Best of Belgium

Belgium, a land of fairytale castles, the best artisan chocolate, flavorful beers and notable museums and architecture. Located on the North Sea it is part of the Benelux countries with Belgians speaking three distinct languages, French, Dutch and German. This small country is about the size of Maryland and within this small area you won’t believe how it’s filled with interesting sights to see. And, they won’t disappoint you for even one minute.

Historic Ghent

Historic Ghent

Travel to Belgium is easy with nonstop flights that arrive from all over the world and within Europe. Day trips from Paris are perfect for a day trip excursion with as little as a 2 hour ride by rail from Paris to Brussels. Taking the train is half the fun while you travel through sprawling rolling hills and forested lands. It is picture perfect.

Places to See in Belgium

Brussels

The capital of Belgium is a vibrant city filled with impressive historic monuments. The city of Brussels is a mix of Gothic and Art Nouveau architecture, which the community is very proud of.

A must see attraction is the Town Hall. The building is a stunning Gothic structure located within the Royal Palace and has the best tapestry exhibit. In fact the king of Belgium still resides in the Royal Palace today. Built in the 13th century the Grand Palace is by far the most beautiful square in Europe. Best part is the famous Flower Carpet is held here every other year in August. This is something you would want to see in your life time, it’s magnificent! Camera’s are a must for this event.

Other attractions you won’t want to miss are Manneken Pis the city’s most distinguished statue. The Museum Horta is a dedication to Art Nouveau’s famous Belgian architect Victor Horta. Then Magritte Museum a sanctuary filled with Europe’s most famous artist’s masterpieces. Trendy eateries fill the city and with so many choices it will be hard to choose where to go first.

Brussels Grand Palace in Belgium

Brussels Grand Palace a favorite when visiting Belgium

Brugges

A fave of so many who come to visit Europe. Brugges is considered the Venice of the Northern countries and its a dream to visit. Things not to miss when in Brugges of course is to take the scenic boat ride through the city’s medieval canals. This is the best way to experience the incredible but also romantic views this town has to offer. Second, go Chocolate tasting! Just about every street has a specialty chocolate shop filled with truffles, creams, praline’s, bars, caramel’s and fudge and more. It’s a chocolate lovers haven! A couple of our faves would be Dumon Chocolatier and The Chocolate Line.

Check out  art at the Groeninge Museum to get a glimpse of Flemish history through the works of Renaissance artists. Take a hike up the 366 steps at Belfry Tower. It’s located in Brugges main square and will give you a spectacular view of the whole city. No trip to Brugges is complete without a stroll through Markt Square where they hold their farmers market and local crafts. The market sits in front of Belfry Tower where you will also find cute traditional buildings that will keep you busy with cafe’s and shops, and for your viewing pleasure a couple historical statues.

 

Boats along the canals of Brugge in Belgium

Boats along the canals of Brugge on a calm evening

Antwerp

Belgium’s largest port city and diamond center of the world. Antwerp caters to the fashion conscious and those just wanting to have fun. There is no shortage of trendy bars and shops. You will also find this destination a little more lively than some others in Belgium. Although Antwerp no longer has its historic city wall the buildings still yell out Renaissance!

One of the best sites to visit is the Antwerp Centraal Station which by the way has over 30 diamond shops. This rail station has a large domed building and 8 towers that were rebuilt in 2009 after being demolished since the 1950’s. Glittering marble and stone arches for the decor with high vaulted ceilings, a glass fanned clock tower that has gold accents and marble staircases make this a note worthy stop. The station also has plenty of shops and restaurants.

Other noteworthy sights

Just behind the station is the Antwerp Zoo. Considered one of the oldest and best zoo’s in the world. For being in the middle of the city they have a great variety of exotic animals which most visitors do not expect. Animal’s like the  Siberian tigers to penguins, Asian elephants to zebras, hippopotamus to buffalos I think I read there were more than 7000 animals here. Not bad! Walk around the grounds and gardens for another sweet surprise. There just happens to be an Egyptian temple that is very well done, along with other fascinating buildings . It is one of the best zoo’s to visit in the world!

Other attractions not to miss are Cogels Osi lei for the best in Art Nouveau architecture, the Cathedral of our Lady has some very impressive altar pieces which is located in the popular Grote Market. It’s a great place to shop and eat some more chocolate while there. One last must see is the Ruben’s House the home of Peter Paul Rubens, a flamboyant painter who had a passion for colorful sensuous scenes. Turns out he was a diplomat and scholar.

