Asking a few fellow travel bloggers about their favourite cities in Belgium shows that Belgium is more than just Brussels and Bruges.
Antwerp (by Travel Passionate)
The city of Antwerp, located in the north of Belgium is a place that usually tourists skip on their visit there and head to nearby Bruges or Brussels instead. I have visited Antwerp twice so far and is a city I would go back in a heartbeat. Bustling with life, Antwerp offers a wide range of activities that can cover every taste. From the picturesque old town, the world-class museums, the amazing shopping scene to the fist class gastronomy and great nightlife, Antwerp can keep you entertained for many days.
There are many things one can do in Antwerp but I highly recommend a visit to the impressive Central Station which is a work of art, a stroll through the old town to admire the amazing architecture. Don’t miss the Grote Markt where the beautiful City Hall is located and the famous Brabo fountain that depicts the town’s legends, a visit to the majestic Cathedral of Our Lady which is designated as a UNESCO heritage site and a stop to Groenplaats square for a coffee.
I totally recommend that you visit Rubens House where Rubens worked and lived until his death in 1640 and now operates as a museum where many of the artist’s works are on display. Another important museum in town is the modern Museum Aan De Stroom (MAS) located on the waterfront. The Museum tells the story of the city through everyday life and has a collection of more than 470.000 items, not all on display.
Lastly, Antwerp has one of the best shopping opportunities across Europe and has a great food scene that includes not only the famous Belgian chocolates and Waffles but amazing breweries, seafood, and Michelin restaurants. Antwerp is a city you shouldn’t skip on your visit to Belgium.
You can read her tips for spending one day in Antwerp on Travel Passionate.
Bastogne (by Nomad by Trade)
I’m fascinated by WWII history, so when I booked a trip to France and Luxembourg, I knew I’d have to fit in some time in the Belgian Ardennes. Naturally, I was drawn to Bastogne because of its importance in the Battle of the Bulge. The small town in southern Belgium was surrounded by German troops during the battle, but American troops in the city never surrendered and held out until reinforcements broke through.
The Bastogne War Museum near the heart of town is one of the best museums I’ve ever been to. It weaves the stories of several real people who lived through the battle together with artefacts, audio guides, and some incredible 3D presentations. It offers a great experience for all ages and all levels of historical knowledge. It’s rare to see such a human face presented in a museum about the war. There is also a huge memorial to the American troops who fought in the Battle of the Bulge right outside.
You can climb to the top and enjoy the view of the rolling hills and fields. For a real taste of the gritty history of the town, you can follow signs to a forested area where some of the heaviest fightings occurred. A short walk through the woods leads you to a series of foxholes that were dug by American soldiers during the battle. Over 70 years later, you can still see the holes where these men fought and died.
In town, you can stroll down the streets lined with shops and restaurants. You’ll find some more WWII memorials in the area, including a damaged tank. Check out the Wagon Leo restaurant for some good Belgian food.
Read more about her adventures on Nomad by Trade.
Bruges (by Maninio)
It’s still early morning and as we began to walk around the train station area, I feel, in fact, as I am walking through a gallery of still lives. You can start your walk from the park opposite the train station towards the Bruges town. From the outside of the town, you can admire the beautiful river area with its traditional buildings around, the numerous cafes, restaurants, beautiful churches and the gorgeous views! In the middle of the town, you can also see the famous Zand square where during peak time is packed with locals and tourists or shop around the city’s canals.
Do not miss the museum where you can view Michelangelo sculptures. In addition, nice scenery is if you can walk through the small streets which are full of lovely vintage chocolate shops wherein most of them you can sit and enjoy your goodies. Another great hit is to climb the Bell Tower to get astonishing views. During Summertime, life is rich and intense, where the canals and the surrounding streets are filled with many locals and tourists.
