Belgium travel guide

As a Belgian myself, I of course have to tell you all about my home. Belgium may not be a huge country, but it's packed with nice sights, cozy villages and cities, cultural festivals and beautiful historic buildings.
Did you know, for example, that Belgium has the most castles in the world per square mile? That clearly means that there is much to discover.
Not only the sights of the brave gallians are worth a visit. The tasty cuisine and incredible festivals ensure that a trip to Belgium is always fun.

Places in Belgium

Bruges  |  Brussels  |  Ghent  |

belgium dunes polder grasses

Belgium also has beautiful nature! The many polders, dune areas or other protected nature reserves allow you to relax.

  Average costs in Belgium

Stay – A bed in a dormitory in a big city costs between €15 and €30 per night. If you want a budget accommodation without giving up your privacy, you can rent a single or double room for about forty euros per night.
Three or four star hotels are a lot more expensive. On average they start from €70 per night.
For a complete overview of accommodations I recommend to look at City trips or fun trips with discounts can also be found via the Belgian TravelBird.

Eat – Depending on where you are, eating out in Belgium doesn’t cost too much. During lunch you can go to a sandwich shop. Here you’ll get a tasty 1/2 baguette with cheese, ham, chicken or whatever really topped off with some vegetables or other delicacies. Prices usually start around €3 for a baguette with cheese and vegetables. Fast food chains cost between €8 and €10 for a menu. I really recommend going to a Belgian ‘frituur’, a sort of fries shop. At a ‘frituur’ you can have a packet of delicious fries with sauce, a drink and a frikandel (some kind of fried meat) for about eight euros.
Do you prefer to try some Belgian specialties at a restaurant? Then go during the afternoon. Lunch is served in most restaurants and costs only ten to fifteen euros. For this you get an appetizer, main course and often a dessert.
Do you want to eat à la carte? Then you pay between €12 and €30. Mussels with fries cost between €18 and €20, a steak with fries about the same.
A tasty Brussels or Liège waffle only costs €2 to €3, and if you want extra chocolate or fruit with it you pay a little extra.

Transport – Being small has its advantages! All cities and villages are easily accessible with public transportation in Belgium. From one city to another you can commute very easily with the NMBS. Train tickets are also relatively cheap compared to other European countries. From Brussels to Ghent, for example, you only pay €9.
A weekend ticket (Friday after 7 pm to Sunday evening) goes back and forth and is 50% cheaper than the standard price.
A Go pass costs €52 for people under 26 and lets you choose which station to which station you go for only €5,2 per trip (10 per ticket), a Go Unlimited Week pass (-26y) costs €12 per week or €25 per month.
For buses and trams you can count on ‘De Lijn‘ in the Flemish cities. A paper ticket for these busses or trams costs €3, a ticket via SMS €1.80 and a ticket with 10 single rides is reduced to €15 (€1.5 per trip).
In Wallonia, De Lijn is replaced by TEC. Here you pay €2.10 for a paper ticket. You pay €5 for a day pass.

belgium bruges canals

Bruges is the favorite place of most tourists. With the beautiful canals and history it’s definitely worth a visit!

  Saving money in Belgium

Weekend train tickets – In the weekend, return tickets for the train are 50% cheaper. So be sure to check out some other cities during the weekend. Belgian cities aren’t very big and you can often explore one city a day.

Drinking beer – If you want to drink alcohol, beer is the cheapest. The minimum price is about €2.5 for a delicious Belgian beer. Try out a few different beers because Belgium is known for it.

Free museums – On certain days of the month there are many free museums to visit in the big cities. In Brussels this is mainly on the first Wednesday and Sunday of the month, but also in other cities you have some specific days when museums are free to visit.

Walk around – Belgian cities aren’t that big. From most Belgian stations you can walk to the center in less than five minutes. Moreover, you’ll often walk through much nicer streets which are in fact narrow for buses or cars to pass through.

Avoid night shops – Shops in Belgium are usually open until six o’clock in the evening. In the big cities many supermarkets are now open a bit longer as well, but if you need something when the traditional stores have closed you’ll have to go to the night shop. The prices in these small shops are usually a lot more expensive. So do your shopping in advance. The cheapest big warehouses in Belgium are Aldi and Lidl.

Eat lunch or go to the fries shop – In the afternoon most restaurants give a cheap lunch. For a tasty starter, main course and often a dessert you pay between €10 and €15 per person.
We Belgians have a special way of frying our french fries, so you must try it at least once when you’re visiting Belgium. For a large portion of fries with mayonnaise (or ketchup, joppie sauce, andalouse, béarnaise, … Belgians love sauces!) You only pay €3.5!

belgium atomium

The atomium in Brussels. One of the weirdest, yet most special attractions in Belgium.

  Things to do in Belgium

Visiting the Hallerbos – This magical forest with its wonderful bluebells is known all over the world! In fact, it’s so beautiful that it was recently included in a list of the ‘7 most beautiful forests in the world’. From mid-April to mid-May you can admire the beauty of the blue flower carpet here. This forest is reached the most easily with the help of public transport. From Halle station there are free shuttle buses that will drop you off right next to the Hallerbos. Do you want to know more? Then certainly also read this blog post.

