Belgium -The Friendly Small country of Europe
Although Belgium is one of Europe’s smallest countries, and also one of the most densely populated, it offers the visitor a stunning variety of scenes, activities and experiences, amongst them
• stunning architecture and art forms from all eras, like Medieval town centers, castles and beguinages, to futuristic concepts
• the world’s leading diamond hub and Europe’s second largest sea-port (Antwerp), as well as the so-called Capital of Europe (Brussels)
• friendly people and unique cultural activities and festivals
• a gourmet experience, from famous beers, to chocolate and cheese.



Belgium has distinct regions with unique and different cultural and natural characteristics: The Flemish region to the north, with Dutch as the lingua franca, the French speaking Walloon region to the South, and a small German speaking community in the south-west. The Brussels-Capital region is bilingual. The countryside also differs remarkably, from the low-lying, mainly flat northern region bordering the North Sea, to the Ardenne in the south (bordering Luxemburg), with its forests, valleys and mountain scenery.


Since Belgium is centrally located in Western Europe, it can easily be reached by way of all forms of transport:
• By air: Brussels Airport (Saventem), about 12 km from the city centre, is the main transport hub for international flights. From there the city can easily reached by train, bus, car and taxi. The budget airline Ryanair uses the Brussels South Charleroi Airport (CRL), about 45 km south of Brussels
• By train: Cities like London, Paris or Amsterdam are no more than two hours from Brussels by way of high-speed trains like the Eurostar (up to 9 trains per day from London), or the Thalys to Paris in 1h25. From London to Lille takes only 1h22.
• By boat: Daily ferry services between England and Belgium, taking between 4 hours (from Ramsgate to Oostende) and 12 hours (overnight car-ferry) from Hull.
• By bus: Services, especially Eurolines, from all over Europe, also from London’s Victoria station through the Channel Tunnel (8 hours travel time)
• By car: Easily from anywhere in Europe, and auto-transporter trains through Channel Tunnel from England.


Belgium has a fairly moderate climate, but the main tourist season is during summer (April to October), however, the regions differ:

• Autum in the Ardennes with its spectacular display of colourful leaves
• Winter also in the Ardennes for skiing.
• Spring in the towns and cities, when the first tables appear on the side-walks, and flowers start to bloom in the parks


Since Belgium is such a small country, places and sights are near to one another. And with a extremely sufficient public transport system it is easy to travel around.

• By train or bus from almost any town or city on a regular basis, often hourly or less. Rail passes for multiple trips can be bought at reduced rates.
• Travelling by car is easy, but sometimes takes time, due to the density of traffic.
• Bicycling can be recommended, since Belgium, like Netherlands, has an extended network of well-signed cycling routes. Bikes can also be taken on trains.


The main attractions in Belgium are mostly city-bound :

• The Grote Mark (French - La Grande Place) in Brussel’s historic center, surrounded by magnificent Gothic and baroque buildings.
• Bruges (Dutch - Brugges), with the best preserved medieval centre in Flanders, a UNESCO World Heritage site, also called the Venice of the North, due to its extensive canal system
• Ghent (Dutch – Gent), a university town a bit smaller than Bruges, but with also the same characteristics: Gothic churches (like the St. Baafs Cathedral), 17th century architecture, canals, but also plenty of restaurants and cafes.
• Antwerp (Dutch – Antwerpen), as fashion capital, diamond centre and international port, but also with stunning architecture and a lively vibe.
• A beer tour by which you can taste some of the hundreds of different beers, especially those brewed by Trappist monks..


It may be wise to stay in two or three of the above-mentioned cities as centers from where to discover the country.

Brussel: Hotel – Sandton Brussels Centre, central location, 5 min walk to Grote Markt, 100 central station.
Restaurant – The Comme Chez Soi is well-known for its Belgian gastronomic delights, where you can actually see how it is prepared

Bruges: Hotel - The Duc de Bougogne, superb location, overlooking canal, only 10 rooms Restaurant – The ‘t Pandreitje, fine Belgian dishes in a Renaissance patrician house
Antwerp: B&B - De Koning van Spanje, central location, owner run, charming
Restaurant – Sir Anthony van Dijk, typical Belgian cuisine

There are hundreds of festivals held in Belgium throughout the year. What can be recommended, though, are:

• The Binche Carnival (Mardi Grass) in the superbly preserved medieval town of Binche, just 50 km south of Brussel. A festival dating from the 14th century.
• The Zythos Beer Festival held in Antwerp during the first weekend of March, when you can taste more than 200 different beers.
• The Tour de Flanders, Belgium’s most important cycling race through the towns of Flanders early in April.

- Manie
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