Antwerp Centraal Station in Belgium

Antwerp Centraal Station

Ghent

Hedged in by the rivers Leie and Scheldt Ghent this university town was once one of the most profitable cities in all of Europe. Now it is considered to be one of the most beautiful historic cities anywhere. Ghent has a way of attracting visitors from all over the world with the best foods, a beautiful historic city center, some of the best museums in Belgium and of course their own Ghent Jazz Festival. Here is a short list of the best sightseeing starting with the Graslei and Korenlei two streets that run along the river Lei.

This is one of the busiest places to see in Ghent, where streets are lined with medieval homes and architecture you expect to see in Belgium. It’s a great area to dine at since it’s next to the river. Enjoy your meal as you watch small boats lazily sail by. Choose from a variety pubs and music and kick back with a large Belgian beer.

What to see in Ghent

St. Michaels starts a historic walking tour of the iconic Three Towers. An interesting but unique attraction is just a short walk from here. Gravensteen Castle give you a first hand education on what a torture chamber was like in Medieval times along with it’s vintage weapons. If weapons are not your idea of a good tour the views you see from Gravensteen will make the admission worth it.

The Three Towers include the Belfry of Ghent which is probably the most notable. The Belfry was in its time used as a warning system for the town and treasury. Saint Bavo Cathedral is the respected seat of the diocese of Ghent. Most treasured at Bavo is “The Adoration of the Mysic Lamb”, a masterpiece of medieval art paintings by the Belguims own Van Eyck brothers. The last of the trio is Saint Nicolas Church. This beautiful Gothic church was once used as a horse stable during the French Revolution. Saint Nicolas is has an open, tall ceiling sanctuary that is known for its stunning pipe organ.

These are just a few of our favorites. Other towns we suggest you visit are Liege along the Meuse River and Mechelen along the River Dyle. Both have a great history, interesting churches and the best food. Belgium is full of good surprises around every corner and should be on everyone’s bucket list!

17 Comments:

  1. The first time I’ve learned about Belgium is during the Miss Universe 1994 when it was held in my country The Philippines. It’s because my personal bet was Ms. Belgium haha..

    Now I associate Belgium with the chocolate. At least now after reading your post I have other things to conjure whenever I hear the word Belgium. So there are over 30 diamond shops in Antwerp, wow!

    I’d sure love to go there someday.

  2. Belgium is a horribly underrated place in Europe, and your listings touch upon why. I hope you’ll have future posts with more detail about each place?

  3. I lived and traveled through Europe throughout the first 21 years of my life – and for some reason I have never made it to Brussels! Now I’m out in Aus I feel like my eyes have been opened to the beauty of the country and that I need to go there asap!

  4. Very interesting list and great info! I can’t wait to check out Belgium. Thanks!

    Crystal recently posted… Trash the Dress: Medieval Edition

  5. I did not know it was the diamond center of the world. The architecture here loos breathtaking. I might just have to add it to my list. I think I would be in photo heaven.

  6. Brugges is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to! There’s so much to see in Belgium, need to make my way through the rest of the country.

    • twotravelfanatics@gmail.com

      We really feel Brugges is the most beautiful too. Belgium really is one of those hidden treasures these days without crowds. Hope you can see some of the other cities sometime!

  7. Belgium has to be the most underrated country in Europe! Beer, mussels and chocolate! Yes please! I absolutely loved Brugges and Antwerp- amazing cities!

    • twotravelfanatics@gmail.com

      Oh yes the chocolate, the beer and the mussels are world class! Especially the chocolate! 🙂

  8. Love Belgium and some of these towns are my faves! Especially love Ghent (love it so much more than Bruges actually). As for the chocolate….yum….couldn’t get enough. Did you manage to try any cuberdons?

    • twotravelfanatics@gmail.com

      I actually had to look up and see what cuberdons are and yes, I did have them! They are delicious! Well almost all sweets in Belgium are but those really do stand out! We love Ghent too its has such a medieval feel to it and love walking along the canal too. Kerri, did you ever try the Oliebollen while you were there?

  9. Never been to Belgium but next summer I’m going to Ghent and I can’t wait! Heard and read so many great things about it.

    • twotravelfanatics@gmail.com

      That’s wonderful, you will love Ghent. Have a fun time and can’t wait to hear all about your trip!

  10. Have been to those places except for Brugges. Def on my list for next time. I fell in love with Ghent and was really impressed by the Antwerp station, esp with their multiple rail levels. 🙂

    • twotravelfanatics@gmail.com

      Yes have to agree with you on the rail station, it is worth a look when you visit. Its my favorite too!

  11. I’ve only visited Brussels, but Brugges is on my list.. looks amazing! 🙂

    • twotravelfanatics@gmail.com

      Both those cities are a lot of fun to visit. Love how each city can be different and always something new to take in and enjoy.

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