Tourist Places To Visit In Belgium
Belgium is a smallish cute country in the Western part of Europe, renowned for its chocolate, fries, beer and of course, diamonds. The country is also home to loads of palaces, churches, canals and lovely foot bridges. Most people here speak Dutch, French and nowadays English too. So getting by in the country is not much of a hassle for tourists. It doesn’t matter if you are an architecture buff or love World War stories, if you are a beach baby or like to hike in mountains; Belgium is welcoming you to all this and more. Here are some of Belgium’s most coveted tourist places to visit.
The capital of Belgium, Brussels is a diverse city and also bilingual. So in addition to French, Dutch is also spoken widely. You can easily get by talking in English as well. The city is renowned for its European Union headquarters, the iconic Grand Place (city centre established back in the 13th Century) and the Gothic Town Hall nearby. In addition to these, you can explore the pubs and cafes on the streets for fresh brews of beer and frites/yummy fries, hop around shops of Galeries St. Hubert with a piping hot Belgian waffle in hand or visit one of the many theatres for a performance.
A port city on River Scheldt, Antwerp is otherwise known as the Diamond hub of the world. Why, you must have known at least one Gujarati Diamond merchant taking frequent trips to this city. This is because Antwerp sees the trade of most number of rough diamonds in the world, not just recently but since the last 500 years. The city may not have historic buildings or UNESCO sites but is a definite modern take on Belgium. Visit the Grote Markt (Antwerp’s central town square), the 17th-century Rubens House and go see the works of baroque painter Peter Paul Rubens. The art in this city is beyond imagination and can be found at the Revenshuis and Plantin Moretus Museum.
Bruges is the city of canals, emitting a strong Viking history in its buildings, monuments and the sheer spirit of its force. The city is also lovingly called the ‘Venice of the North’ and boasts of some amazing sites like Grote Market Square, Provincial Court, Gruuthuse Mansion, Belfry Tower and the 10th Century Saint John’s Hospital. You can also take rides in the canals and enjoy the heavily Dutch-influenced culture of Bruges.
Ghent is a city that has less coverage on the popular tourism haunts in Belgium but which really deserves a top spot. The city is like a secret of Belgium, hiding its rich medieval history when it was one of the most powerful cities of Northern Europe. This shows in its stunning architecture that has no expense spared, from the churches to decadent houses of traders and merchants, from the old-fashioned city centre to the Graslei harbour. You must also visit the Gravensteen castle along with other cathedrals around the city to peep into its past.
Ostend, or also fondly known as the ‘city by the sea,’ is a beautiful seaside paradise in Belgium, kissing the North Sea. The coast of this city boasts of long sandy beaches and promenades that have their own unique culture. One of the best places to visit in Ostend is the 3-masted 1930s ship docked on its harbour, which is today converted to a floating museum. Explore the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, hike up Fort Napoleon and enjoy your spring or summer holidays on the beaches of Ostend.
Ardennes is an adventure delight in Belgium, a city that opens its arms wide for those who are interested in biking, camping, hiking and trekking. The ruggedness of Ardennes’ hills coupled with its thick forests, caves and steep cliffs make it a natural contender for the back-packing adventure and thrill seekers. You will also find here castles, cheery little villages and animals like deer and wild boars. Visit the Han-sur-Lesse caves, Labyrinth of Barvaux and Bouillon Castle. Make Namur city your base to do all of the above.
Tournai is Belgium’s transition city into France, located as it is on the border of the two countries. Therefore the city has a heavy french influence with a strong Belgium core, what with its idyllic village-like feeling and the rich cultural history of Gothic and Romanesque architecture. Visit the Notre Dame Cathedral, Shrine of Our Lady and the small town of Belfry. Also do visit the Museum of Fine Arts to see the incredible works of artists like Van Gogh, Rubens and Roger Van der Weyden. If you want to give the history-lessons a rest then spend a day at the Jungle City Amusement Park.
Mons is a magical fairy-tale like town in Belgium, known for its ringing Belfry bells and the winding streets that look right out of Tintin comic books. Do visit the Gothic themed Sainte-Waudru and admire the 16th Century alabaster statues on display. Also stop by at at the Van Gogh House, take a walk by the Grand Place and pay a visit to the hauntingly beautiful St Symphorien Military Cemetery.