Belgium Travel Guide

Top Tips for Visiting Belgium

Updated October 2023
Embarking on a Belgian adventure? This travel guide is for you! From interesting facts about the country to the most charming spots to visit, I've got you covered, and I'll help you discover great ways to see this enchanting country to maximize your time.

Before I visit a country, I love to get to know it a little bit such as interesting facts, history of the country. Check the weather for the time period I'm going to be in the country is a must as it helps me make sure that I am well-prepared for my trip and pack accordingly.

Plus, I think that exploring interesting facts about my destination adds an element of intrigue and anticipation to the whole travel experience, and provides the opportunity to learn something new.

What to do

Belgian waffles
In Belgium, you'll discover a delightful blend of historic charm, culinary delights, and vibrant culture. Start your journey in the capital city, Brussels!

You can fly directly into BRU Airport which is within walking distance of the Grand-Place where you can admire stunning architecture and indulge in exquisite Belgian chocolates all around the central square. When you see this square for the first time, it will absolutely take your breath away!

Make your way to Bruges, often dubbed the "Venice of the North," to wander along picturesque canals and visit the iconic Belfry Tower. Next, you'll want to visit Ghent which is a little place that offers a perfect mix of history and contemporary art, with its medieval castle and modern museums. Don't miss Antwerp, a fashion-forward city known for its diamond district and impressive church, the Cathedral of Our Lady.

Along the way, sample delicious Belgian waffles and crispy fries and explore museums showcasing iconic comic book characters. Whether you're a history buff, a foodie, or an art lover, I'm sure Belgium has something special for you, and I can't wait for you to explore it for yourself!

When to Go

The best time to visit Belgium largely depends on your specific goals and interests. What do you want to do? Are you looking to experience Belgium's rich cultural scene and explore historic sites?

If so, the spring and early summer months of April to June are ideal. During this time, the weather is pleasantly mild, and the country's iconic gardens, like the Keukenhof in Flanders, burst into vibrant bloom.
Cities like Brussels and Bruges are bustling with energy, and outdoor events and festivals are in full swing. Spring and summer offers longer daylight hours, allowing for extended exploration of architectural marvels, museums, and walking the charming cobblestone streets.

On the other hand, if your primary focus is experiencing Belgium's renowned culinary scene and indulging in its delectable offerings, autumn, particularly September to November, is a good choice. This season brings an abundance of fresh, local produce, resulting in mouthwatering dishes and an array of hearty stews.

If you want to relish in the magical ambiance of twinkling lights and festive markets, the winter season from late November to December is enchanting. The Christmas markets in cities like Brussels, Bruges, and Antwerp transform the streets into a winter wonderland, offering an array of handcrafted gifts, seasonal treats, and a warm, festive atmosphere. The crisp winter air provids the perfect setting to cozy up in a charming café with a cup of hot chocolate!

Where to Stay

When it comes to deciding where you're going to stay in Belgium, you'll find a wide range of options to suit various budgets and preferences. Here are some popular choices!

Hotel Options
Luxury Hotels: Belgium offers luxurious accommodations in historic buildings, often with elegant decor and top-notch amenities. Consider staying at iconic hotels like The Hotel in Brussels, Hotel Julien in Antwerp, or Hotel Dukes' Palace in Bruges for a truly indulgent experience.

Mid-Range Hotels
: If you're looking for a comfortable stay without breaking the bank, you'll find plenty of mid-range hotels across the country. Novotel, NH Collection, and Martin's Hotels are reliable chains to consider.

Boutique Hotels
: Belgium has a vibrant boutique hotel scene. These charming, smaller hotels offer unique character and personalized service. Look into places like The Dominican in Brussels, or The Pand Hotel in Bruges.
Airbnb Options
City Apartments: In cities like Brussels and Antwerp, you can find a variety of apartments and lofts available on Airbnb. These are perfect for travelers who want a bit more space and the convenience of a kitchen.

Countryside Retreats
: If you're exploring the Belgian countryside, consider booking a cozy cottage or countryside villa through Airbnb. This option allows you to enjoy the serene landscapes and local charm.

Canal Houses (Bruges)
: For an authentic experience in Bruges, look for canal-side apartments or houses on Airbnb. These properties often offer picturesque views and a taste of the city's medieval ambiance.

Hostel Options
For budget-conscious travelers or those seeking a more social atmosphere, hostels can be a great option for your stay in Belgium.

Generator Hostels
: With locations in Brussels and Ghent, Generator Hostels offer stylish and modern accommodations in a vibrant atmosphere. They often have social spaces and events to help you meet fellow travelers.

Jacobs Hostel (Antwerp)
: Known for its friendly staff and cozy atmosphere, Jacobs Hostel in Antwerp is a great choice for backpackers. It's conveniently located near the city center.
Remember to read reviews and check the location of your accommodation before you book. I like check the Google street view of my accommodation before book. Getting a good visual helps you get a better understanding of the layout and assess the area. I highly recommend this trick for everyone but especially for solo female travelers.

