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Undiscovered Belgium

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Belgium is a tiny little country, smack dab in the middle of the EU. It is divided into two parts, Flanders and Wallonia. The capital city, Brussels, is home to a huge international community, but still has a reputation for being boring. This is far from the truth, but you have to work a little harder to uncover her secrets. Brussels has incredible food, interesting people, stunning art and architecture and a fascinating history. I hope I can share some insights from my adopted home with you.
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Koningin Astridplein 20-26, 2018 Antwerpen, Belgium
With its super-convenient location, right beside Antwerp's central train station, there's no excuse not to visit the Antwerp Zoo. The zoo is very well maintained despite its age (circa 1853) and city-centre location. The animal habitats are...
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Brussels, Belgium
A new company based in Belgium is promoting exactly what I love about travel—good food, meeting interesting people, and gaining insights into the city's culture through the people who live there. It's called Bookalokal. Bookalokal started in ...
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Cogels-Osylei, 2600 Antwerpen, Belgium
Just a few minutes walk from Antwerp, Belgium's Berchem train station, is one of the city's most beautiful neighbourhoods, the Zurenbourg. A handful of streets form the 'Golden Triangle' an area famous for its Art Nouveau and rival architecture....
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Sint-Pieters-Leeuw, Belgium
You could easily walk right by the entrance to the International Rose Garden of Coloma, without a hint to the beauty that waits inside. The small town of Sint-Pieters-Leeuw, not far from Brussels, is home to one of Europe's largest rose gardens,...
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Fernand Scribedreef 1, 9000 Gent, Belgium
Art-lovers should not miss the Museum of Fine Arts (Museum voor Schone Kunsten) or MSK, in Ghent, Belgium. This bite-sized museum offers a great overview of of European art, particularly Belgian, from the Middle Ages to the early 20th century....
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Rue des Francs 5, 1040 Bruxelles, Belgium
Thanks in part to Baron Victor Horta, Brussels was a leading center of the Art Nouveau movement starting in the 1890s and ending just before the Great War. This private house, open to the public once a month, wasn't a Horta creation but one by the...
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Rue du Marché Aux Herbes 120, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium
Hot dogs aren't normally what come to mind when you think of a healthy snack, but Hop Dog is trying to change that perception. This little take-away, nestled in one of the pedestrian streets near Grand Place in central Brussels is bringing new...
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Kammenstraat 81, 2000 Antwerpen, Belgium
Imagine listening to classical music while surrounded by the art and architecture of a former Augustine monastery. At the AMUZ concert hall in Antwerp, Belgium, you can do just that. AMUZ is home to the Laus Polyphoniea concert series each summer....
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Freyr 12, 5540 Hastière, Belgium
With hundreds of castles and chateaux in Belgium, open to the public, it's hard to know which ones to visit. The castle of Freÿr, in Wallonia, is a great place to start. This grand building has remained in the same family for 20 generations and...
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Guillemins, Liège, Belgium
Trains have been running through the Belgian city of Liege for 175 years now but the city has never seen anything like this new station. Opened in September 2009, this new station designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava replaced the one...
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Koningin Astridplein 27, 2018 Antwerpen, Belgium
Traveling by train can be a wonderful way to explore Belgium. A few of the country's train stations are destinations in and of themselves. Antwerp's Centraal (or Central) Station is one of the prettiest. Renovations and expansion have restored the...
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De Panne, Belgium
On a recent trip up and down the Belgian coast, as the sun was setting on one of the beaches NOT in front of a town, I saw in the distance several horses and riders coming up the beach. When they passed, on the horizon a ship was also passing in...
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1000 Brussels, Belgium
Every even-numbered year, for a week, in August, Brussels' beautiful Grand Place is even more stunning. The ground is covered in 600,000 flowers, creating a unique pattern. Thousands of visitors flood the market square to capture the perfect photo...
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Rue du Château 11, 7970 Beloeil, Belgium
Although everyone heads to France to see its chateaux, there are more than 3000 castles in Belgium and many are open to the public. A good place to start is the Chateau de Beloeil near Hainaut, in Wallonia. It has been in the hands of the same...
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Rue de l'Abbaye 55, 1495 Villers-la-Ville, Belgium
Most people know some of Belgium's best beer is brewed by monks in abbeys. These abbeys are still active and thriving. However there are many ruined abbeys dotting the countryside. Villers Abbey is one of the most beautiful and atmospheric. The...
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Avenue du Parc Royal 61, 1020 Bruxelles, Belgium
Each spring, the Belgian Royal family opens their private greenhouse complex to the public, for a short two weeks. It is well worth braving the crowds to visit. This incredible 2.5 hectare structure was built in the late 1800s and its architecture...
