Belgium, the heart of Europe, is a country of rich history, stunning architecture, and mouthwatering cuisine. As a travelling family, Belgium was always high on our list of places to visit, and we were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to explore its three most famous cities: Brussels, Brugge, and Ghent. Each city had its own unique charm, and we were constantly in awe of the beauty that surrounded us. From the ornate buildings and cobblestone streets to the delectable waffles and chocolate, Belgium was truly a feast for the senses. In this travel guide, we’ll share our experiences and recommendations for anyone planning a trip to Belgium.
Table of Contents
- As a member of the Schengen area, EU citizens can travel to Belgium with their ID. Information for the necessary travel documents, depending on your nationality and destination can be found here.
- The current voltage in Belgium is 230V and the frequency is 50Hz. The plug type is Type E.
- Belgium’s official currency is the Euro (€). Stay up to date with currency exchange rate changes through XE Currency Converter.
- Belgium is part of the EU, which means that free roaming applies to Europeans. However, be aware of your data package limits. For non-EU citizens, it is recommended to check with your mobile provider for roaming charges. If you travel often you may get a ‘surfroam’ sim card, which is recommended for global internet at a low cost. For more info see here.
- Belgium is known for its beautiful architecture and medieval towns, some of which date back to the 13th century.
- The majority of the population in Belgium speaks Dutch (Flemish) or French, while German is also spoken in the eastern part of the country. English is widely spoken in tourist areas.
- Brussels is the capital city of Belgium and the European Union. Other major cities include Antwerp, Ghent, and Bruges.
- Driving is on the right side of the road in Belgium.
When it comes to choosing accommodation in Belgium, there are many options available to suit all types of travellers and budgets. As always, personal preferences play a crucial role in deciding where to stay, but we have compiled a list of platforms to help with your search. As a general tip, staying outside of the city centers can be more affordable and offer more local experiences. Here’s an overview of accommodation in Belgium.
Low budget: If you’re on a tight budget, hostels can be a great option with prices starting at around 20€ per night for a dormitory bed. You can find budget-friendly options in Brussels, Bruges and Ghent. However, keep in mind that shared facilities are common in this price range.
Low cost hostels in Belgium can be found here.
Mid budget: For mid-range accommodation, you can find comfortable rooms in a three-star hotel starting from 50€ per night in the city centers. Alternatively, you can opt for a private room or apartment through platforms such as Airbnb or Booking.com. Prices can vary depending on the location, amenities and season.
High budget: If you’re looking for luxury, Belgium has plenty of high-end options. You can stay in a four-star hotel in the city center with prices starting from around 100€ per night, including breakfast and other amenities. For those seeking the ultimate in luxury, you can book a five-star hotel with prices starting at 200€ per night. These hotels offer top-of-the-line services and facilities, such as spa treatments, gourmet restaurants and breathtaking views.
As always, prices vary depending on the time of year, so it’s worth checking out different options and booking in advance.
Best hotel deals can be found here.
Traditional Food in Belgium
Belgium is a country with a rich culinary tradition, and there are many dishes and specialties that you should try when visiting. Here are some of the most popular dishes that you can find in Belgium:
Moules-frites: Mussels with fries is a classic dish that you can find in almost every restaurant in Belgium. The mussels are cooked in a variety of sauces, such as white wine and cream, and are served with crispy, golden fries. It is a must-try dish for seafood lovers.
Belgian waffles: Are famous all over the world and for good reason. They are light and crispy on the outside, and soft and fluffy on the inside. They can be served with a variety of toppings, such as whipped cream, chocolate, or fruit.
Stoemp: A traditional Belgian dish that consists of mashed potatoes mixed with vegetables, such as carrots, leeks, or cabbage. It is often served with sausages or bacon.
Waterzooi: A creamy soup made with fish or chicken, vegetables and cream. It is a comforting dish that is perfect for a chilly day.
Flemish beef stew: This hearty stew is made with beef, beer and onions. It is slow-cooked to tender perfection and is often served with fries or mashed potatoes.
