16 of the most beautiful places to visit in Belgium

Belgian sights

This section contains the top sights of Belgium with photos and descriptions, location on the map and reviews by tourists.

It is easy to find places of interest in Belgium. The first thing you should pay attention to is the main squares and embankments of large cities. Almost every house in the historic area – a monument of architecture.

Organize a vacation for children in Brussels, you can visit the futuristic sculpture Atomium, famous to many tourists park of miniatures, “Mini Europe”.

Special good luck to get to Belgium during holidays and festivals: see on the main square of the country magnificent “Flower carpet” or a grand reconstruction of the medieval parade Ommegang . And Belgium’s small town of Bohm is transformed into a dance floor for the Tomorrowland festival each year.

Things to see in Belgium

Grand Place, sometimes justifiably called Market Place, Grote Markt.

Manneken Pis is a famous landmark of Brussels. It is a small fountain statue.

A jewel in the crown of Brabant Gothic architecture, it is the epitome of beauty, lightness, and impeccable architectural forms.

The futuristic Atomium building is a symbol of modern Brussels. It is one of the most recognizable architectural.

The Royal Palace in Brussels is located on Place Palais, opposite Brussels Park. Despite its status.

Park of architectural miniatures and replicas of landmarks “Mini-Europa” is located in Brussels’ Brupark.

“Business card” of the city of Bruges is rightly considered a vast quadrangular marketplace Grote Markt.

Belgian sights on the map

Belgium’s main sights: top 25

Details about what to see in the main cities of Belgium: an overview of the most interesting places for independent tourists.

The Grand Place in Brussels

The heart of the capital Brussels and Belgium’s most visited attraction is the Grand Place. Its architectural ensemble is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Since the 18th century the square has undergone only minor changes.

Grand Place

On the square are located Brussels City Hall, the King’s House, the guild houses in Baroque and Louis XIV style, the House of the Dukes of Brabant. Every two years in August, the Carpets of Flowers festival is held here.

The Pissing Man Fountain

Belgium’s most famous fountain is located in the center of Brussels. The “Manneken-Pis”, or Manneken-Pis, in its present form, appeared in 1619, although the sculpture was already known in the XV century.

The Pissing Boy Fountain

Fountain “Peeing Boy” © Oleg Ivanov

From time to time the boy is dressed up in different costumes. Thus, he has been in the role of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, an astronaut, Santa Claus, a warrior, a urologist and a judoist. The number of costumes is already in the hundreds. The trend of recent years is the Manneken-Peace medical face mask.

The Atomium

One of the symbols of Brussels is Atomium construction, created by the Belgian engineer André Waterkein for the World exhibition of 1958. The construction is a fragment of the crystal lattice of iron, magnified 165 billion times.

Atomium

Each of the nine areas is some kind of themed space. Most of them are exhibition halls, but there is also a hotel and a restaurant. In the upper sphere is an observation deck with a view of the city and the Mini-Europa Park .

Royal Palace in Brussels

The residence of the King and Queen of Belgium is only used for official receptions, so the doors of the palace are open to the public. It was built on the site of the medieval Coudenberg Palace. The modern building appeared at the end of the 18th century, while the facade was created only after 1900 on the initiative of King Leopold II.

Royal Palace

The halls of the royal palace are tastefully decorated. Inside, there are works of arts and crafts, brought at different times from all over the world. The Throne room and the Hall of Celebrations are amazing. The Imperial Room has pots of pure gold, in which grow flowers from 11 provinces.

The Royal Galleries of St. Hubert

The most visited shopping complex in the country is the historic arcade in downtown Brussels. It was designed by architect Jean Pierre Claisenard in 1847 in the Neo-Renaissance style. The three galleries are united by a glass dome, thanks to which it is always very light inside. On the pediment of the building is the motto “All for All”.

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St. Hubert Royal Galleries

Royal Galleries St. Hubert © Liubov Tukalo

Inside there are dozens of boutiques, cafes and restaurants, a movie theater, theaters, museums, and apartments for rent.

