Belgium is one of the smallest countries in Europe but it doesn’t mean that there aren’t plenty of beautiful places to see in this amazing country. That’s why this post goes into the most beautiful cities in Belgium to visit. There is definitely much more than the country’s capital of Brussels to explore. Belgium is split into 2 major regions: Flanders and Wallonia. Each region is full of unique places to discover. In fact, some of the best hidden gems in Europe can be found in Belgium.
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Quick Facts before visiting Belgium:
💱Currency: Euro €
💶 Budget for a trip to Belgium: The average daily cost for a trip to Belgium is €114 a night for both food and accommodation.
💜 Is tipping required in Belgium? Tipping in Belgium is not common. Most times you will find the service charge included on the bill.
☀️Best time to Visit: April or May if you want to avoid peak tourist time and hot summers or September to October when the weather is mild.
🏥 Travel Insurance in Belgium: I recommend SafetyWing which will cover you in case of trip cancellations or any accidents during your travels.
🚗 Rent a car with Discover Cars or travel by train easily. Save money with an Interrail pass which allows you to travel by train an unlimited number of times!
🗣️ Language in Belgium: There are 3 languages spoken in Belgium: Dutch, French, and German. In Dinant, French is predominantly spoken.
📱Mobile E-sim card to stay connected while traveling without the hassle of changing out your sim card!
The most beautiful cities in Belgium to visit:
1. Dinant, Belgium
Dinant, Belgium is a charming Wallonian town located 2 hours from Brussels by train. It is an under-radar city that offers so much history and is home to the creator of the Saxophone, Adolf Sax. Many battles were suffered here. During the war, Germany often tried to cross through Dinant to attack France but Dinant was the protecting barrier between the two countries.
Any postcard-worthy photo of Dinant will prominently show the towering citadel perched high in the sky. In addition, you will recognize the cityscape by the gorgeous Gothic Cathedral which is situated in front of the Meuse River and surrounded by many colorful facades.
The key things to do here include a visit to the Citadel where you can see breathtaking views of the city and learn about the many battles the city went through. Be sure to take the cable car up and walk the way down to take advantage of the best scenery around. Dinant is home to the Leffe Museum as the beer originated in this city.
💜 Read the full blog post on the best things to do in Dinant here
2. Spa, Belgium
Spa is a unique destination in Belgium located in the Ardennes region and also known as the “Pearl of the Ardennes.” Here you will find many natural mineral springs which the town is famed for. Spa is the perfect getaway if you’re looking for a place to relax and destress. In fact, the perfect place to do that is the Thermes de Spa, a thermal bath complex overlooking the city. Here you can get a massage, treatment, or even soak in a hot bath which can help soothe the body from pains like arthritis.
Spa is also home to the the world’s oldest casino, Casino de Spa. So, if you’re feeling lucky and want to gamble, visit here! It is also one of the most beautiful cities in Belgium.
3. Bruges, Belgium
Bruges is another beautiful city in northwest Belgium and is the capital of West Flanders. This medieval town is characterized by its many canals, cobbled streets, and medieval buildings. You will definitely fall in love with this picturesque town! No wonder why it’s on the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
One of the best things to do is take a walking tour followed by a boat cruise (tour linked here). This will allow you to get your bearings as you explore the town and learn about its history with a local guide. Exploring Bruges on foot is best because you can really get to know the city, discover the hidden pathways, and walk across the many beautiful canals.
Bruges City Hall is located in the main plaza and the impressive architecture is something you’ll truly be in awe by. The interiors are just as stunning to see.
Just nearby, you will find the Market Square, a meeting point notable in the town with colored buildings all around. If you love views, be sure to climb up the Belfry of Bruges which is in Market Square. Here you will have the best panoramic views of the city. This striking tower dates back to the 13th century and is Bruges’ most iconic landmark. Entry is €14 and there are 366 steps to walk up before you can indulge in the breathtaking views.
Don’t miss trying Belgium chocolates especially if you have a sweet tooth. The Old Chocolate House is a must. Here you can shop for chocolates or sit in the cafe and enjoy hot chocolate and a wide range of desserts,
4. Mechelen, Belgium
You really need to visit Mechelen, Belgium’s hidden gem with an epic food scene. It is one of the most beautiful cities in Belgium by far. Many people come for Brussels, Bruges, or Ghent not knowing that a charming & lesser-known town is just around the corner! Just minutes after arriving in this town in Belgium, I’ve fallen in love with all the pretty facades. It reminds me of a miniature Amsterdam. The streets are lively with so many cute cafes and many people riding their bikes all around.
Not only that, the food scene is truly amazing. I would even call it a foodie town because there is much more variety outside of Belgium food and it seems pretty top-notch. The best place to experience the variety of foods is the food hall, De Vleeshalle. Here you will find many food stalls with so many cuisines. One of my favorites was the stall selling croquettes – they were so tasty!
Don’t miss going up the many stairs of Saint Rumbold’s Cathedral to see views overlooking the city. It is one of the best things to do in Mechelen.
