5 Days In Belgium

04.26.2021

Looking for a one week European Getaway? I highly recommend spending 5 days in Belgium to find history, culture, beauty, and wonderfully warm and welcoming people. This small but robust place has all the charm of Europe with medieval towns, renaissance architecture, and a cosmopolitan hub. Belgium is like visiting three countries in one with its three distinct regions, and their distinct foods and languages.The Dutch speaking Flanders region is north, the French speaking Wallonia is west, and the German region is east. Belgium is not only known for its chocolate, waffles, beer, french fries, and cartoons, but hosts the headquarters of the European Union and NATO. Enjoy your 5 days in Belgium, or add it to the rest of your European adventure. It’s really a treasure not to be missed!

Know before you go

Best Time To Go

I have been to Belgium in several seasons and it’s all good! The Fall is mild and lovely, and the summer is awesome and hot, which makes both great choices if you can get away. If not, I recommend you consider 5 days in Belgium during the winter. Prepare for wet and cold, but also be ready for Christmas markets, ice sculptures, hot chocolate, and amazing soup. You can drink a lot of beer in fabulous pubs, enjoy the wonderful museums, 3000 castles, and watch the rain from inside a cafe. It is a winter wonderland and while it may be chilly,  your 5 days in Belgium will be very memorable and special.

Where To Stay

Getting around during your 5 days in Belgium is really easy! Because the country is so small, (one of the smallest countries in Europe), you can stay in one location and easily tour the country. I highly recommend choosing a VRBO or hotel in Brussels and taking day trips from there. 

Car

Transportation

While you can rent a car very easily and comfortably, (we use Hertz when traveling abroad) you can also simply take affordable trains. I have done both, and suggest a car, if you are with your family. Then you don’t have to rely on the train schedule, or worry about getting from the train stations to the sites you want to see. Buying a family’s worth of train tickets may be more expensive than renting a car for a week. The car rides also allow you to see more of the countryside, stop along the way, and be open to spontaneous adventures! If you are train hopping, check out deals on passes before you go. Prices may vary for children and students.

Travel Tips

Currency is the Euro in Belgium, so check the exchange rate. Right now the rate is .84 euro to $1 dollar American. The voltage is a 230V supply and 50Hz. Find the adaptor E, (the kind with two round pins). Some of the universal adaptors work well all over Europe, so shop wisely before you go! Look into the Brussels Card which offers access into many museums and historical sites. When travelling with a family of four in Europe, I often find that the city museum passes are well worth it. They can save time and money. Just make sure they are applicable to the sites you want to see. If you have food restrictions, plan ahead! Belgium has amazing chocolate, waffles, sausage, candy, beer, and fries, but not a lot of gluten free, vegetarian, or vegan options. Just remember to research restaurant menus, and plan your days with meals in mind, and you will be fine!

Follow this itinerary to make the most of  your 5 days in Belgium!

 

#1

Brussels

The Grand Place. As you know, Brussels holds a lot of significance for the world because it is home to the EU, NATO, and the World Heritage Unesco site, The Grand Place. This central square in Brussels dates back to the 11th century as a marketplace. It is by far one of the most beautiful squares in Europe. 

The Manequin Pis. Not far from the square is the famous replica of the Manequin Pis. The little boy peeing is said to save the city from fire and is a symbol of the Belgian sense of humor. The original resides in the Brussels City Museum, but the replica is the hot tourist spot. Don’t be surprised if you are sorely disappointed when you see him. Tiny, does not quite describe the underwhelm of the little statue. If you are lucky, you will see him in one of his 900 outfits! 

The Royal Palace. This beautiful palace and grounds was the official home of the Belgian royal family. While they no longer live there, it is the site of many important events and is open for tours July through September.

Les Galleries Royals Saint Huberts. This is a popular gallery of shops and restaurants in a gorgeous 19th century building. 

The St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral construction was started in the 11th century and not finished until the 16th century! It is one of the most exquisite gothic cathedrals in Europe and is the site of all the major royal celebrations.

The Mont Des Arts garden offers the best views of Brussels and is situated between the Palace Royal and the Grand Place. Enjoy all the monuments you can see from this spot including the famous Dynasty Palace golden wall clock that chimes every hour with song, allowing one of 12 figures to pop out.

Brussels Grand Place
Royal Palace of Brussels
Ghent River View
Ghent Canal

#2

Ghent

The Flemish medieval port of Ghent has a series of canals dating back to the 13th century. Enjoy a boat ride, a walking tour, or just roam around. I think this is one of my favorite magical European cities. Wander along the canals, stop for waterzooi soup, and get lost. I love it here!

