Belgium holidays are filled with the finer things in life. This is a country with a rich heritage – and it shines through in everything from the architecture that lines its cobbled streets to the mouthwatering dishes that grace its menus.
Brussels encapsulates the best of the country. The capital features everything from the vim and vigour of the hip Marolles quarter to the quiet elegance of the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium.
Cuisine ranges from tasty street food – with its famous frites and moreish waffles – to Michelin-starred treasures and fusion restaurants in vibrant districts such as Ixelles.
Belgium is a compact country – which means the likes of Bruges, Antwerp and Ghent are within a day trip’s distance of Brussels, along with a swathe of stunning countryside.
Begin your adventure to Belgium today.
From amazing architecture to cultural gems and ancient forests, there’s plenty to discover during your Belgium holiday. Here are a few suggestions for things to see and do.
Your holiday to Belgium offers the chance to immerse yourself in centuries of European culture as you explore some of the continent’s most historic streets.
The Grand Place in Brussels is the city’s central square. The beating heart of the capital, it’s usually the first landmark visitors make a beeline for. With a story that can be traced back to the 11th century, the square is home to a number of elaborately decorated antique guildhalls.
Just over an hour away you’ll find photogenic Ghent which features a host of historic sites, including St Nicholas Church and Gravensteen Castle.
Carnivals and festivals hold a special place in the hearts of Belgians and are fizzing with folklore and tradition.
The carnival held in the city of Binche – about an hour south of Brussels – has been officially recognised by UNESCO as a cherished part of local life. Here spectators watch as hundreds of costumed figures, known as ‘Gilles’, parade through the streets.
Brussels is home to a whole host of festivals to pick from and Salon Du Chocolat is an unmissable annual event for anyone with a sweet tooth. There are exclusive experiences like tastings and chef demonstrations, and market stalls pop up all over the city, offering the finest chocolate treats.
It wouldn’t be a visit to Belgium without trying the frites, chocolate or waffles the country is famous for. The Grand Place in Brussels is a great spot to sample all three – and plenty more – thanks to its tempting selection of casual eateries.
Classic Belgian dishes include moules marinières – mussels in a creamy, garlicky sauce – and rich Flemish stew of tender beef and mushrooms. There are plenty of traditional and contemporary restaurants in the main cities, with Brussels home to an array of Michelin-starred gems.
Drive less than two hours from Brussels and you’ll be transported from its busy streets to the stunning valleys of the forested Ardennes to the east, while an hour north lie the UNESCO heritage sites of Lier.
Alternatively, explore the winding cobbled streets of medieval Leuven 40 minutes to the east. This friendly university town is where you’ll find the impressive 15th-century St. Pieterskerk church which boasts an incredible pulpit and Flemish artwork.
The Atomium is one of Brussels’ perennially popular sights, a product of the space age that was built for the World Expo held in the city in 1958. It was supposed to be temporary but has become a much-loved part of the skyline and is well worth visiting during your stay in the city.
While you’re in Brussels, also seek out the Berlaymont Building, headquarters of the European Commission. Reconstructed in the early 1980s, it’s a striking piece of modern design in the city’s European Quarter – where many key European Union buildings are based.
The aptly named Grand Place is the impressive architectural heart of the city. It’s a perfect place to base yourself if you’re taking a city break in Belgium and want to be close to the action, with bars, restaurants, shops and museums all within easy reach.
Radisson Blu Royal Hotel is a great option here – with its rooms every bit as impressive as its glass dome and art deco facade.
Take a short hop from Brussels city centre to the attractive neighbourhood of Sablon – or Zavel. Among the chocolatiers and confectioners, you’ll also find NH Collection Brussels Grand Sablon.
This hotel’s rooms are perfect for a luxury break and its handy location means you’ll be near Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, the Museum of Musical Instruments and the city’s popular Manneken Pis Statue.
Head north east of Brussels to find the peaceful neighbourhood of Evere, where there’s the chance to stay in the four-star Gresham Belson Hotel on Avenue des Anciens Combattants.
You’ll find spacious, well-equipped rooms to cater for a relaxing break as well as a great fitness centre. It’s still only a 10-minute drive from the European Union Parliament Building and the hotel also offers a free shuttle service to the airport.
The currency used in Belgium is the euro (EUR). Most places accept credit or debit cards and ATMs are easy to find in cities.
Trains are a good way of travelling between the major cities. Belgium also has a very good motorway network, with many visitors choosing to hire cars. Taxis and public transport can get you between attractions within cities.
The official languages spoken in Belgium are Dutch, French and German. Visitors will find that English is also widely used, especially in the big cities.
The public holidays in Belgium include Labour Day (1 May), Iris Day (8 May, only celebrated in the Brussels region) and Belgium National Day (21 July)
There’s more to this country than waffles and cones of frites – although you’ll find that these are both ubiquitous and delicious.
Look out for traditional delicacies such as stoemp – a creamy blend of mashed potatoes and various other vegetables – or waterzooi, a soup or stew made with cream, egg and chicken or fish. Mussels are almost as common as waffles and frites, but the most cutting-edge restaurants keep finding fresh ways to put a twist on this staple dish.
The country’s cities are also packed with wonderful chocolatiers, perfect if you have a sweet tooth or are shopping for gifts.
You’ll encounter influences from across Europe during your Belgium holiday. This is a country of diversity, with multicultural cities that have drawn inspiration from places far and wide.
With a rich architectural, literary and musical heritage, there are plenty of world-class museums and galleries here – such as the Royal Museum of Fine Arts of Belgium in Brussels and the Museum of Fine Arts in Ghent – displaying masterpieces by the likes of Michelangelo and Jan Van Eyck.
The country is divided into separate regions – including Flanders in the north and Wallonia in the south – and each has its own linguistic and cultural identity, making Belgium a particularly fascinating place to explore.
Belgium has an intriguing history. The country as we know it today was founded as late as 1830. Prior to that, it had spells under several different rulers, including the Carolingian Empire. It also became a hub for commerce and culture during the Middle Ages.
Belgium suffered greatly in the World Wars as a result of its strategically important position at the heart of Europe. More recently, the country has become a symbol of European unity as a political centre, playing host to many key European Union buildings.
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