Budget $

The official currency of Belgium is the Euro, denoted by the symbol '€'. Cash is widely accepted, and you'll find an abundance of ATMs across the country. Credit and debit cards are also commonly used for transactions but carry some cash for those places that don't accept cards, especially in the more remote areas. Tax is usually included in displayed prices, so there are no surprises at the cash register.

Your budget for a trip to Belgium can vary widely depending on your travel style, preferences, and the duration of your stay. Here's a rough estimate of daily expenses for different types of travelers.
Horse and carriage
Budget Traveler (Hostels, Budget Eateries, Public Transport):
• Accommodation (Hostels): €20 - €50 per night
• Food (Budget restaurants and street food): €15 - €30 per day
• Local Transportation (Public transport and occasional taxis): €5 - €15 per day
• Activities and Sightseeing: €10 - €20 per day.
Total Daily Budget: €50 - €115

Mid-Range Traveler (3-star Hotels, Dining Out, Public Transport):
• Accommodation (3-star hotels or Airbnb): €70 - €150 per night
 • Food (Mid-range restaurants and cafes): €30 - €60 per day
 • Local Transportation (Public transport and occasional taxis): €10 - €20 per day
• Activities and Sightseeing: €20 - €40 per day
Total Daily Budget: €130 - €270

Luxury Traveler (4 or 5-star Hotels, Fine Dining, Private Transport):

• Accommodation (Luxury hotels or high-end Airbnb): €150 - €400+ per night
• Food (Fine dining and gourmet experiences): €70 - €150+ per day
• Local Transportation (Taxis and private car hire): €30 - €100+ per day
 • Activities and Sightseeing (Including guided tours): €50 - €150+ per day
Total Daily Budget: €300 - €700+

Belgium caters to a wide range of budgets, making it an accessible destination for all types of travelers. Activities and sightseeing could include museum fees, taking organized tours, etc. Additional considerations for your budget should include entrance fees to attractions, souvenirs, and any special experiences you plan to enjoy, such as brewery tours or spa treatments.

Remember that these costs are approximate daily budgets and will vary depending on your personal spending habits, the time of year your travel, and the specific cities you visit within Belgium. It's always a good idea to have some extra funds for unexpected expenses or special treats, and to research and plan your specific trip in advance to get a more accurate estimate of your expenses based on your itinerary.

Facts

Belgium flowers

Chocolate Paradise

Belgium is renowned for its exquisite chocolate. The country's chocolatiers are celebrated for their craftsmanship, producing some of the finest chocolates in the world. Belgium's love affair with chocolate dates back to the 1600s, and today, you can savor a wide range of delicious pralines, truffles, and cocoa delights.

Historic Architecture

Belgium is home to a treasure trove of historic architecture. From the stunning medieval buildings in cities like Bruges to the Art Nouveau masterpieces of Victor Horta in Brussels, Belgium offers a rich tapestry of architectural styles.

Time Zone

Belgium is situated in the Central European Time (CET) zone during standard time, and Central European Summer Time (CEST) when daylight saving time is in effect. This means that Brussels, for example, is 1 hour ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC+1) during standard time, and 2 hours ahead (UTC+2) during daylight saving time.
Sint-Baafsplein

Belgium is the European Union Hub

Brussels, the capital of Belgium, also serves as the de facto capital of the European Union. The city hosts the headquarters of several key EU institutions, including the European Commission and the European Council.

This key role that Brussels plays in the political realm makes it a hub of international diplomacy and a fascinating place to explore the world of European politics and policy-making.

Location & Population

The country is relatively compact, making it easy to travel between cities and regions. With a land area of approximately 30,528 square kilometers and a population of over 11 million people, Belgium strikes a balance between urban sophistication and serene countryside, offering a diverse range of experiences for every type of traveler.

Language

There is no Belgian language! Dutch, French, and German are the official languages here. Dutch is predominant in Flanders, the northern region, while French is spoken in Wallonia, the southern part. Brussels, being the bilingual capital, embraces both.

Don't fret if you're not fluent in these 3 languages - English is widely understood. So, whether you're ordering mouthwatering waffles in Dutch, crispy frites (fries) in French, or savoring chocolates in German, or exploring historic sites in English, you'll will likely be able to communicate just fine!

Unpredictable Weather

Belgium's weather is famously unpredictable. The country experiences a maritime climate, resulting in mild summers and chilly, damp winters.

Rain is a frequent visitor
, so it's a good idea to carry an umbrella while exploring the picturesque cities and countryside. Decide ahead of time that a little rain is not going to stop you from having a fabulous day!

Transportation

Belgium offers a well-connected and efficient transportation system, making it easy for you to explore the country without renting a car. The extensive train network operated by the Belgian National Railway (SNCB/NMBS) connects major cities like Brussels, Antwerp, Ghent, and Bruges, allowing for convenient and scenic journeys.

Trams and buses serve urban and suburban areas, providing reliable local transport. In cities, cycling is a popular mode of getting around, with dedicated bike lanes and rental services readily available.

For longer distances or more remote destinations, renting a car could provide you with more flexibility, though it's important to be aware of local traffic rules. Belgium's compact size allows for relatively short travel times between cities, making day trips and exploring multiple regions in a single day feasible.

You can also purchase a rail pass for Belgium to allow you to take as many trains as you want within a specified period of time.

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