Small though it may be, Belgium manages to pack in an astonishing number of historic sights and pretty medieval towns. Its quirky capital Brussels could possibly be the country’s most fascinating city. Many residents here speak both French and Dutch, and it is most well-known as being the home of the EU headquarters. Admire the city’s grand architecture and lounge in relaxing cafés.
Wander around Brussels’ Grand Place, an iconic square surrounded by the town hall and over 40 historic guild halls. Sip a beer in one of the cafés that surround the cobblestoned square, or grab a Belgian waffle from the historic tearoom Maison Dandoy, just steps away. Take your photograph next to Manneken Pis, Brussels’ funniest landmark. The bronze statue, depicting a naked little boy peeing, was designed in the early 17th century.
Also in the capital is the Atomium, a unique structure that was created as an icon for the World Fair of Brussels in 1958. Explore the five spheres of the construction, which house a permanent exhibition and a panoramic 360-degree viewing deck.
Other alluring cities in Belgium include Bruges and Ghent, both known for their winding canals. Ghent features the Gothic St. Bavo’s Cathedral, home to Hubert and Jan van Eyck’s Adoration of the Mystic Lamb. Head to hip Antwerp, Belgium’s second city and biggest port to discover an under-the-radar shopping scene and a plethora of diamond dealerships.
Elsewhere, Belgium’s Flanders Battlefields offer a sobering look into the site of some of World War I’s most terrible battles. Book a multiday tour and visit the original trenches, the Le Trou Aid Post cemetery and the site of the Christmas Day Truce of 1914.
Two main airports service Belgium: Brussels Airport and Brussels South Charleroi Airport, the latter of which is a hub for low-cost airlines. Travel by train between towns and cities, or rent a car to explore the country extensively at your own pace.
If it is grand architecture, laid-back locals and quaint towns you seek, look no further than Belgium.