Unearth the cultural capital, Brussels, or bring film to life with a visit to the lovely canal city of Bruges. Alternatively, discover the joys of the Flanders coast or head south to the Wallonia region where the French influences are easily identifiable.
With so much to see and do, be sure to arrange to hire a car in Belgium to truly get the very best from your trip here. Find out more about driving in Belgium too.
Belgium Tourist Board: The official website for the Belgian Tourist Office – a useful resource for planning your trip to Belgium.
Know Before You Go: Travel advice for Belgium from the FCO.
Things to see and do in Belgium
- Make your way to Bruges and explore this fascinating city laced with pretty canals. The attractive and historic city centre is protected by UNESCO World Heritage Status and it’s definitely worth exploring.
- Nicknamed the ‘Pearl of the Ardennes’, the spa town of Liege is a joy to visit. Located within a wooded valley and sourced by natural spring waters, it has been a popular spa destination for many years. Enjoy a relaxing visit and try to time your visit to coincide with The Francopholies Festival.
- Go shopping for some traditional souvenirs. Why not grab a deliciously creamy Belgian hot chocolate, Belgian beer or a diamond if you’re feeling flush. You could also pick up gifts such as locally made jewellery and fashion. Antwerp, Bruges and Brussels are great spots for this!
- On that note, why not go on a brewery tour? Belgian beer is renowned around the world so no trip here would be complete without sampling it first-hand! There around 450 different varieties of it here so no driving afterwards!
- For another taste of the local culture, head to Brussels and embrace the comic book scene. There is a huge museum dedicated solely to Belgian comics which is certain to be a hit among families. Try to spot familiar characters such as The Smurfs and Tintin!
- Take a peek at the Royal Palace in Brussels. You will know if the King is there as the Belgian flag will be flying outside. If you are visiting during the summer, you will be able to head inside and explore this fascinating architectural and historical masterpiece.
- The Cathedral of Saints Michel and Gudule also in Brussels is another building worth tracking down. Dating back to the 12th century, it is a wonderful example of Gothic architecture and provides a great glimpse into Belgium’s history.
- There are around 3,000 castles across the country, approximately 300 of which are open to the public. They might be lacking princesses and knights in shining armour but they make an enjoyable day out for all ages. Visit the Castle of Beersel which overlooks Brussels. Exploring The Castle of Gaasbeek is also worthwhile.
- Once the wealthiest city in Europe, Ghent is still a great destination to explore for a day or two. Populated by a predominantly younger crowd, it has a vibrant atmosphere and boasts some great bars and restaurants.
Festivals and events in Belgium
- The International Animation Film Festival is a hit among families in the month of Feburary. Head to Brussels and take your pick from around 100 films which will be viewed in this period. (February)
- Hosted in the town of Binche, the Carnival de Binche takes place in February in the three days before Ash Wednesday. Musical performances and fireworks set the scene here and the event is even protected by UNESCO status. (February)
- In April, more than 50,000 people flock to the streets of the city of Herve for the Cavalcade of Herve. Hundreds of horse-drawn carriages are the main event, plus some fireworks. (April)
- Nicknamed the Big Z Day, Zinneke Parade has been an annual event in Brussels since 2000. A colourful blend of floats, costumes, music and dance performances, it won’t fail to bring a smile to your face. (May)
- One of the best historical events on the annual calendar is the Ommegang Festival. Held in July, it transports visitors back to the midst of the 16th century with horses, jousting and traditional costumes to complete the picture. (July)
- The Beselare Witch Parade is a fun addition to the annual events calendar and features a parade of more than 1,000 people in witch’s costumes, among other entertainment. (July)
- In the winter months, the Christmas spirit descends on the country and the main cities host colourful Christmas Markets. (November – January)
Tipping in Belgium
Tipping in Belgium isn’t particularly common. It is acceptable to leave a gratuity if you receive excellent service. Where you are also plays a part when it comes to tipping. Wallonia is French speaking and tipping is more common here than in Dutch speaking (Flemish) Flanders.