Bruges Market Square

Bruges’ calling card is the Grote Markt, or Market Square, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is dominated by the medieval 107 meters high Belfort Watchtower. At a height of 83 meters there is a viewing platform, to which 366 steps lead. The panorama of the city is spectacular.

Bruges Market Square

Bruges Market Square © Tatiana Dudarenko

In the center of the square is a monument to Jan Breudel and Pieter de Coninck, heroes of the Franco-Flemish confrontation in 1302.

Burg Square

Burg Square is smaller than Market Square, but much older. Today, its perimeter is lined with historic buildings from different eras. The square is dominated by the Town Hall – with its 14th century Gothic façade. It is characterized by lancet windows and roof towers.

City Hall on the Burg Square

Town Hall on Burg Square © Marina Fedorova

Also on the square are: the Basilica of the Holy Blood, the Old Court Office, the building of the former Court House, the Priest’s House.

The Rose Embankment and the canals of Bruges

The views from the Embankment des Rose are astonishingly picturesque. This is where tourists take the most “postcard” photos. During a walk along the canals of Bruges, you can get to know the city, admire the stone houses with Flemish facades facing the water, the medieval docks and bridges.

Rose Embankment

The waterfront is especially picturesque in the evenings, when hundreds of lights are lit. The terraces of the many cafes along the river fill with locals and tourists. Over a leisurely conversation you can try some national dishes and a glass of locally brewed beer.

Church of Our Lady of Bruges

The Gothic church, built in XII-XIII centuries, is one of the symbols of Bruges. Its spire can be seen from various parts of the city. It’s the tallest building in the city: 115 meters high. The building dates from the 13th century with numerous additions in the 14th and 15th centuries.

Our Lady of Sorrows Church

The church contains a real treasure – Michelangelo’s sculpture “Virgin Mary with Child” also known as “Madonna of Bruges”.

St. Bavon’s Cathedral

The Cathedral of Ghent, 89 meters high, was built in the XIII century on the site of the former chapel of St. John the Baptist, consecrated in 942. The jewel of the cathedral is the Ghent altar (15th century), a masterpiece by the brothers Jan and Hubert van Eyck. The theme of the altar is the worship of the Lamb from the Revelation of John the Evangelist.

St. Bavon's Cathedral

A few steps from the cathedral is the tallest bell tower in Belgium, the Beffrois Tower with an observation deck. The spire of the bell tower is decorated with the symbol of Ghent – the golden dragon.

Chateau of the Counts of Flanders

The Castle of the Counts of Flanders or Gravensteen was built in Ghent in 1180. It is the only medieval fortress, the appearance of which has not changed over the centuries. Up to 1353 it was a residence of counts of Flanders. Later on its walls were a court, a prison, a mint and even a cotton factory.

Chateau of the Counts of Flanders

The Castle of the Counts of Flanders © Victor Bashkir

After a major restoration in 1893-1903, the Gravensteen castle became the main landmark of the castle. Gravensten became the main attraction of Ghent. A museum of justice and arms was opened here.

Grassley Quay

Ghent’s calling card is the Grasleys promenade. Along it the old houses are lined up. The oldest one (#10) dates back to XII century, it was built as a granary and used for this purpose until the beginning of XVIII century. Younger buildings appeared during the redevelopment of Ghent in the early twentieth century. Meanwhile, Gothic, Baroque, Renaissance and Classicist buildings quite successfully neighbor each other, forming the face of the modern city.

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Grasleys Embankment

On the other side of the canal stretches the Korenlei promenade, also quite pretty.

Oidonk Castle

Not far from Ghent, the bend of the river Leieu has the elegant and majestic Château Oidonk, an active county residence. Rebuilt in 1595, this medieval castle is a fine example of Spanish-Flemish architectural style. The castle is considered one of the finest in Belgium.

Oidonk Castle

The castle is open to visitors from April 1 to November 1, the surrounding gardens are open all year round. Group guided tours are available for those wishing to visit.

Antwerp Central Station

One of the most beautiful train stations in the world is located in Antwerp. It was built in 1905 on the site of an old wooden station designed by the Belgian architect Louis Delassenserie. The building can not be attributed to any particular architectural style because of its eclecticism.

