Belgium Travel Guide: What You Need to Know Before You Visit

Belgium Travel Guide: What You Need to Know Before You Visit

Here are things your need to know before you visit the charming country of Belgium.

belgium travel guideImage credit: Juan Rubiano

Belgium is the unassuming country squeezed between France, Germany and the Netherlands in Western Europe. Its fourth neighbour is Luxembourg. Although often overlooked, Belgium tends to charm people that do visit the country in a such way that turns them into lifelong fans.

Travelling around Belgium is all about soaking up the atmosphere and sampling world-class food. This little country—it’s only slightly bigger than 30,000 square kilometres—plays a big role in the theater of politics, cuisine and history.

Also read: A Dozen Reasons to Visit Belgium

There are, for example, literally thousands of sites that commemorate some kind of battle or war, be it the Battle of Waterloo or the First or Second World Wars. Additionally, Belgian frites are a level up from the ordinary ‘French’ fries that are sold all over the world. And the country is home to more breweries per capita than any other nation in the world. Add to that some absolutely stunning medieval cities and you have yourself a gem of a destination.

Traveling to and around Belgium

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Belgium is the crossroads of Western Europe—trains, buses and planes from all over the continent connect in Brussels, the capital city. Many major European capitals, including London, Paris and Amsterdam, lie only a few hours away by high-speed train, making it extremely convenient to get to Belgium. Belgium’s international airport receives flights from all over the world, while the ports make it possible to get there by boat as well.

Also read: 15 Cities in Belgium That Are Truly Worth Visiting

Once you’re in Belgium, getting around won’t cause any trouble at all. The network of trains and buses is impressively extensive and it’s possible to get to pretty much every decently sized town by public transportation. Renting a car is convenient if you would like more freedom, but is not necessary whatsoever.

Language, people and money

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Belgium is a founding member of the European Union and a member of NATO. It is known for its political and administrative role—the EU headquarters and NATO headquarters are both in Brussels. This may make it seem like a rather stiff and formal country, but the opposite is true. Belgians are jovial people, always up for a party and some good food. They’re down to earth and humble.

Just like its neighbouring countries, Belgium uses the euro, which makes it convenient to travel around this part of Europe.

In terms of language, things are a bit complicated as there are three official languages. The northern half of the country, known as Flanders, is home to about 6.5 million Flemish-(Dutch-) speaking people, while the southern half, Wallonia, is where approximately 4.5 million French-speaking people live. A small area in the east of the country is where German is spoken by a small minority—the area was acquired from Germany after the Second World War. The presence of three languages in such a small country is the reason that most Belgians speak more than one language. English is spoken by nearly all Belgians as well.

Best time to visit

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Belgium has a wet climate. Rainfall can occur all-year round, but spells of dry and sunny weather regular happen as well. The best times to visit Belgium are in the beginning of winter and in the summer months. In December, many historic cities are home to lively and atmospheric Christmas markets, while in summer, the countryside is green and the weather at its best.

Also read: 5 Must-Visit Destinations in Belgium

Things to do

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You won’t believe the amount of activities that you can do in Belgium anyway, so the following section will be limited to the major highlights and things to do!

  • Visit the Grand-Place in Brussels, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Sample less-known local dishes, such as vol-au-vent, Flemish stew, Gentse waterzooi and stoemp.
  • Eat the food Belgium is famous for: frites and mussels, chocolate and waffles
  • Visit the Battlefield of Waterloo
  • Wander around the historic city center of Bruges, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Go on a tour of Flanders Fields
  • Rent a bicycle and cycle along the coastline
  • Visit the college city of Leuven, home to the world’s largest brewery
  • Spend an evening in a brown café and try a few great Belgian beers
  • Shop for clothes and diamonds in Antwerp
  • Explore one of the country 3,000+ castles
  • Stroll through the stunning medieval city of Ghent
  • Hike in the vast Ardennes Forest
  • Party at one of Belgium’s many music festivals

I hope you find this guide useful. Share this to your friends who are visiting Belgium soon!

About Author

Bram Reusen

Bram is a freelance writer, translator and travel photographer. He was born and grew up in a small town in Belgium and currently lives in a small town in Vermont, USA. He likes to try different travel styles and he has backpacked across Australia, cycled from Belgium to the North Cape and back, spent three months immersing himself in the Irish culture, hiked across England, climbed numerous mountains in New England, and visited many a handful of European cities. Besides writing and traveling, Bram spends his days reading, working out and trying to live a healthy life.


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