In this post we have listed the best cities to visit in Belgium, explaining why each and one of these places is special and should not be missed.
Brugges. Photo by Jadh Gonzalez
With a privileged location, the small country of Belgium will surprise you. Right in the middle of Europe, bordering with France, Germany, The Netherlands, Luxembourg, the country with Dutch-speaking Flanders to the north and French-speaking Wallonia to the south, has become a popular destination for tourists.
Why you should visit Belgium?
With a prime location, right in the centre of Europe, Belgium can be easily accessed by plane, train or bus. Its main airport, Brussels Zaventem, receives long haul flights from other continents. The railway connections to Brussels are also exceptional, with London, Paris or Cologne, easily reachable with high-speed trains.
Belgium is famous for the traditional Belgian chocolate and also for the beer. However, the country has much more to offer. Plenty of museums, parks, churches and also a couple of charming medieval cities.
Best cities to visit in Belgium
Brussels is the capital, which mixes the old and the modern and obviously one of the best cities to visit in Belgium. Full of tourist attractions like the Atomium, which has become one of the symbols of city. The iron structure, reproduces an atom augmented 165 billion times.
It is also worth visiting the Museum of Comic Book, with works by Belgian artists such as Hergé creator of the Tintin Adventures. There are also pieces done by Pierre Culliford, creator of the Smurfs. The Gothic Cathedral of St Michel is also a must-see. As well as the Mont des Arts Garden, and of course the famous Grand Place.
It is in the Grand Place that is located the Town Hall, the famous Gothic building from the Middle Ages. On the outer facade it is possible to see statues of members of the nobility and some saints.
The square looks even more beautiful at Christmas time, when there is an amazing lights show. The Brussels Christmas market is one of the most beautiful in all of Europe.
The city is teeming with young people. Brussels is famous for the busy nightlife, with a lot of pubs and breweries. The Delirium Brewery is the most traditional in the city. There you can try a wide variety of craft beers.
Bruges is a charming city in the northwest of the country. The city is a major hub for tourism in Belgium and definitely among the top three cities to visit in Belgium.
The easiest way to get to the city is by train departing from Brussels. The trip lasts around 1h10min. The tickets can be purchased on the stations and the prices varies between € 9 up to € 14.
The historic centre of the city is a Unesco World Heritage Site. Cars are not allowed in the historic centre of Bruges so, the best way to explore the city is by walking or renting a carriage. Another option to see the city from a different perspective is the boat trip. The whole tour takes around 1h. The ticket cost €12.
Romantic and charming as a fairy tale town, Bruges has medieval buildings and a lot of canals that run through small alleys. Among the main attractions of the city are the Lake of Love, the house of the nuns of the Order of St. Benedict, the chocolate museum, and the tour at the Halve Maan Brewery.
If you are planning to visit the city during Christmas and New Year holidays, make sure you visit the Christmas Market in the main square of the city. Don’t forget to try the typical food and take a chance on the ice rink that is set in the main square. It worth spend a night in the small city to enjoy the restaurants and also the chocolate shops.
Check our guide to Bruges here.
Ghent is the third largest city in the country, famous for the university, the city is popular destination among young people. It is also a good candidate to be at the top of the list for the best cities to visit in Belgium.
Filled with bars and cafés, as well as Bruges, car traffic is not allowed in the city centre, so the best way to explore is by foot or by boat.
If you are planning to visit the city during the summer, the month of July is a great opportunity if you are a big fan of arts festival. During 10 days the great cultural festival of the city of Ghent takes place, with musicals, dance, theatre and other artistic events.
Among the main tourist attractions of the city are the historic centre with medieval architecture, the Graveensteen Castle, St Mark’s Bridge and St Bravos Cathedral.
The best way to reach the city is by train from Brussels. The journey takes around 40 minutes and the ticket cost €6.
Antwerp is only 40 minutes away from Brussels by train. The city of Antwerp compared to the previous Bruges and Ghent is without doubt the most modern among them.
