Belgium – an underestimated country that has so much to offer

Have you ever think about going to Belgium? You probably didn’t because this country is not so popular destination but it definitely shouldn’t be so underestimated. Next time when you think where to go next, read a bit about Belgium and you will see that there are many reasons to choose it for a vacation destination. Here is a story about three cities that should be on your route: Bruges, Antwerp and Brussels. Let say that you will start your trip from the capital and that you have five days in Belgium.

Detailed Itinerary Brussels, Antwerp and Bruges in Five Days

Spend two days in Brussels

The Grand Place or Grote Markt is the central square of Brussels. It is surrounded by opulent guildhalls and two larger edifices, the city's Town Hall, and the Breadhouse building containing the Museum of the City of Brussels
The Grand Place or “Grote Markt” is the central square of Brussels. It is surrounded by opulent guildhalls and two larger edifices, the city’s Town Hall, and the Breadhouse building containing the Museum of the City of Brussels

Getting there: Brussels Airport is 21st busiest airport in the world. Located only 6 miles from the Belgium capital, it offers direct flights to most major air-hubs. Prices for a round-trip tickets from New York start in the high 500s USD; from Moscow – prices start at 205 USD; from Hong Kong – 495 USD; Sydney, Australia – 1015 USD and up; from London and most of the Europe – prices start at about 80 USD. However, keep in mind that there are so many other options to get to Brussels if you are already in Europe – buses, trains, cars, etc. For example, the Eurostar train between London and Brussels takes who and a half hours (keep in mind that it might be a little bit more expensive than flying but it is much more convenient since it is from city center to city center and you don’t need to travel to and from the airports)

Where to stay in Brussels:

Made in Louise (40 Rue Veydt, Ixelles, Brussels 1050, Belgium)

FunKey Hotel (116 Rue Artan, Brussels 1030, Belgium)

Sofitel Brussels Europe (Place Jourdan 1, Brussels 1040, Belgium)

The Hotel – Brussels (38, Boulevard de Waterloo, Brussels 1000, Belgium)

Pullman Brussels Midi Hotel (Place Victor Horta 1, Brussels 1060, Belgium)

When you will be walking around the streets of Brussels the most crowded place will be part of the town where is located the most popular statue called Manneken pis. It is really funny that something like that can be so popular. This 61 centimeter-high (24 inch) statue of a boy is one of the symbols of Brussels so you will be able to find lot of souvenirs looking like him. Interesting thing is that very often this statue is dressed in different costumes according the published schedule. All the outfits can be seen in City Museum which is located on Grand Place.

Manneken Pis Sculpture In Brussels
The Manneken Pis sculpture

One of the popular streets in Belgium’s capital is Rue de Bouchures. In this picturesque, narrow street you can find lots of bars and restaurants but don’t sit at the first restaurant that you see. Quality of the food here is not so good so go a few streets further and find a place that is serving some of Belgium specialties. The most famouse dish that everybody eat here is mussels with fries. It is really unusual combination but you can try it and decide on your own how great of a combo it is.

Moules-frites or Moules et frites
Moules-frites or Moules et frites is a popular main dish of mussels and fries originating in Belgium but also popular in France and in the rest of Northern Europe

Don’t miss to explore Grote Markt – a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it is a spot from where you will probably bring home tons of photos. The building of the City Hall was built in gothic style from the middle ages and it is truly fascinating. Sit for a while at the square and just take in the scene. Come here at night! for the full experience of Grote Markts.

If you are for a bit of the political scene visit Europarlament and Parlamentarium (Rue Wiertz 60, 1047 Bruxelles, Belgium)  Here you will find out how European Union works. For sure it is a place where you can find out everything you want to know about countries that are part of this union. This center is open every day till 6 pm and admission is free. While you are in this quarter go to Cinquatenaire Park, visit few museum and relax a bit.

Atomium, Brussels. Designed by the engineer André Waterkeyn and architects André and Jean Polak, it stands 102 m (335 feet) tall
Atomium, Brussels. Designed by the engineer André Waterkeyn and architects André and Jean Polak and it is 102 m (335 feet) tall

On your second day in Brussels go on a day trip to Heysel Park and Bruparck. Here are situated two attractions really worth of visit. Atomium, in Heysel Park, is tourist attraction created for World Fair of Brussels. It is symbolizes an iron crystal enlarged 165 million times. Just close by, in Brucpark, you can enjoy in Mini-Europe where you can see perfect replicas of the most famous European monuments. Combined ticket for Atomium and Mini Europe costs 23,60 euro. Tram lines number 7 and 51 will get you there.