Speculoos: A type of spiced biscuit that is popular in Belgium. They are often served with coffee or tea, and can also be used in desserts, such as cheesecake or ice cream.
Chocolate: Belgium is famous for its chocolate, and there are many chocolate shops and factories throughout the country. Whether you prefer milk, dark, or white chocolate, you are sure to find something to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Beer: Belgium is also known for its beer, with over 1,500 different types available. From fruity lambics to rich, dark Trappist beers, there is a beer for every taste.
Belgium has an extensive and well-developed transportation network, with options ranging from trains, buses, trams, and metro systems.
Train: Belgium’s train system is efficient and reliable, connecting major cities and towns throughout the country. The national rail service is run by the company SNCB, with high-speed trains connecting the larger cities such as Brussels, Antwerp, and Ghent. Tickets can be purchased online, at the train station, or through the SNCB app.
Bus: Buses in Belgium are operated by a number of different companies, with each region having its own public transportation authority. De Lijn is the largest provider in Flanders, TEC in Wallonia, and STIB/MIVB in Brussels. Single tickets can be purchased on the bus or at ticket machines, while multiple trip passes are also available.
Tram and Metro: Brussels has an extensive tram and metro system, operated by STIB/MIVB. The metro has four lines and is a convenient way to travel throughout the city center, while the tram network connects the city center to surrounding neighborhoods and suburbs.
Taxi: Taxis in Belgium are widely available, with stands located in most cities and towns. They can be hailed on the street or booked through a taxi company. The price is determined by the meter, with additional charges for luggage, night rides, and airport pickups.
Car: Renting a car in Belgium is a convenient way to explore the country, especially outside of the major cities. However, traffic can be heavy and parking can be expensive, so it is recommended to plan ahead and book parking in advance.
Bike: Belgium is a very bike-friendly country, with many cities and towns having dedicated bike lanes and paths. Bikes can be rented through various companies, including Blue Bike and Villo, and are a great way to explore the city and surrounding countryside.
Best things to do in Belgium
The capital of Belgium is known for its historic architecture, museums, and delicious cuisine. Some of the must-see attractions in Brussels include the Grand Place, the Atomium, the Royal Palace, and the Manneken Pis statue. To learn more about Brussels read our ultimate guide here.
This picturesque city is often called the “Venice of the North” because of its many canals. Visitors can take a boat tour, stroll through the historic city center, and sample some of the famous Belgian chocolate. To learn more about Bruges read our article here.
This historic city is home to many medieval buildings and charming canals. Don’t miss the Gravensteen Castle, St. Bavo’s Cathedral, and the famous Ghent Altarpiece. To learn more about Ghent read our article here.
Try Belgian beer
Belgian beer is world-renowned for its quality and diversity, with a wide range of flavors and styles to choose from. There are over 1,500 different types of beer brewed in Belgium, each with its unique taste, aroma, and brewing method. Some of the most popular Belgian beers include Trappist beers, Lambic beers, Abbey beers, and Dubbel beers, to name just a few.
If you’re a beer lover, then sampling some of the famous Belgian beers should be at the top of your to-do list when visiting Belgium. There are many beer bars, breweries, and beer festivals to explore throughout the country. Some of the most famous breweries to visit include the Westvleteren Brewery, the Achouffe Brewery, and the Duvel Moortgat Brewery. You can also visit traditional beer cafes in cities like Brussels, Ghent, and Bruges to enjoy a refreshing Belgian beer in a charming and historic setting.
Beer festivals are also a great way to try a variety of Belgian beers and learn more about the brewing process. Some of the most popular beer festivals in Belgium include the Brussels Beer Weekend, the Leuven Beer Festival, and the Zythos Beer Festival. These festivals bring together beer enthusiasts from all over the world to enjoy a wide selection of beers and participate in fun activities like beer tastings, brewery tours, and live music performances.
Sample Belgian chocolate
Belgian chocolate is famous around the world for its high quality and unique taste. When in Belgium, trying their chocolate is a must-do activity. There are many chocolate shops in Belgium, ranging from small family-owned businesses to large and well-known brands. Some of the most popular brands include Godiva, Leonidas, and Neuhaus, but there are also many other great options.
