Belgium can often be overlooked by travellers from afar, falling in-between the traditionally more noisy cries for attention emanating from destinations such as London, Paris and Amsterdam. Yet Belgium packs a mighty punch for a country of such modest size, competing directly in terms of world-class attractions and exciting sightseeing options.
The capital city of Brussels offers historic Gothic buildings that nestle next to the imposing, modern buildings of the European Union office blocks. Corporate travel to Belgium inevitably centres on the capital, but there is plenty more to explore if you are heading here for leisure rather than on business.
Belgium is a treasure-trove of undiscovered laid-back seaside towns, magical wooded gorges, the splendid Ardennes and fairy-tale medieval castles that ooze historic folklore from their very fabric.
Bruges is a medieval city of full of character and charm whose rich architectural heritage is reflected in the graceful canals and winding waterways that intersect its cobbled streets.
Belgium is a country that has inspired many artists and writers to produce masterpieces – and its scenery is enough to inspire the poet in any visitor. Mountains, rivers and woodland landscapes provide the perfect backdrop to Gothic cathedrals, historic town halls and gabled guild houses.
And, of course, at the end of your day’s sightseeing there is Belgium’s fantastic cuisine to enjoy – not forgetting it’s astounding variety of 300-odd brews of beer to sample.
The Belgians’ reputation for hospitality has been cultivated by the country’s position as an international crossroads for commerce and culture. Yet despite this, Belgium still preserves its own unique identity and heritage, whether that of Flemish Flanders in the north, or French Wallonia in the south.
This is not a country to see from a tour bus: it is one to get out in and explore. Walk the cobbled streets framed by medieval buildings, sample the exquisite chocolates, quaff the ales, watch the people pass on Grand Place, take a bike out into the luxuriant countryside, or drift down the canals on a narrowboat.
However, you choose to explore the pleasures of Belgium, you will be rewarded with some of Europe’s most underrated yet overwhelming delights.
Belgium is a year round destination, but nature lovers should note that the countryside does look its best during the summer months.
The Belgian climate is temperate, with warm summer weather peaking in July averaging 18 degrees Celsius (64 degrees Fahrenheit) in Brussels. Winter snow can be expected, the coldest month being February with a chilly average temperature of just 3 degrees Celsius (64 degrees Fahrenheit).
In the north of Belgium, the Flemish locals have their own native language which is a variety of Dutch, whereas in the south the Walloons speak French. In the east, there is a small German-speaking community, though English is widely spoken throughout the country.
Belgium is a member of the European Union. You may need a Schengen visa (short stay visa) to stay in the country for more than 90 days. Please check rules around visa requirements before you travel, as they may change regularly.
Most visits to Belgium are trouble-free, but travellers should be wary of street crime in the cities, and take the usual sensible precautions to safeguard their belongings.
Brussels is home to a number of international organisations, including EU and NATO, which could potentially become the target of indiscriminate terrorist attacks.
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