Belgium, a small European country nestled between France, the Netherlands, Germany, and Luxembourg, is often overlooked by travelers in favor of its more famous neighbors. However, Belgium has much to offer in terms of natural beauty, historical significance, and vibrant culture. From medieval cities to picturesque countryside, here are ten beautiful places to visit in Belgium.
- Bruges: The Venice of the North
Bruges is one of Belgium’s most iconic cities, known for its charming canals, well-preserved medieval architecture, and cobbled streets. The city’s historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it’s easy to see why. The Belfry Tower, the Church of Our Lady, and the Markt square are just a few of the many must-see attractions in this romantic and timeless city.
- Ghent: A Hidden Gem
Ghent, often overshadowed by Bruges, is another stunning Belgian city with a rich history. The Graslei and Korenlei, two picturesque canals lined with historic buildings, are a highlight, and the Gravensteen Castle is an impressive fortress dating back to the Middle Ages. Ghent’s lively atmosphere and vibrant arts scene make it a city worth exploring.
- Antwerp: The Fashion and Diamond Capital
Antwerp is Belgium’s fashion and diamond capital, and it has a thriving arts and culture scene. Visit the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, which houses an exceptional collection of Flemish paintings, and explore the stunning Cathedral of Our Lady. Antwerp is also famous for its fashion boutiques and the diamond district, where you can find some of the world’s most exquisite gems.
- Brussels: The Capital of Europe
As the de facto capital of the European Union, Brussels is not only a political powerhouse but also a city of stunning architecture, great food, and an eclectic mix of cultures. Explore the historic Grand Place, the Atomium, and the impressive European Parliament buildings. Don’t forget to indulge in some Belgian waffles and world-famous chocolates.
- Ardennes: A Nature Lover’s Paradise
For those seeking natural beauty, the Ardennes region in southern Belgium is a paradise. The lush forests, rolling hills, and picturesque villages offer a tranquil escape from city life. Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy hiking, biking, and kayaking in this beautiful landscape, while history buffs can explore the World War II battle sites in the region.
- Ypres: A Somber Reminder of History
Ypres, a small city in West Flanders, is a solemn reminder of the devastating impact of World War I. The In Flanders Fields Museum and the Menin Gate Memorial are powerful tributes to the soldiers who lost their lives in the conflict. The city’s medieval architecture and charming atmosphere provide a stark contrast to its tragic history.
- Waterloo: The Site of a Historic Battle
The village of Waterloo is famous for the Battle of Waterloo, where Napoleon Bonaparte suffered his final defeat in 1815. The battlefield, complete with a visitor center and a memorial lion mound, is a place of historical significance and offers a unique perspective on European history. It’s a must-visit for history enthusiasts.
- Dinant: A Picturesque Riverside Town
Dinant is a charming town on the banks of the River Meuse in the Wallonia region. The town is known for its distinctive saxophone-shaped bridge, its stunning citadel overlooking the town, and the magnificent Notre-Dame Collegiate Church. The combination of dramatic cliffs, the river, and picturesque buildings make Dinant a photographer’s dream.
- Mechelen: A Hidden Gem in Flanders
Mechelen is often overlooked by tourists, but it’s a hidden gem in Flanders. This city boasts a well-preserved historic center with beautiful architecture, including the St. Rumbold’s Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Toy Museum and the city’s numerous parks and gardens offer a tranquil atmosphere for visitors.
- Ostend: Belgium’s Seaside Gem
Ostend is a seaside resort town on the Belgian coast, known for its long sandy beaches and maritime charm. It’s a great place to relax by the sea, take a stroll on the promenade, and enjoy fresh seafood at one of the many waterfront restaurants. The city also has several museums, including the Mu.ZEE, which focuses on Belgian and international contemporary art.
Belgium’s compact size allows travelers to explore a diverse range of landscapes and experiences in a relatively short amount of time. Whether you’re interested in history, culture, nature, or simply enjoying the delightful cuisine, Belgium has something to offer every type of traveler. Don’t underestimate this small country – it’s a hidden European gem waiting to be explored.