St. Bavo’s Cathedral is home to the 6th century Flemish painting, Adoration of the Mystic Lamb Altarpiece. 

Gravensteen Castle was built in 1180 and has housed the Count of Flanders, prisoners, a mint, and a cotton factory. 

The Belfry of Ghent is a World Heritage site, built in 1377, which stands 300 feet tall with a dragon on top which breathes fire for special occasions. I don’t necessarily recommend that you climb the 377 steps to the top. While the views may be worth it, it will take up a lot of time and the fee is approximately 12 Euro for climbing or taking the lift.

Vrijdagmarkt is the Friday market in the main square of Ghent dating back to 1199. Enjoy the square any day of the week, but if you are there on a Friday, get up early to shop!

#3

Bruges

You may not know that Bruges, (Bruges in French and English, Brugge in Flemish or Dutch) is the Venice of the North and is famous for its lace making traditions. It is also a favorite place for roaming and getting lost for hours. There are picturesque bridges at every turn, white washed houses, narrow, medieval streets, and lots of food and drink! You can easily take a boat tour or horse drawn carriage ride, which is always a relaxing way to see a lot of the city when your legs get tired.

Belfry Tower, the Belfort van Brugge is another World Heritage site not to be missed. This one has 366 steps to the top, and a long line waiting to pay the ticket price for entry. The climb is narrow and steep and the view is obstructed by the safety wire enclosure at the top. Consider the amount of time this may take in your day, not to mention if everyone prefers to climb for an hour, or eat fries and chocolate instead.

Markt Square is the classic Belgian market square surrounded by the iconic Bruges architecture. Look for the Cloth Hall, Belfry Tower, and the Provincal Palace. If you are there on a Wednesday, you should be able to catch the weekly market between 8AM and 1PM. 

The Burg Square is another beautiful square to visit and see the City Hall of Bruges and the 12th century Basilica of the Holy Blood. If you are there on a Friday and want to spend the time and fee, go to the treasure room inside the small Basilica. There, you will find the famous vial containing the relic cloth which is said to hold the blood of Jesus Christ that was wiped from his body after the crucifixion.

The Church of Our Lady holds the beautiful Michaelangelo marble sculpture of Madonna and Child. There is a 6Euro fee to see the art, but the church is free to enter.

Lake Minnewaterpark, the Lake of Love is a little bit off the beaten path, but I have heard it is well worth the trip. I am telling you and myself to visit it the next time I am in Bruges. Apparently, it is a lovely lake with swans, and views of a castle, Kasteel Minnewateer.

Bruges Mrkt Square
Couberdon Cart
Bruges Winter
Dinant View
Belgian Chocolate

#4

Dinant

Dinant is the village on the River Meuse in Namur where the homes are tucked into the steep rock that walls the river. Visually, this town is remarkable and screams for lots of wandering and photos. The rock formations and the town’s architecture, along the river, is unlike anything I have ever seen! It is also the birthplace of Adolf Sax, the inventor of the saxophone, which is a big deal for us, because my husband is a renowned sax player!

Citadelle de Dinant is a castle which was first built in the 11th century, destroyed and rebuilt multiple times. It was later occupied during World War I and damaged in World War II. It’s now open to the public for a fee by climbing the 408 steps, or taking a cable car up and down. Which do you think you will do? Lots of history and views for days! The guided tour is recommended. You can also buy a ticket that includes a 45 minute boat tour on the river, which is a great option.

The House of Adolfe Sax is easy to find, on the main street and free of charge. A simple exhibit of the inventor and the instrument is worth the brief visit. There are saxophone sculptures literally everywhere in this town. On the streets, on the bridges, on the lampposts, in the stores, everywhere. We had the best day ever in this town!

#5

North Sea

I really want you to get to the coast of Belgium during your 5 days there. Belgium has approximately 60 miles along the North Sea. The region is known for its 13 beach resorts, which are busy during the summer months, but offer a charm and beauty that we loved on a chilly November day. Do your research and pick a spot. If you travel in the summer, go to the beautiful town of Koksijde, where the famous horseback fisherman go shrimping. Oostduinkerke is the resort where you can still see this traditional practice and enjoy the fresh shrimp at cooking demonstrations on the beach.

North Sea Beach

We have “adopted family” in Belgium and have a deep affection for this wonderful country. I know you will love it too!

Looking for flights to Belgium?

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You may also be interested in finding the best food in Paris.

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Or finding the best food in London?

Share your Belgian stories with us when you go!

xx,

Carrie

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