Belgium is one of the best countries I’ve ever been to – the home of chocolate, waffles and fruity beers – what more could you ask for?
I’ve been three times now in spring, summer and at Christmas, and I would say that spring was my favourite time to visit. In this post I wanted to round up the three best places I’ve visited over the years and hopefully inspire you to take a little trip there this year – plus it’s just over an hour flight, which makes it even more attainable!
Being the capital city of Belgium, Brussels was definitely the busiest of all three, but wherever we went never felt crowded. They have streets filled with beer bars, restaurants on every corner, and a real buzz about the city.
Brussels was the only place I did an open top bus tour, but I would recommend jumping on one if you can as it takes you to quite a few places it would take a while to get to on foot. Saying that there is a really good underground and overground system which was pretty straightforward to use, and quite cheap compared to other capital cities, so it could be worth giving that a try.
The Grand Place in Brussels is one of the most beautiful squares I have been to in Europe as the building are so breathtaking, and look stunning all lit up at night. There are chocolate and beer shops all around the edge of the square as well as cute little bars and cafes if you want to have a drink and watch the world go by.
I did a lot of research before we went to Bruges because I wasn’t sure what to expect having only been to Brussels at the time, but it exceeded my expectations in every way. Being the closest city to the board of Holland, there is a big Dutch influence on the buildings and it reminded me a lot of Amsterdam, even down to the number of people on bikes.
We stayed in a gorgeous hotel called Ter Brughe, which overlooked a canal, and our room opened up right next to the water, which meant it was lovely and peaceful. Our walk into the city took only 5 minutes and we passed lots of gorgeous architecture and tranquil canals.
One of my favourite things we did on our trip was the free walking tour which started by the Belfort Tower and went down all of the cobbled streets and the Halve Maan brewery tour. There is also a great bar called Bar2be where you can try 4 small beers for 10 euros and has a beer garden right on the canal.
Bruges was definitely the most beautiful of the three places, and the pace was a lot slower than the other two even though it is less than two hours on the train from Brussels.
Ghent was the last town I went to in Belgium, only last Christmas, but it was my favourite of the three and I would love to see what it is like in the spring/summer. It is a little bigger than Bruges but smaller than Brussels, but there is more of a centre and more places to walk to. There is also quite a big university there which means there are loads of bars and restaurants all doing deals for the students, and you don’t have to go far to find a good price for beer.
The best way to get to Ghent is by the train from Brussels, and from there you can easily hop on the metro into the centre, or even walk, which will take you about 20-30 minutes. There are loads of lovely walks to do along the canals and in the right weather, I would suggest taking a boat trip down them in order to see the town from a different angle.
There are a lot more coffee shops and cafes in Ghent, which might be because of the younger population, and you’ll find all of your favourite shops on the side streets.
And there you have my three city recommendations for Belgium – I hope you enjoy them if you ever go!
Have you been to Belgium before? Where would you recommend?