Discover the Enchanting Beauty of Belgium: 10 Must-Visit Destinations
When picturing Belgium, images of medieval rooftops, charming canals, exquisite chocolates, and delectable beer often come to mind. This European gem is a country that seems to operate at a more relaxed pace, with friendly locals who warmly welcome tourists. From vibrant cities showcasing designer shops to cobblestone streets adorned with museums, Belgium offers a wealth of captivating destinations to explore. Join us on a journey through the ten best places to visit in Belgium, where history, culture, and natural beauty intertwine.
Mons: A Delightful Medieval Gem
Ranked as the European Capital of Culture in 2015, Mons boasts a picturesque medieval center and the enchanting Grand Place. A perfect destination for a day trip, Mons offers modern museums, vibrant bars, and charming restaurants. The city truly comes alive during its annual week-long festival, where centuries-old traditions are celebrated, and Belgian beer flows freely.
Dinant: Nature’s Delight Along the Meuse River
Nestled along the sparkling Meuse River, just 40 miles south of the capital city, Dinant is a haven for nature enthusiasts. Visitors flock here to explore the awe-inspiring Caves of Han and the Grotto of Dinant, which are among Europe’s largest and most beautiful caves. The Collegiate Church of Notre Dame, despite being partially rebuilt after a landslide, remains an impressive landmark, while the Citadel offers panoramic views of the city.
Leuven: A Hidden Gem for a Day Trip
A mere half-hour train ride from Brussels, Leuven is a hidden treasure often overlooked by tourists. With a bustling student population and the oldest university in Flanders, the city exudes youthful energy. The market square lies at its heart, surrounded by exceptional dining options, street-side pubs, and charming cafes. Take a leisurely stroll through the vibrant streets, where history seamlessly blends with contemporary life.
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Tournai: Tranquility on the Border
Nestled near the French border, Tournai is a quaint and peaceful town, offering respite from the bustle of larger Belgian cities. With over 2,000 years of rich cultural history, Tournai boasts a magnificent cathedral constructed in the 12th and 13th centuries, displaying impressive Romanesque architecture. Climb the town Belfry to enjoy breathtaking views of Tournai from above.
Mechelen: Grandeur Amidst History
Once the capital of the Netherlands, Mechelen preserves its historic grandeur despite the passage of time. The city’s central square captivates with its dominating Cathedral, which overlooks the picturesque facades and serene cafes below. Canals wind through the city, adding to its charm, while a blend of old churches and post-war architecture creates a unique atmosphere. Enjoy shopping and dining in Mechelen’s lively streets.
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Ardennes: Nature’s Playground
For those seeking outdoor adventures, the rugged hills of the Ardennes are a must-visit. Dense forests, majestic cliffs, and mysterious caves create a picturesque backdrop for activities like hiking, biking, and camping. The region is home to diverse wildlife, including wild boar, deer, and lynx. Don’t miss the impressive caves of Han-sur-Lesse, the medieval castle of Bouillon, and the modern Labyrinth of Barvaux.
Antwerp: A Dynamic Fusion of Past and Present
Antwerp is a city with many facets, offering a perfect blend of history and contemporary life. Although heavily bombed during World War II, its historic center still exudes charm. Wander through its streets, savoring the delicious food, exquisite beer, and vibrant atmosphere. Be sure to visit the Diamond District, renowned for its global diamond trade, and admire the breathtaking architecture of the central train station.
Ghent: Unveiling Belgium’s Hidden Gem
Often overshadowed by other Belgian cities, Ghent is a city steeped in history and captivating stories. Once a powerful and prosperous medieval city, its architectural wonders, including churches and houses of wealthy traders, stand as testaments to its grand past. Stroll along the scenic old harbor, visit the majestic medieval castle, and immerse yourself in the city’s thriving atmosphere.
Brussels: The Vibrant Capital City
As the capital city of Belgium and a hub for European institutions, Brussels offers a diverse range of attractions. Begin your sightseeing journey at the Grand Place, a UNESCO World Heritage site, where stunning Gothic architecture and lively cafes await. Brussels, often considered the capital of the European Union, embodies a unique blend of history and modernity.
Bruges: A Fairytale Destination
Known as the “Venice of the North,” Bruges is a city straight out of a fairytale. Its medieval streets, cobbled lanes, and idyllic canals exude a dreamlike charm. Although it can become crowded with tourists, visiting midweek allows for a more tranquil experience. Explore the atmospheric bars and hidden cafes, savoring the delightful ambiance while indulging in Belgium’s renowned beers.
Belgium, with its rich history, architectural wonders, and captivating natural landscapes, invites visitors to embark on a remarkable journey. Whether you’re seeking medieval charm, cultural immersion, or outdoor adventures, Belgium offers a diverse range of destinations to satisfy every traveler’s wanderlust. Prepare to be enchanted by this European gem, where time slows down, chocolates melt in your mouth, and unforgettable memories await at every turn.