Exploring the Best of Belgium: 10 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions Belgium is a small country nestled in the heart of Western Europe. It is famous for its chocolates, beer, waffles, and fries, but it has so much more to offer than just food. Belgium is dotted with picturesque towns, stunning architecture, and rich cultural heritage, making it a must-visit destination for tourists from all over the world. Whether you’re an art lover, a history buff, or just someone looking for a romantic getaway, Belgium has something to offer everyone. In this post, we’ll be exploring 10 top-rated tourist attractions in Belgium that are simply unmissable. From the stunning Grand Place in Brussels to the historic city of Bruges to the famous Atomium, read on to discover the best of Belgium. 10 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Belgium
Nestled in the heart of Europe, Belgium is a charming and vibrant country that often goes unnoticed among its more famous neighbors. Despite its small size, Belgium is bursting with a rich history, picturesque landscapes, and a unique cultural heritage that sets it apart from the rest.
As you explore this hidden gem, you’ll be captivated by its medieval cities, stunning architecture, mouthwatering cuisine, and warm-hearted people. From the cobblestone streets of Bruges to the modern cosmopolitan city of Brussels, Belgium offers a diverse range of experiences that cater to all types of travelers.
One of the highlights of Belgium is its incredible architecture. The country is home to magnificent cathedrals, grand palaces, and beautifully preserved medieval towns. Take a stroll through the UNESCO World Heritage-listed city center of Bruges, where you’ll be transported back in time with its charming canals, gabled houses, and impressive medieval buildings.
Belgium is also renowned for its culinary delights. Indulge in the country’s famous chocolate, waffles, and beer as you wander through the bustling streets lined with quaint cafes and gourmet restaurants. The Belgians take great pride in their gastronomy, and every bite is a testament to their passion and dedication to creating unforgettable flavors.
Beyond its cities, Belgium’s natural beauty is equally enchanting. Explore the Ardennes region, a picturesque landscape of rolling hills, dense forests, and picturesque valleys. The region offers countless hiking and biking trails, allowing you to immerse yourself in nature and discover hidden gems along the way.
As you delve deeper into Belgium’s treasures, you’ll uncover its fascinating history, from its role as a battleground during World War I to its significant contributions to art, fashion, and architecture. Visit the historic Battlefields of Ypres, where you can pay tribute to the fallen soldiers and gain a deeper understanding of Belgium’s wartime past.
2. Grand Place, Brussels
The Grand Place in Brussels is undoubtedly one of the most stunning tourist attractions in Belgium. This iconic square, steeped in history and architectural marvels, has earned its place as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As you step foot onto the cobblestone streets of the Grand Place, you’ll be transported back in time to the 17th century when the square was bustling with activity.
The architectural splendor of the buildings that surround the square is truly breathtaking. From the intricately designed facades adorned with gilded statues to the ornate guildhalls, each structure tells a story of Belgium’s rich cultural heritage. The Grand Place is also known for its stunning Town Hall, a magnificent Gothic masterpiece that stands tall and proud, dominating the square.
Visiting the Grand Place is like stepping into a postcard-worthy scene. The square comes alive with vibrant colors during the biennial Flower Carpet event, where thousands of begonias are meticulously arranged to create a mesmerizing floral tapestry. This event attracts visitors from all over the world who come to witness this ephemeral masterpiece. 10 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Belgium
Aside from its architectural wonders, the Grand Place is also a hub of activity. The square is lined with charming cafes, restaurants, and shops, offering a variety of culinary delights and unique souvenirs. It’s the perfect place to indulge in some Belgian chocolate, savor a delicious waffle, or sip on a refreshing Belgian beer while taking in the picturesque surroundings.
Whether you’re a history enthusiast, an architecture lover, or simply seeking a vibrant and enchanting atmosphere, the Grand Place in Brussels is a must-visit destination. Its timeless beauty and cultural significance make it a true gem in the heart of Belgium.
3. The Atomium, Brussels
Nestled amidst the charming city of Brussels, the Atomium stands tall as an iconic symbol of modern architecture. This extraordinary structure, resembling a molecular composition, is a true testament to Belgium’s innovative spirit and creative prowess.
Designed by engineer André Waterkeyn and architects André and Jean Polak, the Atomium was originally constructed for the 1958 World Expo. Its unique, futuristic design quickly captured the imagination of visitors and locals alike, turning it into an enduring symbol of Brussels.
As you approach the Atomium, its imposing presence commands attention. Comprised of nine interconnected spheres, the structure stands at a towering height of 102 meters, offering panoramic views of the city below. Each sphere represents an iron atom magnified 165 billion times, creating a mesmerizing visual spectacle.
Venturing inside the Atomium is an immersive experience that combines art, history, and science. The various spheres house intriguing exhibitions, including the permanent exhibition dedicated to the Expo ’58, showcasing its historical significance and the innovative ideas it showcased.