Mini-Europe, Brussels, Belgium
Miniatures at the park Mini-Europe – reproductions of monuments in the European Union at a scale of 1:25

A day in Antwerp

Take a train from Brussels to Antwerp (the train ride is 52 minutes and it costs about 8 USD one-way) and when you get there the first thing that you will see is magnificent Centraal station. You will feel like you are in an old movie! This place represents a real example of railway architecture in Belgium.

It's pretty magical, Centraal station, Antwerp
It’s pretty magical, Centraal station, Antwerp

Most famous spot in the city of Antwerp is Grote Markt, situated in the hearth of the city center. This square is surrounded by the Town Hall and the Guilds of corporations.  If you visit  during warm weather come here and have a cup of coffee on the one of the terraces. Just few minutes away is the Cathedral of Our Lady, enter to marvel the interior, it is very unique.

One of the most favorite street among the tourists is Vlaeykensgang. It is small historic alley that will bring you back to the Middle Ages. It was built in 16th century and originally it was the street where shoemakers lived. It is a great place for a dinner so come here and enjoy in historic atmosphere.

Vlaeykensgang Antwerp
Vlaeykensgang is a small network of narrow streets and alleys in the oldest part of the city of Antwerp

If you will be in a mood for a nice walk through the park, your best choice could be Middelheim Park. It is open air museum where you will be able to see more than 200 sculptures. It contains works from the famous artists like Auguste Rodin or Henry Moore. Entrance is free of charge.

In the evening, take the train back to Brussels.

Two days in Bruges – Venice of the North

Bruges will probably be the town that you will love the most. To get to Bruges from Brussels get the train from Brussels-Midi. The ride takes about an hour and a round-trip ticket cost 28.80 Euro (30 USD). So leave your last two days in Belgium for discovering this, often called, Venice of the north. Bruges is the city built on the many canals, bridges are all over the town and its scenery will leave you speechless. The best way to go around and not to miss anything is by foot. Wander around the town, find a place that serves great waffles and taste that sweet desert that makes Belgium special. If it is not enough for you there are also sweet coco shops all over the town so buy some, it can also be great souvenir.

Where to stay in Bruges:

Hotel van Cleef (Molenmeers 11, Bruges 8000, Belgium)

Hotel Prinsenhof Bruges (Ontvangersstraat 9, Bruges 8000, Belgium)

Hotel Ter Duinen ( Langerei 52, Bruges 8000, Belgium)

Relais Bourgondisch Cruyce – Luxe Worldwide Hotel (Wollestraat 41 – 47, Bruges 8000, Belgium)

Pand Hotel Small Luxury Hotel (Pandreitje 16 | Flanders, Bruges B-8000, Belgium)

If you don’t want to walk, rent a bike or take a ride with the horse carriage and meet the hidden parts of the town. Another great way to experience Bruges is by boat. There are lot of canal tours so hop in and float around!

Canal and medieval houses. Bruges (Brugge), Belgium
The canals of Bruges

Did you know that fries are not from France? To learn more about the favorite snack in Bruges you can visit Frietmuseum (Vlamingstraat 33, 8000 Brugge, Belgium). After that you have to take portion of fries, they are selling it on every corner.

French Fries And Waffles, Bruges
Attention french fries lovers – you are in FF Shangri-La! French Fries can be found at almost every corner in Bruges

There are two more thing that you have to do before ending your Belgium tour. Go to the Bruges main square, climb up to the top of the famous belfry and take a view of the city. After that walk to the Rozenhoedkaai and here take the last photo of the Bruges.

Rozenhoedkaai, Bruges
Scenic cityscape with a medieval fairytale town and tower Belfort from the quay Rosary, Rozenhoedkaai, at sunset in Bruges, Belgium

Have you been to Brussels, Antwerp, Bruges or anywhere else in Belgium? Do you have any tips or suggestions to share? If so, you can leave your comments below.

backpacking, Belgium, City exploring

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