Antwerp Central Station

Thanks to the huge dome above the waiting room the inhabitants of Antwerp gave the station a poetic nickname – “railway cathedral”. The overall impression is further enhanced by the rich interior decoration.

The Castle of the Wall

In the center of Antwerp rises the Sten Castle. Built between 1200 and 1225, it controlled access to the river Scheldt. Most of it, including the oldest church and dozens of historic houses, were demolished in the 19th century to keep the river from silting up. The appearance of the castle is very different from the original.

Walled Castle

Today the National Maritime Museum is situated within the walls of the castle.

Antwerp City Hall

The Town Hall on the main square Grote Markt was built between 1561 and 1565 to a design by the Dutch architect Cornelis Floris de Vriendt. Its appearance combines both Flemish and Italian influences. The sculptures of the female figures represent Justice, Prudence and the Virgin Mary.

Antwerp City Hall

On the square in front of the town hall there is a monument-fountain of the 18th century. It is dedicated to Sylvius Brabo, a hero of local legends. According to legend, he defeated the evil giant Druon Antigonus, who levied fees on sailors sailing the Scheldt. Whoever refused to pay, the giant cut off his arm and threw it into the river.

Antwerp Zoo

In Antwerp is the oldest Belgian zoo, opened in 1843. Here lives more than 5 thousand animals, brought from all over the world. The zoo is active in the preservation of endangered species, among them: okapi, Przewalski’s horse, bonobo, golden-headed tamarin, Congo peacock, etc.

Antwerp Zoo

The entire park is listed as a monument of architecture. Many of the structures have been perfectly preserved since construction: the entrance, the Egyptian temple, the Moor Temple where the okapi live, the reptile building that looks like a Greek temple, and the winter garden.

Waterloo Museum Complex

A large-scale memorial complex is located on the site of the battle between the troops of the French Emperor Napoleon I and the army of the Seventh Coalition of European Monarchs, which took place on June 18, 1815. The complex includes the Memorial Museum (collection of uniforms and weapons, historical items, maps, multimedia exhibition), the Panorama, a length of 110 meters and a height of 12 meters, the historic Hougoumont Farm and the Lion’s Mound.

What to see in Belgium? Top 20 Belgian attractions

What to see in Belgium

Belgium is a compact and multicultural country. It has three state languages and a high level of tolerance in society. Also in Belgium, almost every city is different from the neighboring one. What to see in Belgium?

Tour: Notre Dame Cathedral

Cathedral Tour

Notre Dame is the greatest architectural monument, built and decorated in Gothic style, mesmerizing in scale and grandeur. Inside you can see the classics of Gothic design. Notre Dame provides an observation deck that offers stunning views of the city.

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The architecture of the cathedral provides for five high towers. The total height of the construction is 58 meters. Architectural monument is included in the list of UNESCO. It is also an active bishop’s residence.

The construction of the temple began in 1110. The construction was finished only in 1325. There were several fires and reconstructions of the temple. In 2008 it was robbed. The damage was 40 million euros. Despite all the twists and turns, the cathedral continues to be one of the most beautiful buildings in Europe and is still open to tourists.

Brussels: Atomium complex

Brussels: The Atomium complex

You can look at the park “Europe in miniature” from the balconies of the Atomium complex. There are restaurants and a hotel on the grounds of the attraction, which is considered very convenient because exhibitions and events are regularly held nearby in the park.

The Atomium itself was built for the World’s Fair in 1958. The unusual design of the building symbolizes atomic energy and its use. The structure consists of 9 spheres covered with an aluminum shell. The height of the monument is 102 meters.

Brussels: Nemo 33

Brussels: Nemo 33

The diving center was opened near the city in 2004. It was developed by the diver John Birnaerts. This indoor pool has a well that is 34 meters deep. It is where future divers learn how to dive properly. Tourists can watch them through special viewing windows.

Initially the center was supposed to be used only for training, but its popularity was so great that the founders had the idea to turn it into a tourist attraction.

Ypres: Menen Gate

Ypres: Menin Gate

In the city of Ypres, the Menenes Gate is established as a monument to the First World War. This gate was erected in honor of the soldiers who fell in battle near this city.

