-The Best Places to Visit in Belgium, Europe-
If you’re looking for the best places to visit in Belgium, you’re in the right place! Belgium is the little country wedged between its better-known neighbours, France, the Netherlands and Germany and has always been a little under the radar for us. But who knew there would be so many gorgeous places to visit in such a small country? Read our guide to the best places to visit in Belgium below to discover the towns and cities that make Belgium such a wonderful place to visit.
Belgium is famous for tons of things you might not realise – frites (fries, which aren’t French!), chocolate, beer, Tintin, Lotus biscuits, the waffle, the home of the European Union, battlefields, the word ‘spa’, pralines and the saxophone, to list a few, and according to the internet, Belgium is also famous for Manneken Pis, but we’ll explain more about that later.
Belgium is home to a few places on the UNESCO World Heritage List, which we mention below. So, if history is your thing, especially World War history, Belgium is an excellent option for a travel destination. But no matter what your taste, we’re confident you’ll find a bit of something in this beautiful country to suit your needs. So, without further ado, let’s look at the best places to visit in Belgium, and if it wasn’t on your list of places to visit, it should be!
The Best Places to Visit In Belgium
1 | Ghent
We’ll never know how we had never visited Ghent before or why it wasn’t even on our radar. Hands down, Ghent is the best place to visit in Belgium; there’s no doubt about that. It’s full of things to do, things to see, medieval architecture, and canals and has a great modern twist with its street art scene. Although Ghent doesn’t have UNESCO World Heritage status, the old centre is a work of art. Head to Het Belfort van Gent and walk from there. You can explore seemingly endless little streets, all full of character. Ghent is a remarkable place you can’t miss if you’re visiting Belgium.
While you’re there, take a boat trip to uncover Ghent’s past. They run from Grasbrug bridge, take 40 minutes and are around 10 Euros.
Top Things to Do in Ghent
- Take a canal boat tour
- Visit Gravensteen Castle
- Visit Saint Bavo’s Cathedral
- Climb Ghent Belfy
- Walk down Graffiti Street
2 | Brussels
If you’ve heard of Belgium, you’ve likely heard of Brussels. It’s the capital city of Belgium and one of the most famous cities in the country. It’s home to NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) and regarded as the home of the EU (European Union). It is also one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world. Brussels has a relatively small yet rich city centre with plenty of things to do, including Manneken Pis.
Remember we mentioned him at the start? Well, he’s one of Brussels’ most famous attractions in Brussels, and he’s a small, urinating boy statue. Ha! He has his own set of clothes, and the myths surrounding him are fantastic. If you take a free walking tour, you can learn all about the myths, plus you’ll discover loads of other interesting facts about Belgium and Brussels, including its little-known but shocking colonial past! Our guide was Tristan, who was friendly, funny, and informative and gave some great recommendations for frites, beer and chocolate – what more could you want?!
While you’re there, take a walking tour to discover the highlights of the city and the relatively unknown dark modern history of Belgium.
Top Things to Do in Brussels
- Head on a walking tour
- Eat frites at
- Drink beer at Delerium Cafe
- Find Manneken Pis
- Admire the town square
3 | Bruges
Bruges is one of the most famous places in Belgium. Traditionally, Bruges was known for lace making, but that’s been proceeded by the world of social media. These days it’s better known for its picturesque centre and canals, and if you’ve ever seen the film ‘In Bruges’, you’ll be familiar with the city’s landscape and undoubtedly, its belfry. You can spend hours aimlessly walking the streets and take the opportunity to get on the canals for a boat tour while you’re there. Bruges is the perfect place for a weekend break – there are loads of things to do, all within walking distance of the centre.
While you’re there, head to the De Halve Maan brewery for a tour.
