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Belgium

Belgium Travel Guide

Belgium is the country of grand market squares, crow-stepped gables, comics, and peeing statues. Belgium is also a vastly underrated country, too often overshadowed. While living in Germany, we made three separate trips to Belgium.

You could say that we’re hooked on the medieval architecture and the Trappist beer. In a land where every beer has its own glass, drinking is elevated to high art.

We recognize that this low country is more than just beer, mussels, waffles, frites, and chocolate. But, if you don’t relish all those things during your visit, you’re also missing the point.

So, please eat and drink until you’re silly. We’ll be with you in spirit.

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Belgium Travel Guide

Belgium Travel Guide Overview

  • Belgium Travel Basics
  • Where to Go (Interactive Map)
  • What to Experience in Belgium
  • What to Drink in Belgium
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Ghent Storefronts, Belgium

Belgium Travel Basics

Official Name: Royaume de Belgique / Koninkrijk Belgie (Kingdom of Belgium)

Capital: Brussels 

Government: Federal parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarch

Regions: Belgium is divided into three regions: (1) Flanders, (2) Wallonia, and (3) Brussels-Capital.  Flanders (Flemish Region) and Wallonia (Walloon Region) are both subdivided into five provinces. 

Population: 11.35 Million 

Language: French (Wallon), Dutch (Flemish) and German.

Currency: Euro

Tipping Etiquette: On a restaurant bills, you can round up the bill. For exceptional service, tip 5-10%.

Water Quality: Tap water is safe to drink.

Something Interesting: Belgium has more comic strip artists per square kilometer than anywhere else in the world.

 
Grote Markt in Brussels

Where to Go in Belgium

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Who knows why geese go barefoot?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flemish Saying

That’s just how it is.

What to Experience in Belgium

Our favorite things to see and do
Brabo's Monument in Antwerp in front of City Hall
Brabo's Monument

Antwerp: The City of Giants and Diamonds

Antwerp (Antwerpen in Flemish) is a multi-cultural city in Flanders that boasts the second largest port in Europe. Local legend credits the city’s rise to a Roman soldier who killed the Giant Antigoon. This particularly nasty giant terrorized the local population by cutting off the hands of sailors and tradesmen who didn’t pay his steep river-crossing toll.

The Roman soldier, Brabo, challenged the giant to a duel and after defeating him, cut off his hand and threw the hand into the Scheldt River. The city’s name, Antwerpen, is derived from “hand werpen,” which means “hand throwing.” Brabo is commemorated in a giant fountain facing the City Hall in the middle of Antwerp’s Great Market Square (Grote Markt).

Learn More: How to Spend a Weekend in Antwerp

This Flemish city has a special relationship with giants. Throughout the city, you’ll see images and statues of the Virgin Mary, because her image was said to ward off giants.

Antwerp is also the city of diamonds, as it’s the most important diamond trade center in the world. Diamonds have been traded here since the 15th century. It’s really interesting to walk through the diamond district and watch diamond traders negotiate deals in the streets outside world-renowned diamond institutions.

You’ll also see many Jewish Orthodox-owned businesses (diamond retailers, bakeries, Kosher grocery stores) next to African textile shops. Interestingly, Yiddish continues to be the primary language of the Jewish community in Antwerp, which is one of the largest in Europe. And, 30 of Belgium’s 45 active synagogues are in Antwerp.

Where to Stay in Antwerp:

 
Bruges Canal
Bruges

Bruges: The Medieval City of Swans

Bruges (Brugge in Flemish) is an enchanting city in Flanders that was once a thriving trade center in the Middle Ages. Replete with swan filled canals, cobblestone streets, and crow-stepped gables, Bruges retains its medieval character most beautifully. UNESCO thinks so too. The whole Historic Centre of Brugge is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

There’s a very vindictive reason why swans grace the canals of Bruges. The legend goes that the oppressed people of Bruges revolted against their ruler Emperor Maximilian of Austria in the 15th century. They captured and imprisoned the emperor and his advisor, Pieter Lanckhals. Pieter was condemned to death, and Maximilian was forced to watch the beheading.

The Emperor managed to escape and returned to the city with an army to take his revenge. He mandated that the city at its own expense must keep swans on all canals for all time. Why swans? The long-necked creatures served as a reminder of what the people of Bruges did to Pieter Lanckhals, or  Pieter the “Long Neck.” To this day, long necks continue to glide through the medieval city center.

