Planning Your Trip to Belgium
A weeklong visit is the perfect amount of time to explore two Belgian cities. Five days is sufficient for encountering the highlights of Brussels, but a week will allow for a more in-depth cultural experience in an additional city or region. In 10 days, you can tailor the trip to your interests with outdoor adventures or by visiting the Netherlands. Since Belgium is small, you can cover much of the country via car or public transportation.
Belgium in 5 Days
Spending five days in Belgium means you can split your time between Brussels and the countryside. Or, use your time to explore two Belgian cities.
Beginning in Brussels, admire its highlights, including the iconic Manneken Pis, the Grand Place Market Square, and the Town Hall that boasts a striking facade. For panoramic views of the city skyline, visit The Atomium, a 335-foot (102-m) structure of connected spheres with exhibitions on Belgian history, science, design, and society. Next, visit the Cathedral of St. Michel and Gudula, a Gothic church that is one of the oldest buildings in the capital. Spend the rest of your time visiting Brussels' reputable museums—the 19th-century Art Nouveau Horta and Musee Magritte, housing surrealist art, are must-sees.
This food-focused itinerary has Brussels as your home base. Spend time wandering Marche du Midi, an open-air market and a foodie's paradise with stalls selling delicacies like Belgian chocolates and cheese. And as Belgium has both French and Dutch influences, first visit Wallonia for French-like cuisines, like Jambon d'Ardenne, mitraillette, and boulets liégeoise. Then for a taste of the Netherlands, head to nearby Flanders for waterzooi, a traditionally fish soup with vegetables, hearty potjevleesch, and almond puff-pastry mattentaart for dessert. Then there are the varieties of waffles, good anywhere in Belgium.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Belgium in 1 Week
With one week in Belgium, travelers can see at least two cities at a leisurely pace, even with children in tow.
As a family, visit Pixel Museum, a gaming museum in Brussels, and view a puppet show at Theatre Royal de Toone. Take a rest or picnic at Parc du Cinquantenaire, a U-shaped park commemorating 50 years of Belgian independence. From Brussels, travel to Bruges and take in the city from a different perspective on a canal boat outing. For an interactive museum experience with virtual reality and activities, visit Bruges Historium. Next, visit the Antwerp Zoo, conveniently located next to the train station and always a kid's favorite.
For a history and culture-focused itinerary, start in Brussels and then head to Waterloo and climb to the top of Lion's Head for a view of the famed battlefield. Check out Walloon Brabant, an often overlooked historical site with castles and museums, and Villers-la-Ville, a ruin of an old abbey. Continue to Ypres for World War I sites and landmarks like Menin Gate and Flanders Fields Museum. Next, visit Ghent, Belgium's diamond and art deco capital, awash with castles, evidence of medieval life, and boat canal excursions. End in Bruges for the Lace Center, canals, belfry, and the Quay of the Rosary.
Belgium in 10 Days
Since Belgium is a small country, 10 days allows ample time for longer outdoor adventures or a leisurely road trip to its neighbor, the Netherlands.
This 10-day active itinerary begins with a hiking excursion in Zwin amid its salt marshes, observation towers, and sea birds. Then venture south to the castles near Geraardsbergen. Go caving outside the village of Han-sur-Lesse at the Caves of Han, considered one of the best cave complexes in the world. Next, visit the Ardennes for excellent kayaking, as each of its three rivers offers a different level of experience. And when it's time, trade in the paddle for hiking boots and pick up a trail in the Ardennes.
With 10 days and a two-country itinerary, you'll start in Belgium and cross over to its neighbor, the Netherlands. You'll head to Antwerp from the Belgian capital to glimpse its world-renowned diamond industry, sightsee the Grote Market and a Peter Paul Rubens', and visit the Rubens House. In the second half of the tour, you'll cross over to the Netherlands to admire Rotterdam's architecture. Then dabble in the art and museums of The Hague, including the Mauritshuis and the Binnenhof, before heading to Amsterdam, the Dutch capital. There, you'll finish with a canal tour and a visit to the Van Gogh Museum.