Travel to Belgium

Brussels Botanic Gardens

Although, I have had the opportunity to travel to Belgium a number of times, I have found that I did not take many photos of the trips. In fact, I took just a few digital photos of Brussels. Brussels is the city where I have spent the most time. In fact, the reason I travelled so often to or through Brussels was for a previous job. The company had an office in Wavre, southeast of Brussels. Additionally, I visited Bruges and Antwerp some years ago before I had a smartphone!

Antwerp had a very different feel, and was smaller than Brussels. When I visited, it was as a day trip from southern Holland with family friends. We enjoyed beers outside in the old and beautiful main square. Bruges is a very quaint and beautiful town in the north near the coast. It has a lot of history and I would love to visit again.

This guide to travel to Belgium will focus mostly on Brussels, as I am most familiar with that area.

Charles Buls Fountain
Charles Buls Fountain, Brussels
Brussels Town Hall
Brussels Town Hall
Smurf statue, Rue du Marché Aux Herbes, Brussels
Smurf statue, Rue du Marché Aux Herbes, Brussels

Highlights

  • In Antwerp, the main square is beautiful and lively. Enjoy a beer at an outdoor cafe
  • Bruges also has a beautiful main square and interesting architecture throughout the city. It is also known for its canals
  • Chocolate! Belgian chocolate is arguably one of the best in the world. There are many places to sample the chocolate and I highly suggest you do. One of my favourites is Pierre Marcolini
  • Brussels Grand Square and Town Hall
  • Appreciate the old architecture including numerous churches
  • Manneken Pis – famous fountain
  • Zinneke Pis (dog version)
  • René Magritte Museum
  • Visit some interesting museums including arts, comics and fashion. I was also curious but didn’t get a chance to visit the Sewer Museum. I have been to the one in Paris!
  • Botanical Gardens
  • Palais du Bruxelles

Before you go

  • Belgium is part of the European Union. UK and US citizens do not need a visa to visit up for up to 90 per 180 days
  • Belgium has three official languages: French, Flemish (Dutch) and German. However, many people in the cities speak English
  • You may hear the word BeNeLux and that refers to the area of Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg
  • Beer can be purchased by anyone 16 years and older
  • Belgium has all four seasons and it is known for being quite drizzly, so you may carry an umbrella
  • The Smurfs are originally from Belgium! French: Les Schtroumpfs and Dutch: De Smurfen
Cool hanging seats at Bloom Hotel
Cool hanging seats at Bloom Hotel
Drug Opera Restaurant
Drug Opera Restaurant
The Dominican Hotel, Brussels
The Dominican Hotel, Brussels

Transport

  • The easiest way to travel to Belgium from London is on the Eurostar. The journey from Kings Cross St Pancras to Brussels-Midi takes less than 2 hours.
  • Of course there are also many flights into Brussels. There are two international airports, Brussels Airport (BRU) and Brussels South Charleroi Airport (CRL). BRU is a lot closer to the city centre and can be accessed by city bus. On the other hand, CRL is far to the south. There is public transport to the centre of Brussels which takes just over an hour. Also, transport by car can take well over an hour with traffic.

Accommodation

  • I can remember two hotels that I stayed at during visits to Brussels, and can recommend both of them. The Dominican is 4-stars, very comfortable and central. Hotel nHow Brussels Bloom is part of the NH chain. It is also 4-stars, and quite trendy and modern.
  • Sometimes, when I travelled to Brussels for work I stayed in Wavre or Rixensart near the office. By far, the Chateau du Lac was the most luxurious, located right next to Lake Genval. I also stayed at the Leonardo Hotel in Wavre which has become a Novotel. There is not much around so without a car, I would not recommend staying there for tourism.

Currency

The official currency in Belgium is the Euro. As of March 2022, one British pound is equal to 1.19 euros.

I recommend to check the currency conversion just before you leave as this fluctuates

10 euro note
10 euro note
Moules frites, Mussels from Brussels
Moules frites, Mussels from Brussels
Croquettes with grey shrimp
Croquettes with grey shrimp
Elisabeth chocolatier
Elisabeth chocolatier, Brussels

Food

What do you think of when you think of Belgian food and drink? I think of waffles, chocolate, mussels and fries (moules frites), and beer. However, there are many other typical foods to try in Belgium. For example, the croquettes are a tasty, popular snack. They consist of a creamy potato and meat mixture, dipped in breadcrumbs and deep-fried. I saw these as fast food and even served as our starter at a fancier work dinner.

Another dish is Carbonnade Flamande or Flemish stew. It is a deliciously rich beef and beer stew, which I have made at home using this recipe.

In addition to the savoury foods are the desserts! My favourite Belgian chocolatier is Pierre Marcolini, who I had the pleasure of meeting at the Salon du Chocolate in Paris. He was very kind and chatted with me after a cooking demonstration. However, my friend was embarrassed when I asked for a photo!

I also tried delicious chocolates from Darcis, Frederic Blondeel and Elisabeth. Unfortunately, the Darcis shops in Brussels are closed, but there are shops in other places around Belgium and online.

Waffles are also a popular dessert. Belgian waffles are famous world-wide. However, in the US it tends to refer to thicker waffles. But in Belgium the waffles are not only thicker but also caramelised and a big crispy. They are made with dough (like bread), rather then pourable batter.

Finally, the variety of Belgian beers is huge! Personally, I like the fruity beers but there are different choices for all tastes.

Bellevue Kriek (Cherry) Beer and Chinese food
Bellevue Kriek (Cherry) Beer and Chinese food
Begaufra Belgian waffles
Begaufra Belgian waffles
Darcis chocolatier
Darcis chocolatier- now closed in Brussels but available elsewhere in Belgium and online

FAQs

Q: Do I need a tour guide?

A: No, not for visiting the cities as it is easy to find the places of interest.

Q: Do people speak English?

A: Yes, many people do in the cities

Q: Can I travel solo?

A: Yes, it is easy to get around by public transport, and is safe to walk around the cities.

Q: How easy is it to send postcards? It is easy to find postcards and post offices in the main cities.

A: See Sending Postcards from Abroad for details on cost and the time it took to reach the USA.

Go to Country Map

Sharing is caring!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.