Bruges – In every travel guide about Belgium, Bruges is at the very top. The cozy, small town was called the Venice of the North for quite some time. The beautiful mansions and houses adorn the streets of this historic city and the narrow waterways that cross the historical center make it a favorite among many tourists!

Ypres – Ypres is not that far from Bruges. A large part of the world war in Belgium has taken place here. The vast graveyards, the huge bunkers and the many stories that have been left behind make this a very special place to visit.

Ghent – Ghent is half an hour from Bruges. A beautiful city with beautiful buildings, nice alleys and streets and nice boutiques to explore. If you’re here, you also have to try out the ‘Gentse neuzen’. A typical candy of this region.

Gentse feesten – Are you going to Ghent? Then remember to plan your visit in July. For ten days, the entire city center of Ghent becomes one gigantic festival. During the day there are a lot of activities to do for young and old, but in the evening and at night the real party starts. In my opinion it’s one of the best festivals in the world!

Brussels – The capital of Belgium is unique! The Flemish and Walloons live together without too much trouble and dine together in the cozy historic buildings until they head back to the ultramodern buildings in the city’s business district. Be sure to take a look at Manneken Pis and the atomium and try out a Brussels waffle.

Antwerp – Close to the Dutch border lies the city of Antwerp. In this city modernism is perfectly combined with the original charm of the city.
The beautiful station, the cozy Meir, the trendy boutiques and taverns and the excellent nightlife are certainly a reason to explore this city.

Waterloo – Are you interested in the history of Napoleon? Then you probably know that Bonaparte was finally defeated and banished on this location. There are a lot of memorabilia present at this place that inform you about the Napoleonic era, but the monumental Lion of Waterloo is probably the best known.

Dinant – Dinant is located in the Walloon (French-speaking) province of Namur or Namen. The charming town is located next to the slowly flowing Meuse. The rocky area is beautifully integrated in the city and from the other side of the river you get a beautiful view over this unique city. From Dinant you can also explore the ‘Lesse’ and the ‘Maa’s by boat. You can explore these rivers with a kayak. Along the way you’ll also see some beautiful castles.

The Ardennes – Dinant is in fact located in the Ardennes. This southern part of Belgium is very hilly and is the greenest region of the small country. Besides beautiful nature walks, you can also descend underground in the caves of Han or Hotton or discover Belgian wildlife. You can also relax in Spa, where you can find a lot of thermal baths. In the Ardennes you’ll also find many interesting monuments and museums that have something to do with the world wars, but also other historical buildings can be seen everywhere.

Belgian delicacies – Belgium is known for a lot of delicious treats! The Belgian waffles are world famous, but also the many chocolate shops claim that they sell the best chocolate in the world. In addition to these desserts, Belgian beers are world famous (there are over 1200 beers brewed in Belgium!) and last but definitely not least… Belgian fries! What makes a Belgian chip so difficult from anywhere else? Ask someone for the best ‘frituur’ or ‘friterie’ in the area, and go try them out by yourself. You’ll be amazed how different they taste!

Pairi Daiza – Pairi Daiza has been named the most beautiful animal park in Europe several times. What started with a park with only tropical birds, has now grown into a gigantic zoo with many unique species. Pandas, gorillas, Bengal tigers, rhinos, elephants, etc. You name it! There are also many fun events planned every day. You can see the elephants walk through the park, or even feed the lemurs on their island.

Castles – Belgium has the most castles in the world in relation to its land surface. From small forts to gigantic castles… Every city and region has some that are impressive. I recommend the Gravensteen in Ghent, the castle of Bouillon (Bouillon), Fort of Huy (Huy), the Citadel of Namur (Namur) and the citadel of Dinant (Dinant).

Dunes at the coast – In the north-west of Belgium there are many coastal towns. The extensive sandy beaches are fun to walk along in all seasons, but the beautiful nature reserves, dunes and polders in this region are truly phenomenally beautiful. Gigantic sand heaps with all kinds of grasses, while the wind constantly changes the landscape.

belgium gravensteen gent

The Gravensteen in Ghent. A gigantic fortress in the city center!

   Things to avoid in Belgium

Being Irritated by the NMBS – The National Company of Belgian Railways is a company run by the government. And the Belgian government… is a bit slow! Trains arriving later than planned are very normal in Belgium. Don’t get annoyed too much and enjoy a tasty waffle from one of the station shops.

Visiting cities with a car – Belgium is one of the most urbanized countries in the world. As a result, the big cities are often very close together and a lot of people live on a small surface. If you’re exploring Belgium, it’s better to do so with the trains (even though they are often too late…). The roads in Belgium are overcrowded and you’ll soon end up in a traffic jam. On top of that, parking lots in cities are often overly expensive… If you can even find a parking spot. Since 2017, it’s impossible to get into the historical city center of Ghent, and Brussels and Antwerp seem to consider the same.

Only visit the tourist hotspots – Belgium is a small country but there is so much more to see than just Bruges, Antwerp and Ghent. Take the train (or the car if you stay out of the bigger cities) and tour around for a while. The beautiful Flemish and Walloon landscapes are definitely worth taking a few snapshots.

belgium lion of Waterloo

The Lion of Waterloo. Here Napoleon was finally defeated.

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