Bruges deserves more than a day. Stay the night, visit the vibrant Basilica of the Holy Blood, learn about the 12th-century Belfry, drink Brugse Zot at a beer café, visit De Halve Maan Brewery, and shop for chocolate. To learn more legends about Bruges, we recommend the free walking tour: Legends of Bruges.

Where to Stay in Bruges:

 
Flea Market in Ghent
Flea Market

Ghent: The City on Two Rivers

Ghent (Gent) is a historical city in Flanders that has a young student population, a thriving flea market culture, and an architecturally rich city center. The city is located on the confluence of the rivers Leie and Scheldt, and according to Flemish folklore, Ghent was borne out of the divine love of the god Scheldt and goddess Leie.

After strolling through the medieval streets and hopefully treating yourself to some Gentse Strop beer, head to the moated Castle Gravensteen (Castle of the Counts). This grim 10th-century castle is a haunting reminder of the darker side of medieval times. There’s a torture instrument exhibition inside the Castle.

For something less gruesome, head to STAM City Museum. If you’re in Ghent on a Sunday morning, there are bird, book, antique and flower markets throughout the city.

We joined a Walking Tour and loved it. We learned about historical buildings, Ghent’s historical prominence and later demise, and the city’s culinary treasures. Meeting Place: Sint Michielsplein 21, Outside the Uppelink Hostel.

Where to Stay in Ghent:

 
Grote Markt in Brussels
Grote Markt, Brussels

Brussels: The Capital of Europe

Brussels (Bruxelles, Brussel) is the capital of Belgium, the headquarters of NATO, and the seat of the European Union. Though Brussels may sound like the playground for bureaucrats, it’s a jovial city with a lot of soul.

From its beating heart, Grote Markt, to it’s comic-strip painted walls and peeing statues, Brussels is a captivating place. Only in Brussels have we experienced getting an entire restaurant bill footed by the owner. 

Though Brussels sits in the Flanders region of Belgium, the capital is predominantly French-speaking. Every street name is written in both Dutch (Flemish) and French. In many ways, Brussels represents the divisions of its country, as it endeavors to hold it all together.  

During our visit, we spent lots of time walking through flea markets and gawking at chocolate concoctions. We also did a Walking Tour that was truly excellent.

Where to Stay in Brussels:

 
Belgian Beer Store in Bruges

What to Drink in Belgium

Belgian Beer

There are more Belgian beers than days in the year. Or, we should say in 4 years. Aside from the sheer quantity, it’s the creativity that makes Belgian beer the best in the world.

Unlike Germany, Belgian brewers aren’t subjected to a beer purity law (Reinheitsgebot), which means that they can add various herbs, spices, and fruits to their beers.

The beer that you absolutely have to try in Belgium is a Trappist beer. A Trappist beer is a beer made by or under the supervision of monks of the Cistercian order.

The beer must be made in or near an active Cistercian monastery. Money made from the beer goes directly to the upkeep of the monastery and living expenses of the monks.

Any extra profit goes to charity. There are 6 Trappist breweries in Belgium: Achel, Chimay, Orval, Rochefort, Westmalle, and Westvleteren. Our favorite is Westmalle.

 
August, Antwerp, Belgium
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  • Secret Hike in the Faroe Islands 🇫🇴 

The Árnafjørður – Toftaskarð – Katlarnir circuit trail is an adventurous hike on Borðoy Island in the Faroe Islands. Starting in the village of Árnafjørður, the trail leads northeast to Svartidalur valley and then climbs up steep crags to Toftaskarð pass.

The trail continues west and eventually drops down a steep mountainside via Uppi á Gjógv pass. Next, the trail heads to Katlarnir, the historic gathering place for the ancient Thing of the Northern Isles. From here, the trail continues southwest and loops back down to Árnafjørður. 

Infrequent waymarking along the ascent makes this a more challenging route. Research this trail thoroughly before setting off and download the GPX files from whatson.fo.

#faroeislands #visitfaroeislands #färöer #faroeislandshiking #hikinginfaroeislands #faroeislandsnature #atlanticairways #faroeislands🇫🇴 #faroeislandstravel #faroeislandstrip #faroeislandstourist #faroeislandslandscape #faroeislandsphotography #northatlantic #europetravel #hikingblog #hikingculture #árnafjørður #katlarnir #hiking #tlpicks #afarmag #condenasttraveller #iamatraveler #RGphoto #europetrip #europedestinations #europe_vacations
  • Ásmundarstakkur is a 109 meter-high sea stack along the northwest coast of Suðuroy, the southernmost Island in the Faroe Islands. 