This gate looks like a beautiful arch, which architect Reginald Bloomfield topped with a sculpture of a majestic lion. The name of the arch comes from the nearby town of Menen. This is where the road through the famous gateway leads to.

Namur: An-sur-Les

Namur: Les Ansur.

Each year, half a million tourists travel to Namur province to descend into the cave of An-sur-Les. This natural monument is decorated with stalactites. In addition to the inner beauty, the tourist can see in this cave a special light show, ride on a boat, take part in the preparation of the cannon salvo.

From the village of the same name with the cave streetcar runs to it. On the way you can fully enjoy the beauty of this area, examine the river Les, which helped form the cave. The sightseeing tour can last about two hours, but the impressions will last a long time.

Ghent: Grain Street and Grass Street

Graslei and Korenlei Streets

The Corn Street and the neighboring Street of Grass offer some of the oldest and most impressive buildings in Ghent. A stroll down these streets can make you feel that you are never likely to find more old and typical European architecture. Also located here are the cathedrals of St. Michael and St. Nicholas, which are also architectural monuments in their own right.

The authorities are anxiously watching the condition of these streets. They are of great historical value. Once upon a time, these streets were the center of commerce in Granta. Today there are restaurants, stores and other useful establishments.

Waterloo in Belgium

Waterloo in Belgium.

Waterloo is a compact Belgian town near where Napoleon’s famous battle took place in the fields. In addition to a large number of museums, Waterloo has a hill of the Lion, which after the battle the women of the city poured by hand. It is called so because on top of the hill is a monument in the form of a sculpture of a lion, as a memorial to the valor of local soldiers.

In the city there is a circular gallery, where the main moments of the battle of Napoleon with the British and the Belgians are painted on the canvas. All the characters in the panorama are life-size, so realism and complete immersion in history when you visit this place is assured.

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Brussels: René Magritte

Brussels: René Magritte

The René Magritte Museum from the inside and outside looks like a living embodiment of surrealism. The artist’s paintings are as difficult to comprehend as the museum’s facade, made in the form of sliding portieres, behind which an evening landscape opens up.

The museum’s exhibits include paintings, drawings, advertising posters and films related to the famous artist. More than 200 works by René Magritte are collected in this building. This collection is considered the largest in Europe as well as in the world.

Antwerp: Central Station

Antwerp: Hauptstadt Central Station

This station can not be called boring or typical. The building itself is in the Baroque style, and rather resembles a cathedral than a public institution.

Commercials and old stained-glass windows neighbor quite harmoniously at the Central Station. Between the columns are the waiting rooms and ticket offices, and over and over the loudspeaker you hear the voice of the arrival and departure of the trains.

Bruges: the old bell tower

Bruges: The old bell tower

The Bruges bell tower is an observation platform, a small restaurant and a bell tower that is still in use today.

When you ascend all the steps of the spiral staircase, you can gasp in admiration, because the view of the city from the observation deck is really beautiful. In addition, everyone can enjoy the chime of the bells at certain hours and have lunch in the café on the lower tier of the bell tower.

Brussels: The Manneken-Pis

Brussels: The Boy in the Pee

If the famous Peeing Boy were alive, he would be upset that he is not addressed by name. After all, this landmark has a name just like a living person. The little boy’s name is Julien. He needs no introduction, as he is known throughout the world.

The Brussels sculpture is located near the Grand Place. The history of the monument is not known. There is a version according to which, during the Grimbergen War, the cradle with the son of Gottfried the Third was suspended on a tree above the battlefield, and the boy peered at the soldiers from above.

According to another version, the sculpture was the result of the feat of a young boy who put out ammunition burning under the walls of Brussels with a jet of urine.

In any case, the statue got its famous appearance thanks to the sculptor Jérôme Duquesnoy in 1619. Today, the sculpture even has its own closet, which is regularly updated by famous designers.

Antwerp: The Diamond Quarter

Antwerp: The Diamond Quarter

The Diamond Quarter is where the best diamonds from the African and Indian mines are brought to the jewelry shops. An entire street in the city is lined with stores and studios that make and sell jewelry with precious stones at unbelievable prices. The opulence of the place is amazing, and the choice is so great that it’s hard to believe your eyes.

