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Things to do in Belgium

Things to do in  Belgium

Welcome to Belgium

Multicultural Belgium—the political center of Europe—is a small-but-important country that entices visitors with its specialty beers, tantalizing chocolate, and myriad waffles, along with an equally rich history. Belgium's location, squished between Germany and France, give it an often-outsized historical importance, with World War I and II having left notable marks; day tours from the capital make stops at historic sites related to the well-known Battle of the Bulge and the Battle of Waterloo. Brussels itself boasts a warren of medieval architecture, the Houses of Parliament, and plenty of that renowned Belgian beer and chocolate that you won't want to leave without sampling. Head just an hour outside the capital, though, and big city life fades away in favor of the picturesque fields of Flanders, and secondary cities such as Antwerp and Bruges. Visitors can easily see one or both in a single day with the help of a guided tour. Antwerp's beautiful port and majestic town square open to reveal celebrated art by Rubens and the intense center of the diamond industry. Meanwhile, Bruges' quaint serenity creates a timeless fairy-tale scene where travelers can step back a few centuries via canal cruises or walking tours through the town.

Top 15 attractions in Belgium

Grand-Place (Grote Markt)

Arguably Europe’s most beautiful square, Brussels’ Grand Place—in the heart of the historic and hip city—is surrounded by nearly 40 baroque and gothic guildhalls and the stunning Brussels Town Hall. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the large cobblestone square, also known as Grote Markt, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Belgium.More

Manneken Pis

The Manneken Pis—sculptor Jerome Duquesnoy’s small bronze statue of a little boy urinating into a Brussels fountain—is one of Belgium’s most beloved landmarks. Built in 1619, the boy is hailed as the capital’s oldest resident and remains a favorite of both locals and tourists, with a host of myths and legends to his name.More


One of Brussels’ most iconic structures, the futuristic Atomium is a gargantuan structure designed to resemble an iron molecule magnified 165 billion times. It was created in 1958 for the Expo 58, and though it was originally slated for demolition, it was so popular with locals that it became a permanent feature of the city’s skyline.More

Brussels Royal Palace (Palais Royal de Bruxelles)

Dating back to the 18th century and fronted by the idyllic Parc de Bruxelles (Brussels Park), the Brussels Royal Palace (Palais Royal Bruxelles) might no longer be the official residence of Belgium’s royal family, but it remains one of the capital’s most magnificent landmarks and the site of various royal and state events.More

Cinquantenaire Park (Parc du Cinquantenaire)

Spanning around 74 acres (30 hectares), sprawling Cinquantenaire Park (Parc du Cinquantenaire) was named in honor of the 50th anniversary of Belgian independence, which was celebrated there with the 1880 National. Today, the park is home to three museums, along with the Great Mosque of Brussels and a triumphal arch dating to 1905.More

Church of Our Lady (Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk)

The brick spire of the Church of Our Lady is visible across the city. Home to several important artworks, including Michelangelo’s marble Madonna and Child, the restored interior of the church is a must-visit for fans of European architecture.More

Burg Square

Burg Square sits on the former site of a castle, which was originally built to protect the area from invading Vikings and Normans (and remained the seat of the Counts of Flanders for more than 500 years). The castle is now gone, but the charming public square that replaced it, the Burg, has been the heart of Bruges ever since.More

Minnewater (Lake of Love)

Surrounded by a park that’s long been known as a romantic place for a stroll, Minnewater—also known as the Lake of Love—is a great place for anyone looking for some quiet time in nature. Swans are a common site on the lake, and the traditional Belgian brick houses around it make the park particularly photogenic.More

Market Square (Markt)

The medieval-style Markt (Market Square) is the setting for Bruges’ most photogenic landmarks, including the belfry (Belfort) and the Provinciaal Hof. At its center stands a statue of Jan Breydel and Pieter de Coninck, who played leading roles in the Flemish resistance against the French in the 1302 Battle of the Golden Spurs.More

Historic Centre of Bruges (Historisch Centrum van Brugge)

Bruges often tops the list of Europe’s most picturesque cities, and its Historic Center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, abounds with photo opportunities. A warren of cobbled lanes and scenic canals opens out onto grand medieval squares framed by colorful old buildings and dramatic Gothic facades.More

Royal Galleries of Saint Hubert (Les Galeries St-Hubert)

Inaugurated in 1847, the Royal Galleries of Saint Hubert in Brussels form one of Europe’s most beautiful and oldest glass-roofed shopping arcades. Composed of three elegant, Florentine-inspired arcades, the galleries are lined with upscale shops and restaurants and draw around 6 million visitors each year.More

Belfry of Bruges (Belfort van Brugge)

Dominating the Bruges skyline at a height of 272 feet (83 meters, this striking Gothic belfry (known as the Belfort stands proud over Markt Square as one of the city’s most cherished landmarks. This 13th-century tower is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, drawing tourists with its historic galleries and panoramic views from the top.More

St. Bavo's Cathedral (Sint-Baafskathedraal)

