Coming to Belgium? You only have a couple of days and not sure what to see? Well, here is my short list, with top cities to check and top sights not to miss. Some might be subjective, but then again, what blog post isn’t 🙂
1. Brussels. I guess there’s no discussion about this one. Don’t miss:
- The Grand Place: main square, the Bourse (Stock Exchange), Manneken Pis, St Michel Cathedral
- The Royal Palace & Park
- The Justice Palace and amazing view of the city from there
- The Museum of Musical Instruments (beautiful Art Nouveau work of art)
- The EU institutions and the Cinquantenaire park
- The Atomium
- If you have a extra time and love art and architecture, take the Art Nouveau tour
- Make sure you don’t miss all the comic strips painted on different buildings around the city
2. Bruges (100 km from Brussels, about 1 hour by car or train – Flemish side) It’s not my favorite, but highly recommended by most travelling books. It’s pretty and a lot to see. Even if you don’t have a plan when you arrive, just head towards the center, follow the rest of the tourists and you’re guaranteed to see the essentials. They have a very nice and clear website for more info.
- The historic center: Belfry (great city view from the top), the city hall, the Burg
- Beguinage (Begijnhof)
- Churches: Church of Our Lady (Onze Lieve Vrouwekerk), Holy Savior Cathedral (Sint-Salvatorskathedraal), St. Walburga’s Church (Sint-Walburgakerk)
- Take a boat ride on the canal
3. Gent (60 km, about 50 minutes by car or train – Flemish side) I prefer it to Bruges, because it’s more down to earth, looks more like a city where people live, not artificial and it’s also very beautiful. Check out here their website.
- The Belfry
- St. Michael’s Bridge
- Graslei and Korenlei (walk along the canal) If you get there in the late after-noon to get to see it by night it’s even better. It’s absolutely spectacular by night.
St Bavo’s Cathedral
- Castle of the Counts
4. Antwerp (50 km from Brussels, about 40 minutes by car or train – Flemish side) It’s the city of diamonds and Belgium’s most important port (2nd in Europe). It’s also known for being the fashion capital of the country and it shows. People here do dress much better than the rest of a country, there’s a clear interest in fashion and good taste. Check out the city’s website.
- The historic center: main square with the city hall and city’s representative statue, Cathedral of Our Lady (costs 2 EUR to enter; pay it, it’s really worth it); Het Steen, beautiful fortress long the river
- The Central Station (declared one of the most beautiful train stations in Europe) & Diamond’s district
- The Meir (Antwerp’s famous shopping street, but also beautiful architecture)
- Rubens House (Rubens is a famous Flemish painter)
- Take a walk along the Schelde, the city’s river
5. Leuvean (30 km from Brussels, about 20 minutes by car or train – Flemish side) This is a little student town, but very delightful. It’s worth spending a few hours walking around.
- The Town Hall. if you don’t see anything else in the city, but see this, it’s enough
- The University library & Bell tower. Just in front of it, there is a modern sculpture: a big fly ona stick 🙂
- The Old Market Square. It’s great for a walk or just to have a bite. it’s also the place for student parties 🙂
- Beguinage (Groot Begijnhof)
6. Liege (100 km from Brussels, about 1h10min by car or train – Wallon side) Very charming and welcoming.
- St. Paul’s Cathedral
- Citadel, The War Memorial & The Montagne de Bueren
- The Liège-Guillemins station said to be one of the most beautiful train stations in the world. (this is
- Prince-Bishops’ Palace
- Place Saint-Lambert
- The City Hall
7. Dinanat (100 km from Brussels, about 1h30min by car or train – Wallon side) is in the south side of the country and quite different from the ones I mentioned above. Besides Durbuy (allegedly smallest town in the world), I find Dinant to be the most beautiful city from the French side of the country.
- The Citadel
- Collegiate Church of Notre-Dame
- Rocher Bayard
- Adolf Saxophone invented the saxophone and he is from Dinant, so go check out his house
- The town hall
The next two are not really on my top favorites, but I present it for its historical value. So, you can take the decision whether you are inclined to see them or not 🙂
8. Namur (70 km from Brussels, about 1h15min by train or car – Wallon side) because this is one of the most impressive fortified towns in Europe.
Belgium has a lot to offer, but I think my favorite parts are the architecture, beer, chocolate and delicious fries! Make this trip your own, but make sure you try some of this goodness!
You can read more about Belgium in my previous posts.