Belgium is a progressive EU country steeped in centuries-old history. Bordered by France, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, Belgium shows an interesting mix of all these neighbouring cultures and English is widely spoken.
Key places which should be on every visitor’s list include the capital city of Brussels, a centre for the arts as well as being the headquarters of the European Union. It is a cosmopolitan city with lovely parks, magnificent classic architecture and wonderful shopping such as the interesting craft market at Tierra Viva. The purchase of a Brussels Card allows free access to over 30 local museums and attractions as well as unlimited use of the city transit system.
Antwerp, Belgium’s second city, has a vast cathedral, mediaeval streets and tall merchant’s houses. Take a walking tour of the curving streets which once followed the lines of the 16th century city walls and visit the museums and zoo.
Bruges is famous for its fine lace. This compact mediaeval city is one of the best preserved in Europe. It has postcard-pretty canals overlooked by typical Flemish architecture with stepped rooflines. Visit the fascinating Diamond Museum, take a tour of the Brewery De Halve Maan or explore the beautiful Basilica of the Holy Blood.
The region around Ypres in Flanders pays tribute to the battles of World War I. The Flanders Fields Museum is a thought-provoking attraction with exhibits including books, photographs, dioramas, photographs, newspapers and original documents from that era. Promptly at 8 p.m. each evening the moving Last Post Ceremony takes place at the Menin Gate in Ypres. Time seems to stop for a few moments to listen to the haunting tune of the six buglers as they express the world’s thanks for the lives sacrificed. At nearby Passchendaele, visitors are able to walk in the footsteps of long-forgotten soldiers through the trenches and see the battlefields where many of them paid the ultimate sacrifice.
Vincent Van Gogh spent some time in Borinage, taking art classes and travelling as a lay preacher. Visitors can tour his beautifully restored home and take walking or biking tours around some of his favourite places which inspired his famous paintings.
Cycling is a popular way to explore Belgium. For a relaxing car-free adventure, the country has over 2,000 kilometres of ancient canal tow paths that are hard packed or paved and provide some of the best scenic views in the country. This is the perfect way to explore Belgium from your villa rental and see the country at its best.
Brussels provides excellent family attractions such as the Atomium where children can explore a giant atom. Seen at night it is a wondrous spectacle of light and shape. At its foot is the Mini Europe play park where over 300 models of iconic European architecture can be seen.
Naturally, a visit to Belgium will include chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate! Bruges is home to Roose’s Chocolate World where you can watch your favourite treat being made by Master Chocolatiers. Learn about the health benefits of dark chocolate and stop in the gift shop for some delicacies to take home as welcome souvenirs.