Points of Interest: Where to Go and Places to Visit in Belgium
When someone says the name Belgium, a few things immediately pop in mind.
They are known for their world-class chocolates, some tasty and refreshing beer, beautiful Medieval rooftops and yes, a lot of canals. But, that is not what Belgium is all about.
Once a tourist starts creating a list of places to visit in Belgium for a memorable vacation, this European nation becomes aggressive!
What kind of aggressive? Not the type that harms anyone. The one that vehemently presents itself to visitors as a top tourist destination where nature and humanity have learned to coexist in a perfectly symbiotic relationship without any hint of melodrama from either side. And honestly, that’s something the country has earned!
But, before we curate the list of top tourist attractions in Belgium that can be titled as destinations extraordinaire, a quick look at some fun and interesting facts about Belgium will give the much-needed encouragement to offer this beautiful country a visit.
Here are few facts about Belgium:
- South of the city of Brussels – the capital city of Belgium lies the famous Waterloo where Napoleon Bonaparte was defeated.
- Have you ever been to a spa for a refreshing retreat? The word ‘spa’ actually comes from a city in Belgium whose name is Spa.
- Watched any of these – Lucky Luke, The Smurfs or Tintin? All three of these comics originated in Belgium.
- Also, another interesting fact is that Belgium once took 541 days to form a government. That’s the longest ever taken in history. After that, another 200 days were required for dividing the 65 of the highest administrative jobs in the country!
- The diamond capital of the world – Antwerp is in Belgium.
- Belgium has the longest tram line in the entire world. Running 68 kilometers, Belgian Coastal Tram takes the honor.
- Talk yummy! 220,000 tons of chocolate are produced in Belgium every single year!
- The number of comic makers every square kilometer – that’s highest in Belgium and not Japan!
That should suffice for now. Here are the much-awaited list – top cities in Belgium and its top attractions!
Here’s the list of the top places to visit in Belgium
How does one define Bruges that sits in Flemish Belgium’s heartlands? Something akin to a picture perfect paper cut out of a town from the medieval times with an enchanting and crazy labyrinth of streets rimmed by Low Country townhouses and the skyline accentuated by apses of those houses…
Yes, that’s Bruges where one gets to see the twisted gargoyles hovering the Grote Markt. A quick look at the canals and one can catch the drifting gondolas that are perfect for love-smitten couples.
And yes, there’s Holy Blood’s Basilica where the congealed blood of the Christ is stored in a vial (supposedly). Belgium travel without a visit to Bruges is just not right!
When people travel to Belgium, they don’t find it wise to avoid Antwerp. This relaxed and confident city has a booming industry of diamond trade.
It is the city of the affluent and the rich where one can witness some of the most impressive Flemish houses dotting the meandering streets of the medieval era. Looming of the city’s skyline is the Gothicism of Antwerp’s Cathedral that is a splendor on its own.
And for those who like to smoke a salami after getting tipsy at one of the many candlelit beer bars, following the echoes of the music-garnished Red Light district will do the trick. But that’s not all that Antwerp has to offer to those who visit Belgium.
Kissing the shoulders of the mainstream city is the trendy neighborhood that prefers a sleepless style of life with bohemian coffee shops, graffiti artists, fixie riders, antique emporiums and of course, the MUHKA art gallery. Yes…
Antwerp’s modern edge has something for the artsy types and the night owls.
The history buffs happen to love Ypres because Ypres hosted one of the bloodiest battles that World War I witnessed. The surrounding ancient fields of this rolling city saw the allied troops, the British, the French, the Canadians, the ANZAC and more doing a lot of digging to push the German forces back over Passendale Ridge.
That was one epic struggle that Menin Gate Memorial commemorates today. And for those who want to take a tour of the most comprehensive WWI exhibit in the whole of Europe, they only need to head for the In Flanders Fields Museum.
Undoubtedly, Ypres remains one of the best places to go in Belgium.
Hoge Kempen National Park
Belgium has only one National Park, and that’s the Hoge Kempen. It’s panning over an area of 60 square kilometers; this place can be rightly called the abode of Gods.
With lakes that have magical mirror-like waters, pine forests covered with mist, the undulating hills, sweeping thistle and lavender blooms, the rolling heaths, this National Park is something that never fails to sprinkle the magic dust upon its visitors.