In this quarter there are 4 stock exchanges and 380 workshops. There is a museum of diamonds. This is the place where, as 500 years ago, rough diamonds are delivered and in the skilful hands of craftsmen turn into expensive and luxurious product.

Leuven and its splendor

Leuven

This city has an ancient entourage and many architectural sights. The church of St. Peter can offer tourists to see not only the ancient vaults of the cathedral, but also paintings of Flemish painters, dating back to the 15th century. In the City Hall the works of Belgian artists are on public display. Walking around the cobblestone streets of Leuven you can enjoy the architectural delights and cleanliness of a city as glorious as Leuven.

Leuven is also the center of Belgium’s universities. In addition, the city has more than 52 breweries. There is a small linen clothing production, and of course a huge number of beautiful places.

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The center of Brussels: a museum of musical instruments

Brussels-Centre: Musical Instrument Museum

The museum building is in the Art Nouveau style. Its exhibitions tell about the ethnic instruments of Belgium as well as musical instruments from different countries. If you are in the exhibition, you can see the exhibits and hear what a particular instrument really sounds like.

The number of exhibits in the museum exceeds 8,000. The basis of the exhibitions are the collections of King Leopold II. The museum is part of the larger complex of “Royal Museums of Art and History”.

Ghent: Gravensten

Gravensten Castle

Gravensten is the castle of the counts who once ruled in Flanders. The castle has a museum where all the exhibits belong to the Middle Ages. There you can get your own idea of the manners and life of the people who inhabited Europe many centuries ago.

This castle is very fortunate, its defensive structures have remained almost intact to this day. At various times Gravensten was the residence of counts, a mint, a prison and a textile factory. Some time ago it even housed a courthouse. Such a rich history of the castle prompted the city authorities to open a museum of justice and arms in it.

Bruges: Downtown

Bruges: Center

Market squares, elegant towers, town halls, churches and squares are all part of the historic center of Bruges. The most interesting places are on Markt and Burg squares. The general atmosphere of the center has direct references to the Gothic style.

Even at night, the central streets are buzzing with life. Businesses stay open late into the night and the citizens and tourists come and go as they please. And this is where the best decorations and illuminations are placed on holy days.

Brussels: The Grand Place

Brussels: Grand Place

The main square in Brussels is the Grand Place. There, in the evening lights come on and if you look around you’ll see the Pissing Boy, the Bread House, the Town Hall, the Guildhall and other sights that impress with their European chic and ornate architecture.

From August 15, a carpet of fresh flowers is planted on the Grand Place. The beautiful square is transformed even more, attracting millions of tourists and visitors to Brussels from all over the country.

Antwerp: The Sten

Walled Castle

The Sten castle had a defensive function in the 12th century. Now it is an important landmark of Antwerp. Today, inside there is a museum of seafaring and archaeology. There are also guided tours for tourists under the arches of the castle. The castle also has an observation deck, which offers an attractive view.

Bruges: Lake of Love

Bruges: Lake of Love

In Bruges, on the shores of a lake where swans live, couples in love not only enjoy privacy, but also take their vows of fidelity. The waters of this clear and lovely lake have more than once “heard” someone promise to love someone forever.

At Lake of Love, you can entertain yourself and your other half by taking a boat ride, as well as by feeding the white swans, which have long been accustomed to people, and do not fly away when they appear.

Brussels: The Swan Forest

Brussels: Swan Forest

To the south of Brussels is the Swan Forest, which is the most rugged forest in Europe. You can take leisurely walks through the forest park and enjoy the amazing nature all around, in some places camping is allowed.

This forest once saved the Roman population of Wallonia from extermination. In the 5th century it stopped the Frankish invaders from reaching Wallonia.

Today the forest is divided into three zones. The first has to do with Flanders, the second with the capital of Belgium, and the third is controlled by the Walloon authorities.

It was in the Swan forest that the Capuchin monks built their 18 monasteries in the 18th century. In addition, near Brussels in the forest area there are many lakes and places for tourist recreation.

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