In my previous introductory post on Belgium I already touched on some destinations in Belgium that you should visit and some activities that you should do. I also said that it would take a whole new blog post to cover the . So, here we are!
It is a country with a long and rich history, with cities dating from Roman times, ancient battlefields and a phenomenal cuisine. The most well-known export Belgian products are waffles, beer and chocolate. Less known, but not less important, fries were invented there. I won’t focus on food and drinks here, but I’d like to talk about the .
Top 10 Places to Visit in Belgium:
Waterloo is located a short distance south of Brussels. The name may sound familiar to you, but that’s probably because more than 120 other towns and sites all over the world bear the same name. Belgium’s Waterloo was the first to bear that name though. This was the site where Napoléon Bonaparte was defeated by the Duke of Wellington in 1815. The battlefields are pretty much the same and there are excellent museums. The views from the Lion’s Mound are fantastic.
Advertising itself as ‘the smallest city on earth’, Durbuy is small indeed. It consists of narrow winding cobblestone alleyways, stone houses, a castle and a couple of old churches. This little medieval town is now a huge tourist destination. Most of the houses serve as B&Bs, restaurants, cafés, bars, hotels and shops.
Dinant is another small town, located in the Ardennes Forest and on the banks of the River Meuse. The town’s features are its striking church with onion-shaped dome, the impressive citadel overlooking the town and the brewery of Leffe, one of Belgium’s most popular heavier beers. Also, this was the birthplace of Adolphe Sax who changed the sound of music by inventing the saxophone.
Belgium’s premier seaside city, Ostend has a five-kilometer-long sandy beach, protected from the waves by a series of dikes. The city’s casino is one of the largest in Europe and popular activities are sunbathing, swimming, eating, drinking, cycling and walking.
Another one in our list of the top 10 places to visit in Belgium, and the most overlooked, is the city of Leuven. It boasts medieval market squares, historic houses and buildings, an enormous student population (90,000 students) and the world’s largest brewery, Stella Artois.
Located on the western frontline during the First World War, Ypres is another major battlefield in Belgium. Several major battles took places around the city, completely destroying it in the process. It was beautifully rebuilt after the war. This is where the Canadian soldier John McCrae wrote the world-famous poem ‘In Flanders Fields’. There has never been a better time to visit the region and its memorials and war cemeteries than right now. This year Ypres commemorates the centenary of the start of the Great War.
Not many cities on this planet offer the combination of fashion, art, nightlife, jewelry and shopping like Antwerp does. As the world’s diamond capital, the city is home to dozens and dozens of diamond shops, all located in the Diamond District adjacent to the Central Station. About 85% of the world’s rough diamonds passes through Antwerp at some point. In addition, there is also fantastic shopping on pedestrian shopping streets, great art museums, a cathedral and gorgeous market square.
Ghent is one of the top 10 places to visit in Belgium and the most precious. It’s precious because it doesn’t get overrun by crowds of camera-waving tourists. Ghent is by far the most alternative of the major Belgian cities. There’s great history as well, as Ghent used to be the second-largest city in northern Europe after Paris for a while. A formerly important and prosperous trading and manufacturing city, Ghent has a large number of historic buildings, churches and structures. Its summer festivals are pretty fun, too.
Aaaah, Brussels… I don’t even know where to start. Home to chocolate shops, old shopping malls, guild houses, museums and one of the most beautiful town squares in the world, Brussels is a fantastic city to visit. Two peculiar statues are among the city’s main attractions: Manneken Pis and the Atomium.
Bruges just had to be number one in our top 10 places to visit in Belgium list. It is by far the most visited place in the country, and rightly so. The entire inner city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and walking around, especially in winter, feels like walking around in a fairytale. Bruges consists of picturesque canals, historic houses, a belfry, churches, cobblestone streets and museums and is without a doubt one of the top 10 places to visit in Belgium.