When selecting Belgian chocolate, it is important to keep in mind that there are different types of chocolate with varying percentages of cocoa content. Milk chocolate, which is the most common type, has a lower percentage of cocoa and is sweeter than dark chocolate, which has a higher percentage of cocoa and is less sweet. White chocolate, on the other hand, does not contain cocoa solids but is made from cocoa butter.
One of the best places to try Belgian chocolate is in Brussels, where you can find many chocolate shops and even a Chocolate Museum. The museum offers guided tours that explain the history of chocolate-making in Belgium and provides tastings of various chocolates.
Another great place to try Belgian chocolate is in Bruges, which is often referred to as the “chocolate capital” of Belgium. In Bruges, you can find a variety of chocolate shops and even take a chocolate-making workshop to learn how to make your own chocolate. No matter where you try Belgian chocolate, make sure to savor it slowly to fully appreciate its rich and complex flavors.
Visit the Ardennes
The Ardennes region is a beautiful natural area located in the southeast of Belgium, and it’s definitely worth a visit if you’re looking for a peaceful and scenic escape from the bustling cities. The region is known for its dense forests, rolling hills, and picturesque rivers, and there are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy, such as hiking, biking, kayaking, and fishing. You can also visit charming little towns and villages, such as Durbuy, which is often called the “smallest city in the world”, or La Roche-en-Ardenne, which is home to a beautiful medieval castle. The Ardennes is also known for its local cuisine, such as wild game, artisanal cheeses, and delicious beers. It’s a great destination for nature lovers and those looking for a slower pace of life.
Visit the Battlefields of Flanders
Visiting the Battlefields of Flanders is a must-do for history buffs and those interested in World War I. This area in western Belgium was the site of some of the deadliest battles of the Great War. You can explore the many war memorials, museums, and cemeteries that honor the soldiers who fought and died here. Some of the most notable sites include the Ypres Salient, Passchendaele, and the Menin Gate Memorial. You can take a guided tour to get the most out of your visit or explore the area on your own. Regardless of how you choose to do it, a visit to the Battlefields of Flanders is a moving and memorable experience.
Try Belgian waffles
Belgian waffles are a must-try when visiting Belgium. These delicious treats are known for their light and crispy texture, which comes from the use of yeast in the batter. Belgian waffles are typically served with whipped cream, strawberries, and chocolate sauce, but you can also find them with other toppings such as bananas, caramel, or ice cream. They can be enjoyed as a breakfast, a dessert, or a snack throughout the day. The most famous place to try Belgian waffles is in Brussels, where they are sold by street vendors, cafes, and restaurants. However, you can find them all over the country, and each region has its own variations and toppings. Don’t miss the chance to indulge in this Belgian delicacy while you’re there!
Attend a festival
Belgium is known for its vibrant festival culture, with events taking place throughout the year. One of the most famous festivals is the Carnival of Binche, which is held in the town of Binche in the Walloon region of Belgium. This three-day event, which usually takes place in February, is a celebration of the end of winter and the beginning of spring. The highlight of the festival is the Gilles, who wear elaborate costumes and masks and throw oranges to the crowd.
Another popular festival is the Gentse Feesten (Ghent Festival), which takes place in the city of Ghent in July. This ten-day event is the largest cultural festival in Belgium and features music, theater, street performers, and food and drink stalls.
For beer lovers, there’s the Belgian Beer Weekend, which is held in Brussels in September. This three-day event is a celebration of Belgian beer and features over 400 different types of beer from more than 50 Belgian breweries.
Other notable festivals include the Brussels Jazz Festival in January, the Tomorrowland electronic dance music festival in July, and the Dour Festival, which is known for its alternative music and takes place in July.
