Traveling in Belgium brings forth images of medieval rooftops, lovely canals, tasty beer, and even more indulgent chocolates. However, there is much for one to see in this remarkable European country, where time seems to move at a slower pace and the people are welcoming to tourists. From modern cities boasting designer shops to cobblestone streets laden with museums, here are the best places to visit in Belgium.
Bruges, the capital of West Flanders in northwest Belgium, is distinguished by its canals, cobbled streets and medieval buildings. Its port, Zeebrugge, is an important center for fishing and European trade. In the city center’s Burg square, the 14th-century Stadhuis (City Hall) has an ornate carved ceiling. Nearby, Markt square features a 13th-century belfry with a 47-bell carillon and 83m tower with panoramic views.
Lier is a municipality located in the Belgian province of Antwerp. It is composed of the city of Lier proper and the village of Koningshooikt. The city center is surrounded by the river Nete, which also cuts through it. In 2018, Lier had a total population of 35,712.
Zaanse Schans is a neighbourhood of Zaandam, near Zaandijk, Netherlands. It is best known for its collection of well-preserved historic windmills and houses known as the World of Windmills. From 1961 to 1974 old buildings from all over the Zaanstreek were relocated using lowboy trailers to the area. The Zaans Museum, established in 1994 near the first Zaanse Schans windmill, is located south of the neighbourhood. Zaanse Schans and World of Windmills is one of the popular tourist attractions of the Netherlands and an anchor point of the European Route of Industrial Heritage (ERIH). The neighbourhood attracted approximately 2.6 million visitors in 2019. Date recorded: June, 2021
The Zaanse Schans is a residential area in which the 18th and 19th centuries are brought to life. Stroll past the bakery museum and enjoy the smell of fresh cookies, or take a look at the warehouse where clogs are made. You should be sure not to miss the cheese factory, pewter foundry and the various windmills. The Zaanse Schans is a unique part of the Netherlands, full of wooden houses, mills, barns and workshops. Make a cycling or sailing trip, browse the shops or treat yourself at the pancake restaurant. A day out at the Zaanse Schans in North Holland is fun and educational.
Rotterdam is a major port city in the Dutch province of South Holland. The Maritime Museum’s vintage ships and exhibits trace the city’s seafaring history. The 17th-century Delfshaven neighborhood is home to canalside shopping and Pilgrim Fathers Church, where pilgrims worshiped before sailing to America. After being almost completely reconstructed following WWII, the city is now known for bold, modern architecture.
Oslo, the capital of Norway, sits on the country’s southern coast at the head of the Oslofjord. It’s known for its green spaces and museums. Many of these are on the Bygdøy Peninsula, including the waterside Norwegian Maritime Museum and the Viking Ship Museum, with Viking ships from the 9th century. The Holmenkollbakken is a ski-jumping hill with panoramic views of the fjord. It also has a ski museum.
Dinant is a city in Belgium’s Walloon Region. It’s on the banks of the Meuse River and backed by steep cliffs. Perched on an outcrop above town is the centuries-old fortified Citadel. It’s now a museum with sweeping views. Below it is the Gothic Collegiate Church of Our Lady. Nearby, on the site of saxophone inventor Adolphe Sax’s birthplace, Mr. Sax’s House has interactive exhibits on the instrument’s development.
The City of Brussels is the largest municipality and historical centre of the Brussels-Capital Region, and the capital of Belgium. Besides the strict centre, it also covers the immediate northern outskirts where it borders municipalities in Flanders.
Ghent is a port city in northwest Belgium, at the confluence of the Leie and Scheldt rivers. During the Middle Ages it was a prominent city-state. Today it’s a university town and cultural hub. Its pedestrianized center is known for medieval architecture such as 12th-century Gravensteen castle and the Graslei, a row of guildhalls beside the Leie river harbor.