I’ve been back in Belgium for more than a week now. It’s great to be back! After nearly 14 months in the farmlands of Vermont and the mountains of New Hampshire, it’s a nice change to find myself just outside a small Belgian town again. It’s a nice contrast—although, surprisingly enough, both places are equally as green!
I’ve spent (most of) the first 27 years of my life in Belgium and, after leaving, I love my home country even more. It has so much to offer, which is why I try to get the word out there by writing about it a lot.
Belgium, I believe, is truly one of the prettiest countries in western Europe—it’s incredibly, surprisingly diverse.
Top 10 Reasons to Visit Belgium
1. Belgian Beers
Many award-winning beers are brewed in Belgium. All bars and cafés have several brews on tap, from the classic pilsners to darker abbey beers to sweet cherry beers. Anyone who visits Belgium must try at least a few different Belgian beers.
2. Medieval Cities
Stunning historic cities, such as Antwerp, Brussels, Bruges and Ghent, to name some of the larger ones, make Belgium a destination that’s absolutely worth visiting. Those old cities are home to a plethora of museums, churches, rivers and canals, market squares and beautiful gabled row houses.
3. Local Food
From frites to Brussels sprouts, endives and strawberries, Belgium is known for many ingredients and dishes. Mashed potatoes, stews, sausages and seafood are things that visitors are encouraged to try.
4. Flat and Peaceful Countryside
The Belgian countryside is one of the flattest in the world. It mostly consists of farmlands and green meadows, through which winding roads meander their way from one town to another, while rows of trees and hedges create picture-perfect scenes. Here and there, there’s an old abbey or an apple orchard. The best way to see the countryside is by bicycle.
5. Historic Battlefields
Historically, the region that is now Belgium has always been a preferred battlefield of major European powers, monarchs and emperors, from Julius Caesar to Napoléon and the Germans twice during the two World Wars. Nowadays, there are three major battlefields that are worth visiting, Flanders Fields, Waterloo and Bastogne, and many minor ones.
6. Small Towns in the Ardennes
The Ardennes Forest is a huge area of rolling tree-covered hills, fertile valleys and meandering rivers. This is where you can visit gorgeous old towns, such as Dinant, Bouillon and Durbuy.
7. Castles, Fortresses and Citadels
For reasons mentioned in #5, the people of Belgium have tried to protect themselves and their towns and cities by building numerous strongholds and fortresses. There are literally hundreds of castles, palaces, citadels and fortresses dotted throughout the country. Notable ones are the Gravensteen Castle in Ghent, the Citadel of Namur, the Steen in Antwerp, the Citadel of Bouillon, the Citadel of Dinant and the Castle of Reinhardstein.
8. Chocolate and Waffles
Belgium is world-famous for its waffles and chocolates. Combining the two and throwing some fresh strawberries on top creates a mouth wateringly delicious snack. No visit to Belgium is complete without a waffle!
9. Fashion and Diamonds
Antwerp, Belgium’s second-largest city, is one of the world’s main fashion hubs. The so-called Antwerp Six are among the most famous fashion designers in the world. The additional fact that Antwerp is also the world’s diamond capital—85% of all rough diamonds in the world pass through the city each year—makes this is a truly exciting city.
10. UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Belgium also has several unique UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The typical béguinages and belfries are only found in this small corner of the world (which also includes a little part of the southern Netherlands and northern France). Both the béguinages of Flanders and the belfries of Belgium and France are fascinating and beautiful world heritage sites. Other interesting sites include the town houses of Victor Horta and the Grand-Place in Brussels, the historic city center of Bruges, the mining sites in Wallonia and the cathedral in Tournai.