The 10 best cities in Belgium to visit

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The best cities in Belgium that you should definitely visit

Our small Belgian country is home to some of the nicest cities in Europe. So if you’re looking for a weekend away with friends or family and great food, Belgium is the place for you! The most famous cities in Belgium are undoubtedly Bruges and Brussels.

The most famous cities in Belgium are undoubtedly Bruges and Brussels. As an art lover, you can visit the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, which houses works by some of the most famous artists in the world, such as Peter Paul Rubens and Paul Delvaux. The Grand Place, recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is also a must.

Bruges, also known as the “Venice of the North”, is a picturesque city in the northwest of Belgium. The canals and cobbled streets are a sight to behold. Be sure to take a boat trip through one of the canals and admire the architecture of the many well-preserved medieval buildings.

In the south of Belgium, you have the Ardennes. This area is perfect for those who enjoy spending time outdoors. There are numerous hiking and biking trails to explore, as well as several lakes where you can swim or canoe. You will find Dinant and Namen, two of the most beautiful cities in Belgium.

1. Bruges

We start with the charming city, of Bruges. Nestled in the northwest corner of the country, this beautiful city is known for its picturesque medieval architecture and idyllic canal system. It is therefore called the Venice of the North.

The city’s historic center has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it’s easy to see why. You will find beautiful Gothic churches and quaint cobbled streets with picturesque Flemish houses. Without a doubt, Bruges takes you back to another time.

Although it is one of the most visited cities in Belgium, Bruges still manages to retain its charm. Visitors can explore the city’s many museums and art galleries, enjoy a leisurely boat ride along the canals, or climb the 366 steps of the Belfry Tower for sweeping views of the city.

TIP: Visit the nice chocolate museum in Bruges with the family. A ticket costs €11 and can be booked in advance here. Then you avoid a queue at the entrance.

Other fun activities such as exploring the canals by boat can be found here. Don’t forget to wear warm clothes if you want to sail with the boat in the winter.

Spending the night in Bruges is no problem, you will find numerous cozy hotels and B&Bs in the center of the city. An overview of all accommodation options in Bruges can be found on this website

One of our favorites is Hotel De Barge, which is located on a boat close to the center. Prices and availability can be found here.

2. Antwerp

Antwerp is world famous for its diamond trade and is therefore nicknamed the “diamond city”. In the city, and especially around Central Station, you will find the diamond district. The thriving trade center and large port have made Antwerp a prosperous city since the Golden Age of Flanders. In the Steen Museum you will find a nice exhibition about the origins of Antwerp.

Today, Antwerp still makes an important economic contribution to Belgium. In addition to the diamond trade, the city is also known for its Museum Aan de Stroom, Meir shopping district, and the charming streets at Groenplaats. You can eat delicious food and enjoy the beautiful buildings. The Museum of Fine Arts has also recently reopened. It was only recently completely renovated.

Be sure to go through the cyclist tunnel to Linkeroever. That’s on the other side of the river “Schelde”. From there, you have a beautiful view of the Antwerp skyline. You can return by taxi boat across the Schelde. More information about the taxi boat also called the Waterbus can be found here.

TIP: When visiting Antwerp, you should definitely visit the Museum aan de Stroom also known as the MAS. With a guide, you can do a tour of Antwerp with all the sights in 2 hours.

There is no shortage of accommodation options in Antwerp. An overview of all hotels in Antwerp can be found here. How about spending the night in an old monastery? Look here to consult the prices and availability of Hotel August, a real gem in the center of Antwerp.

3. Kortrijk

Kortrijk is a charming city in West Flanders, Belgium. The river Leie flows through the city, and many colorful houses and shops line the streets. There are also several atmospheric restaurants and some fascinating museums.

The town is perfect for walks, and there are many beautiful places to see. For example, you can visit the Broeltorens (since 1385!) and the Begijnhof (Unesco world heritage site). The Begijnhof has been completely renovated since 2014. You will find a lot of extra information on the website of Kortrijk.

You can spend the night in this beautiful mansion. The Ar’Home is a stone’s throw from the courthouse and the banks of the Leie. You can find other nice hotels to stay in Kortrijk on the website

4. Ghent

Ghent, one of the nicest cities in Belgium, is a beautiful student city, rich in history and culture. One of the main attractions is undoubtedly the Gravensteen, a medieval castle in the center of the city.

Would you like to know more about the origins of Ghent? Then you should undoubtedly go to the STAM or the city museum in Ghent. Here you get a detailed picture of the many different events that made Ghent what it is today.

Those who come to Ghent in the summer can enjoy the city festival Gentse Feesten, which is one of the largest festivals in Europe. You can party in the city center for no less than 10 days. There are both indoor and outdoor activities.

There are both indoor and outdoor activities. Sailing through Ghent is a great way to discover what the city has to offer. Join a boat trip through the historic center and listen to the fun anecdotes and historical facts that the skipper knows how to tell with great enthusiasm.

TIP: Book your boat trip in Ghent in advance, then you are sure of your place on the boat. A ticket for a boat trip in Ghent costs about €9 and can be booked here. Count on about 40 min.

Finding good food and a nice overnight stay in Ghent will not be a problem. For example, you will find numerous restaurants in the Patershol. One of our favorite hotels, Maison Margo, can be found in the historic center of the city. Take a look here for all other offers.

More information about Ghent, one of the nicest cities in Belgium, can be found in this article about fun activities in Ghent.

5. Tournai

Tournai is one of the oldest cities in Belgium, with a history going back more than 2000 years. The city was founded by the Romans, and you can easily explore this atmospheric city on foot.

