural gems, and delightful cuisine are waiting to be explored. Have you visited any of these cities or had a unique Belgian experience?

Share your story in the comments below. And don’t forget to share this post with friends or fellow travelers who might be planning their own Belgian adventure.

Happy travels!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Best Time to Visit Belgium?

The best time to visit Belgium is during spring (April to June) or fall (September to October) when the weather is generally mild and the crowds are fewer. However, keep in mind that Belgium has a maritime temperate climate, which means it can be unpredictable and rain is possible at any time.

Is Belgium Expensive to Visit?

Compared to its neighboring countries, Belgium is moderately expensive. Costs will vary depending on your personal spending habits and the city you are visiting. Major cities like Brussels and Antwerp are more expensive than smaller towns.

Do People in Belgium Speak English?

Yes, a large percentage of the population in Belgium speaks English, especially in the cities and tourist areas. However, the three official languages are Dutch, French, and German.

What is Belgium Famous For?

Belgium is famous for its rich history, beautiful architecture, and delicious food. It’s known for its medieval towns, Renaissance architecture, and being home to the European Union headquarters. Food lovers will enjoy the famous Belgian waffles, beer, chocolates, and fries.

Do I Need a Visa to Visit Belgium?

If you are a U.S. citizen, you do not need a visa for tourist or business trips lasting up to 90 days. For other nationalities, it’s recommended to check the visa requirements with the nearest Belgian embassy or consulate in your home country.


For more travel inspiration and to expand your European adventure, don’t miss our post on the most visited cities in Europe along with our other guides:

About Ronaldo Stewart

Wantigo was born out of a deep passion for exploring new places and experiencing different cultures. With a keen sense of adventure and an insatiable thirst for knowledge, I’ve traveled far and wide, immersing myself in the beauty and wonder of the world.

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