PS: If you’re a beer lover, then try one of my favorite beers at the ‘Het Anker’ brewery. It’s called Gouden Carolus.
5. Leuven, Belgium
Leuven is a beautiful university town located East of Brussels and is known as the brewing capital. You can find the second largest brewery in the world here, Inbev. This brewery is home to the famous Stella Artois beers. So don’t leave Leuven without sampling some of the finest premium beers the city has to offer. One great place to do that is the longest bar in the world, Oude Markt. Here you will find many students drinking a pint on a lovely summer day.
Aside from beer, Leuven offers rich history and has a number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Sadly, the city suffered from many battles in the past. The University Library is worth visiting – it was reconstructed in the 1920s after being destroyed by war bombs. More than a million books were burned during this time. The interiors of the library feature a wooden reading room. You can also climb the the belfry for views 73 meters above the city.
Stadhuis is Leuven’s Town Hall and thankfully escaped being destroyed in the war. It is one of the most beautiful buildings in the city constructed in a Gothic style during the 1400s. Also be sure to stroll through Grote Begijnhof, which is a stunning architectural complex (beguinages in French). The buildings belong to the university and date to the 13th century.
6. Ghent, Belgium
Ghent is a port city in northwest Belgium and is one of the more popular stops as it’s the 4th largest city in Belgium. However, it still has a small feel to it and is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Belgium due to the stunning architecture and medieval charm.
One of the top things to do is to soak in the views from the Ghent belfry and if you’re feeling lazy, there is an elevator to take you up if you don’t want to climb the 300+ stairs.
Another main attraction is the Gravensteen Castle which was built in 1180 and was the residence of the Counts of Flanders. It might just be one of the prettiest castles in Belgium and Belgium is home to many!
Part of the charm in visiting Ghent is getting lost in the many cobblestone pathways and adoring the cute canals you will see. Patershol is a part of Bruges that is the most picturesque. There are also many restaurants here. If you want to try some cuisine special to Ghent then snack on kroakemandels which are salted fried peas. Cheese lovers need to sample Pas de Rouge and those who love sweets should try Cuberdon, a cone shaped candy.
7. Ypres (Ieper), Belgium
Ypres is a town known for its history of battles located in the province of West Flanders. During the great war hundreds of thousands of soldiers lost their lives here. The small city holds a remembrance for these amazing individuals and you can also visit the World War I battlefields. Tyne Cot war cemetery is where you will find many of the brave soldiers who passed away during the war. If you want to learn about the history in more depth, you can take a remembrance tour which stops in Ypres as well as other war sites in Brussels and Vimy (Book the tour here).
In the center of Ypres, you will find the Grote Markt where the huge Lakenhalle (the cloth hall) sits. On the second floor of the cloth hall, you’ll find the In Flanders Fields Museum which is a museum dedicated to the WW1. If you want to see views of the stunning city, there’s an option to climb over 200 stairs up to the top of the cloth hall’s belfry.
8. Durbuy, Belgium
Durbuy is one of the best hidden gems in Belgium and is the smallest city in the country and also the world! Since it is very tiny, you won’t find endless things to do here and can visit in a couple of hours. The town is known for the unique stone buildings and charming cobblestone pathways.
Durbuy is definitely one of the most beautiful cities in Belgium to explore and should be on your itinerary for sure. It is only 1.5 hours from Brussels and is a great day trip from there.
9. Bouillon, Belgium
Bouillon is a lesser known town in the South of Belgium close to France. This small town is known for its medieval castle, Chateau de Bouillon. The castle overlooking the Semois River, is the oldest feudal castles in Europe. Make sure to visit the top of the Austrian Tower for a spectacular view.
Wander this gorgeous village like town for picturesque scenery and incredible views. No agenda is really needed and a day trip is sufficient enough to see Bouillon. If you love art and history, check out the Ducal Museum where you will find artifacts, as well as weapons as far back as the Middle Ages. Other things to do include hiking the Tour de Bouillon, a very beautiful 7km pathway where you can find more amazing views.
10. Antwerp, Belgium
Antwerp a beautiful city in Belgium and one of the most visited places in this beautiful country. It is known as the diamond capital of the world, with the first diamond established all the way back to 1476. Be sure to visit the Diamond District where diamonds are traded.
This city also is home to one of the most beautiful train stations in the world, Antwerpen Central. The interior is impressive with intricate decor featuring a clock and long staircase within the main hall. As you’re busy getting off the train, slow down to check out the details and admire this pretty landmark.
One of the most stunning squares in Antwerp is the Grote Markt. At the center of this square, you’ll find the Brabo Fountain. Legend has it that a giant (Druon Antigoon) was cutting off hands of sailors who tried to cross the bridge and did not pay the toll charge. So, the mythical Roman soldier, Silvius Brabo sought revenge against the giant and killed and cut his hand off.
A great way to see the city is by bike and there’s a wonderful bike tour here that shows you the highlights.
For the best views of Antwerp, visit the MAS museum. You can see the skyline from the roof of the museum.
I hope you enjoyed this post! If you did or have any other beautiful cities in Belgium to add, be sure to mention them in the comments below.