One of the highlights of visiting the Atomium is the panoramic view from the top sphere. As you ascend in the futuristic escalators, the cityscape gradually unfolds before your eyes, revealing Brussels’ stunning landmarks, such as the Grand Place and the European Quarter. The breathtaking vista from the top is a photographer’s dream and a memory that will linger long after your visit.
Nestled in the picturesque northwest region of Belgium, Bruges stands as a true gem in the country’s tourism crown. Recognized as the “Venice of the North,” this enchanting medieval city boasts a network of canals, cobblestone streets, and stunning architecture that will transport you back in time.
As you wander through Bruges, it’s easy to see why it has garnered a reputation as one of Europe’s most romantic destinations. The canal-lined streets and meticulously preserved buildings exude an old-world charm that is simply irresistible. Admire the elegant facades of the historic buildings, adorned with colorful flowers and intricate details that add to the city’s fairytale-like atmosphere.
One of the most iconic landmarks in Bruges is the soaring Belfry Tower, which offers breathtaking panoramic views of the city from its summit. Climb the 366 steps to the top, and you will be rewarded with a mesmerizing vista of medieval rooftops, winding canals, and soaring church spires.
Bruges is also renowned for its rich artistic heritage, and art enthusiasts will be captivated by the city’s numerous museums and galleries. The Groeningemuseum is a must-visit, housing a remarkable collection of Flemish and Belgian masterpieces, including works by renowned artists such as Jan van Eyck and Hans Memling.
For a touch of tranquility, take a leisurely boat ride along the canals, allowing you to soak in the scenic beauty of Bruges from a unique perspective. As you glide through the waterways, you’ll pass under charming stone bridges and along narrow alleys, revealing hidden corners and picturesque vistas at every turn.
Don’t forget to indulge in some of Bruges’ culinary delights during your visit. The city is famous for its delectable chocolates, irresistible waffles, and refreshing Belgian beers. Treat your taste buds to a gastronomic adventure as you explore the city’s quaint cafes, chocolate shops, and traditional Belgian restaurants.
Ghent, a hidden gem nestled in the heart of Belgium, is a city that effortlessly blends history with a vibrant and energetic atmosphere. As you stroll through its cobblestone streets, you’ll be captivated by the awe-inspiring architecture that dates back centuries. Ghent is a city steeped in history, with its medieval buildings and iconic landmarks telling tales of a bygone era.
One of the city’s most notable attractions is the awe-inspiring Saint Bavo’s Cathedral, a true masterpiece of Gothic architecture. Its towering spires and intricate detailing make it a must-visit for history buffs and architecture enthusiasts alike. Inside, you’ll find the world-famous Ghent Altarpiece, a stunning panel painting that is considered one of the most important works of art in European history.
Ghent is also home to the impressive Gravensteen Castle, a medieval fortress that takes you back in time to the days of knights and feudal lords. With its imposing turrets and well-preserved interiors, a visit to Gravensteen Castle offers a glimpse into the rich history of the city.
But Ghent isn’t just about its historical landmarks; it also boasts a lively and vibrant atmosphere that is sure to captivate visitors. The city is renowned for its bustling markets, where locals and tourists alike gather to sample artisanal cheeses, freshly baked bread, and other delectable treats. The vibrant street art scene adds a modern twist to Ghent’s charm, with colorful murals adorning many of its buildings, providing a unique backdrop to your explorations.
As the sun sets, Ghent comes alive with a buzzing nightlife scene. From trendy bars serving up local craft beers to cozy cafes offering delicious Belgian chocolate, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. The vibrant energy of the city is infectious, drawing visitors in and making them feel instantly at home.
Ghent truly offers the best of both worlds – a glimpse into the past and a taste of the present. Its historic charm combined with its lively atmosphere make it a destination that should not be missed when exploring the wonders of Belgium. So, immerse yourself in the beauty of Ghent and create memories that will last a lifetime.
Antwerp, often referred to as the diamond capital of the world, is a city that seamlessly combines art, fashion, and history. Nestled along the Scheldt River, this vibrant Belgian city is known for its stunning architecture, vibrant cultural scene, and of course, its renowned diamond district.
One of the main highlights of Antwerp is its thriving art scene. The city boasts a rich artistic heritage, with famous painters like Peter Paul Rubens calling Antwerp home. Visitors can explore the historic Royal Museum of Fine Arts, which houses an extensive collection of paintings, sculptures, and drawings from various periods.
In addition to its artistic legacy, Antwerp is also a fashion-forward city. It is home to the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, a prestigious fashion school that has produced some of the world’s most influential designers. The city’s fashion district, known as the “Antwerp Six,” is a hub of creativity and innovation, showcasing cutting-edge designs and avant-garde fashion.
