The kingdom of Belgium may be quite small, but it’s actually a pint-sized Europe. Austrian, Spanish, French and Dutch influences can be seen in its architecture and in the way Belgians go about their daily lives. That comes as no surprise as Belgium is in a strategic position between France and Holland. This makes it easily accessible and, in fact, highly coveted by its neighbours. Yes, at one or another, many a European country has tried to lay claim over Belgium. That is no surprise either. After all, Belgium has a lot to offer. Awe-inspiring mountains, scenic valleys, endless coastlines, cosmopolitan cities with great art and architecture – not to mention the world’s best chocolates – are just some of the reasons Belgium continues to be desired by many.
Known as the Venice of the North, Bruges (also called Brugge) is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. A remarkably preserved 13th Century town, the entire historical city centre is on the World Heritage list. Walk along the maze of winding cobbled alleys and romantic canals, and imagine yourself back in medieval times. Or visit the city’s wealth of museums for a striking image of its stirring history.
Zeebrugge is the main port and your gateway to Bruges.
- The Flemish Primitives. Bruges is the birthplace of this pre-Renaissance school of painting, and has the world’s largest collection in this style. For groundbreaking contemporary art, romantic folklore or majestic town palaces, visit the Bruges Museums.
- The Canals, Bruges’ remarkable arteries, which remain the best way to see it. Cruising the canals by boat, just like the people of Bruges did a hundred years or so ago, you will discover secret gardens, picturesque bridges, beautiful still lives and all the charm Bruges has to offer.
- Choco Story, a chocolate museum. After all, Bruges is also the world’s chocolate capital.
The capital city of Belgium, Brussels is the administrative centre of the European Union, which is why it is also called the capital of Europe. Brussels’ unique is derived from the French and Flemish cultures that co-exist in this city. Today, Brussels is home to many nationalities around the world, which adds a cosmopolitan flavour to the city. This vibrant atmosphere in Brussels is further enhanced by picturesque medieval streets, lively squares, beautiful boulevards, impressive monuments, spacious parks, cosy cafés, interesting restaurants and a thriving cultural scene.
- Grand Place, Brussels’ central square, which is often acclaimed the most beautiful public plaza in Northern Europe. Every two years in August, an enormous "flower carpet" - with a total area of 1,800 square metres – is placed in Grand Place for a few days, attracting a large number of tourists.
- Atomium, a giant monument gracing the Brussels skyline that is also a museum and exhibition centre, and a symbol for the peaceful use of atomic energy.
- Magritte Museum, on the Place Royale, features more than 200 works of the famous Belgian artist René Magritte.