I have this weird thing with picking travel destinations. I have been to several continents and have spent months exploring remote parts of the world. But I rarely seem to visit the places that are close to home. I always end up putting it off, thinking “it’s so close, I can go another time.” That’s how I have never been to London, even though it’s only a 1-hour flight from the Netherlands. And how I had only been to Belgium once. Until last week. I decided that it was finally time to take the ridiculously short drive (2 hours) down to my southern neighbours. I visited my friend Caroline from the Veggie Wayfarer in Mechelen en took day trips to Ghent and Bruges. Visit her website for specific tips on all of these places, she knows all the best spots to go.
I don’t know why I put it off for so long, because Belgium is awesome! Beautiful old cities, great food, even better beer and it’s basically just around the corner from me. As a Dutch speaker, I had the added bonus of being able to speak the local language (although most Belgians speak excellent English). This trip has reaffirmed my idea that you don’t have to go far to travel. So, follow my lead and take some time to visit the wonderful places that are closer to home. And definitely put Belgium on your travel bucket list, because it’s a lovely little country! These are the places you definitely can’t miss:
Antwerp is the perfect base if you want to spend some time in Belgium. It’s a beautiful city with a lot to do. Any trip to Antwerp starts you off right because it has one of the most beautiful train stations in the world. Stroll around the city, look at diamonds in the Jewish Quarter, visit museums and gorge yourself on delicious Belgian food and beer.
Not too far from Antwerp, you’ll find the beautiful historical city of Ghent. I instantly fell in love with this gorgeous city and its fairytale Gothic architecture. The little streets are filled with cute houses, delicious street food and beautiful sights. It is also a University town with a vibrant, young population and tons of cultural events.
Bruges might just be the most famous town in Belgium. Its historical centre is protected as a UNESCO Heritage Site and draws millions of visitors every year. Walking around Bruges feels a bit like walking in a giant open-air museum. Let yourself get lost in the cute little streets and try a waffle at the market.
Often overlooked for the more famous Ghent and Bruges, Mechelen is certainly worth a visit as well. It’s close to both Antwerp and Brussels and makes for a perfect day-trip from either. With a beautiful historic city centre, romantic little courtyards and an impressive Cathedral, Mechelen is a stunner.
Brussels is at the bottom of this list because in my opinion, you should visit all the previous towns before going to Brussels. The Belgian capital is also the seat of the European Parliament and European Commission. It is a bustling city, mainly focused on politics and finance. But it also has lots of famous sights such as ‘Manneken Pis’, the Atomium and, of course, those delicious Belgian fries.
What are your favourite places in Belgium? Let me know in the comments! And feel free to share this post on social media if you liked it: