Sandwiched between France and Germany as well as Luxembourg and the Netherlands, exciting Belgium, home to 11 million people, is a wonderful mix of cultures, boasting French, Dutch, and German speakers and three distinct regions – the Dutch-dominated Flanders in the north, the mostly French Wallonia in the southern portion of the country, and the Brussels Capital Region. Blessed with a maritime temperate climate that keeps the weather comfortable throughout most of the year, the country includes several must-see destinations that travelers can enjoy on this fun-filled highlights tour.
Begin your trip when you arrive in Brussels, the capital city of Belgium and also the capital of the European Union. For many, the city’s claim-to-fame is its important international political position, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty more to do and see as you travel through this vibrant capital. During your visit to Belgium, embark on a half-day private tour that includes the wonderful Grand Palace – a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Royal Palace, the Laken Castle, and the Gothic-style St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral. Be sure to view the quirky, 338-foot-tall Atomium and consider a visit to the Royal Museums of Fine Arts as well. Dine on a favorite local specialty -waffles, taste the city’s many locally-produced beers, and bring home a pound or two of fine Belgian chocolates for the folks back home.
Next, head to Antwerp, a city of about a half-million in the northeast portion of the country. Antwerp sits on the River Scheldt and has one of the largest seaports in Europe.
Once a walled city, little remains of the original fortification but there are still many notable sites to enjoy on your tour of the city, including Antwerp City Hall, the Central Railway Station, the Cathedral of Our Lady featuring works by Rubens, the Bourse, the Grote Markt, and the Antwerp Zoo, one of the oldest zoological parks in the world.
After a day in Antwerp, head to Ghent, once one of the largest and richest cities in Northern Europe. Very much a university town with a busy port as well, Ghent boasts a wonderful old city centre which is nothing short of stunning, full of medieval-era buildings that are a joy to behold. During your free time in Ghent, head to the Museum of Fine Arts, where you can enjoy numerous works by Peter Paul Rubens, or the Ghent City Museum, where visitors learn more about the municipality and its history. Also worth a visit are the Gravensteen Castle and the Saint Bavo Cathedral. Be sure to stop at one of the many coffee shops in the city to sample Mastellen, Ghent’s answer to the New York bagel.
End your trip with a visit to Bruges, the largest city in West Flanders and also an important port. Along with nearby Amsterdam, it’s sometimes called the “Venice of the North”, thanks to its lovely system of canals. Much of the city’s medieval architecture is well-preserved and fun to photograph. You’ll also want to take snapshots of the Church of Our Lady, with its 400-foot-tall spire, and the city’s belfry, which is home to a 48-bell carillon. In addition, Bruges offers many small museums that require just a short time to explore. The city also hosts dozens of festivals each year.
7 Days featuring Brussels, Antwerp, Ghent, and Burges
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