Belgium is a delight to visit: it’s small, easy to navigate, packed with incredible restaurants, bursting with beautiful architecture, and even has beaches, forests and caves to explore. And while a plethora of languages are spoken here (Dutch, French and German in addition to the languages spoken by all the European Union staff headquartered here), you’ll get along just fine with English.
Begin in Brussels, one of the most beautiful European capital cities. Brussels has a sense of whimsy – for every magnificent 17th century building there’s a cheeky, colourful mural featuring Tintin. The gorgeous squares, like the Grand Place, are striking and memorable, but a sight that’s just as popular is the statue of a small boy relieving himself (the Manneken Pis). While Brussels is overflowing with world-class museums, particularly art museums, remember to allot time just to sit. Belgians are world-class relaxers, and lounging at cafes is a huge part of the social scene. Plus, this is when you’ll strike up the best conversations with the locals.
Visitors to Belgium often forgo a trip to Wallonia, the southern part of the country. But those who make the effort are richly rewarded. Visiting small villages with antiquated inns, cycling past castles and valleys, climbing down into the occasional cave – Wallonia’s an area that’s full of charm and fun. Bruges and Antwerp are not to be neglected either. The first is a gloriously photo-worthy medieval town, the second a fashion-forward nightlife hub that’s the apex of European cool.
Eating and drinking are two of Belgium’s great pleasures, and your itinerary should reflect this. From hand-made chocolates to beverages made by monks, from pots of mussels to paper cones of frites (fries), the country is a delight for food-lovers. Be prepared, on a trip to Belgium, to bring your appetite.