Antwerp is a bustling city located in the Flemish region of Belgium. It is a popular destination for tourists due to its rich history, beautiful architecture, and vibrant cultural scene. The city is famous for its diamond industry, which has been a major player in the global diamond trade for centuries. Visitors can visit the Antwerp Diamond District, which is home to numerous diamond traders and cutters. Antwerp is also known for its stunning Gothic architecture, with notable buildings including the Cathedral of Our Lady and the Antwerp City Hall.
The city is also home to numerous museums, including the Rubenshuis, which showcases the work of famous Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens. Additionally, Antwerp is renowned for its fashion scene, with many Belgian designers based in the city. Visitors can explore the many boutiques and shops in the fashion district, as well as attend events like the Antwerp Fashion Festival. Finally, Antwerp is a great place to sample traditional Belgian cuisine, with many local restaurants and cafes serving up classic dishes like moules-frites and carbonade flamande.
Packing Tips & When to go to Belgium
When traveling to Belgium, it’s important to be prepared for the weather and the various activities you may encounter. Since Belgium has a temperate climate, it’s advisable to bring comfortable clothes suitable for the weather conditions. In the summer, temperatures can reach up to 25-30°C (77-86°F) so light, breathable cotton clothes are recommended. In the winter, temperatures can drop to around 0-5°C (32-41°F), so warm clothing is necessary.
It’s also important to protect yourself from the sun, so bringing sunglasses and a hat is a must. Additionally, it’s advisable to bring sunscreen or SPF oil to prevent sunburns, especially if you plan on spending a lot of time outdoors.
When it comes to mosquitoes, it’s best to be prepared and bring mosquito protection if you plan on staying close to bodies of water or going on outdoor excursions. Comfortable shoes are also recommended, especially for walking tours or hiking in the Ardennes.
Belgium uses the Type C and Type E plug sockets, so bringing a plug adapter is recommended for travelers who don’t have European plugs. It’s also advisable to bring a traveling adapter that can work with various plug types.
The best time to visit Belgium is typically from May to September when temperatures are warmer and the weather is generally more pleasant. However, the shoulder seasons of March to May and September to November can also be a great time to visit with fewer crowds and more affordable prices. During the winter months of December to February, temperatures can drop to around -1 to 5°C (30-41°F), but the festive holiday season can be a wonderful time to experience Belgium’s Christmas markets and winter activities.
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Useful Sites & Apps
In the last few years we have been travelling we have singled out some applications, which we use before every trip or during it. We have chosen them over others for their validity, ease of use and variety in the options they have to offer. We describe below in detail what these are together with their characteristics.
Booking.com is a popular online booking platform for accommodations worldwide. With a vast selection of hotels, apartments, villas, and more, Booking.com offers travellers the convenience of finding and booking their ideal stay in just a few clicks. The site’s user-friendly interface and extensive filtering options make it easy to narrow down search results based on specific preferences such as price, location, amenities, and more. As a result, Booking.com has become a go-to destination for travellers looking for hassle-free booking options. With competitive pricing and a loyalty program that rewards repeat bookings, Booking.com is a top choice for travellers seeking great deals and a seamless booking experience. Find available rooms here.
One of the best, most trustworthy, and most convenient 5-star airport taxi companies for your airport transfer based on user reviews across various platforms such as Google, Tripadvisor, and Trustpilot. Welcome Pickups offers a great experience and safety to its travelers. Local English-speaking drivers, flat, pre-paid fee, flight monitoring for delays, 24/7 Customer support + free cancellation. Check your options here.
With over one million properties all around the world, and always increasing, ideal for a low budget stay even in expensive areas. Furthermore, because you stay in people’s villas, houses or flats you are made to feel more at home by the host of each destination and the homely surroundings.
Hotels.com is a leading provider of hotel accommodation worldwide, offering booking services through its own network of localised websites. Once you reach 10 nights, you’ll have a free night which you can apply at checkout. You can earn multiple free nights by continuing to book with Hotels.com, though. The platform gives travellers one of the widest selections of accommodation on the net, including both independent and major chain hotels as well as self-catering in over hundreds of thousands properties worldwide. The company offers a one-stop shopping source for hotel pricing, amenities and availability. Find the best deals here.