No visit to Antwerp would be complete without a stroll through the diamond district. The city has been a major diamond trading center for centuries, and its diamond expertise is world-renowned. Visitors can explore the dazzling diamond shops, where they can marvel at exquisite jewelry and even learn about the diamond cutting and polishing process.
Aside from its artistic and fashionable endeavors, Antwerp also offers a wealth of historical attractions. The Gothic-style Cathedral of Our Lady dominates the city’s skyline, with its impressive spire reaching towards the heavens. Inside, visitors can admire stunning stained glass windows and masterful artworks, including Rubens’ famous painting, “The Elevation of the Cross.”
7. The Ardennes
Tucked away in the southeastern part of Belgium lies a hidden gem that captivates nature lovers from around the world – the Ardennes. This picturesque region is a haven of natural beauty, boasting lush forests, rolling hills, and meandering rivers that paint a breathtaking landscape.
With its untouched wilderness and rugged charm, the Ardennes offers a welcome respite from the bustling cities and tourist hotspots. Nature enthusiasts can immerse themselves in the tranquility of this paradise, exploring its extensive network of hiking trails that meander through dense woodlands and lead to stunning viewpoints.
One of the highlights of the Ardennes is the famous Ardennes Forest, a sprawling expanse of greenery that stretches as far as the eye can see. The forest is a sanctuary for a diverse range of flora and fauna, providing a habitat for rare species such as the European wildcat and the black stork. Visitors can embark on guided nature walks or opt for a thrilling mountain biking adventure to truly experience the untamed beauty of this enchanted forest.
Another must-visit attraction in the Ardennes is the picturesque town of Durbuy, often referred to as the “smallest city in the world.” Nestled amidst the rolling hills, this medieval town exudes charm with its cobbled streets, quaint houses, and centuries-old architecture. Visitors can wander through the narrow alleyways, explore the charming shops and boutiques, and indulge in the region’s renowned gastronomy at one of the many traditional Belgian restaurants.
For those seeking a touch of history, the Ardennes is also home to the iconic Battle of the Bulge landmarks. History buffs can delve into the rich past of World War II as they visit sites like the Bastogne War Museum and the Mardasson Memorial, paying homage to the brave soldiers who fought in this significant battle.
Reliving the famous Battle of Waterloo is a must-do experience when visiting Belgium. Steeped in history, this iconic site takes you back to one of the most significant battles in European history. Located just south of Brussels, Waterloo offers visitors a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in the events that shaped the destiny of Europe.
As you step onto the battlefield, the atmosphere is heavy with the weight of history. The vast expanse of the site stretches before you, dotted with monuments, memorials, and preserved relics from the battle. It’s a humbling experience to walk the same grounds where Napoleon Bonaparte clashed with the forces of the Duke of Wellington and Prussian Field Marshal Blücher.
A visit to the Visitor Center is a great starting point. Here, you can delve into the comprehensive exhibits that provide a detailed account of the battle’s unfolding. Engaging multimedia presentations, interactive displays, and artifacts bring the story to life, offering an in-depth understanding of the strategies, tactics, and key figures involved.
For those seeking a more immersive experience, guided tours are available, led by knowledgeable historians who bring the events and stories of Waterloo vividly to life. They take you to significant landmarks like the Lion’s Mound, a monumental structure commemorating the battle, and the farmhouses that served as pivotal positions during the conflict.
One of the highlights of a visit to Waterloo is the reenactments that take place annually. During these lively spectacles, hundreds of participants don period costumes, reenacting the battle with cannons, cavalry charges, and infantry formations. It’s an awe-inspiring display that transports you back in time, allowing you to witness the intensity and chaos of the battlefield.
9. The Belgian Coast
The Belgian Coast is a hidden gem that offers visitors a delightful blend of sun, sand, and relaxation. Stretching over 42 miles, this picturesque coastline is dotted with charming seaside towns and pristine sandy beaches, making it a perfect destination for a coastal getaway.
One of the highlights of the Belgian Coast is the seaside resort town of Knokke-Heist. Known for its upscale atmosphere and beautiful sandy beaches, Knokke-Heist attracts both locals and tourists alike. Stroll along the vibrant promenade, lined with trendy boutiques, cozy cafes, and upscale restaurants. Take a dip in the refreshing North Sea or simply unwind on the soft sands, soaking up the sun’s rays.
For those seeking a more laid-back experience, the coastal town of De Haan is a must-visit. With its picturesque Belle Epoque architecture and tranquil beaches, De Haan exudes a nostalgic charm. Take a leisurely walk along the iconic Zeedijk, a scenic promenade that offers breathtaking views of the sea. Explore the town’s charming streets, lined with quaint cottages and beautiful gardens, or enjoy a relaxing picnic on the sandy beach.