Top Things to Do in Bruges
- Visit Bruges Markt
- Explore the canals by boat tour
- Climb the belfry tower
- Take a brewery tour at De Halve Maan brewery
- Visit the Basilica of the Holy Blood
4 | Ypres
You may be familiar with Ypres if you’re a history buff. Ypres is surrounded by the battlefields of the First World War and has a strong connection to this bloody past. You’ll find war memorials and cemeteries dotted around the city, plus the In Flanders Fields Museum. Despite being largely destroyed in the war, Ypres has been beautifully restored, so even if World War history isn’t your thing, Ypres is worth a visit.
While you’re there, watch the Last Post Ceremony. It takes place at the Menin Gate at 8 pm every night and is free to attend.
Top Things to Do in Ypres
- Witness the Last Post ceremony
- Visit In Flanders Museum
- Visit the Commonwealth War Graves
- Walk the city walls
5 | Mechelen
Mechelen is the first place on our list that we’d never heard of. It’s a small city located about 20 minutes by train from Brussels and Antwerp. It’s home to one of Belgium’s best cathedrals, Saint Rumbold’s Cathedral, and has an impressive and vibrant town square. The cathedral is free to enter, but you must pay to climb the tower. And if you’re in Mechelen towards the end of August, you might stumble upon the Maanrock Festival – a free music festival hosted in the square that brings even more vibrancy to this small city.
Other highlights of Mechelen are the Kazerne Dossin Memorial and the Gouden Carolus brewery, which has been brewing in the city for more than half a century.
Top Things to Do in Mechelen
- Visit Saint Rumbold’s Cathedral & tower
- Visit Kazerne Dossin Memorial
- Take a brewery tour at Gouden Carolus brewery
6 | Leuven
Of all the places to visit in Belgium with beautiful town halls, Leuven tops the list with the grandest of them all – the 15th-century gothic building is a remarkable sight. Aside from the strength of the architecture, Leuven is a powerhouse when it comes to beer and is the reigning brewing capital of Belgium. This is because it’s home to the headquarters of Inbev, the world’s second-largest brewery. You may know them for Stella Artois and, as we discovered, Leffe! And best of all, you can visit the brewery!
Leuven is also known for the sheer volume of pubs in Old Market Square. It’s considered the longest bar in Europe because there are 45 pubs! 45! And if you’re after a coffee stop in Leuven, we recommend visiting Noir for a delicious brew.
Top Things to Do in Leuven
- Visit the Stella Artois brewery
- Admire Leuven Town Hall
- Visit one of the 45 bars in Old Market Square
- Visit Museum M for the best view over the city
- Explore Groot Begijnhof, a tiny UNESCO site
7 | Dinant
Dinant is a beautiful town that sits along the Meuse River. It’s famous for a few things – it’s waterfront, barbican, Leffe beer, and it’s the home of the saxophone, which Adolphe Sax invented. You can even visit his house, which is now a small museum.
If you’re visiting Dinant by road, try to visit Walzin Castle. It’s a castle perched on the Lesse River and is a beautiful sight and a great place to enjoy a picnic by the river in peaceful surroundings. If you’re a beer lover, while in Dinant, hop over to the other side of the river and head up the hill to visit Abbaye de Leffe for great beer, a museum and a beer garden with a view over the town.
Top Things to Do in Dinant
- Visit Abbaye de Leffe
- Admire the iconic Collégiale Notre-Dame de Dinant
- Visit La Citadelle de Dinant
- Explore the caves at Grotte la Merveilleuse
- Visit Walzin Castle
8 | Antwerp
By area, Antwerp is the largest city in Belgium and is full of things to do. It’s home to the Diamond Square Mile, where you will find more diamonds than anywhere else in the world. It’s also the place where the diamond hallmark originated. You’ll also find the Cathedral of Our Lady on the UNESCO World Heritage List and one of the world’s most remarkable train stations, Antwerpen-Centraal. You won’t be short of things to do in this vibrant city, that’s for sure! Antwerp is a large city compared to some of the others on this list of the best places to visit in Belgium, so be prepared for a walk between the old and new parts.
