There are a lot of interesting places to see in Belgium. Trying their chocolate, their beer and their fries is very good. But the country has very interesting corners: from modern cities like Brussels to charming historic centers that will take you back to the medieval period. In this post we tell you 15 essential places to see in Belgium to inspire you when planning your trip.
Essential Places To See In Belgium
Bruges and its picturesque canals
Bruges is one of the most interesting cities to see in Belgium. Whether you have 2, 3 or 4 days in the country, you cannot leave without discovering this Belgian gem. Its old town, full of canals, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In fact, together with other cities such as Amsterdam, Hamburg and Saint Petersburg, it is called the Venice of the North. You can easily visit Bruges in one day. Although if you have the opportunity to spend a night there you will not regret it. During the day it is very attractive, but when the sun goes down, the lights come on and the streets empty, it is magical. There is no other word to describe it. So it could not be missing from this list of 15 essential places to see in Belgium.
Ghent, one of the most attractive cities to see in Belgium
Located just 20 minutes by train from Bruges, Ghent is another of Belgium’s jewels. Although honestly, of the best known cities (Brussels, Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp) it was the one we liked the least. But you can’t miss it! However, if you don’t have too many days and need to discard one, we would skip Ghent. Although it is very easy to see Ghent in one day. Ghent has an enviable history. Its golden period was in the Middle Ages, when it became one of the most powerful cities in Europe. You can easily see that by looking at its buildings: with spectacular houses of merchants and churches. Although the historic center of Ghent has been restored, it is one of the most interesting places to see in Belgium. Strolling through its cobbled streets is like going back to the Middle Ages. Do not forget to visit the Gravensteen Castle, the most beautiful to see in Belgium!
Brussels and the Manneken Pis
Brussels is the capital of Belgium. It is home to the country’s main airport, so it is more than likely that you will pass through the Belgian capital at some point or another. Although it is not as charming as the cities mentioned above, we believe that it could not be missing from this list of essential places to see in Belgium. The Grand Place, which is a World Heritage Site, is one of the most beautiful squares in Europe. Guild buildings add a unique touch. In addition, the city is also home to the famous Manneken Pis or the Atomium, two of the most interesting monuments to see in Belgium. Also do not forget to visit the Royal Palace or the seat of the European Parliament. It is impossible for you to get bored in Brussels!
Lion Hill and the Waterloo Memorial
The Battle of Waterloo was one of the most important in the history of the European continent. He faced the French Empire against the English troops. It marked the end of the French Empire and forced Napoleon into exile on the island of Saint Helena, where he ended up dying 6 years later. It is estimated that in the fields of Waterloo some 200,000 people fought and there were almost 63,000 casualties. A real barbarity! Among other things you can climb the hill of the Lion. It is an artificial hill from where you can see perfectly the fields where the battle took place in 1815. You’ll also visit the 1815 Memorial, where you can watch a 3D movie about the battle to learn. Without a doubt, one of the most interesting monuments to see in Belgium. It is located about 30 kilometers south of Brussels and the entrance fee is €16.
Mechelen, a very interesting city to see in Belgium
Known as Mechelen in the local language, it has nothing to envy its neighbors. It is also much quieter than Bruges or Ghent! It is halfway between Brussels and Antwerp. So if you plan to visit one of the two cities, we recommend you get away for a day to get to know it. Mechelen’s main icon is St. Rumbold’s Cathedral. It dates from the 13th century and is spectacular. But right next door is St. Rumbold’s Tower. From above you can enjoy spectacular views of Mechelen and surroundings. It is one of the most underrated cities to see in Belgium, so don’t miss it!
Antwerp and the legacy of Rubens
After Bruges it is probably our favorite Belgian city. The Baroque painter Peter Paul Rubens made it known to the world thanks to his artistic legacy. And it was not a difficult task because the city is beautiful! There you can see the largest cathedral in Belgium until you fall in love with the Grote Markt, the replica of the Grand Place in Brussels (apart from the distance). The streets of Antwerp are very picturesque and walking around admiring the architecture is a pleasure. Of course, if you want to visit Antwerp to open a business, look for stores in any street except Meir. It is the most expensive in Belgium! Antwerp has a lot of glamor and is one of the most beautiful cities to see in Belgium.
Dinant, one of the most photogenic towns to see in Belgium
This small town in Wallonia is one of the most photogenic places to see in Belgium. It looks like something out of a fairy tale! It is located on the banks of the Meuse River and is surrounded by spectacular cliffs. However, its main attraction is its citadel, located on a rock. From the top you will have spectacular views of the town. But if you want the best views of the city, go to the other side of the river and get your camera ready. The spectacular church of Notre Dame and the rock are reflected in the Meuse river creating a unique scene. You can also visit the beautiful Dinant cave, one of the most interesting in Europe. Admission costs €9. Dinant is tiny but you won’t be bored!
