Belgium — Attractions
The most popular attractions in Belgium are undoubtedly the medieval and later Old Quarters in several of the country’s main towns, led by the UNESCO World Heritage site of medieval Bruges. Churches, cathedrals, grand palaces, and a huge number of ancient castles and tiny, charming villages are high on the list of must-sees. Brussels is known for its 80 museums encompassing all the cultural aspects of the country, as well as scientific and natural wonders. Guided tours are the best way to link the myriad of sites of interest and, for those into sports, there’s a lot to choose from as well.
Brussels Grote Markt
The Grand Square (Grote Markt) is the heart of the city and holds many of its most ancient buildings. The 15th century Town Hall (Stadthuis) takes up most of one side of the square with its magnificent Gothic carved stone facade, and period guild houses line most of the rest. The King’s House (Maison du Roi) is also here, home to a fine collection of works of art and local artifacts.
Address: Central Brussels
Belgium’s most iconic landmark is found adorning a fountain in the city’s Rue de l’Etuve. For such a famous sight, the bronze image is surprisingly small, and was cast some 400 years ago. Locals dress up the image in various costumes, including a Santa suit every Christmas and, on special occasions, the ‘pis’ falling into the fountain is beer, not water!
Address: Rue de l’Etuve, Brussels
St Michael and Gudula Cathedral
This spectacular cathedral towers over Brussels from Treurenberg Hill and was founded in the 11th century, although its breathtaking Gothic features were added some 200 years later. Its 50 bells still ring out every Sunday, calling the faithful, as well as disturbing late sleepers all across the district.
Address: Parvis St Gudule, Treurenberg Hill, Brussels
Antwerp Old City
The old quarter of Antwerp clusters around the spectacular Groenplatz, a historic Old Square with street entertainers, outdoor cafés, and the Grote Markt city square itself with Renaissance-style architecture. Behind the magnificent facades are narrow streets lined with boutiques, coffee shops, and ancient houses.
Address: Antwerp city center
Museum of the City of Brussels
Set in a fantastically ornate grand mansion in Belgium’s Grote Markt, the museum itself, although not large, is a treasure for its stunning architecture. Its interior reveals the history of the city in truly fascinating displays, giving special attention to the Belgian arts of lace-making and the weaving of allegorical tapestries depicting legends and folk tales.
Address: Grote Markt, Brussels
St Saviour’s Cathedral
The skyline of ancient Bruges is dominated by St Saviour’s Cathedral’s towering belfry, built along with the rest of the ornate structure between the 12th and 15th centuries. The interior boasts many fine artworks by famous painters, exquisitely-carved church furnishings, and many gold and silver artifacts.
Address: Steenstraat, Bruges
The medieval town’s picturesque city hall dates from 1376. Its colorfully decorated vaulted ceiling is well worth admiring, and the many 19th century murals painted on its interior walls tell a fascinating history of the city and its governments over the last 700 years.
Address: Burg 12, B8000, Bruges
Hoge Kempen National Park
Belgium’s only national park is a great place for lovers of remote regions and birders. Horseback riding, hiking, walking, and mountain biking can be done here among green lands, woodlands of ash, silver birch, and oak. There are cafés and resting points set along the trails for a quick bite to enjoy the day.
Address: Winterslagstraat 87-3600, Genk, Belgium
Bruparck Theme Park
Located in the center of Brussels, Bruparck is the perfect destination for a family outing, with its Mini-Europe feature, the Oceade sub-tropical water park and no less than 24 state-of-the-art cinemas. Set in the Hysel complex, close to the Atomium, it’s a fun day for all ages.
Address: 20 Bd du Centenaire, B1030, Brussels
Set within a short drive of Brussels, this fun park offers adventure sports for the whole family, including 11 tree-lining and climbing courses, bungee jumping, forest jumping onto huge mattresses, paintballing, and other uniquely Belgian challenges. Cafés and rest areas are provided, as is full supervision of all attractions.
Address: Rue St Anne 152, 1300, Wavre
This northeastern seaside resort is known for its beaches. In its early 19th century founding days, it attracted artists eager to take advantage of the lovely surroundings and unique light quality. Nowadays, Knokke is an upscale resort town boasting a casino and luxury hotels, but the light and lively vistas haven’t changed. A walk along the beach before supper is a rare treat.
Address: West Flanders Province