What to see in Belgium: 10 of the most beautiful places to see
Tourists go more to France, Spain and Germany, bypassing Belgium. And in vain: this country has a lot of beautiful medieval cities. The countryside is also amazing. If you’re wondering, “What to see in Belgium?” – these 10 most beautiful places are a must visit!
What to see in Belgium: Dinan
This beautiful city is located on the banks of the river Maas in the region of Wallonia. Here, the narrow streets are home to historic buildings that are shrouded in legend. Adolphe Sachs, who invented the saxophone, was born in Dinan. His house can still be visited today.
Dinan also has some of the largest and most beautiful caves in Europe. The city also boasts impressive architecture. In addition to the majestic cathedral you can see the Citadel, built in 1818-1821, and the Abbey of Leffe, whose monks began brewing the legendary beer back in 1240.
Eiffel Nature Park.
With its low hanging mist and miles of wilderness, the park has a mystical beauty. The beech forest is mostly in Germany, but borders Belgium. Parts of the park date back to the last ice age. It is home to an incredible variety of wildlife, including wild boars, wild cats, and deer. Recently, for the first time in three centuries, a bobcat was spotted in the park.
Photo: pxhere (CC0 Public Domain)
Photo: herbert2512/pixabay (CC0 Creative Commons)
Things to see in Belgium: Ghent
Ghent is a small but beautiful port city. Once the most powerful city in Europe, it is now imbued with a bohemian air. The city is famous for its medieval architecture and canal. Tourists often visit unusual boutiques and restaurants, and take part in various cultural events.
Photo: hpgruesen/pixabay (CC0 Creative Commons)
Chateau La Hulpe
It’s not just France that has magnificent castles. In Walloon Brabant, not far from Brussels, is the castle of La Hulpe. It belonged to the Marquis Maximilian de Bethune and was similar to the French castles in the Loire valley. The castle itself is closed to visitors, but you can stroll through a garden with colorful flowers and an incredible number of sculptures. The surrounding park is known for its lawns, small ponds and fragrant rhododendrons.
What to see in Belgium: Bruges
Bruges is a beautifully preserved medieval city. Winding cobblestone streets, ancient squares and houses along the banks of canals attract many tourists. Be sure to visit the Burg square, the town hall (built in the 14th century), and the ornate carved ceiling. On the market square there is a bell tower of XIII century which offers panoramic views of the city.
Just 2 hours from Brussels is Durbuy, officially considered the smallest city on earth. Its population is just 500 people. The city has preserved its charming medieval look to this day. Its narrow cobblestone streets are lined with old stone buildings, half-timbered houses and craftsmen’s shops. The river Urt flows through the town, on which you can go kayaking or rafting. You can also quench your thirst with a beer whose recipe dates back to the 14th century.
What to see in Belgium: Spa
Spa is a spa town. Located in the Ardennes region of eastern Belgium, it is famous for its mineral thermal waters. People come here to relax and enjoy the health benefits of the hot springs. The city has not only thermal springs, but also beautiful buildings, many luxury hotels and even a historic casino. It is thanks to this city that spa treatments got their name.
Brussels is a very beautiful city. In recent years, it has become a thriving cosmopolitan metropolis, but it has preserved its historic architecture. The center of the city dates back to the late seventeenth century. Brussels sights can be listed for a long time, there are many museums and art galleries. Of particular note is the famous gourmet zone, with everything from chocolates and waffles to fine Michelin-starred restaurants.
Photo: ssalae/pixabay (CC0 Creative Commons)
What to see in Belgium: the Swan Forest
Part of this beautiful forest has just recently been awarded UNESCO heritage status. Since the Iron Age, 4,000 hectares of beech and oak trees have stretched from Brabant to northern France. Foxes, roe deer and wild boar can be seen in this peaceful, unspoiled area.
Near the southern border of Belgium, in the province of Luxembourg, lies the idyllic little village of Torgny. It is surrounded on three sides by France. The microclimate of the village is perfect for vineyards. It is a quiet place where you can hike and bike, admiring the stone houses, and the hills. There is also the abbey of the Cistercian monks.
Photo: Jwh (CC BY-SA 3.0 LU)
What to see in Belgium: Gaasbeek Castle
Just a few minutes drive from the center of Brussels separates you from the tale. This fortified castle was first built in the mid-13th century to defend against the Counts of Flanders, but the building was eventually destroyed by Brussels troops, who were seeking revenge for a murder commanded by Lord Gaasbeck. In the early 16th century, a brick castle was built on the ruins of the medieval fortress for the Horn family. Over the centuries it has been home to various noble families, but today Haasbeck Castle belongs to the Flemish community and is open to visitors. It features an impressive collection of works of art in sumptuously furnished historic rooms, including the original testament of Rubens. Regular special exhibitions and concerts are also held on the castle grounds, and on Sundays in the summer one of the castle’s gardeners offers guided tours of the medicinal gardens.
The Royal Greenhouses at Laeken
A magnificent combination of Art Nouveau architecture and exotic greenery! The Royal Greenhouses of the Belgian monarchy are a veritable paradise on earth. This unique complex is located on the territory of Laeken Palace, which used to be one of the residences of the King of the Netherlands. Built in 1873 by architect Alphonse Balat, these greenhouses are a real city of glass, which took more than 20 years to build: rotundas, domes and galleries hold magnificent collections of exotic plants, trees and flowers, brought from different parts of the world. The greenhouses are open for two weeks a year – when the azaleas are in bloom.
