Belgium. This crossroads of Western Europe is rich in stunning architecture, delectable local cuisine, a thriving music scene, and everything in between the ancient and the cutting edge. Home of Jacques Brel, Gerardus Mercator, Stromae, Angele, Victor Horta, Django Reinhardt, and Georges Remi, this corner of Europe has maintained an oversized presence in science and the arts for centuries. Today, Belgium is a vibrant community of 11 million spread throughout beautiful cityscapes such as Brussels, Antwerp, Ghent, Liege, and Charleroi. Whether you search for the thrill of sport and performance, the history abundant, or simply somewhere beautiful with good food for your next vacation, Belgium is a great choice. And with so much to see and discover in this country, it can be hard to narrow down an itinerary, but we've got you covered. Read on for some of our favorite highlights of Belgium, and get ready to explore.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need to be vaccinated to travel to Belgium?
Travelers who are not from countries designated as “high risk” by the Belgian government can travel to Belgium without any requirements for negative Covid tests, vaccination, or masks. However, airline companies may require some or all of these for travel, so it is best to check with your airline.
How much is $100 in Euro?
The dollar is quite strong and the euro is in a weaker position, bringing the two currencies to near parity. This is especially good for those travelers from the United States, as the euro is usually the stronger currency, meaning your dollar goes farther. One hundred United States dollars is €101.99 euro.
How can I travel to Belgium?
Belgium is allowing regular flights into the country. Simply book a ticket and pack your bags. If Belgium will be another stop on a larger European vacation, visitors will be pleased to find that Belgium has many connections via rail with other European destinations such as Paris, Amsterdam, London, and Cologne.
Belgium's dynamic capital, the capital region, is the center for much of the country's governance, grand halls of arts, residence of the royal family, and music scene. Here, visitors can see and experience the heights of Belgium's storied history and modern endeavors.
Renowned as one of Belgium's most important sights and considered one of the world's most beautiful squares, the Grand Place is a sure stop for all visiting the capital. This grandiose square is accompanied by intricate Baroque guildhalls, the stunning Town Hall, and the Brussels City Museum, among many other landmarks in the vicinity. The Grand Place also is the frequent venue for many of the city's charming festivals year-round, whether it is the August flower carpet, gorgeous Christmas Tree in Winter or the colorful Ommegang of summertime.
Royal Museum of Fine Arts of Belgium
Past the elegant and towering entrance to the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium is a stunning collection of over 20,000 drawings, scultures, paintings and works of art from famous names such as Bruegel, Rogier van der Weyden, Robert Campin, Anthony van Dyck, Constantin Meunier, and Rene Margritte. Here, visitors can tour the history and height of Belgian art, all in one grand location, and not too far from many of the other attractions of Brussels.
Royal Palace of Brussels
Official palace of the King and Queen of Belgium, the Royal Palace of Brussels, is a sight to behold and remains much as it was during the reign of King Leopold II. This massive neoclassical project with its monumental and massive ballrooms, hallways, and chambers are much for the visitor to take in, whether through a camera lens or just pouring over the scene with their eyes. Each summer from July 23rd to August 28th, the palace is free to visit, a tradition as great in opportunity as it is budget-friendly! Whether just to tour the sprawling exterior and grounds of the Royal Palace, as a conversation-staring photo opportunity, or to immerse your party in Belgian opulence, the Royal Palace of Brussels is a sure stop for all coming to the capital.
Parc du Cinquantenaire
Speaking of parks and grounds around the capital, one of the most striking locations of Brussels is the Parc du Cinquantenaire, featuring large, spanning parks, delicately maintained rows of greenery and the Cinquantenaire Arch, as well multiple museums. The Arch and its ornate work looks over the broad open spaces of the urban park, while the distinct arcade houses an aviation hall, a military museum, the art and history museum, and lastly, Autoworld! Visitors will delight in touring the military history, massive vintage car collection, and art collection reaching from prehistoric Western Europe through ancient artifacts from much of the northern hemisphere. Whether just to add another picture to your travel album or to personally see one of the capital's most beautiful scenes, the gorgeous Parc du Cinquantenaire is great for parties of all ages and interests.