The awe-inspiring beauty of the park cannot be adequately described with words out of a dictionary. It either requires a celestial language to describe its beauty or, one needs to feel the transcending freshness lingering in the ether.
It is a place to be at for those who are craving some natural sightseeing in Belgium. For the outdoorsy types, hiking trails, biking tracks, and bridle paths add to the charisma of this place.
Ales and beer, red-brick building, cobbled streets and some cute Flemish facades – that pretty much sums up Leuven, but there is more! It is the home to old Trappist ales that one might not want to miss and for the beer lovers, Leuven is the home to InBev brewery – oh yes! Right sir!
Belgium abbey beers. Who would want to miss something like that?
For the vagabond types that look around for something interesting in history, Leuven is home to a university that has been around for eight centuries and boasts a population of 25,000 students – all kind of die-hard beer lovers.
If that isn’t enough, Leuven’s City Hall will leave everyone spellbound, and the elegant streets around Grote Markt along with specialist craft bars make this city a thing of envy for many European nations. No wonder Belgium travel itinerary puts Leuven on the list of must-visit tourist attractions in Belgium.
Ardennes’ rugged hills inspire the adrenaline enthusiasts in a fashion that perhaps no other place in Belgium does. Camping, biking, hiking – cliffs, caves, forests – lynx, deer, wild boar – many breathtaking castles and some friendly villages – one gets the picture right away!
Travel to Belgium cannot be complete without a tour to Northern Europe’s arguably most beautiful hiking destination. The Ardennes ranges in Southern Belgium starts from Namur city and passes right through the valleys of snaky Meuse River and reaches all the way down to plateau Fens right at the very edge of Eifel Mountains.
Along the borders, one can find Chateau de Bouillon, Han-sur-Lesse caves, Rochefort’s Trappist monasteries, misty forests, canoeing waters and more… It’s nothing short of an explicit love with Nature and a direct bonding with bits and pieces of human history. Why shouldn’t this place be on the list of best places to visit in Belgium?
A small charming town right in Liege province’s heart, Spa is responsible for the giving the prefix ‘spa’ to all international destinations that offer bubbling mineral springs.
For those who wonder, whether Spa herself is one such bubbly fountain or not, the town has been offering this since the 14th century, and as of today, there is the Thermes bath.
But that’s not everything that Spa has to offer. Regal facades sprinkled everywhere in the town will make everyone wonder whether this little town has been moneyed to the hilt or not.
Adding to the bucket list of surprises are the La Belle Époque pieces of architecture that a traveler passing through Belgium shouldn’t miss.
Sitting at a stone’s throw distance from France’s border, the city of Mons is perhaps the most beautiful of all historical centers that Belgium has to offer. Mons was once the European Capital of Culture, and today it is one hell of a photogenic town.
Sitting right over southeastern hillsides, the townhouses designed to perfection with Germanic and Luxembourgish designs never fail to catch the attention of an otherwise careless tourist.
Talking of the Grand Place Square – this is where all the action lies. The town hall’s extravagant facades shadowed down by Baroque belfry call for some attention from cameras that tag along with their masters on travel to Belgium.
How can one forget this when it is an undeniable fact that a list of best places to visit in Belgium just cannot be compiled without Brussels? Yes, sir! This city is European politics’ hot seat.
Portugal to Estonia – everyone sends their lawmakers here. Brussels is not just the capital city of Belgium. It is also the capital of European Union as some of the most influential and prominent institutions in Europe have their headquarters in this city.
The center of the city is the famous Grand Place that dates back to 13th century. Just a little bit of combing and some conceal beer bars will reveal themselves offering chocolatiers, frothy ales, and Trappist brews. Though not very scenic for nature lovers, Brussels still makes Belgium travel complete.
A port city located in the Northwest of Belgium and a known student city and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Ghent is known for its beautiful architecture, history, and vibrant culture. Just 20 minutes by train from Brussels, this beautiful Belgian town is not far from the capital and is also very close to one of Belgium’s must-visit destination – Bruges.
Ghent is indeed the perfect city to explore for a day trip from Brussels and have tons of attractions to offer – read this post to learn more about Ghent!
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- Have you been to any of these places to visit in Belgium?
- If yes, which ones?
- If not, which ones you’d like to visit one day?
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