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It may look like Japan, but this beautiful garden is in the Flemish city of Hasselt, Belgium. It is the largest Japanese Garden in Europe and was constructed with the help of Hasset’s sister city in Japan, Itami. While the garden is a tranquil...
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Godshuizenlaan 2, 9000 Gent, Belgium
The new and high-tech city museum of Ghent is well worth a visit. Interactive exhibits make the museum fun for all ages, but it's the contrast of modern and ancient that is truly unique. The STAM is located on the larger Bijloke site. Now a haven...
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Groot-Bijgaarden, 1702 Dilbeek, Belgium
Most garden-lovers have heard of the Dutch tulip garden, Keukenhof, a few hours north of Belgium. Few, however, have heard of Belgium's own wonderful spring tulip garden at Groot-Bijgaarden Castle. Also called Grand Bigard (in French), the castle...
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Rue Stevin 168, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium
Ask any expat in Brussels, where to get the best hamburger, these days, and you're likely to start an argument. As little as five years ago it was like searching for the Holy Grail. Lately a dozen or more locations are serving up North America's...
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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...
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In such a densely populated and developed little country, it seems impossible to escape civilization. But there is one beautiful corner of Belgium where you can be truly alone—the Hautes Fagnes Natural Reserve, in Belgium's Eastern Cantons. The...
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Saint-Gilles, Belgium
Britxos opened its doors in the summer of 2012 to great fanfare among Brussels expat foodie community. We were already familiar with the team, from catering company La Britannique, for their incredible food and warm, friendly service. Britxos is a...
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Brussels, Belgium
With a huge community of British expats in Brussels, it's hard to believe there was no decent place to get fish 'n chips. But until the opening of Bia Mara in the summer of 2012, this was a sad fact. Seafood lovers in Brussels can now rejoice. Not...
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It's hard to imagine a less likely spot for a fine-dining restaurant. But DUO's food far surpasses its unassuming exterior. Watch closely, as you drive towards the Hautes Fagnes National Park in Belgium's Eastern Cantons, or you'll miss the small...
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Hoogstraten, Belgium
You'd be forgiven for thinking the largest Caribbean Festival in the world is in, oh I don't know, the Caribbean... If you're like me, the last place you would guess is in a farmer's field in rural Flanders Belgium. But that's exactly where the...
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Heidberg 4, 4700 Eupen, Belgium
The small city of Eupen is the capital of Belgium's tiny German-speaking community, located in the country's Eastern Cantons. This unique part of Belgium is far off the tourist map but is well worth a visit for its great food and proximity to the...
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Oeselgem, 8720 Dentergem, Belgium
Belgium is known worldwide for its beer, but some small, local producers have been experimenting with other alcoholic beverages as well. Bezegaard is an organic farm that has been producing fruit, jams, grains and turkeys for several years....
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7120 Estinnes, Belgium
Belgium may not spring to mind when you think of wines, particularly of the sparkling variety. But a small vineyard in Wallonia is producing some world-class bubbles. Domaine de Agaises has been winning awards for its signature Cuvée Seigneur...
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Place Poelaert 1, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium
Visiting a country's Supreme Court may not rank high on your list of things to do, particularly when the building in question has been covered in scaffolding for almost 10 years. Brussels' Palace of Justice (Palais du Justice) has been mired in...
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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...
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Karmelietenstraat 4, 2800 Mechelen, Belgium
It's not easy to identify the Martin's Patershof as a popular hotel in Mechelen, unless you know what you're looking for. The outside still looks much as it was intended, when it was built in the 19th century as a Franciscan church. In 1999, the...
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When Brussels Tourism announced the launch of the Tram Experience, the concept was met with some scepticism. Now, almost a year in, the tram is going strong, to great acclaim. The Tram Experience is a specially re-fitted classic tram that circles...
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Rue de la Sablonnière 2, 5503 Dinant, Belgium
While fields of sheep, cattle and horses are common sights in rural Belgium, you may do a double-take while passing by L'Autrucherie du Pont d'Amour, near Dinant. Yes those giant birds are ostriches (and a few emus, rheas and cassowaries). The...
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Domaine de Cambron, 7940 Brugelette, Belgium
A former Cistercian Abbey doesn't seem a likely place to find elephants, giraffes and cheetahs, but that's exactly where you'll find Pairi Daiza Zoo and Botanical Garden. This 55-hectare (140-acre) park is one of Wallonia‘s top attractions and...
