Belgium is a multi-lingual country located in the center of Western Europe. Home to a number of medieval towns such as Tournai and Kortrijk, Belgium is the perfect blend of modern meets traditional. Take your time exploring the capital Brussels, Antwerp and Ghent. Discover palaces, castles, cathedrals, abbeys and art museums but don’t neglect the chic cafes for your coffee fix. What do most visitors to Belgium remember the most? Belgium chocolate of course! Which is considered to be the world’s very best.
BELGIUM TOP 5 THINGS TO DO
Eat Belgian Chocolate
Belgium produces some of the best chocolate in the world, famous brands such as Guylian and Neuhaus can be found at the airport if you’re in a hurry so there will be plenty of opportunities to try some. However the best Belgian chocolate experience will be at the specialized chocolatier shops in Brussels. Almost every Belgian Village has shops where they make their own chocolates. Belgium produces about 220,000 tons of chocolate every year… so clearly people love it and it’s well worth trying!
Roam The Ruins of Gravensteen
This castle in Ghent dates back to the middle ages. Gravensteen is a Dutch word meaning ‘castle of the counts.’ In 1180, count Philip built the castle on the remains of another wooden castle. It was officially used by the counts of Flanders, but when they abandoned it, it was transformed into a prison, and then a courthouse and then finally left to decay. In the 20th century the castle was restored once again and re-opened for visitors.
Royal Museum Of Fine Arts, Belgium
The Royal Museum of Fine Arts of Belgium preserves the most important visual arts collection in Belgium. Explore this group of art museums in Brussels, Belgium. The Royal Museums contains over 20,000 drawings, sculptures and paintings, all dating back to the early 15th century to the present.
Bruges Canal Cruise
A visit to Bruges, which is often called the Venice of the North, isn’t complete without a boat trip on its canals. Jump onboard at any of the five landing stages for a 30 minute trip to discover secret gardens, picturesque bridges and beautiful views of the river “Reie”. Cruising through the city of Bruges on a canal boat is the best way to enjoy the scenic beauty.
Explore Mini Europe In Brussels
Mini Europe is a fun way to see the main monuments of 80 European cities in about two hours. At the foot of the Atomium in Brussels this miniature park features mini versions of the most famous monuments throughout the European Union. Nearly 350 structures are on display at a scale of 1:25. A guided tour will provide you with some fascinating facts about each monument.
Read more: Top 10 fun things to do in Belgium
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BELGIUM TOP 3 FESTIVALS
Carnival de Binche
This festival has been described as a ‘Masterpiece of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity’ by UNESCO. A three-day traditional extravaganza takes place where you are bombarded with oranges by thousands of masked Gilles parading the streets. The carnival is celebrated all across Belgium and has some weird and surprising local traditions in store for brave onlookers.
Zythos Beer Festival
Held in Leuven, the beer capital of Belgium, this is the by far the best Beer festival in the country. It takes place in April, and you can sample more than 500 varieties of beer using a 10cl glass. Keep this glass as a souvenir to remind yourself of why getting smashed in Belgium is never the best idea.
Battle of Waterloo
Every year in June, a re-enactment of the historic battle of Waterloo takes place in the same spot that is was fought. The battle took place between the British, led by the Duke of Wellington, and the French, led by Napoleon Bonaparte. It ended after 23 years and its 200th anniversary was celebrated in 2015.
Language: The official languages of Belgium are French, Dutch, and German. English is also widely spoken, especially in the tourism industry.
Visa: Visiting Belgium will usually require a valid passport and visa for anyone that is not from the European Union. Use these free online visa checker and calculator tools so you know if a visa for Belgium is required (which will depend on the country you are from) and if so, how long it will take to process your visa and the cost.
Electricity: In Belgium the standard voltage is 230 V and the frequency is 50 Hz. You can use your electric appliances in Belgium, if the standard voltage in your country is between 220 – 240 V (as is in the UK, Europe, Australia and most of Asia and Africa). Buy a Universal Travel Adapter so you don’t need to keep buying new adapters for each new country you visit.
Lonely Planet Belgium: Check price on Amazon
WHAT TO EAT IN BELGIUM
Some of the most delicious, traditional dishes that you must try when in Belgium are listed below. Don’t drool!
Although food is a big deal all over Belgium, the country has only recently gained recognition as a top gastronomic destination. The most recognized items from the Belgian cuisine are chocolates, waffles, and beer. But there is a lot more to the traditional Belgian cuisine than this.
Mussels: Mussels with fries is a traditional Belgian dish that is available at almost every café or restaurant in Brussels. Mussels are steamed in white wine inside big mussel pots. Shallots, parsley and butter are added before serving.