You walk through the cozy streets to the center and pass the beautiful belfry at the church. This is also the oldest belfry in Belgium (1188), recognized by Unesco as a World Heritage Site.

In the Cathedral of Our Lady (Unesco) you will find works of art by famous Flemish painters such as Rubens and Jordaens. So put Tournai on your list of the best cities in Belgium.

Another must-visit in Tournai is Le Pont des Trous, the city’s most spectacular bridge monument. It is a medieval bridge that connects the station and the ramparts.

You can spend the night in Tournai in the beautiful Les Camuches hotel. Other offers to stay in Tournai or Tournai can be found here.

6. Mechelen

If you’re looking for a charming historic city to explore, look no further than Mechelen. Located between Brussels and Antwerp, this hidden gem is perfect for a weekend getaway.

You will find, among other things, the beautiful Sint Romboutstoren. No less than 97m high and completely worth the climb.

In Mechelen, you will also find the Kazerne Dossin. This museum takes you to the terrible Holocaust during the World War. More information can be found on this website about the Kazerne van Dossin.

There is also a lot to experience in Mechelen for the children, such as the Toy Museum.

TIP: Technopolis is the ideal family outing if you want to keep it informative and fun. In addition, there is also a fun escape game that you can play in Mechelen. This way you have 2 hours to escape from Mechelen.

In Mechelen, you will also find the beautifully renovated Martin’s Paterhof. The perfect location to spend the night after all that shopping and visiting all those churches. You can find other offers and nice hotels to stay in Mechelen here. A visit to Het Anker brewery should also be on your list.

Are you looking for nice places for Instagram? Then these are the nicest places.

7. Namur

The capital of Wallonia (the French-speaking southern part of Belgium) is Namur. Namur is best known for its magnificent citadel

Towering over the city, the Citadel of Namur is an imposing 14th-century building that symbolizes how strong the city’s walls used to be. It is the best preserved medieval stronghold in Europe, many parts of which are still intact.

The Citadel offers a panoramic view of the city, making it a popular tourist attraction. The castle is open to the public and there are guided tours of the underground passages.

More information about the Citadel of Namur and the entrance fees can be found here.

Those looking for adventure can kayak on the Lesse of Maas and cycle along the river or you can go hiking in the many extensive forests in the area. More information and tips about Namur can be found on their beautiful website.

Culinary enthusiasts will not be disappointed either. Have a nice meal in one of the many restaurants in Namur serving traditional Belgian dishes or sample various craft drinks at the local breweries. One of our favorite restaurants in Namur is the Italian restaurant L’Huile Sur le Feu.

Recently we made a real road trip through the Ardennes. You can find more information in our article about the Ardennes. You can spend the night in Profondville near Namur. There you will find the boutique hotel La Vedette, one of our favorite hotels in Belgium. Would you rather stay in the center of Namur? Then take a look here at all the hotels in Namur.

Visit the Citadel of Namur by cable car
Lovely room in the Vedett hotel

8. Dinant

Dinant is located on the Maas and perhaps the smallest of the nicest cities in Belgium. You will find a beautiful citadel with a beautiful view over the city. The city is best known for Adolphe Sax, the famous inventor of the saxophone! You will find them everywhere.

In Dinant, you can enjoy a lovely walk along the water and enjoy delicious fries on one of the terraces on the water.

View of the citadel in Dinant
Gardens of Annevoie
Castle of Vêves

Dinant is not that big and you can combine it with a few other activities. In the vicinity of Dinant are also the Gardens of Annevoie and the Castle of Vêves, where you can go on a fun treasure hunt with the family.

You can spend the night in Dinant in one of the many small hotels or you can look for a rural hut nearby.

9. Leuven

Leuven is the capital of Flemish Brabant and a real student city. For example, KU Leuven is the oldest Catholic university in Europe. Leuven is also known for its many breweries and cafes, making it a real beer city.

There are still many places of interest in Leuven, including the Oude Markt the town hall, and many historic buildings in the city. Leuven was chosen as one of the European cities to visit in 2022. You will find, among other things, some fantastic abbeys that you can visit by bike, for example. For example, there is Park Abbey where you can do a real treasure hunt with the family.

One of the most popular sights in Leuven is the St. Pieterskerk which you can even explore with special glasses. More information about this visit can be found on the Visit Leuven website.

TIP: Visit the Stella Artois brewery in the center of Leuven. You take a look behind the scenes at one of the largest breweries in Belgium. A handy overview of the other breweries in the Leuven area can be found on this website.

You can spend the night in Leuven in one of the many B&Bs or in an old monastery. For example, there is Martin’s monastery where you can have a delicious breakfast and spend the night. View prices and availability here.

10. Brussels

Brussels is the capital of Belgium and one of the most important cities in Europe. Everyone knows the Atomium and Manneken Pis, of course, but Brussels has much more to offer than that

You will also find many museums in Brussels, including the Museum of Natural Sciences, the Magritte Museum, and the Museum of Africa in Tervuren.

In addition, you will find many restaurants and cafes on the fantastic Grote Markt, where you can relax and enjoy the atmosphere of the city.

And of course you can also visit the European institutions, including the parliamentarium where you can get acquainted with the history of Europe.

The TOP 10 sights of Brussels can be found in our article of the best places to visit in Brussels.

You can spend the night in Brussels in the Hilton hotel, among other places. Do you prefer it a little smaller? Then take a look at this website with alternative accommodation options in Brussels.

The 10 best cities in Belgium to visit

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