The Han Caves, one of the most special places to see in Belgium
Near Dinant you can visit the spectacular caves of Han. They are the result of subterranean erosion of a limestone hill by the River Lesse. The interior is spectacular! And the visit is very interesting. They even play lights and acoustics! The cave can only be accessed by tram through a 1:45 hour guided tour that costs €21 per person. It is often overcrowded, but it is well worth visiting the cave! Please do not enter the Animal Reserve. They sell combined tickets, but we do not recommend your visit.
Leuven, the student city that conquers the whole world
The name probably sounds more like an Erasmus destination than a tourist destination. However, Leuven is ideal for both! It is home to the oldest university in Belgium and one of the best in the world. To give you a reference of its student environment, of the approximately 100,000 residents who live in Leuven, 35,000 are students! The most interesting thing about Leuven is its 15th century Town Hall. It is spectacular! It is located in the main square and it is worth taking a closer look at the statues of biblical characters, saints and local heroes on its spiers. It is just 30 minutes from Brussels. So apart from being one of the most recommended places to see in Belgium, it is a perfect getaway from the capital.
The Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Tournai, one of the most impressive buildings to see in Belgium
There are many reasons to get lost in the Walloon city of Tournai. And if you can’t find it, all you need to do is do some research on the spectacular Notre-Dame Cathedral. It is considered one of the most beautiful religious buildings in the world and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was built during the 12th and 13th centuries and is Romanesque and early Gothic in style. You can not stop climbing its bell tower to hallucinate with the views. Of course, previously you will have to climb 257 steps. But it’s worth it! Without a doubt, one of the best things to see in Belgium.
Durbuy, the smallest city to see in Belgium (and in the world)
The medieval town of Durbuy is a delight to explore. It’s known as the smallest city in Belgium, so it won’t take long to get around it. They even promote it as the smallest city in the world ! Though that’s hardly true. The city is especially attractive in autumn, when the reddish colors of the leaves mix with its architecture. The main icon of Durbuy is its castle. Although it cannot be visited inside as it is a private property, it is worth seeing it up close. Walk aimlessly through its streets and enjoy the magic of Durbuy. Especially the attractive Rue des Récollets, one of the most beautiful streets to see in Belgium.
The Last Post at the Menin Gate, one of the most impressive things to see in Belgium
In 1928, the Menin Gate was inaugurated in the city of Ypres. It is a war memorial to remember the victims of the Battles of Ypres during World War I. Since then, every night at 8:00 p.m., a moving ceremony takes place under the Menin Gate. The local fire brigade prepare the bugles and play the “Last Post” as a tribute to the fallen. You get goosebumps. It is simply moving to see how after so much time (almost a century) they continue to be honored in this way. Many locals come daily to pay tribute to those who fought in defense of their city. However, it is becoming easier to meet tourists who come to appreciate one of the most interesting things to see in Belgium. If you are interested in seeing the Last Post, we advise you to arrive at the gate about 40 minutes early because it fills up easily.
Located almost on the border with France, the medieval city of Kortrijk is one of the most interesting to see in Belgium. Its main attraction is the Broelbrug. This river bridge with its two towers was built in the 15th century and is the icon of Kortrijk. Also do not miss the gothic church of San Martín and the 16th century town hall, both located in the center of the city. Kortrijk has a rich cultural life and a privileged location, half an hour from Ghent and Lille.
La Roche-en-Ardenne, a charming city
Just over 70 kilometers from Liège, on the banks of the Ourthe river you can enjoy this charming city. Surrounded by beautiful forests and with its medieval castle as an icon, the atmosphere is worthy of a fairy tale. And the fact is that the Ardennes region cannot disappoint anyone. It is the lung of Belgium: forests, hills and a lot of history. La Roche-en-Ardenne is its most valuable jewel. If you are looking for a relaxed holiday and you like nature, it can be a good place to establish your base to fall in love with the Ardennes. Before ending our list of places to see in Belgium, we remind you of the importance of traveling with insurance. Any mishap can leave a bill of hundreds of euros. With travel insurance you will have medical coverage and you will be protected against loss of luggage, theft and many other incidents.
Mons, in the heart of Wallonia
And finally, to end this list of the 15 most beautiful places to see in Belgium, we did not want to forget about Mons. Apart from being famous for hosting the NATO headquarters, the city is beautiful. Walk through its cobbled streets and delight yourself with its architectural mix. Also do not miss the Grand Place and the Mons Town Hall, in Gothic style. A city that even Van Gogh himself could not resist. The Dutch genius lived in the city for a brief period of his life and left his mark. Today you can visit the house where he lived.