There is something about Belgium – be it its friendly natives, or the incredible architecture. Its old-world fascination is reflected in the well-preserved ancient buildings and its wonderful historical heritage. The country boasts of a world-renowned local cuisine not least because of its scrumptious, mouth-watering chocolates. Relaxed and energetic, Belgium is captivating, after having seen the country everyone is rather envious of the Belgian lifestyle.
Belgium is a tiny country, with a population that slightly exceeds 10 million people. Still, a great variety of things to do can be had in this country, cradled between Latin and Germanic Europe, making it a fascinating travel destination. Importantly, two major regions of Belgium differs linguistically and culturally – northern Flanders is Dutch-speaking (or more precisely – Flemish-speaking), similarly to neighbouring Netherlands, while southern Wallonia is Francophone, not including its bilingual capital – Brussels. The official languages are Dutch, French and German but English is also widely spoken in Belgium. Correspondingly, Belgium’s landscape and geography are highly differentiated. Stretching from the beautiful Ardennes hills in the south to the North Sea in the north, the country is heavily criss-crossed by a network of canals. One day you could take a cruise down a canal in Bruges and enjoy waffles on the beach in Ostende. The Northern plains of Belgium are covered with polders and marches.
Brussels, a good starting point to explore the whole country, is not only the capital of Belgium but also the capital of Europe. The heart of the city is the historic market square Grand Place (Grote Markt), considered to be one of the most exceptional city squares in Europe with its splendid houses and the Gothic grandeur of the Town Hall. Opposite the Town Hall there are another of historical treasures of Brussels: the fantastic neo-Gothic building filled with the many statues known as the Maison du Roi (Broodhuis in Dutch), which now houses the historical City Museum. Another Brussels’ curiosity, situated on the hills west of the centre, the tremendous Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Koekelberg is often referred to as the national Basilica of Belgium. Apart from sightseeing, Brussels offers many other attractions. Sablon, the centre of art galleries and antiques shops, is one of the most attractive areas in this town. Brussels owes its vibrant ambiance to Medieval boulevards and squares, cosy cafés, impressive historical sights, original restaurants and an buoyant cultural life, as well as a multicultural atmosphere linking Flemish and French influences with a pinch of cosmopolitan flavour.
Apart from its capital, Brussels boasts a number of towns rich in cultural heritage and tourist attractions. Antwerp, on the River Scheldt, is the second largest city in Belgium, the second largest European harbour and a place with so many different faces that it takes some time to explore it all. What’s more, it is a splendid city with endless architectural monuments, a large Medieval cathedral, and richly-decorated well-to-do houses. Antwerp alsoserves as the fashion capital where The Antwerp Six designers come from and houses Europe’s most important diamond trading centre. Many tourists flock to another splendid Belgian city – Bruges. Both cosmopolitan and cosy, Bruges enchants with its ancient streets, historical houses, romantic canals and bridges, contributing to its somewhat fairy-tale like atmosphere.
Apart from the main cities, we recommend a visit to the festival in Binche, the castle in Namur, the Castle of Bouillon or to set out an discover antiques at an outdoor market in Liege. Belgium is also home to the finest in European art. Pieter Brueghel, Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony van Dyck, Rene Magritte were all Belgians. To explore the fascinating artistic heritage of Belgium, visit one of numerous museums, a good place to start is the Fine Arts Museum in Antwerp.
A dense train network makes the navigation comfortable and simple for tourists in Belgium. Thanks to its small size, it is easy to travel around the country… and the countryside is well worth a trip or too. Apart from unusual architecture and gorgeous art, Belgium captures the imagination with its metropolitan and energetic atmosphere. Just think about all that excellent Belgian food, fancy chocolates and Stella Artois, and reserve your ticket to Belgium now!