It’s worth to mention that during the Christmas period (the time we visited) the area put its magic coat and the place becomes a fairy place for kids and adults. Bruges is one place that you should include in your next vacation in Belgium. 🙂
You can enjoy more travel stories on Maninio.
Bruges is one of the most romantic places in Belgium, perfect for couples to explore.
Brussels (by Tapped Out Travellers)
Of the handful of cities in Belgium that I have had the pleasure of visiting, Brussels is my favourite. I have been 3 times, in the last 3 years.
Many people feel the need to ask if they should spend their time in Brussels or Bruges or Ghent. I never understood this question; why choose? Why would one choose to skip the capital city of Belgium, the capital of the European Union, the capital of comic strips and waffles and chocolates? There is so much to see and do in one city, and it is open to everyone, all demographics, all nationalities, likes and dislikes, there is something for everyone.
My must-do list consists of Mini-Europe – scale models of each European nation’s leading landmark, all in one space – and any of the countless museums within the city. Each museum has something unique to add to your experience and the range of focus’ are also quite unique; the city holds an Egyptian Museum and a comic strip museum – an entire museum dedicated to the art and history of comic strips.
Better believe I took a look and did not regret it for a moment. Brussels is my favourite city because I can choose to do my favourites each time I visit, or do something completely new and feel as if I had never been before.
They share their top 10 to do in Brussels and much more on Tapped Out Travellers.
Ghent (by Travel and Destinations)
Ghent is one of Europe’s most beautiful cities, which you’ll find in northwest Belgium in the Flemish region of the country. The city is a popular place to visit, due to its stunning medieval architecture, impressive landmarks, beautiful canals, rivers and cobbled streets.
For those visiting Ghent, you’ll have plenty of things to see and do with 23 museums, historical buildings, abbeys, churches and more. Some of the museums include the STAM – Ghent City Museum, S.M.A.K – Contemporary Art Museum, and the Science Museum. For landmarks, there is the very picturesque Saint Nicholas’ Church which is often seen on postcards. Gravensteen, an ancient Castle from the 12th century, or the Belfry of Ghent, one of the cities tallest towers which you can climb for rooftop views over the city.
When visiting Ghent a place that should be high on your list, is to take a walk along the Graslei and Korenlei. These are two cobbled pedestrian paths either side of the River Leie in the centre of the Old Town. This is often referred to as one of the most beautiful places in the city, and at night it’s especially nice when the old architecture can be seen reflecting in the water.
Ghent also provides lots of fantastic dining experiences with over 600 restaurants and over 600 cafes. And for those wanting to try some Belgium beer, you’ll find around 250 varieties in the city.
So whether visiting Belgium for the first time or a repeat visit Ghent would be a perfect place to go.
He shares more beautiful pictures of Ghent and other cities on Travel and Destinations.
Namur (by The World in my Pocket)
One of my favourite cities in Belgium, recently discovered, is Namur, the capital of Wallonia, the French part of the country. The town is built on the confluence of two rivers, The Meuse and the Sambre and it is “guarded” by an impressive Citadel. In the past Namur used to be a very important trading city because of its strategic position on the trading route between France and Germany.
The town of Namur is small and charming, with beautiful alleys and typical Flemish architecture in which the houses are narrow but tall, with rooftops that end in a triangle shape. Walking by the river, you will discover a lot of different houses, some dating from as far as the Middle Ages, with tiny doors and bolts still present in the stone walls. Later in history, this part of the town became the brewers’ headquarters due to the proximity to the water. Back then, every building here was a brewery.
The most important sight in Namur is the citadel from where you can have amazing views towards the city. The Citadel holds a beautiful interactive exhibition about the history of the town and you can easily spend the entire day visiting the underground tunnels, tasting beer or exploring it by the mini-train.
Namur has many festivals during the year, where you can explore the folklore of Wallonia and taste the local cuisine. Namur is a young but romantic city, with many great little restaurants and jazz bars.
You can read more about her time in Namur
What are your favorite cities in Belgium?