An Insider’s Guide to Belgium: 5 Cities to Explore

Often ditched by travelers for its neighbors, France or The Netherlands, Belgium is a country full of cultural delights. Home to the tastiest waffles, chocolate and beer around, pack your stretch pants and make your way to these Belgian cities. 

1. Brussels

Despite its reputation for being somewhat boring, Brussels is littered with UNESCO World Heritage sites.

If you find yourself in the unofficial EU capital, start by visiting The Grand Place. Surrounded by historic private and public buildings, check out the markets and cafes, or visit at night when the square lights up. Every second year in August, to coincide with Assumption Day, the square is covered by a Flower Carpet weaved out of begonias – which makes it a good time to plan your trip, if you're unsure when to go.

Birth place of The Smurfs, Tintin and many other comic book characters, you can’t miss a chance to spot them all in Brussel’s street art. Hunt them down while strolling to the Atomium building or the Royal Palace of Belgium. 

Feeling hungry? No trip to Belgium is complete without indulging in a chocolate tour. Sample your way around the city and satisfy your sweet tooth. 

The Flower Carpet at Brussels Grand Palace. Photo credit: iStock

2. Antwerp

Smaller than Brussels but seemingly larger in life, Antwerp has got a lot of character. The stylish city has earned the title of Belgium’s fashion capital – just take a stroll down the Meir to find out why. 

If you can, arrive by train to get an architecturally-striking welcome inside Antwerp Central Station. Dubbed Europe’s most romantic train station, this railroad cathedral is one of the city’s main landmarks. 

Antwerp Central Station, Belgium. Photo credit: iStock

Afterwards, make your way to Grote Markt in the heart of Antwerp. Pull up a chair in the main square and relax with a cold, cherry beer while sitting in the shadow of city hall, towering above you. Here, you’ll also find the impressive Christmas Markets and ice-skating rink during winter.

Cycling around the Grote Markt. Photo credit: iStock

3. Ghent

Ghent is largely skipped by tourists (for now), which makes it all the more worthwhile. The main train station, Gent-Sint-Pieters, is easily reached by all nearby European cities, and a short 30-minute ride away from Brussels Central Station – so there’s no excuses. 

Check out the Gravensteen Castle, surrounded by a moat and offering panoramic city views from the rooftop. Next, stroll to one of the most picturesque areas in the city, St Michael’s Bridge, and take a seat by the canal. 

Let your artistic side fly at the Werregarenstraat – also known as the Graffiti Alley. Showing off some truly artistic murals, visitors and locals are allowed to leave their mark on the city down this alley. So, pick up some spray paint and get creative at Ghent’s unofficial art scene.

For a different perspective of the city and a lesson in its history, hop on board a canal cruise, where your captain doubles as your guide. 

Locals and travelers chilling by the canal in Ghent. Photo credit: iStock

4. Bruges

It’s not hard to see why Bruges has become Belgium’s biggest draw-card for travelers. Take a stroll to see colorful houses that look like they’ve been ripped straight out of a children’s book. 

Make your way to Rozenhoedkaai Bridge to see the most photographed spot in Bruges, or head to Belfry Tower for sweeping views of the city. After, stroll along the colorful Market Square or take your pick of one of many street cafes. 

Brave the chilly temperatures and visit during winter (December–March) to experience some of the best Christmas Markets in Europe.

Historic Centre of Bruges. Photo credit: iStock

5. Boom

Located close to Antwerp, this Belgian town made the list for one reason – Tomorrowland festival. In case you weren’t aware, Tomorrowland is THE festival you need to add to your Euro-trip. 

Known as the largest electronic music festival in the world, every year top DJ’s pair with visual art producers to amaze your senses. But you better be quick, tickets are notoriously hard to get your hands on, and often sell out the day they go live. 

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