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18, Komedieplaats, 2000 Antwerpen, Belgium
Even if you aren't hungry, it's worth stopping for a drink at the stunningly beautiful De Foyer cafe in Antwerp. You'll feel like royalty under the magnificent dome of the the 19th century Bourla Theater . The stained-glass, rich velvet curtains...
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Avenue Léo Errera 41, 1180 Uccle, Belgium
The Musee David et Alice van Buuren is a house and garden planned, built, and decorated in the late 1920s by art lovers David Van Buuren and wife Alice in the Art Deco style. It was their home until 1960 and became a museum in 1975. The...
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Ixelles, Belgium
The food truck revolution is coming to Brussels and a great introduction is Keep On Toasting. Keep On Toasting travels around Brussels, serving up gourmet toasties, toasted sandwiches inspired by the traditional croque monsieur. These are far from...
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Doel, 9130 Beveren, Belgium
If you're up for a unique and slightly strange experience, head to the abandoned town of Doel, near Antwerp, to view some incredible street art. The town of Doel has been mostly abandoned, although there are a few stubborn folk who refuse the...
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Vrijdagmarkt 22-23, 2000 Antwerpen, Belgium
I'll be the first to admit, a museum of printing didn't sound terribly exciting to me, at first. Antwerp Belgium's Plantin-Moretus Museum certainly changed my mind. This is the only museum on the UNESCO World Heritage list and the recognition is...
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Rue Lucien Plasman 7, 7180 Seneffe, Belgium
The Château of Seneffe or Château de Seneffe is an 18th century château located in the municipality of Seneffe in the province of Hainaut, Belgium. The château is property of the French Community of Belgium and serves as the "Centre de...
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Chaussée de Dinant 1037, 5100 Namur, Belgium
Strawberry season in Belgium is a big deal, particularly in the town of Wépion, near Dinant in the Wallonia region. Wépion's berries are known throughout the country, as the best strawberry, and their arrival on store shelves is...
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Avenue Van Volxem 197, 1190 Forest, Belgium
Brussels is a city filled with fabulous dining experiences, but for brunch aficionados, the options are sparse. Enter Chef Alex Weston, who runs the popular catering company, La Britannique. Chef Alex has revamped the French table d'hote (or...
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Rue de la Haie Himbe 1, 6940 Durbuy, Belgium
Durbuy, Belgium, claims the title of the "World's Smallest Town," (or sometimes city, depending which translation you use from the French). This dubious honor dates from 1331, when the town was elevated to the rank of city by John I, Count of...
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Belgium is a foodie paradise, but it can be difficult to find the best local artisanal products - unless you happen to visit the small town of Durbuy. There, nestled in the warren of cobbled pedestrian streets, you'll find the shop of the...
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Chemin du Meunier 26, 6941 Ozo, Belgium
I love cheese. I also love goats. So when I learned of a dairy goat farm just outside of Durbuy, Belgium, open to the public, I had to visit. The Ozo Goat Farm consists of around 200 happy Alpine goats. They produce delicious cheeses available to...
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Avenue Palmerston 4, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium
Belgium is famous for its Art Nouveau architecture from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. While many architects were experimenting with this new style, Victor Horta is Brussels' undisputed father of Art Nouveau. Many of his stunning...
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Place des Palais 7, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium
Place Royal is a busy spot in Brussels. Tourists queue up for the many museums, office-workers bustle back and forth from their cubicles, cars zip around the roundabout and, trams rumble through the middle. All the while, few know that beneath the...
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Ooidonkdreef 9, 9800 Deinze, Belgium
The lovely Ooidonk castle, once the home to the Earl of Horne, is one of the finest in the country and is still inhabited by the owner. The castle was involved in numerous conflicts between cities during the 14th and 15 century and saw its fair...
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Rue Montagne de la Cour 2, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium
My favourite building in Brussels is the Old England on Mont des Arts, just around the corner from Place Royal. It’s a striking concoction of steel and glass in the Art Nouveau style Brussels is so famous for. But what’s on the inside is just as...
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Chaussée de Louvain 86, 1210 Saint-Josse-ten-Noode, Belgium
There’s a lot of great international food in my neighbourhood of St. Josse, but as Brussels smallest (and poorest) commune, few tourists venture here. It’s a pity for foodies to miss out on such great quality and variety. One of my favourites is...
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Grote Markt 34, 8900 Ieper, Belgium
Once the general summer tourist season finishes, a different and more sombre sort of tourism begins in Belgium. Autumn is a time of remembrance and there is no more poignant place to remember the Great War than the Flemish city of Ypres. Ypres (or...