Ostend, the largest coastal city in Belgium, is another popular destination along the Belgian Coast. Known as the “Queen of the Belgian Coast,” Ostend boasts a vibrant atmosphere and a wide range of attractions. Visit the impressive Fort Napoleon, a historic fortress turned museum, or explore the lively fish market, where you can sample fresh seafood delicacies. Don’t miss the iconic Ostend Pier, an iconic symbol of the city that stretches out into the sea, offering panoramic views and a myriad of entertainment options.
Whether you’re looking for a beach day filled with sunbathing and swimming or a leisurely stroll along the charming coastal towns, the Belgian Coast has something to offer for every traveler. Soak up the laid-back atmosphere, breathe in the salty sea breeze, and indulge in the ultimate relaxation on this picturesque stretch of coastline.
10. Discovering Belgian cuisine
Belgium is renowned for its delectable cuisine, making it a must-visit destination for food enthusiasts. When exploring the country, be sure to indulge in the tantalizing flavors of Belgian gastronomy, ranging from sweet treats to savory delights.
One of Belgium’s most iconic culinary creations is the Belgian waffle. These fluffy delights are typically enjoyed with a variety of toppings, such as fresh fruits, whipped cream, or decadent Belgian chocolate sauce. Whether you opt for the Liege-style waffle with its caramelized sugar or the Brussels-style waffle with its light and airy texture, each bite is a true delight for the taste buds.
Another culinary gem of Belgium is their world-famous beer. With over 1,000 different varieties, Belgian beer is revered for its craftsmanship and diverse flavors. From refreshing wheat beers to rich and complex Trappist ales, there is a beer to suit every palate. Don’t forget to visit local breweries and beer bars to savor the authentic Belgian beer experience.
Belgium is also known for its mouthwatering chocolates, which are a true indulgence for chocolate aficionados. The country boasts a long-standing tradition of chocolate-making, and you’ll find an abundance of artisanal chocolatiers offering an array of pralines, truffles, and chocolate bars. Treat yourself to a chocolate tasting tour or visit a chocolate museum to learn more about the origins and artistry behind Belgian chocolate.
For those craving savory delights, Belgian cuisine offers a range of dishes to satisfy every appetite. Indulge in the national dish, moules-frites (mussels and fries), where plump, steamed mussels are served with a side of crispy golden fries. Sample hearty stews like waterzooi or carbonade flamande, which showcase the rich flavors of Belgium’s culinary heritage.
To truly immerse yourself in Belgian gastronomy, consider joining a food tour or cooking class. These experiences provide a deeper understanding of the local ingredients, cooking techniques, and cultural significance of Belgian cuisine. From traditional brasseries to Michelin-starred restaurants, Belgium offers a diverse culinary landscape that will undoubtedly leave you craving for more.
In conclusion, exploring Belgian cuisine is an essential part of any visit to this enchanting country. From the heavenly waffles to the vast array of beers, chocolates, and savory dishes, Belgium is a food lover’s paradise. So, be sure to come with an empty stomach and an adventurous spirit as you embark on a gastronomic journey through the best of Belgian cuisine.
Belgium, with its rich history, vibrant culture, and stunning architecture, should definitely be on your travel bucket list. From the charming cobblestone streets of Bruges to the bustling city life of Brussels, this small country has something to offer every traveler.
One of the main reasons why Belgium should be on your list is its incredible architecture. The medieval town of Bruges, often referred to as the “Venice of the North,” boasts picturesque canals, well-preserved medieval buildings, and charming squares. The Grand Place in Brussels, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is another architectural masterpiece with its stunning guildhalls and ornate facades.
Moreover, Belgium is a paradise for art lovers. The country is home to renowned art museums such as the Royal Museums of Fine Arts in Brussels, where you can admire masterpieces by Flemish painters like Rubens and Bruegel. The Museum of Fine Arts in Ghent is also a must-visit, housing an impressive collection of works by Van Eyck and Bosch.
Food enthusiasts will also fall in love with Belgium’s culinary delights. Indulge in mouth-watering Belgian chocolates, crispy waffles, and a wide variety of delicious beers. Don’t forget to try the famous Belgian fries served with an array of flavorful dipping sauces.
For history buffs, Belgium offers a glimpse into its past through its numerous historical sites. The Battlefields of Ypres, where some of the most significant battles of World War I took place, are a poignant reminder of the country’s wartime history. The medieval fortress of Gravensteen in Ghent and the impressive Waterloo Battlefield are also worth exploring.
Finally, Belgium’s central location makes it a perfect base for further European exploration. With its excellent train connections, you can easily hop on a train and visit neighboring countries like France, the Netherlands, or Germany.
In conclusion, Belgium is a treasure trove of attractions and experiences that should not be missed. From its captivating architecture to its delectable cuisine, this small country has it all. So, add Belgium to your travel bucket list and get ready to embark on a memorable adventure that will leave you wanting more. 10 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Belgium