Belgium is a destination that conjures up mental pictures of mediaeval rooftops, picturesque canals, delicious beer, and even more decadent chocolates. But there’s a lot to see in this unique European country, where life moves at a more leisurely pace and the locals are eager to show off their hospitality to visitors.

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Top 10 Places to Visit in Belgium

The greatest locations to visit in Belgium provide something for everyone, from sophisticated cities with designer stores and dazzling galleries to historic towns with museums and local delicacies.

Top 10 Places to Visit in Belgium

1. Mons

Mons, the provincial capital of Hainaut, is renowned for the ethereal and unexpected sound of its magnificent Belfry bells, which can be heard from a distance of 80 metres (270 feet) away. The city’s winding lanes make it easy for tourists to explore its many buildings, which represent a wide range of architectural eras and styles.

The Collegiate Church of Sainte-Waudru in Mons is home to a stunning collection of Jacques Du Broeucq alabaster statues from the 16th century, and the town hall itself is a stunning example of Gothic architecture. The Van Gogh Home, with its stunning reproductions of the master’s works, is a must-see.

2. Dinant

Located in the province of Namur, about 65 kilometres (40 miles) south of the capital city, this city shines along the glittering Meuse River. Visitors come to explore natural wonders like the Grotto of Dinant and the Caves of Han. Some of the largest and most stunning caverns in Europe can be found within a protected area rich with local vegetation and fauna.

Even after being largely rebuilt after a huge landslip, the Collegiate Church of Notre Dame, the city’s most recognisable monument, remains impressive. Most of Dinant’s churches and chapels require appointments to enter, however the Sanctuary of Beauraing is open every day.

3. Leuven

Leuven is home to roughly 100,000 people, nearly 35,000 of whom are students who keep the city alive when courses are in session at the world’s oldest Catholic university. The ancient district is home to the Grand Beguinage and the Belfry on St. Peter’s Cathedral, while two apparently endless avenues are lined with fascinating stores and galleries.

The Grote Market in Leuven is a hub of activity, with attractions like the City Hall sitting right next to excellent dining establishments and cosy taverns and cafes that line the cobblestone streets. Because of its proximity to the rest of the country, this city is a great substitute for Brussels as a starting point for sightseeing adventures in Belgium.

4. Tournai

Tournai, a charming Belgian town close to the French border, is a great place to escape the clamour of the country’s busier urban centres. The city’s five-tower Gothic and Romanesque Notre Dame Cathedral is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful churches in the world, and it is just one of many cultural treasures dating back more than two millennia.

The cathedral, built during the 12th and 13th centuries, is home to the Sanctuary of Our Lady as well as pieces by Ruvens and Jordaens. Visitors can climb 257 steps to the top of the oldest belfry in the country and take in breathtaking panoramas of Tournai. The museum houses works by both ancient and modern masters, such as Campin, Rubens, Roger Van der Weyden, and Van Gogh.

5. Mechelen

Mechelen is one of the nicest places to visit in Belgium, and yet it doesn’t see nearly as much tourism as other cities in the country. There is a lot to do and see in this Flemish city, from touring the Beguinage Brewery to taking a cruise along the river.

The finest way to take in the beauty of Antwerp and the port is with a journey to the top of the huge tower at St. Rombout Cathedral. The world-renowned Carillion Academy is a must-see for anyone interested in learning how to play this intricate bell instrument.

6. Ardennes

The Ardennes, a rough mountain range in Belgium, is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts thanks to its dense woods, caves, and cliffs. Wild boar, deer, and lynx call them home, and they also provide cover for hospitable communities and several castles.

Among of the greatest choices are the Han-sur-Lesse caves, the Bouillon castle, and the contemporary Labyrinth of Barvaux. You may use Namur as a jumping off point to explore the rest of the Ardennes, and it also has some fantastic attractions worth seeing on your own.

7. Antwerp

There are numerous sides to Antwerp. Although though it hasn’t been kept as well as Bruges or Ghent’s historic districts, it’s nevertheless a vibrant city with a great blend of old and new.

Despite its reputation as a haven for party animals and gourmands, New York is best renowned for its Diamond District, the site of commerce for more than 70% of the world’s raw diamonds.

Antwerp is home to numerous museums, including the Plantin Moretus Museum, which showcases the life and work of printer and bookbinder Christoffel Plantin, and the Revenshuis, which is dedicated to the baroque works of Peter Paul Ruebens.

The Gothic Cathedral of Our Lady, built in 1351, and the magnificent Saint Paul’s Church, a fusion of baroque and Gothic styles, are two of the city’s architectural highlights.

8. Ghent

Ghent is the historical gem of Belgium. It was one among Europe’s wealthiest and most influential towns in the Middle Ages. At one time, it was thought to be the largest city north of the Alps, second only to Paris. The impressive church buildings and wealthy merchants’ mansions bear witness to this prosperous past.

This method of restoration has been applied to the entire downtown area, which now has the look and feel of a vibrant late-medieval city state. This is especially true around the Gravensteen castle, the imposing mediaeval cathedrals, and the picturesque old Graslei harbour.

9. Brussels

Brussels, the capital of Belgium, is a popular tourist destination due to the wide variety of attractions it offers. Brussels could be thought of as the de facto capital of the European Union, as it is home to several EU institutions.

The 13th-century Grand Square serves as the city’s beating heart. Together with the beautiful Gothic style Town Hall, this centre area is surrounded with terrace cafes and pubs. The Galeries St. Hubert, a central glass-roof arcade filled with shops, cafes, and theatres, provides ample shopping opportunities.

10. Bruges

Bruges, in northwest Belgium, is one of the best-preserved mediaeval cities in Europe and is famous for its old-world charm and romantic ambiance. Beautiful canals have replaced Bruges’ former prominence as a centre for Flemish art and textiles.

Although it is the largest city in the province of West Flanders, Bruges is nevertheless manageable by foot. The picturesque Old Town of Bruges is the city’s primary draw.

Romanesque and Gothic churches, such as the Church of Our Lady, which houses a sculpture by Michelangelo, and the Basilica of the Holy Blood, which claims to possess a vial of blood from Jesus Christ, can be found all over the historic district, which is surrounded by picturesque canals and mediaeval walls.

The belfry at Markt Plaza is a well-known symbol of the city. Climbing this bell tower from the 13th century will reward you with breathtaking views of the city below. The magnificent Gruuthuse House and the equally remarkable Saint John’s Hospital both date back to 1188 and are also must-sees.

Visiting the museums in Bruges is a must because they showcase the city’s history, customs, and the works of renowned Flemish artists. There are dozens of stores selling traditional lacework, Belgian beer, and chocolates along the cobblestone streets. There are plenty of opportunities for scenic canal excursions and romantic horse-drawn carriage rides.