BELGIUM

Belgium is the unspoken capital of Europe. That's the place where the European Parliament and European Commission sits, and the General Headquarters of NATO is located. It's a kingdom of bustling market squares, a diversity of canals, mysterious Medieval castles, bell towers and sharp-spired houses, enigmatical stalactitic caves, comfortable Spa resorts, picturesque beaches on the North Sea, marvelous chocolate, mind-blowing Belgian waffles, and renowned beer. The brewing culture of Belgium was included in the UNESCO Lists of Intangible Cultural Heritage. Everything here is filled with the spirit of history and nobility. It's a wonderful place for cycling, walking, and recreational holidays by the seaside.

The famous statue of “Manneken Pis” is located in the capital of Belgium, Brussels. It's not only a unique architectural monument but also a peculiar symbol of Belgium. By the way, many tourists are disappointed with what they see. They imagine an enormous statue with a fountain. In reality, the figure of a boy is no higher than one meter.

Forget all the stereotypes on your way to Belgium! Rent a bicycle, drive around castles and parks, spend time in small cozy towns. Don't look for the most famous monuments and the most exotic sorts of beer. Let the rhythm of this country enrapture you. Stroll along the coast of the North Sea, smile back at the passers-by, breath in the friendly atmosphere, and it will be the best journey in your life!

General Information

Capital Population Language Currency Territory
Brussels 11 480 534 Dutch, French, German Euro 30 528 km²

Geography

The Kingdom of Belgium is a country in Western Europe. It neighbors on France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. It is washed by the North Sea in the North-West. There are plenty of full-flowing and overland rivers. The Meuse and Scheldt rivers are the two largest among them. Belgium is divided into three geographical regions: the coastal plain, the central plateau, and the Ardennes uplands. On the administrative level, the country is divided into the Flemish, Walloon, Brussels-Capital regions.

A country of the sophisticated taste and centuries-old traditions

Belgium is one of the countries in the Low Countries which incredible cities attract millions of tourists every year. Every city of the Kingdom has its peculiar character, image, and temper. The interesting history, renowned architectural monuments, a wonderful cuisine shall be your loyal fellow travelers on the tour around Belgium.

Brussels

This city creates a feeling of magic and unreality at first sight. This is a wonderful capital of Belgium, Brussels. It is located on the banks of the River Senne and manages to combine modern buildings and monuments in the Gothic style, castles, cathedrals, and bell towers. The city was mentioned for the first time in 966. The Dukes of Burgundy, Philip the Good, and Charles V. The production of articles of luxury and jewelry was flourishing in Brussels. After the Willebroek Canal between the city and the port of Antwerp had been built, Brussels became one of the most attractive and richest cities in the Flemish Region. Today, it has a large port, two international airports, and three railway stations. Brussels is a beautiful and atmospheric city with a diversity of cafes and restaurants. They offer delicious coffee with renowned waffles with chocolate, escargots and one of the best sorts of beer in the world. It would be interesting for many people to attend a meeting of the European Parliament and see how they pass the laws of the European Union. Brussels is filled with architectural masterpieces: the Grand Place or Grote Markt (a central city square), the City Hall, the King’s House or the Bread Hall, the Palace of Justice, and Brussels Stock Exchange. The Atomium is a monument created for the World’s Fair in 1958. Tourists love this place!

Antwerp

Antwerp is the second in size and the largest seaside city in Belgium. It stands on the banks of the river Schelde and the North Sea. It’s one of the largest seaports in the world and the second one in size in Europe. A convenient location had been providing Antwerp with the status of the richest town in Northern Europe for a long time. The best diamond’s faceting masters work here. Numerous attractions, museums, and exhibitions tell about the centuries-old fascinating history of Belgium and Antwerp. We recommend you to start your tour with the Antwerp Central Station which is recognized as one of the most beautiful railway stations in the world. Then, head to the Queen Astrid Square renowned for the gallery of jewelry stores. The Het Steen, City Hall, the Cathedral of Our Lady, Museum aan de Stroom which roof is an observation deck - that’s only one ounce of the fascinating places in the city. The oldest zoo in Europe is also situated in Antwerp. It is over 170 years old! Around 770 species of rare animals live here. Some well-preserved pavilions were built in the previous century. The Chocolate Line of Dominique Persoone is the place every person with a sweet tooth must attend! Peter Paul Rubens and Anthony van Dyck — the renowned artists of their time — used to live and create their masterpieces in Antwerp. This city proudly occupies the place of the important educational and cultural center of Europe.

Bruges

Bruges is a charming city in West Flanders. After the Hollywood movie, everyone dreams to come here for at least one day. The city has plenty of picturesque narrow canals running between the colorful facades of the houses decorated with plants. Bruges is often called the Northern Venice due to its beautiful canals which often let in sea-going vessels. There are 54 bridges in Bruges; 12 of them are moveable. Architectural monuments, Medieval towers or tower bells, cathedrals or figures of saints can be seen at every corner of this city. The Church of Our Lady deserves special attention. Inside, you can see the worldwide known marble statue of “Madonna and Child” by Michelangelo. You have to see the city from the water and from the height to have a full picture. So, don’t hesitate to enjoy a ship tour along its numerous canals. The Belfort Tower which was erected back in 1240 and is 83 meters in height will offer a wonderful view.

Ghent

A cozy town of Ghent is located 50 km away from Brussels. The capital of East Flanders is situated at the confluence of the Leie and Scheldt rivers. It had been the second in size city in Europe after Paris from 1000 to 1550. A wide range of historical attractions, palaces, parks, and cathedrals managed to survive till nowadays. The most popular and frequently visited places in the city include the Medieval Gravensteen Castle, City Hall, Het Belfort van Gent and its observation deck, Masons' Guild Hall, Saint Bavo Cathedral, St. Michael's Bridge. We highly recommend you to visit Patershol quarter, Graslei and Korenlei Streets, located on the embankment of the Leie river famous for its Flemish architectural style.

Leuven

Another charming town of Belgium is located on the picturesque banks of the river Dyle. Wonderful Leuven is famous for the oldest Catholic university in Belgium and beer of the tradename Stella Artois. It has been produced here from the XV century. The production of beer is promoted to the rank of science in Belgium. There is even a department at the university called “The Academy of Brewing”. The city offers a wide range of fascinating architectural monuments such as the square of Grote Markt, Sint-Geertruikerk and Sint-Kwintenskerk Churches. The Leuven Town Hall is built in the late Brabantine Gothic style with three tiers of sculptures of famous people. It’s one of the most impressive buildings in the city and country in general. When you enter the Spanish quarter with well-preserved Medieval buildings made of red bricks, you dive into the atmosphere of the XVII century. In the evening, you should definitely visit the longest bar square in Europe called the Ode Markt.

National Peculiarities of Belgium

It may seem that all Europeans are similar. However, if you give citizens of any country a second or even a third glance, you find plenty of differences. You should know some of them to feel more comfortable in Belgium:

The Belgians living in different regions tend to make jokes about each other. However, the tourists shouldn’t copy their manners of talking to local citizens. Jokes from the newly arrived can be considered as an insult.

Drinking beer in Belgium is like a real lifestyle. Local citizens start doing this at 10 AM and drink quite a lot of this beverage regardless of the gender. When you drink beer with the Belgians, don’t even think of comparing it to beer in other countries or doubting its quality or taste.

French fries are one of the main national dishes. It’s a weak spot for the Belgians as they are sure that the fried potato is their invention and has nothing to do with the French.