Travel to Belgium

Travel to Belgium

In Belgium, the waffles are hot, the chocolate is ubiquitous, and the step-gabled medieval squares are serious about their carnivals.

With its multicultural heritage, wonderfully preserved cities, and famous culinary creations, Belgium will seduce you from the first. Although small in size, Belgium has led and inspired unity throughout Europe by being a founding member of the European Union and host to the EU headquarters. The country is home to one of the world’s loveliest cities: Bruges, much of which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. From its canals to the celebrated Belfry of Bruges, the city’s architecture will amaze you. More beautiful cities to experience and explore include Brussels and Antwerp. Whichever cities you choose to discover on your vacation, be sure to sample and enjoy some of the internationally renowned Belgian delicacies, which range from decadent chocolates and waffles to astonishingly varied (and long-brewed) beers to world-famous mussels and fries.

Belgium’s a fascinating country to visit from a cultural perspective. It includes two significant linguistic groups, the Dutchlanguage Flemish and the French-language Walloons, as well as a small but important population of German speakers in Liège. The Belgian Flemish, who make up the majority of the population and have much in common with the people of the Netherlands, mainly occupy the region of Flanders in the northern part of the country. You’ll experience the more Frenchinflected portion of Belgium to the south in Wallonia. The capital of Brussels offers a cultural snapshot of the country: It’s bilingual, but French is the dominant language.

The geographic and cultural connections with the Netherlands, France, and Germany have certainly contributed to Belgium’s rich artistic heritage. It’s wonderful to catch a classical concert in Brussels or Bruges—the country is renowned for master composers —but be sure to sample some of the homegrown jazz and pop as well. (This is also the land, after all, of legendary singer Jacques Brel and the inventor of the saxophone, Adolphe Sax.)

Epicureans adore Belgium for its distinctive cuisine. The country’s world-famous for some delectable (and decadent) creations: fries or pommes frites (said to have been born in Belgium, though France also lays claim on their invention), Belgian waffles, and some of the most refined and high-grade chocolate you’ll taste anywhere. Just as celebrated as those irresistible confections is the astonishing universe of Belgian beer, which has its roots in monasteries and today is the guiding light for many international craft brewers. The ancient Trappist beers such Rocheforte and Chimay include hearty-tasting Dubbels and Trippels as well as crisply refreshing Saisons and pleasantly fruity and sour Flemish Reds.

Belgium belongs to the Low Countries along with the Netherlands and Luxembourg, and indeed much of the landscape is a mostly level coastal plain fronting the North Sea. To the southeast, though, the terrain rises to the beautiful rumpled highlands of the Ardennes along the borders with France, Luxembourg, and Germany. You can take in the rooftop of the whole country at one of the Ardennes summits, 2,277-foot Botrange. Serene plateaus crossed by broad valleys such as the Senne and the Sambre-Meuse separate the coastal plain and the southeastern hills. Belgium’s coastline is beautifully complex, marked by the great estuary of the Scheldt River, at the upper reach of which sits the delightful historic port of Antwerp. Another of Belgium’s chief rivers is the mighty Meuse, near which in eastern Flanders lies Belgium’s sole national park, Hoge Kempen.

Modern Belgium dates from the 1830s, when the country emerged as independent from the control of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Its history, though, stretches far back to pre-Roman days of the Celtic Belgae. The land has seen an amazing array of invaders and rulers, from the Romans and the Franks to the Spanish, Dutch, and French. From Flanders to Wallonia, you have many opportunities to take in this colorful history at outstanding museums and architectural landmarks. Bruges (the entire historic center of which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site) is renowned for immaculate medieval monuments such as the Belfry of Bruges and the Church of Our Lady. Ponder more recent historical dramas at sites such as the Menin Gate in Ypres, which memorializes lost World War I soldiers.


Belgium Vacations

Brussels Escape
Brussels At its Best
Amsterdam & Brussels 2

Not Included