St Michael and St Gudula Cathedral
Adorned in intricate craftsmanship, impressive stained glass artwork, the statue of brave Saint Michael all in a truly imposing size, the St Michael and St Gudula Cathedral is truly a wonder of Belgium. Visitors will enjoy touring this storied location, guarding over Belgium for centuries, and also coincidentally a showcase of multiple periods of the nation's history with its additions. Whether in Brabantine Gothic style or the lavish Baroque style seen in many other buildings of Brussels, the additions and maintenance of this gorgeous sight provide a variety that tells just as much of a story as the countless episodes one will discover here. Visitors to Brussels and the capital region must stop by the St Michael and St Gudula Cathedral to witness this Belgian treasure.
A remnant of the grand 1958 Brussels World's Fair, today the Atomium is a striking work of stainless steel in the form of a massive iron crystal unit cell. In fact, this complex structure even houses its own stairs, escalator and elevator system which lead to each of the six visitable spheres, containing exhibit halls and venues. Ascend to the top sphere for a panoramic view over Brussels, or enjoy the scenery around this captivating installation at the Atomiumsquare. Around the Brussels Expo is also a number of complex gardens and backdrops sure to delight any photographer, and make for a lovely stroll during those pleasant Belgian summers. The Atomium lights up at night to a formidable display of led lighting and reflection, while the interior walkways are just as notable for their anachronistic and retro take on the future providing for an immersive experience. Come tour the Atomium while in Brussels for a firsthand meeting with the cutting edge and the future as it was imagined by the minds of the mid-twentieth century.
Out near the Flemish city of Ghent, the stoic Gravensteen guards over the area much as it has for over a millennium, a proud and strong example of the many castles Belgium is famed for. Visitors will enjoy the castle's personal evolution and history through the ages, touring these many chapters of Belgium's past on foot and through the lenses of your phone or camera. Either to witness this country's rich history or just as an impressive sightseeing location, make a place for Gravensteen on your travel itinerary this year.
Cycling around Ghent
With bike-rental and bike sharing apps galore, Ghent is a beautiful and fantastic location to enjoy some of the most beloved bike lanes and pathways of the nation. This is a great way to experience the cycling culture, weather, and scenes special to Belgium and the low countries, as well as introducing a do-it-yourself style of tour planning, all in a speedy and healthy manner. Those who come during an especially hot period or those visitors who just don't want to deal with the hassle of biking, we also understand. There are also plenty of speedy and comfortable scooter rental and e-scooter rental options around this modern city, by application or with staffed locations.
Try a Trappist Beer at Westmalle Abbey
Another widely celebrated aspect of Belgian culture is the rich tradition of Trappist Beer, delectable brews crafted by none other than the Monks of Trappist Monasteries. Aside from the charming location of many of these monasteries and the touring of the grounds whether for religious importance, the Abbeys also showcase the proud process and traditions of how these globally famous beers are made. Here, visitors can enjoy one of Belgium's most beloved exports and traditions, and with six of thirteen trappist monasteries in Europe, there is no better place to do so. Foodies will also relish in the locally produced milk and cheese of the abbey, as a bonus note.
Former residence of artist Peter Paul Reubens, visitors can step back in time among the workshop and longtime home of this Belgian icon. From the proud exterior to the ornate courtyard to the picturesque garden, this center of creation and art serviced the elite and ruling families of England, France, Spain, and Bavaria in its heyday. Now, it is a hub of artwork celebrating the life and work of not only Rubens but much of the work of the Belgian and Low Country 17th century, including the iconic Adam and Eve, Saint Sebastian, Venus and Mars by Frans Floris, Neptune and Amphitrite in the storm by Jacob Jordaens, and Nativity by Aertgen van Leyden. Treasured by the city of Antwerp, both those interested in the arts and those visitors to the city will enjoy this intimate introduction to one of Belgium's most esteemed artists.
While the crowded waterways of Venice might capture the gaze for many tourists outside of Europe, the quaint and calm canals of Bruges are a great experience for all visitors to Belgium. Spanning from Ostend to Bruges, visitors can enjoy one of the many sightseeing tours along the canals, taking passengers up close past romantic scenes such as the Minnewater, ancient bridges and stone houses, and the vibrant Coupure area. This is a treasure trove for those wanting to take plenty of pictures, or for those who just enjoy a boat ride and want to tour much of Flanders in a memorable and beautiful trip. Midday is a particularly good time for those larger parties to see the city at its most busy, and with ample lighting for pictures to write home about.