The city is a great mix of architectonic styles, with the Central Station, the Cathedral of Our Lady and the Grote Markt representing the diversity of Antwerp throughout the centuries. However, most of the city has a modern atmosphere. Antwerp Fashion Academy may have helped to make the city even more cosmopolitan.
For those who enjoy a busy night, the city of Antwerp is the right place. With many restaurants, bars and nightclubs, the city has an exciting nightlife. Antwerp also hosts many cultural festivals. Most of them take place during the summer, what brings even more young people to the city.
If you intend to enjoy the city’s night life, it is worth staying at least two nights in Antwerp, so you can really know what the city has to offer.
Check our Antwerp guide here.
The River Meuse crosses the historic city of Liege, in the French speaking part of Belgium. The best way to get to Liege is by train, departing from Brussels. The journey takes around 1h. The tickets can be purchased on the train station. During the high season the tickets cost between €11 up to €16.
The train station in Liege is itself one of the main stations. Santiago Calatrava was the architect responsible for this unique station and has his signature style.
In Liege, as well as Antwerp, it is possible to observe the architecture of the old and traditional buildings, mixed with the modern buildings.
On the banks of the River Meuse, the city of Liege is the right city for those who like to learn more about history and also about art. The city has museums, churches, art galleries and the traditional opera of the city as main attractions for tourists. If you are staying near the historic centre, you can easily do almost everything walking. Another way to explore the city is through a boat ride. The boats are on the pier in front of the Liège Aquarium and the ticket cost around €6 for a 50 minutes ride.
Just 65km from Brussels, the city of Namur, once considered the city of the bourgeoisie, lies in the Wallonia region. In the historical centre, it is possible to appreciate the architecture of the 17th century. The city is nice and relatively small, so it is possible to visit all points walking.
The main tourist point of the city is the medieval citadel. The city was built between the V to the IX centuries. Today, the place has turned into a large tourist centre. Inside the medieval citadel you can find, restaurant, hotel, a craft shop, a chapel, a traditional perfumery. There is also a beautiful park that hosts many events. From the top of the citadel, you can see the whole city, as well as the two rivers Meuse and Sambre, which cut Namur.
If you decide to go to Belgium, it is worth spending the day and even one night in the beautiful city of Namur.
Leuven is the capital of the Flemish Brabant city, and it hosts its worldwide famous Catholic University of Leuven. The city has a strong student life and more than 50 thousand students are enrolled every academic year in its university.
The Flemish Brabant capital might be also an interesting place to visit as its has a beautiful architecture and charming old town. It is also the site for a UNESCO World Heritage site, named the Grand Béguinage, an historical part of the city with is still inhabited as of today.
The city is also pretty close to Brussels, and definitely worth checking if you are coming to the Belgian capital. If you are coming by train, it is just a 30 minutes direct trip from the Brussels Central station.
Spa is not actually a city, however, this town near Liege is definitely worth visiting. The Belgian city, famous for healing with its thermal waters since the 14th century, is located in a valley, surrounded by local vegetation, rolling hills and numerous river springs.
The city of Spa is also a great spot for Formula 1 enthusiasts. The city hosts the Spa-Francorchamps route. Famous as one of the most beautiful F1 Grand Prix routes.
For those who have time and want to take a few days to rest, it is worth staying at least two nights in the city. So it is possible to enjoy the medicinally-owned thermal springs and the beautiful landscape of the region.
As you can see, Belgium has a lot of interesting sights, despite its relatively small size. This was our list of the best cities to visit in Belgium, I hope you will enjoy our style in this beautiful and diverse European country.
Other Resources for Traveling in Benelux
If you are traveling to the neighboring countries in the region you might want to check some of other guides to Benelux. Check where to stay in Brussels and Bruges. You may also want to check our guide to Maastricht and Amsterdam, in the Netherlands.