Belgian travel conjures up visions of medieval rooftops, charming canals, delectable beer, and much more delectable chocolates. However, there is much to see in this fascinating European country, where time appears to slow down and the inhabitants are pleasant and inviting to visitors. The best places to visit in Belgium provide something for everyone to enjoy on a holiday, from sophisticated cities with trendy shops and elegant galleries to cobblestone alleyways with museums and native indulgences.
Mons, the seat of the Hainaut province, is most renowned for the magical and unexpected ringing of the town’s beautiful Belfry bells, which ring from the town’s 80 meters (270 foot) tower. Visitors may easily navigate the city landmarks, which are a rich variety of architectural styles, thanks to the city’s winding lanes. The Gothic-style Mons Town Hall is striking, and the Collegiate Church of Sainte-Waudru houses a large collection of Jacques Du Broeucq alabaster statues from the 16th century. A visit to the Van Gogh House is unavoidable if you want to witness incredible replicas of this master’s work.
This city is located in the Namur province, 65 kilometers (40 miles) south of the capital city, along the sparkling Meuse River. The Han Caves and the Dinant Grotto are two of the natural wonders that draw visitors here. These caves are among Europe’s largest and most magnificent, and they’re nestled within a Wildlife Reserve rich in natural flora and fauna. However, despite being largely rebuilt following a huge landslide, the city’s landmark, The Collegiate Church of Notre Dame, remains impressive, as does the repaired Citadel that overlooks the city. The majority of Dinant’s sanctuaries require appointments, however, the Sanctuary of Beauraing is open every day.
Leuven, which is home to the world’s oldest Catholic university, has a population of over 100,000 people, with almost 35,000 of them being students who keep the city alive when courses are in session. Two seemingly endless streets are lined with attractive stores and galleries, while the city’s historical quarter includes landmarks such as St. Peter’s Church’s Belfry and the Grand Beguinage. The Grote Market in Leuven is bustling with activity, with attractions such as the City Hall near to excellent dining options and street-side taverns and cafes. Because of its position, this city is an excellent substitute for Brussels as a vacationer’s main center for exploring the rest of the country.
The tiny and picturesque village of Tournai, which is bordered by France, is a good place to get away from the rush and bustle of larger Belgian cities. This city has a rich cultural heritage dating back over 2000 years, and it is home to the five-towered Gothic and Romanesque Notre Dame Cathedral, widely regarded as one of the most beautiful churches in the world. The cathedral, which was built in the 12th and 13th centuries, houses the Shrine of Our Lady as well as works by Rubens and Jordaens. The town Belfry is the country’s oldest, with 257 stairs leading to some of Tournai’s most spectacular vistas.
Mechelen is a dynamic town that does not attract the same level of tourists as many other Belgian cities. It is, however, one of the best places to visit in Belgium. There’s plenty to see and do in this Flanders region, from brewery tours to river boat cruises. The finest way to gain a panoramic perspective of the Antwerp Port and this wonderful city is to climb to the top of the huge tower of St. Rombout Cathedral. The exquisite Carillion School, where students travel from all over the world to learn how to play this intricate instrument of bells, is a must-see. The Museum of Fine Arts is overflowing with masterpieces by prehistoric and modern painters, from Campin and Rubens to Roger Van der Weyden and Van Gogh.
The rough Ardennes hills, with their tight forests, caves, and cliffs, are ideal for hiking, riding, and camping in Belgium. They are home to wild boar, deer, and lynx, as well as a variety of friendly communities, castles, and other noteworthy landmarks. Some of the greatest choices include the spectacular caves of Han-sur-Lesse, the castle of Bouillon, and the contemporary Labyrinth of Barvaux. Namur is a fantastic place to start exploring the Ardennes, and it has some beautiful sites of its own.
Antwerp is a multifaceted city. While it may not be as historically significant as Bruges or Ghent, it is a vibrant city with a wonderful blend of history and current life. This city is most well-known for the Diamond District, where more than 70% of the world’s raw diamonds are traded, and for those who enjoy wonderful food, wonderful beer, and good times. In Antwerp, art abounds, with Revenshuis honoring Peter Paul Ruebens’ baroque works and the Plantin Moretus Museum honoring printer and bookbinder Christoffel Plantin. The gothic Cathedral of Our Lady, built in 1351, and the beautiful mixture of baroque and Gothic architecture of Saint Paul’s Church are architectural masterpieces.