The Markt at Bruges
The marketplace and lively heart of Bruges for over a millennium, the Markt at Bruges is a great way to experience some of the most celebrated culinary delights of Belgium, whether it is the widely known waffles and chocolates, or hearty favorites such as Moules-frites and Carbonade Flamande. Visitors will enjoy Belgian culinary delights or gourmet products such as fresh boudin or Jambon d'Ardenne. No matter the time of year, Belgian favorites and seasonal dishes can be found here at this busy square, just a short walk from the towering belfry. Another highlight is the Markt are the frequent horse-drawn carriages, a great way to see much of Bruges in an engaging and lighthearted manner, whether for couples, families or groups alike.
Treat Yourself to the Original Spa
Esteemed for its many natural mineral springs, home of the Belgian Grand Prix and the world's first beauty pageant, the 1888 Concours de Beaute, this is the namesake and original Spa, a city known throughout Belgium and Europe through the centuries for the beneficial aspects of its waters. Whether touring the many beautiful fountains, buildings and parks of this charming city or to enjoy, well, a classic spa, visitors can unwind and relish in the facilities and waters here at Spa.
Semois Valley Camping and Travel
Whether for fishing, hiking, camping, or just a taste of the beautiful and idyllic Belgian countryside, the Semois Valley is a delightful alternative to the other, less urban side of Belgium. This is a great option to explore for those wanting to enjoy some of Belgium's best kept secrets and natural beauty, featuring landmarks such as the Bouillon Castle and neighboring forests, the mythical Tombeau du Geant, or villages such as Bohan and Laforet. Aside from hiking and touring the Semois Valley, many thriving small businesses, artisans, and local specialities are also ripe for discovery here, perfect for those who want to travel away from the tourist centers and see Belgium for themselves. Experience life on this side of Belgium and consider taking your itinerary in another direction to one of the most tranquil scenes of the Low Country.
Mons Old Town
Another great showcase of Belgium's long history is the well-preserved and beautiful historic center of Mons, designated the European capital of culture in 2015. This esteemed square and downtown is preserved with many of its landmarks from the Middle Ages, but also features works and buildings from multiple important episodes of Belgian history spanning through medieval Belgium through the grandiose projects of Matheus de Layens to the independence era and even the world war periods. Mons Old Town with its density of baroque and brabantine works, guilds, belfrys, and churches is an idyllic setting and a great setting for photoshoots as it is just a destination inside a destination. Tour the highlight of this university city and enjoy a literal walk through the history of Belgium here in ancient Mons.
Ville Basse, Charleroi
Charleroi is another charming city of Belgium, featuring an ornate city hall, the grand Castle of Monceau-sur-Sambre, St. Christopher's Church and highlights such as Bois du Cazier and BPS22. Charleroi's Ville Basse and Ville Haute are hotspots of museums combining modern and historic pieces of art, as well as lavish works from throughout many of Belgium's chapters. Aside from museums and galleries such as the dynamic BPS22 and Bois du Cazier, Charleroi is also a notable center for sport, hosting teams such as Spirou Charleroi, Royal Charleroi SC and ROC Charleroi. Consider Charleroi during your next trip to Belgium for an engaging mix of modern venues and historic institutions and a look into Belgian sport and art.
Ypres Cloth Hall
One of the largest surviving commercial buildings of the Middle Ages, the Ypres Cloth Hall is today one of the most striking works of architecture in Belgium, a centerpoint for much of Ypres's history, whether as a meeting place, market or center of industry. Today, it houses a museum commemorating much of Belgium's history from the world wars and is a must-see for those military history enthusiasts or those who want to explore this impactful period in Belgium's 20th century. Visitors can witness firsthand footage, uniform, artifacts, and relics from Belgium's period under the moniker as “Battlefield of Europe” and its eventual liberation by Canadian troops in an emotive and extensive series of exhibits. Stop by the Ypres Cloth Hall and learn about this city's long, turbulent history in the same location where many of its most important chapters unfolded.