Photo: Daderot (Public domain)
What to see in Belgium: St. Bavon’s Cathedral
The Ghent Cathedral is home to one of the most famous works of art in the world. This is the Altarpiece of Ghent, created by Jan van Eyck and his brother Hubert in 1432. The unique polyptych of 12 panels has survived a turbulent eight centuries. Considered the first great painting to usher in the Renaissance, the work was presented to Queen Elizabeth, stolen by Napoleonic troops, buried in an abandoned salt mine and even once sold by a duplicitous priest.
Photo: Jan van Eyck (Public domain)
First built in the 13th century to defend Ghent and fortify the river Ley, the fortress was rebuilt in 1381, but has been destroyed several times since. The last time it was rebuilt was in 1579 after a fire. Today the castle is the residence of the Count of Tinta de Rudenbeke, but is open to visitors. It is a unique example of Spanish-Flemish architectural style from the Renaissance period and is considered one of the best castles in the country.
What to see in Belgium: La Roche en Arden
Located about 70 kilometers from Liège on the banks of the river Hort, La Roche en Arden is an attractive little town with lots of activities and attractions. Be sure to visit the World War II Museum, the Ham Museum and the Pottery Workshop to learn about the traditions and history of the region.
Canals are located in Bruges, which is the capital and largest city of the province of West Flanders, Belgium . They are located in the northwestern part of the country. Because of its canals Bruges is often called the “Venice of the North”.
Within the city, the river was turned into a network of canals in the Middle Ages, which allowed merchants to transport their goods directly to markets, and often trade went directly from the water. The canals offer a great opportunity to view this perfectly preserved city with its medieval buildings from a different perspective.
Bruges is an outstanding example of a medieval historic city that has preserved its historic buildings. As one of the commercial and cultural capitals of Europe during the Middle Ages, the city center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
2. Grand Place
The Grand Place, Brussels’ central historical square is also the symbol and main attraction of Belgium’s capital. Every traveler who comes to Brussels should visit this wonderful square. A huge “flower carpet” covers the Grand Place for a few days. A million colorful begonias cover most of the square.
The square used to be the site of merchants, the first mention of the Grand Place dates back to 1174.
3. The Belfry of Bruges
The Belfry of Bruges, along with its canals, is one of the city’s symbols and one of the main and famous landmarks of Bruges and Belgium. The bell tower dates back to 1240, the first floor was for merchants and the second floor was the city’s archive and treasury.
Travelers must be in good physical shape to climb all 366 steep stairs, and those who complete the climb will be rewarded with a magnificent view of the city. The bell tower in Bruges, listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
4. Castle of the Counts of Flanders (Gravensteen)
The castle of the counts was built in 1180 by Count Philip of Alsace, who was count of Flanders between 1157 and 1191. He took part in one of the Crusades and died during the siege of Acre in the Holy Land. Looking at Gravensteen castle one can imagine knights in shining armor riding white horses out of the gates of this medieval castle. This beautiful castle was about to be demolished but the city of Ghent saved it in 1885 and bought it back which was later restored. Now it is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Belgium.
Official website: gravensteen.stad.gent
5. Tournai Cathedral
Notre Dame Cathedral in Tournai was built in the first half of the 12th century. It was particularly remarkable for its Romanesque architecture, extravagant bell towers, a wealth of sculptures on its facade and is crowned by five towers nearly 100 meters high.
Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
6. Antwerp Central Station
Central Station, is the main railway station in Antwerp, province of East Flanders. The stone building, which was opened in 1905, presents an imposing facade topped with a huge dome, 44 meters high. The station is considered the best example of Belgian railway architecture. It is also considered one of the most beautiful railway stations in the world.
7. Grote Markt, Mechelen
Grote Markt is a square in the heart of the old Belgian city of Mechelen , it is the main square of the city. On one end of the pedestrian cobblestone square stands the cathedral of St. Rumbold, the largest cathedral in the city, while the town hall takes the other end of the square. Restaurants and stores that were once private homes fill the other two sides.
8. Bouillon Castle
Bouillon Castle is a medieval castle in the city of Bouillon in the province of Luxembourg , Belgium. The castle is located on a hill overlooking the town of Bouillon. It is believed that the construction of the castle began by the Romans, although the castle was first mentioned in chronicles at the end of the 10th century. One of its early owners sold it to finance his participation in the First Crusade. The castle has three drawbridges, dungeons and a torture chamber. The castle is considered one of the finest in Belgium and has a unique, layered defense system designed to protect against invaders. Bouillon Castle is a historical landmark of Belgium.
Official website: www.bouillon-initiative.be
9. Mons Belfry
Mons is a medieval town, which today is the capital of the province of Hainaut. Mons has the only Baroque bell tower in Belgium. The bell tower is located at the highest point of the city, on the square where once was a castle, the remains of this castle can still be seen today. It is 87 meters high and the largest bell weighs five tons. The bell tower was built in the 17th century.
Listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
10. Leuven Town Hall
Leuven Town Hall is one of the most famous gothic town halls in the world and is a symbol of Leuven, its pride. Construction began in 1439 and lasted almost 30 years. The town hall is one of the main attractions of Belgium.