I know that the expression is way over-used, but Belgium really is a hidden gem worth visiting. A lot of people don’t even know where Belgium actually is. When I’m asked I always return the question by asking if the person knows where France, Germany, England and the Netherlands are? The answer is almost without exception ‘yes’. Well – surprise, surprise – Belgium is located right in the middle of those countries. What I love about my country is that it combines all of the influences of those neighbouring countries and has a few very interesting features of itself as well. There is, for example, nothing like the Flemish countryside, Belgium is jam-packed with old medieval buildings and history and the food is absolutely world-class.
The previous post included the cities and towns of Leuven, Dinant, Lier, Bastogne and Tongeren. Let’s continue with five more Belgian towns to stay in that are worth visiting.
More of Belgian Towns Worth Visiting
Located in the Dutch-speaking province of West Flanders, the area around Ypres was already inhabited in the first century BC. In the Middle Ages it grew into a wealthy and prosperous city, thanks to the manufacturing and trading of high-quality textiles. However, Ypres became world-famous during and after World War 1, when it lay in the middle of the western front. Many battles were fought in the area; the most famous of those was the Battle of Passchendaele. The Canadian John McCrae wrote the poem ‘In Flanders Fields’ in the trenches near Ypres.
Historically Mechelen has always been a city of massive importance among several Belgian towns. It is located in the middle of Flanders, halfway between Antwerp and Brussels. There is a huge number of medieval buildings worth visiting, an enormous cathedral and a belfry (both UNESCO World Heritage Sites) and a couple of fascinating museums.
The Walloon city of Namur is situated at the confluence of the Meuse and Sambre Rivers. Its major highlight is the vast citadel, located on a rocky outcrop between the two rivers. This massive fortress overlooks the city and rivers and you can explore it for free. Nowadays it serves as a park and has a couple of museums and taverns.
Durbuy calls itself the ‘Smallest City in the World’. There used to be some truth to this claim – it does have a city charter – but after merging with a few surrounding villages it’s gotten too big to make a serious claim to this title. It does attract thousands of visitors though. It is a downright gorgeous medieval town with winding cobbled lanes, plenty of quaint hotels and B&Bs, craft shops and restaurants. It is incredibly picturesque and well worth visiting.
The name Waterloo may sound familiar to you. This small place among Belgian towns has lent its name to several places around the world. It is a site of big historical importance and well worth visiting. Napoleon was defeated near Waterloo by the Duke of Wellington, who wrote his victory message in a tavern in the town. You can visit both Wellington’s and Napoleon’s headquarters, the Lion’s Mound and explore the former battlefields.