The land of chocolate and lace, this bilingual country is famous for its medieval towns, its cobblestoned streets and its frothy beer.
Belgium’s three regions, Wallonia, Flanders and Brussels, are packed with medieval and wartime history, art culture, historic castles and gardens. Visit monasteries with breweries where ancient recipes are still used to create some of the world’s best beers!
Start your Belgian adventure in the capital, Brussels, where the French-speaking Walloon and Dutch-speaking Flemish areas of the country meet. Spend summery days wandering through the Royal Palace of Brussels and gardens or picnicking in the huge Parc du Cinquantenaire in the heart of the museum district. Visit several of the more than 80 museums and art galleries in the city. Find a bargain art piece at Les Marolles or Place du Grand Sablon markets.
Antwerp, the capital of the Flanders region, has a superb collection of museums and grand churches. Its lanes are packed with unusual boutiques and beer bars where you can taste Flanders’ best brews. Be sure to visit the 16th-century cathedral to see paintings by Rubens or the ancient Hetsteen Castle, which houses the city’s Museum of Archaeology and Maritime History.
Also in Flanders you’ll find Bruges and Ghent, known for their incredibly well-preserved medieval architecture and history. Bruges itself is a UNESCO heritage-listed site and has more than 20 museums, many showcasing famous Flemish artists including Jan van Eyck. Explore the Bruges Béguinage, beautiful whitewashed buildings which house a museum regarding the Beguines, a religious order of women. Stop at the cities’ chocolate shops selling Belgian fries for dual taste sensations.
The number of castles in Belgium can be overwhelming, with everything from medieval castles to aristocratic chateaus of the 15th to 19th centuries. A few are inner-city castles, such as Gravensteen of Ghent; however, the fairytale castles of the Namur district and some of the abbey breweries are worth traveling farther afield. After exploring Maredsous Abbey, the Abbey of Sint Sixtus of Westvleteren, Scourmont Abbey and Orval Abbey, you can remember your favorite Belgian moments while enjoying an artisanal beer.