15 reasons to visit Belgium

We have been living in Belgium for almost three years now, after living in Italy for three years and Germany for five years. We love the food, the people, the amazing architecture, the proximity to other great countries. Do I love living here? Yes I do :)

Dinant, Belgium
For a wonderful, relaxing weekend try Dinant. It has great architecture, great views from the fortress on top of the mountain and great food. Sit a cafe and watch the world go by in one of Belgium’s most beautiful cities.
1000 Brussels, Belgium
The Grand Place in Brussels is the magnificent main square in Brussels. The square is the main tourist attraction in Brussels and is surrounded by numerous cafes and shops. Most of the buildings were constructed in the late 17th century, although market activity in the square dates back to the 12th Century. It’s a great place to hang out, grab a coffee or a liege waffle, and people watch.
Place de l'Evêché 1, 7500 Tournai, Belgium
Tournai is the perfect place to spend a Saturday afternoon. Visit the amazing Notre Dame Cathedral, go up in the Belfry which is on the UNESCO World Heritage List or just have a coffee at a cafe in the square and watch the world go by. Looking forward to the next visit.
Grote Markt 34, 8900 Ieper, Belgium
We decided one weekend to go to Ypres to see the war memorials and cemeteries and did some research about it, and it looked great as far as architecture goes but when we got there is was just amazing. I new the Cloth Hall will be impressive but to stand next to it it’s something else. The Cloth Hall of Ypres, Belgium, was one of the largest commercial buildings of the Middle Ages, when it served as the main market and warehouse for the Flemish city’s prosperous cloth industry. The original structure, erected mainly in the 13th century and completed 1304, lay in ruins after artillery fire devastated Ypres in World War I. Between 1933 and 1967, the hall was meticulously reconstructed to its prewar condition, under the guidance of architects J. Coomans and P.A. Pauwels. At 125 metres in breadth, with a 70-metre-high belfry tower, the Cloth Hall recalls the importance and wealth of the medieval trade city.
Brussels, Belgium
This is a weekend dedicated to Belgian beers. Small and big breweries present their beer on the Grand-Place. The entrance is free, the tastings have to be paid. And if you are not a beer fan, go for the amazing, fresh oysters sold by different vendors. My favorite place for oysters is at the restaurant Le Roy d’Espagne, in the corner, to the right of the Town Hall.
Orval 1, 6823 Florenville, Belgium
You cannot visit the current Orval Abbey but for a small fee you can visit the Orval Abbey ruins. By the 12th century, this Cistercian abbey isolated in the Gaume Forest had become one of the most famous and richest in Europe. After a film on monastic life, the tour takes visitors round the ruins of the 14th century cloister and 18th century cellar. Note the medicinal herb garden in front of the Monks’ Pharmacy Museum. The ruined late 12th century Notre Dame Church stands near the Mathilda Fountain in green surroundings. Note the north transept rose window and Romanesque, Gothic or Renaissance capitals adorning the pillars. The tomb of Wenceslas, first Duke of Luxembourg, is in the chancel. The apse dates from the 17th century. It’s a wonderful place to visit. The restaurant offers a wide selection of dinner options, starting at 6pm. Until then you can enjoy Orval beer, sandwiches made with local ham and Orval cheese also made at the Abbey. Beer and cheese can also be purchase at the Abbey’s store and other food items like local fruit jams. Religious art objects can also be purchased there. There is the possibility of staying the night in the guesthouse next to the Abbey. It is open to young and old, men and women, single travelers, families or groups.
Buizingen, 1501 Halle, Belgium
Hallerbos (Flemish) or Bois de Halle (French) is a beech forest just south of Brussels. It’s a popular spot for walking, cycling and horseback-riding. Every spring, for a few short weeks, the forest makes a magical transformation into a blue carpeted wonderland. Millions of tiny bluebell flowers bloom under the shade of the beech trees and people flock to the forest to catch a glimpse. Timing is everything, too soon and the bluebells aren’t out yet; too late and you’ve missed the show for another year. But that’s what makes seeing it so special.
Rue au Beurre 31, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium
Maison Dandoy has been baking delicious treats in Brussels since 1829 and you’ll find their famous shops scattered around Brussels. Step inside, and you’ll be greeted by the sights and smells of crunchy biscuits (cookies) looking much as they have since the shop began. The beautiful packaging makes Dandoy cookies a great gift (even if it is for yourself). Be sure to try the traditional Speculaas (or Speculoos); a spicy, crunchy gingerbread cookie, popular throughout the lowlands. While the Dandoy shops can be found all over, only one is home to the Dandoy tearoom. In my opinion, it is well worth seeking out for arguably the best waffles in Belgium. There are two types of waffle here—Bruxelles (Brussels); rectangular and flaky and Liege; rounded and baked with sticky sugar. How best to eat a waffle in Belgium is hotly contested. Locals swear waffles should be topping-free. I however am a sucker for the stewed cherries and vanilla ice-cream. However you order yours, just don’t ask for a “Belgium Waffle.”
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