Meat balls: These are a favorite among Belgians and are usually a mixture of pork and beef. In Flanders, the balls are smothered in tomato sauce before serving. They are also butter fried and served with Belgian cherry sauce. You can have them sweet or savory depending upon your palette.
Flemish Stew: This is a typical Belgium dish made of beef cooked slowly in beer until it becomes super soft. To thicken the sauce, slices of bread are soaked in mustard, some onion, and then seasoned. The stew is rich and a little tart as it is cooked in beer.
Belgian Waffles: When you want something sweet to eat in Belgium, waffles should be your first choice. They are sweet, a little thicker than the regular waffles and super crispy. Belgian waffles are usually served with whipped cream, ice cream, chocolate sauce and some fruit.
Belgian Chocolate: The best chocolate in the world and the perfect souvenir.
WHERE TO STAY IN BELGIUM
Belgium is a reasonably affordable place to visit. Finding excellent accommodation in Belgium is super easy because there’s so many options whatever your budget.
Hostels and dormitories make travel to Belgium affordable for backpackers and any travelers on a shoe-string budget. Whether you’re a backpacker, flash-packer or a luxury vacationer, Belgium will not disappoint you. A basic hotel room in Belgium can cost less than 100 euros.
If you’re looking for accommodation that includes luxury amenities and comforts then there will be endless options to choose from in the big cities and popular tourist hotspots like Brussels, Antwerp or Ghent. Whatever month you choose to visit Belgium, it’s wise to book your accommodation in advance. Don’t wait until you arrive to see what’s available or you may be disappointed to find that all the best places to stay have been snapped up already. Belgium is an extremely popular year-round destination with business travelers and tourists alike.
Jetset Bunny recommends using Booking.com for the best accommodation deals in Belgium. However, if you are backpacking in Belgium or traveling on a tight budget then Hostel World is another great option. Staying in hostels makes travel in Belgium very affordable and is also a great way to meet new travel buddies where ever you go.
PLAN YOUR TRIP
The best time to visit Belgium is between April and October, this is if you want mild, reasonably warm or if you’re lucky hot weather. If you want to see Belgium with hot weather and blue skies then aim to visit between June and September, even during the Summer though, good weather can’t be guaranteed.
BELGIUM TRAVEL BUDGET
Belgium is generally an affordable destination for travelers on all budgets. The cost of your trip to Belgium really depends on the level of comfort you want. If you are backpacking and planning on staying in dormitories, hostels and eating fast food then budget between 50 to 100 euros per day. If you prefer to stay in 3-4 star hotel rooms and eat in mid-range restaurants you could spend anywhere between 100 to 200 euros per day. If you want to enjoy luxury 4-5 star accommodation and gourmet restaurants then budget at least 200 to 500+ euros per day.
IS BELGIUM SAFE FOR FEMALE TRAVELERS?
Safety does not need to be a huge concern for women travelers in Belgium which is considered a generally very safe country to visit. As with any country you visit, always be extra careful when walking alone or at night. Some parts of Belgium aren’t as safe as other areas so do your research before you go and avoid these places. Based on many years of travel in Europe I would never leave home without insurance and recommend checking out the travel insurance plan that World Nomads can offer you a few weeks before your Belgium trip.
BELGIUM VISA CHECKER
BELGIUM FLIGHT DEALS
BELGIUM TOURS & ACTIVITIES
BELGIUM PACKING TIPS
Packing for a trip to Belgium, like most other places in Europe, is a breeze. You really don’t need as much travel gear as you may think for a trip to Belgium.
That said, the gear you do bring on your trip should be the very best option available for you and that doesn’t always mean the most expensive. Jetset Bunnies around the globe are always discovering the latest and the greatest in travel gear for women and this is where we share our awesome finds with you.
If you’re visiting Belgium during the warmer months it will be much easier to travel light. Pack mainly lightweight and breathable clothing but still be prepared for cold mornings and evenings depending on the month you visit. You’ll need to wrap up warm between November and February. So pack a warm sweater, waterproof coat, gloves, scarves and a wooly hat if you’re traveling during winter.
Other essential items to pack for a trip to Belgium include, most importantly, a good quality travel backpack. Choose the brand carefully and make sure you find the right size backpack for your torso. Believe me, doing this will make all the difference and prevent major backache. Read our related blog post with advice on how to choose the best backpacks for women travelers. Smaller items to pack include a padlock, sleep sheet and a money belt to keep important documents close to you.
So if you’ve found your travel inspiration, figured out the practicalities and got the travel gear it’s time to stuff it all in a bag and go right? Well, no, hold your horses, you see there’s an art to packing which we have (almost) perfected. Hop to our Travel Packing Tips for all of the latest on this topic.