Belgium is a tiny, young European country, situated between The Netherlands, Germany, France, and Luxembourg what makes it multicultural and multilingual as French and Flemish are the official languages. Although, Belgian biggest cities have a lot to offer in terms of attractions, chocolate, and beer. Belgium is proud to produce more than 1000 beer brands and 600,000 tons of chocolate every year!!! That’s what I am calling achievements!!!
First stop: Brussels.
Belgian capital is duo-lingual and is a stunning city where a big part of the buildings are designed in Art Nouveau style. Four must-do things come to my mind when I think about Brussels: Atomium, Manneken Pis, Grote Markt (Main square market) and Belgian waffles. I really wanted to visit the Atomium and we stopped first there. The Atomium is a fascinating architectural installation and if you have enough time, you can enter inside. As the weather was nice and we couldn’t wait to taste some Belgian waffles, we literally “skipped the lines” and headed to Brussels city center.
The Grote Markt (Main Square market) is gorgeous with all the buildings around. We made a break and tasted Belgian waffles. Afterward, it was time to ”catch the perfect shot” of the main symbol of the city – Manneken Pis. The statue of the famous little boy peeing on the street is smaller than I expected, however, it’s quite challenging to make a decent picture of him because of the crowd. I heard that there are also Jeanneke Pis (a peeing girl) and Zinneke (a peeing dog) statues somewhere in the city, but we decided to keep them for the next visit):
Next stop: Antwerp
The next Belgian city that was on my radar is Antwerp. The third biggest port in Europe is very famous for diamonds trade. If you are looking for luxurious jewelry, that the place to be.
As my husband has a very good friend from Antwerp, we were lucky to have a private guide):
The first ultimate thing to do in Antwerp – Belgian beer. When we met our friend, the first thing we did, was to have a glass of beer in the Grote Markt (Main Square market) with him. Belgian beer is the best in the world and is an absolute must-try even for those who don’t drink beer like me ): There are plenty of special breweries and monasteries where beer is concocted following very old and secret recipes.
Around noon, we visited the Antwerp Townhall. This is the heart of Antwerp’s political life. The building is impressive on the inside. Stop by to admire its interior, it’s open to the public.
It was time for lunch and we had some delicious burgers at Ellis Gourmet Burger – a local chain of restaurants. Yummy!!!
The last place we visited was the MAS (states for Museum aan de Stroom Museum by the River in Flemish) is a museum located along the river Scheldt. It was inaugurated in 2011 and it’s the biggest museum in Antwerp. Due to the trade and shipping industries developed in the region, MAS’ collection contains objects of art and history brought by ships and traders from all over the world. There are temporary exhibitions exposed in different halls. The building itself is an architectural gem and you can spot it from every corner of the city.
The third Belgian city on my list was Ghent.
I have to say that for me Ghent is the most beautiful Belgian city. I had a friend living in Ghent, so I enjoyed her company showing me the highlights of the city.
The symbol of the city is the mystical Castle of Counts “Het Gravensteen” (in Flemish). Exquisite torture equipment and a dungeon are hidden behind the tall walls of the castle. You can enter the inside and visit the exhibition. Instead, I preferred to explore the city and continued to St Bavo’s Cathedral (Sint-Baafskathedraal). This is where the painting “The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb” by the Van Eyck brothers is conserved.
If you are passionate about street art, there is a Graffiti street in Ghent. It’s just around the corner of the main historical spots and it’s worth making an escape there.
Last city visited: Bruges
Who hasn’t heard about Bruges? Called the Northern Venice and one of the most romantic cities in Europe, Bruges is one of the cities to see before you die.
The first thing I saw in Bruges was the Begijnhof (Beguinage). Their white-colored house fronts and convent garden are easily recognizable. These white houses served as a home for the beguines and women who led a pious and celibate life. Today the beguinage is inhabited by nuns of the Order of St. Benedict and few women who have decided to remain unmarried. If you are curious about the day-to-day life in Bruges back at the days, you can pay a visit to Begijnhof.
After the Begijnhof it was time for an abundant Belgian breakfast: waffles, orange juice, and a strong coffee. As I visited Bruges on a Sunday, everything was closed till noon, so I decided to treat myself a delicious Belgian breakfast.
By lunchtime, I walked down to the Grote Markt for some chocolate and to check on the local craftsmen – the handmade laces. Bruges is the place to get some nice lace decoration for your dining table and home. Once you’ve chosen a beautiful tablecloth, you’ll need to find the best chocolate in town and you’ll be ready for your next Sunday brunch with friends):
Bruges city center looks like the perfect decor for a romantic movie. There are plenty of galleries, historical buildings, carriages, and canals.
In the afternoon, it was time to hit the road and to go back home.
Thanks for reading!