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Belgium: A Beautiful Blend of History and Modernity
Thomas Bormans -unsplash

Belgium: A Beautiful Blend of History and Modernity

Nestled in the heart of Europe, Belgium is a small yet captivating country with a rich history and vibrant contemporary culture. Known for its delicious cuisine, world-renowned beers, stunning architecture, and relaxed way of life, this charming destination is a must-visit for any traveller. From the busy streets of Brussels to the quaint towns of Bruges and Ghent, Belgium has something for everyone. In this article, we’ll explore the best places to stay, the top things to do, the best restaurants and bars, the traditional food of Belgium, and how to travel around and when to visit.

Belgium has a long and complex history. Celtic tribes inhabited the region before being conquered by the Roman Empire in the 1st century BC. The area was later ruled by various European powers, including the Spanish, Dutch, and Austrians, before becoming independent in 1830. Belgium played a significant role in both World War I and World War II and today is one of the founding members of the European Union and home to the headquarters of NATO.

Belgium: A Beautiful Blend of History and Modernity
Medieval Gent town. Belgium. By Freesurf, Adobe Stock

Where to Stay

Belgium has a wide range of accommodations to suit every taste and budget. From luxurious hotels to cosy bed and breakfasts, you’ll find something that fits your needs. We recommend staying at Hotel Metropole in Brussels to taste the city’s history. This elegant hotel, built in 1895, boasts stunning Art Nouveau architecture and a central location. If you prefer a more contemporary feel, the Hotel Le Berger in Brussels is a chic boutique hotel perfect for travellers seeking a modern vibe.

Bruges is a popular destination for those seeking a romantic getaway with its cobbled streets and picturesque canals. The Hotel Die Swaene is an intimate 4-star hotel in a historic building overlooking the canal. Alternatively, the Pillows Grand Boutique Hotel Reylof in Ghent offers a fusion of modern design and classic elegance, making it the perfect place to unwind and relax after exploring the city.

What to do

Belgium is a small country with a rich cultural heritage, and there are many things to see and do. In Brussels, you can explore the historic Grand Place, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the iconic Atomium, a futuristic building with a panoramic view of the city. The Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium is another must-see attraction for art lovers, showcasing an impressive collection of works from Flemish and Belgian artists.

The charming city of Bruges is known for its picturesque canals, medieval architecture, and cobbled streets. The Belfry of Bruges, a towering medieval bell tower, offers breathtaking city views. Another highlight is the Church of Our Lady, which houses an impressive art collection, including Michelangelo’s sculpture Madonna and Child.

Ghent is another gem in Belgium, with its stunning Gothic architecture, a network of canals, and a lively cultural scene. The Gravensteen Castle is a must-see landmark, dating back to the Middle Ages. The Ghent Altarpiece, a masterpiece of Flemish art, can be found in St. Bavo’s Cathedral.

Belgium: A Beautiful Blend of History and Modernity
Adrian Santalla, Unsplash

Food & Drink

Belgium is renowned for its gastronomic offerings, with delicious traditional dishes and world-class beer. In Brussels, check out Chez Leon, a famous seafood restaurant that’s been around since 1893. For a more upscale dining experience, head to Comme Chez Soi, a Michelin-starred restaurant serving refined Belgian cuisine.

In Bruges, you can enjoy a Belgian waffle from the famous food truck Chez Albert, which has served this delicious treat for over 100 years. The city is also known for its chocolate shops, and one of the best is The Chocolate Line, where you can taste a range of unique flavours like ginger, beer, and even cigar. For a cosy dinner, ‘t Zwart Huis is a beautiful restaurant with an atmospheric interior, serving Belgian-French cuisine.

Ghent has a vibrant food scene with plenty of trendy eateries and bars. The Pakhuis restaurant in an old warehouse is a favourite among locals, serving inventive Belgian cuisine. If you’re looking for a casual night out, the Dulle Griet pub is a popular spot, serving over 500 types of beer, including the infamous “Max” beer that comes in a shoe. Finally, for an elegant cocktail experience, the Jigger’s bar is a must-visit, with a creative list of drinks made with local spirits and ingredients.

Belgium is renowned for its cuisine, with many traditional dishes to discover. One of the most iconic dishes is Moules-Frites, a bowl of steamed mussels in a white wine and garlic sauce served with crispy fries. Another Belgian classic is Stoofvlees, a hearty beef stew with beer and bread or fries. Belgian waffles are a must-try for a sweet treat, served with toppings like whipped cream, chocolate, and fruit. Find out more.

How to get around

Belgium has a well-developed public transport system, making it easy to get around. In Brussels, the metro is a convenient and efficient way to travel, with six lines serving the city and its surroundings. Trams and buses also run throughout the city, and you can purchase a ticket valid on all modes of transport.

On foot is the best way to explore the historic centre in other cities like Bruges and Ghent. Bikes are also a popular option, with many rental shops available. Trains are an excellent way to travel between cities, with a high-speed rail network connecting Brussels to other major cities in Europe like Paris, Amsterdam, and London.

Belgium: A Beautiful Blend of History and Modernity
Daniels Joffe, Unsplash

When to visit

Belgium has a moderate maritime climate with cool summers and mild winters. The best time to visit is between May and September, when the weather is warm and sunny, and many outdoor events occur. However, the summer can be busy, especially in tourist hotspots like Bruges, so be prepared for crowds.

Belgium transforms into a winter wonderland during the winter months, with Christmas markets, ice-skating rinks, and festive lights adorning the cities. But, if you’re a beer fan, the Belgian Beer Weekend, held in early September in Brussels, is an unmissable event celebrating the country’s brewing culture.

Belgium is a country of contrasts, with a rich history, a vibrant contemporary culture, and delicious cuisine celebrated worldwide. From the grand architecture of Brussels to the quaint canals of Bruges and Ghent, there’s something for everyone. So whether you’re a foodie, an art lover, or simply seeking a relaxing getaway, Belgium is a destination that won’t disappoint. With excellent public transport, a range of accommodations, and plenty of things to see and do, there’s no better time to plan your next trip to this charming country.

For more information go to Visit Belgium

 

Main image: Thomas Bormans -unsplash

 

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