- Discover the food and architecture of Antwerp on a private guided walking tour
- Cycle around the historic port city and cultural hub of Ghent
- Visit chocolatiers amid the charming cobbled streets of Bruges
- Take a local Belgian beer tour in Brussels
- Discover the melting-pot history of the Belgian royals at the Castle of Laeken
|Day 1||Arrive in Antwerp, Private Walking Tour||Antwerp|
|Day 2||Visit Antwerp's Sint Anna Beach by Waterbus||Antwerp|
|Day 3||Transfer to Ghent, Guided Cycling Excursion||Ghent|
|Day 4||Day Trip to Bruges||Ghent|
|Day 5||Transfer to Brussels, Guided Beer Walk||Brussels|
|Day 6||Explore Brussels: Museums, Castle of Laeken & Paddle in the Bois de la Cambre||Brussels|
|Day 7||Depart Brussels|
Day 1: Arrive in Antwerp, Private Walking Tour
Welcome to Belgium! When you arrive in Antwerp by train, you'll find yourself in the middle of the first major landmark in your discovery of the Flanders region before you even disembark. Built in 1905, Antwerp's main railway station has a magnificent interior and an impressive facade, a taste of the grand Flemish Renaissance architecture you'll see throughout your trip to Belgium.
Learn to find your way and hear the tales of the town on a private guided walking tour, the best way to explore the city's historic heart in a short amount of time. Discover the central Grote Markt, home to the extravagant city hall and numerous guildhalls, many of which were reconstructed in the 19th and early 20th centuries to look like paintings of the old square by Flemish artists. Go past the Vleeshuis (Butcher's Hall, or literally "Meat House"), now a museum, and walk through the picturesque Vlaeykensgang Alley, which dates back to 1591, once home to the shoemakers and the poorest in the city.
Explore the central shopping street of Meir, a grand and vibrant avenue home to some large international fashion brands, as well as the surrounding neighborhood. You'll get to fuel up as you go with some of Antwerp's most beloved food specialties and end near the Rubens House, the former home and workshop of famous Flemish artist Peter Paul Rubens.
Day 2: Visit Antwerp's Sint Anna Beach by Waterbus
Antwerp is known as the hub of the world's diamond trade, and its port on the River Scheldt is one of the biggest in the world. On days with nice weather, do as the locals do and head to one of the best vantage points from which to appreciate the significant role the city has played economically and culturally over time: the Sint Anna beach.
The Sint Anna beach is an inviting stretch of grass and white sand along Antwerp's left bank, perfect for kicking your shoes off and soaking up the vibrant atmosphere in the warmer months or finding a peaceful respite in the heart of the city in cooler weather. From Het Steen Castle, you can take the Waterbus across the River Schelde to reach the beach in just a few minutes. Bring a picnic, camp out on the sand, and enjoy the panoramic views of the river, the port, and the Antwerp city skyline.
Day 3: Transfer to Ghent, Guided Cycling Excursion
This morning you'll return to the Antwerp railway station to catch a train to the fairy-tale city of Ghent. This university town is a port city at the confluence of the Leie and Scheldt rivers. It's a cultural hub in northwest Belgium that is easily navigable by bus, tram, taxi, or on foot. But it's perhaps best enjoyed as you'll experience today, on a bicycle. Together with other travelers, you'll embark on a leisurely cycle to discover what makes Ghent such a charming place to visit.
Learn about the city's history, including its prominent position in the Middle Ages, as you spot the main sites and landmarks. Enjoy the friendly vibe of the pedestrianized center with its impressive medieval architecture, and discover some lesser-known highlights and captivating street art on two wheels. Listen closely for insider tips on where to go for dinner or a drink. After the tour, wander the city at your own pace, perhaps exploring some of the intriguing spots pointed out on the tour in more detail.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 4: Day Trip to Bruges
Today you'll journey to Bruges by train for a day trip. A city best explored on foot, cobbled streets link up countless charming squares, and as the inner city is compact, you'll come face-to-face with monuments every few minutes. The best views to take it all in are from the 272-foot (83 m) medieval bell tower and city emblem, the Belfry of Bruges, on Market Square. As you stroll among the Gothic and 19th-century buildings, stop at one of the chocolatiers that have become an icon of the city. See if you can snag a table on one of the historic squares to try one of many local Belgian beers, such as the coveted Brugse Zot.Belgium also has a rich mill history. In the northeast corner of Bruges, four medieval flour mills remain. Stroll along the canal for about a mile (1.5 km) to spot them all. As Bruges is popular with tour groups, it's often crowded. So for a more relaxing experience, hop back on the train and stay the night in Ghent.
Day 5: Transfer to Brussels, Guided Beer Walk
You'll take the train to Brussels this morning for an exciting day of city exploration and beer drinking! As Belgium's capital and the seat of the EU, Brussels has many significant historical and architectural sights to discover. Landmarks such as the Louis XVI-style Royal Palace, the medieval Cathedral of Sint-Michel and Sint-Goedele, and the futuristic Atomium building are not to be missed. Curiously enough, a tiny statue of a peeing boy, Manneken Pis, is also a massively popular landmark. You can explore all this on your own at your own pace or opt for a guided tour.In the afternoon, meander through the historical heart of Brussels with your expert guide, among many photo-worthy Art Nouveau buildings. The subject of your walking tour is far from dry: you'll learn all about the heritage of brewing beer in Belgium, stopping at all the biggest beer hotspots as well as places popular with locals. You'll have the opportunity to try a wide range of Belgian beers today, from witbiers ("white beers" or a Belgian-style wheat ale) to dubbels ("doubles" or strong dark beers) as you go.
Day 6: Explore Brussels: Museums, Castle of Laeken & Paddle in the Bois de la Cambre
It's time to choose your own adventure on your final full day in Belgium. One of the best ways to get under the skin of this warm, welcoming, and the quirky city is by visiting one of its 49 different museums celebrating everything from art history (try the Design Museum, Old Masters Museum, or the Magritte Museum) to comic books and cars (head to the Comics Museum or Autoworld). Choose what suits your mood and travel style the best. Don't forget to stop at one of a plentiful array of waffle shops for some sweet and satisfying Belgian waffles on the way!
If castles and royalty are more your cup of tea, you'll want to pay a visit to the Castle of Laeken, one of the royal residences in Belgium built in the Louis XVI style. It's surrounded by a 296-acre (120 ha) park containing the Royal Greenhouses. The greenhouses are like glass palaces with monumental pavilions, glass domes, and long galleries that cut through the site like covered streets. Here you'll discover the castle's storied history, its place in the renowned Habsburg Empire, and its connection to the French Revolution. Believe it or not, the gardens surrounding the castle are the size of Monaco.
Continue soaking up the harmony of Brussels' beautiful natural spaces at the city park Bois de la Cambre. Designed in an English style, forest-like paths wind through soaring beech trees to reveal a lake where you can hire rowboats and pedalos. Paddle out to the Chalet Robinson on Robinson Island to enjoy a drink or a snack at the restaurant. You can also take the cable ferry, a small captained raft, instead. In the evening, try some of Brussels' many local comfort foods, such as moules-frites (mussels and fries), waterzooi (a stew with fish or chicken), or Brussels sprouts, of course.
Day 7: Depart from Brussels
Today it's time to load up on chocolate and bid farewell to the region of Flanders and Belgium. Take any train heading to the Brussels Airport (located in the municipality of Zaventem) or a taxi for door-to-door service. Safe travels!