Top Things to Do in Antwerp
- Visit Antwerpen-Centraal train station
- Visit Het Steen and the visitor centre
- Visit Antwerp City Hall
- Admire Cathedral of Our Lady Antwerp
- Visit the Diamond District
9 | Tournai
Tournai is located in western Belgium, just a few kilometres from the French border. Tournai is one of the oldest cities in Belgium and is best known for a couple of things -it’s home to what is considered the oldest belfry in the country and the five-spire Romanesque- and Gothic-style cathedral, Notre Dame de Tournai, both of which are on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Tournai also has a beautiful town square lined by cafes and restaurants for you to soak up a little bit of the city’s atmosphere before moving on. Tournai isn’t huge, so plan a morning or afternoon visit.
Top Things to Do in Tournai
- Climb the belfry
- Visit Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Tournai
- Enjoy coffee in the town square
- Visit the Natural History Museum and Vivarium
10 | Kortrijk
Kortrijk is a little gem in the Flanders region of Belgium. It’s a small place to visit in Belgium. Still, it has a few notable places to visit, including the Broal Towers, which straddle the Leie River, and the quaint Begijnhof Kortrijk (Beguinage of Courtrai, in English), which dates back to the 1200s and the Belfry of Kortrijk, which is also on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Kortrijk is also a popular shopping destination and is the first city in Flanders to have a pedestrianised shopping street. It’s also home to the ‘K’ shopping mall, which is one of the largest in Belgium. Because of this, Kortrijk remains one of the best places for shopping in the country. Kortrijk is another of the small places to visit in Belgium, so you don’t need to dedicate too much time to see the city – pop in for a coffee and a wander and then move on.
Top Things to Do in Kortrijk
- Stroll around Begijnhof Kortrijk
- Walk the bridge between the Broel Towers
- Visit Kortrijk 1302 multimedia museum
- Go shopping
- Head to the Texture Museum
11 | Mons
Located about an hour south of Brussels, Mons is located in the Wallonia region of Belgium and is most famous for Grand-Place, the beautiful town square, but there is more to Mons than the town square – head to Saint Waltrude Collegiate Church, which is way bigger inside than it appears outside! It’s a church and not a cathedral, but you’d be forgiven for mistaking it to be a cathedral because it’s massive, plus it’s home to a rather grand carriage that’s used for processions through the city.
There’s also a gorgeous park on top of the hill, right by the belfry, where you can head for some peace. To get there, head up Rue Cronque – a quaint and cute street next to Grand-Place.
Top Things to Do in Mons
- Visit Saint Waltrude Collegiate Church
- Enjoy the peace in Parc du Château
- Climb the belfry
- Admire the Grand-Place, the town square
- Walk up Rue Cronque, a short, but cute street
12 | Namur
Another city in the Wallonia region of Belgium is Namur. Strategically located where two rivers meet, the Meuse and Sambre, the city is full of little streets to wander, vintage shops and cute cafes. You will quickly get lost in the city for a few hours, and don’t forget to take a wander up to the citadel. Once upon a time, it was one of the mightiest fortresses in Europe and now offers unbeatable views over the city; plus, it has over 400 metres of underground tunnels to explore!
Top Things to Do in Namur
- Climb up the citadel
- Ride the cable car
- Visit Saint-Loup church
13 | Durbuy Vieille Ville
Durbuy is the smallest city in Belgium and claims to be the smallest city in the world, although this isn’t confirmed. Please don’t make the mistake we did and head to Durbuy on Google Maps! You’re looking for Durbuy Vieille Ville, or Durbuy Old Town, just a few kilometres from Durbuy (check out our map below for the exact location).
Durbuy is nestled in a picturesque wooded valley and is the perfect place for a short stop. It’s not very big and won’t take long to get around, but it’s worth the visit. Be aware; it’s pretty expensive. A standard coffee was almost 2 Euros more than the average we paid around Belgium. While you’re there, jump on the tourist train and head to the Belvédère de Durbuy. It’s the best place to see the Durbuy from.