Fronted by a Romanesque, baroque and Gothic facade, Ghent’s cavernous cathedral serves as a repository for a valuable collection of art treasures, including works by Rubens and Laurent Delvaux. Its showpiece attraction is the Van Eyck brothers’ world-renowned 24-panel altarpiece,The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb.More

Graslei and Korenlei

The medieval quays of Graslei and Korenlei face each other across the canalized River Leie and originally formed part of Tusschen Brugghen, the city’s thriving harbour. Their banks are lined with a rare architectural treat – the loveliest gabled guild houses and warehouses in Belgium, built between the 1200s and 1600s by rich merchants and guilds whose wealth came from trade. The streets are united by St Michael’s Bridge, from where their gabled delights can be seen at best advantage, and although considerable restoration work has taken place, these distinctive townhouses have maintained their allure.Graslei is lined by canal-side restaurants blessed with a graceful backdrop of gabled gild houses; the oldest is the Het Spijker (Stockpile House) at no. 10; other ornate façades once contained the guild houses of the stonemasons, the free boatmen and the grain measurers as well as the former customs house. Across the river from Graslei, Korenlei offers many surprises of its own, including imposing step-gabled, red-brick 16th-century houses. No. 9 is of particular interest for the gilded swans adorning the facade; in its time De Swaene has been both a brewery and a bordello. The pink-and-white Gildehuis van de Onvrije Schippers (Guild House of the Tied Boatmen) dates from 1739 and is a masterpiece of Flemish Baroque architecture.By day, tour boats leave from the quays of Graslei and Korenlei; after dark the district morphs into party central and restaurants, cafés and bars sprout along the quaysides.More

Princely Beguinage Ten Wijngaarde (Begijnhof)

Bruges’ Princely Beguinage Ten Wijngaarde is one of the most famous and best preserved of Belgium’s UNESCO-listed Beguinages. One of the town’s most-visited attractions, it offers a glimpse into the European Beguine movement of the Middle Ages.More
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Trip ideas

How to Spend 3 Days in Brussels

How to Spend 3 Days in Brussels

Top activities in Belgium

Luxembourg and Dinant Day Trip from Brussels
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Bruges Day Trip from Brussels

Bruges Day Trip from Brussels

Guided boat trip and walk

Guided boat trip and walk

Amsterdam Day Trip from Brussels With Cheese, Clogs and Windmills
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Private Historical Tour: The Highlights of Bruges
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Flanders Fields Remembrance Tour from Brussels with Lunch
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Top Destinations

Top Destinations

All about Belgium

When to visit

Belgium gets plenty of rain, but your best chances of dry weather are during its warm summer, particularly in July and August. However, this time of year is more crowded and accommodation rates can go up, particularly in popular areas such as Bruges, Ghent, and Brussels. September is a good alternative, when local children are back in school for the year.

Getting around

It’s easy to get around Belgium without renting a car—in fact, finding parking for your rental car may negate the convenience of having your own wheels. Belgium has an extensive train network connecting cities big and small, and train travel is both reliable and affordable. If you plan to travel a lot, you can buy 10-journey passes at railway stations or on the Belgian Railways’ SNCB app.

Traveler tips

Belgium is known for its waffles, but if you want the fluffy breakfast treats known as Belgian waffles in much of the English-speaking world, you’ll want to order them as Brussels waffles in Belgium. Liège waffles—Belgium’s other main waffle type—are characterized by ragged edges and a thicker, chewier dough. Both varieties are usually served up from waffle counters or windows and come wrapped in paper and dusted with powdered sugar, making them easy to eat on the go.

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People Also Ask

What is Belgium famous for?

Belgium is a European political center; its capital city Brussels is home to many EU institutions as well as the NATO headquarters. Belgium is also famous for its chocolate and French fries (which originated here, not in France), as well as a long tradition of Trappist beer brewing and lace making.

What should you not miss in Belgium?

Don’t miss out on visiting Brussels, Bruges, and Ghent. Brussels is home to many EU institutions and fantastic museums, while Bruges is celebrated for its beautiful medieval architecture. Ghent’s big draw is the Ghent Altarpiece tryptic, painted by Hubert and Jan van Eyck.

What is the most visited place in Belgium?

Brussels is the most visited place in Belgium, because of its role as the country’s capital and a major hub for international organizations, as well as its wide array of tourist attractions, from the landmark Atomium structure to the elegant guildhalls near the Grand-Place.

Is 3 days in Belgium enough?

Yes. With three days in Belgium, you’ll have enough time to get a feel for the country. Spend two days in Brussels taking in the major attractions and world-class museums, and then head out on a day trip to explore Bruges with its quaint canals and medieval architecture.

What activities is Belgium known for?

Belgium is known for a variety of tourist activities, from the canal cruises of Bruges to culinary adventures such as brewery-hopping and chocolate-making workshops. The country is also known for more somber activities; many visitors seek out its numerous World War II-related historic attractions scattered across the country.

What is the prettiest town in Belgium?

Most people would agree that Bruges is the prettiest town in Belgium. Its beautifully-preserved medieval city center is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here you’ll find beautiful old buildings and historic town squares, all interspersed by a series of canals.


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