Tripadvisor helps hundreds of millions of people each month become better travellers, from planning to booking to taking a trip. Travellers across the globe use the Tripadvisor site and app to discover where to stay, what to do and where to eat based on guidance from those who have been there before. With more than 1 billion reviews and opinions of nearly 8 million businesses, travellers turn to Tripadvisor to find deals on accommodations, book experiences, reserve tables at delicious restaurants and discover great places nearby. Find available offers and book your accommodation here.
Omio is a leading travel platform that helps you easily plan and book your trips. With a comprehensive network of trains, buses, and flights across Europe and beyond, Omio allows you to compare and choose the best travel options for your needs. Whether you’re looking for a quick day trip or an extended vacation, Omio’s user-friendly interface and competitive prices make it easy to create unforgettable travel experiences. Check available routes here.
Skyscanner is a leading global travel search engine, helping millions of travellers find the best flights, hotels and car rentals. With a user-friendly interface and powerful search technology, Skyscanner makes it easy to compare prices and options across hundreds of travel providers, giving you the best deals for your trip. From budget to luxury, domestic to international, Skyscanner has everything you need to plan your next adventure. So whether you’re travelling for business or leisure, start your journey with Skyscanner and discover the world like never before. Available flights and prices can be found here.
GetYourGuide is an online marketplace for booking travel activities and experiences. With a wide variety of tours, activities, and attractions available in destinations around the world, GetYourGuide makes it easy to find and book unique experiences for your next trip. From city sightseeing tours and food and wine tastings to outdoor adventures and cultural experiences, GetYourGuide has something for every type of traveller. With a user-friendly website and mobile app, and a commitment to customer satisfaction, GetYourGuide is a top choice for travellers seeking memorable and authentic experiences. Book your activities here.
DiscoverCars.com offers a hassle-free car rental booking experience, with a wide range of rental car options available worldwide. Whether you’re travelling for business or pleasure, DiscoverCars.com offers competitive rates, 24/7 customer support, and flexible cancellation policies. With no hidden fees and a user-friendly interface, booking your rental car has never been easier. Choose from a variety of car rental options, including economy, luxury, and family-friendly vehicles, and enjoy the freedom of the open road on your next adventure. Book with DiscoverCars.com today and start exploring the world on your own terms!
Here you will find last-minute discounts on vacancies from hotels. This is an amazingly simple app and it doesn’t take long to book a room. You may search in each town for sights and maps. Furthermore, you can check the reviews and photos of other travellers in order to be sure about the reliability of each hotel. It also has a 24/7 customer service. If you’re stuck somewhere and you need a room desperately, this is the perfect app for you.
City Maps 2Go
Maps for travelling, hiking, mountain cycling and many other activities. A necessary app for every adventure, activity or touring abroad. You may only download one map per country, whereas it was possible to download two in the past. For an additional map you need to pay. Alternatively, as soon as you have looked at the information on a map you can delete it and then download a new one.
You can mark all the places of interest on the map you have downloaded. Whether they are sights, shops, or restaurants you can use the directions guide to get there. The great advantage to this app is that you don’t need to have internet connection although it might get stuck a few times. Nevertheless, it is quite a reliable and useful app.
EXTRA TIP: When you mark most points of interest before your trip, you can see approximately in which area you will need to book a room. To be as close as possible to all points of interest.
iVisa.com is an online platform that helps travellers obtain electronic visas, eVisas, and other travel documents quickly and easily. With an extensive database of travel requirements for over 200 countries and a user-friendly application process, iVisa.com makes it simple for travellers to apply for and obtain the necessary documents for their trips. Whether you’re planning a vacation, business trip, or other travel experience, iVisa.com can help you navigate the complexities of travel documentation with ease. More information for the necessary travel documents, depending on your nationality and destination can be found here.
Designed for digital nomads, remote workers and frequent travellers. Unlike other international travel insurance, it has global coverage for a monthly fee. The company offers some different insurance packages like nomad insurance, remote health etc. Find which package suits you best here.