Top Things to Do in Durbuy Vieille Ville
- Admire Château des Comtes d’Ursel
- Visit Topiary Park
- Head up Belvédère de Durbuy
14 | Spa
The word ‘spa’ derives from a town named Spa, in the Ardennes region of eastern Belgium, and it’s famous for – you guessed it – spas! Spa is a small town, so you don’t need to dedicate too long to see it. A morning or afternoon will suffice.
Although it’s known for its mineral-rich thermal waters, you won’t find many places to submerge yourself in them these days. Your best bet is to head to Thermes de Spa for a relaxing afternoon. Thermes de Spa sits atop a hill overlooking Spa and is accessible via road (it has a paid car park) or a funicular railway from the town. Thermes de Spa costs 25 Euros for 3 hours, and inside you’ll find a poolside cafe, jacuzzi, sauna and steam room to enjoy. Spa is also known for Spa water, where you can take a self-guided tour of the factory.
Top Things to Do in Spa
- Thermes de Spa
- Ride the funicular
- Visit the Spa water factory
15 | Liège
Liege is last on our list, not because it’s not worth visiting, but because it’s not as good as the rest of the places in Belgium. Ha! Liège has tons of character, but it doesn’t have the charm of the other places on our list. Despite the lack of charm, some things draw you to Liège and make it worth the visit – it’s the home of the Belgian waffle and has an imposing hill to climb!
So, if you’ve ever had a Belgian waffle, its origins stem from Liège with its brioche dough and pearl sugar. So, if you’re looking for your fill of waffles, look no further than Une Gaufrette Saperlipopette, where you’ll find the best waffle in Liège (plus, they give you tasters in the queue if you’re lucky!).
Once you’ve had your fill of waffles, head to Montagne de Bueren, where you can climb the 374 steps to get an incredible view of the city. There’s also a cool train station worth looking at but be prepared for a walk – about 20 minutes from Liège centre.
Top Things to Do in Liège
- Eat a Belgian waffle
- Climb Montagne de Bueren
- Admire the modern Liège-Guillemins train station
Places to Visit in Belgium Map
How to get to Belgium from UK
There are a few options to get to Belgium from the UK listed below.
There are several options to travel to Belgium by road from the UK. You can take your own vehicle and travel via the Euro Tunnel, from Folkstone to Calais. If the Euro Tunnel isn’t your thing, you can take the ferry from Dover to Calais to Dover to Dunkirk. We recommend the Dover to Dunkirk route, sailing with DFDS.
Dove r to Dunkirk is a better alternative to Calais because the price is as good, but you get flexibility up to four hours each way of your sailing time included with the price. The downside is the sailing takes about 30 minutes longer, but you gain most of that back because Dunkirk is closer to Belgium than Calais, especially if you’re heading to northern Belgium.
If you don’t fancy driving to Belgium, you can take the Eurostar from London St. Pancras International. Brussels is only 2 hours from St. Pancras International by Eurostar. If you want to visit any other Belgian town or city accessible via train, you can get to any Belgian station included in the ticket.
Your Eurostar ticket is valid on any local train in Belgium for 24 hours from when your Eurostar arrives in Brussels and 24 hours before your Eurostar departs Brussels on your return journey. This ticket validity excludes Brussels Airport routes and Thalys trains. So, you could have a stopover in Brussels before moving on to another part of Belgium. What a bargain!
How many days in Belgium is enough?
Although Belgium isn’t a big country, there is still a lot to see. A week is a good length of time if you only want to visit the really popular spots. If you want to visit more places and don’t want to skim over them, allow 10 days.
What is the prettiest town in Belgium?
It’s suggested Dinant is the prettiest place in Belgium but we don’t think this is the case. It’s a bit of a one trick pony when it comes to views. Bruges and Ghent outperform Dinant for eye candy, pretty streets and architecture.
The Best Places to Visit in Belgium
- Durbuy Vieille Ville
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