The tiny country of Belgium is jam-packed with well-preserved architecture throughout its lively cities and quiet cobble-stoned towns, a wealth of delicious delicacies to eat and drink, and numerous sites of global significance such as the EU Parliament.
Experience the best of Belgium travel
Most Belgium travel options begin or end in either Brussels or Bruges, and given the small size of the country there are itineraries that combine Belgium tourism with other parts of Europe including the Benelux region – consisting of Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg. Belgium also boasts seasonal tours to help visitors enjoy their world-famous Christmas markets.
Belgium tourism packages include visits to EU Parliament, authentic dinners at Belgian farmsteads, and canal cruises in beautiful Bruges. Travellers also have the opportunity to experience some of Belgium’s finest products first hand, with visits to lace workshops in Bruges and local chocolatiers – including tastings of the gourmet delicacies.
Tours include knowledgeable local guides with inside knowledge for city excursions in Antwerp, Bruges and Brussels, and travellers can enjoy free time in both Bruges and Brussels. In Brussels, a visit to the cheeky, legendary Manneken Pis statue is a must, and tours include photo stops at the iconic Atomium, built for the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair.
There are multiple optional excursions included on Belgium travel itineraries, such as horse and carriage rides, visits to the Flanders Fields, Ypres and Waterloo, additional chocolate tasting tours, champagne canal boat rides and trips to the Atlantic Wall Open Air Museum.
Ready to stop daydreaming and start doing? Visit our tour comparison Belgium to find the right tour for you.
Want a taste of that insider Belgium tourism knowledge we mentioned before? We have collected the best facts from real life tour guides. Impress them on tour with how much you already know.
- Belgium is situated smack-bang in the middle of Europe, which is partly why it is the ideal location for European Union Parliament – in Brussels, as well as being the headquarters of NATO
- Belgium forms part of the Benelux region comprised of Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg
- Belgium tourism’s appeal lies mainly in its thriving cities, with the gothic architecture of Antwerp, the towers and art of Ghent, and the medieval canals of Bruges all drawing visitors year round
- Belgium travel also enjoys a few natural highlights, such as the stunning scenery of the Ardennes, whose meandering rivers, rolling hills and valleys, and forests extend into Luxembourg, France and Germany
- The coast of Belgium is bordered by the North Sea, and the most popular beach destination is Ostend in the province of West Flanders
- The Kattenfestival, or Cat Festival, is one of the more unusual Belgian traditions. The parade devoted to cats is held annually in Ypres to commemorate a rather ghastly former tradition involving throwing cats from the belfry tower
- Famous artists from Belgium include Peter Paul Rubens, René Magritte and oil painter Jan van Eyck, along with renowned Art Nouveau architects Victor Horta and Paul Hankar
- The first king of Belgium was Leopold I while the current monarch is King Phillippe, who ascended to the throne after his father Albert II abdicated in 2013
- Belgium’s location in the middle of Europe means it has been at the heart of some of the continent’s biggest conflicts. Today there are moving war cemeteries in Ypres, Passchendaele and at the Flanders Fields
- The Flanders Fields are world-renowned as providing the inspiration for the remembrance poppy as well as Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae’s poem ‘In Flanders Fields’
- The Belgian colonial empire consisted of three colonies: Ruanda-Urundi, a concession in China and by far the largest, Belgian Congo – now Democratic Republic of Congo
- Napoleon Bonaparte and his army were defeated in the Battle of Waterloo, fought near Waterloo in present-day Belgium, by two Seventh Coalition armies on 18 June 1815. The defeat prompted the famously tiny Frenchman to abdicate only days later
- Some of Belgium’s most recognisable sports stars include cyclist Eddy Merckx and tennis’ Kim Clijsters
- ‘The Muscles from Brussels’ actor Jean Claude Van-Damme calls Belgium home, and the tiny nation was also the birthplace of actress Audrey Hepburn
- Musician Plastic Bertrand, harmonica player Toots Thielemans, ‘The Smurfs’ and cartoonist Hergé – who created The Adventures of Tintin, are all from Belgium
- The Big Bang Theory was proposed by Belgian cosmologist Georges Lemaître, while cartographer Gerardus Mercator is known for his atlas and 1569 world map
- Inventions to thank Belgians for include Bakelite, the saxophone and – hotly disputed by the French with no firm answer as to who is right – fries
Courtney Gahan is a serial expat, traveller and freelance writer who has bartered with Moroccan marketeers, seen the sun rise at Angkor Wat and elbowed her way through crowds on NYE in NYC