A short trail leads from Heiðavegur road in Sandvík to the Ásmundarstakkur viewpoint. 

This walk is one of the highlights of visiting Suðuroy.

More details on the blog.

#faroeislands #visitfaroeislands #färöer #faroeislandshiking #hikinginfaroeislands #faroeislandsnature #atlanticairways #adventureworthy #mythsandlegends #neverstopexploring #exploringtheglobe #outsideisfree #discoverearth #faroeislands🇫🇴 #faroeislandstravel #faroeislandstrip #faroeislandstourist #faroeislandslandscape #faroeislandsphotography #northatlantic #europetravel #hikingblog #hikingculture #suduroy #visitsuduroy #ásmundarstakkur
  • Klakkur (413 meters) is a small mountain which rises to the northwest of Klaksvík on Borðoy Island in the Faroe Islands.

Easy to get to (with or without a car), Klakkur is a must-do viewpoint hike overlooking Kunoy Island and Kalsoy Island.

You can start the hike directly in Klaksvík, or drive up to the water tanks car park, or even further up to the Hálsur saddle car park.

This short and sweet hike takes 1-2 hours out-and-back, depending on where you start.

Trail Guide on the Blog. 

#klakkur #klakkurhiking #borðoy #bordoy #faroeislands #visitfaroeislands #färöer #faroeislandshiking #hikinginfaroeislands #faroeislandsnature #atlanticairways #adventureworthy #mythsandlegends #neverstopexploring #exploringtheglobe #outsideisfree #discoverearth #faroeislands🇫🇴 #faroeislandstravel #faroeislandstrip #faroeislandstourist #faroeislandslandscape #faroeislandsphotography #northatlantic #europetravel #hikingblog #hikingculture
  • Viðareiði, Viðoy Island 🇫🇴 

Viðareiði is the northernmost village in the Faroe Islands. The main reason to venture up here is to hike Villingardalsfjall. 

There’s very little tourist infrastructure on Viðoy Island. So, we recommend basing yourself in Klaksvík on the island of Borðoy, when exploring the Northern Isles.

#faroeislands #visitfaroeislands #färöer #faroeislandshiking #hikinginfaroeislands #faroeislandsnature #atlanticairways #adventureworthy #discoverearth #faroeislands🇫🇴 #faroeislandstravel #faroeislandstrip #faroeislandstourist #faroeislandslandscape #faroeislandsphotography #viðoy #vidoy #villingardalsfjall #viðareiði #vidareidi #hikingblog #europetravel #europetravels #northatlantic #coastalvillage #coastalliving #coastalstyle
  • Villingardalsfjall is a mountain above Viðareiði village on Viðoy Island in the Faroe Islands.

It’s a strenuous and relentless climb to the 841 meter high summit, which should only be tackled on fair-weather days. Low-hanging clouds and fog can make route-finding very difficult. 

From the trail, hikers are treated to sweeping views of cone-shaped Malinsfjall mountain to the south as well as the Borðoy, Kunoy, and Kalsoy Islands to the west. From the rocky flat summit of Villingardalsfjall, views extend to Cape Enniberg, one of the highest sea cliffs in the world. 

💰The trail to Villingardalsfjall traverses private property. It’s mandatory to pay a hiking fee before starting the hike. Place 200 DKK per person in the mailbox by the gate at the trailhead.

🥾For a detailed trail description and map, head to the blog. 
https://www.moonhoneytravel.com/villingardalsfjall-hike/

#faroeislands #visitfaroeislands #färöer #faroeislandshiking #hikinginfaroeislands #faroeislandsnature #atlanticairways #adventureworthy #mythsandlegends #neverstopexploring #exploringtheglobe #outsideisfree #discoverearth #faroeislands🇫🇴 #faroeislandstravel #faroeislandstrip #faroeislandstourist #faroeislandslandscape #faroeislandsphotography #viðoy #vidoy #villingardalsfjall #viðareiði #vidareidi
  • Faroe Islands 🇫🇴 

In the upcoming days/weeks, we will share everything about our trip to the Faroe Islands last summer: favorite hikes, road trip route, attractions, restaurants, places to stay, where to see puffins, etc…

It’s never too early to start planning a summer trip to the Faroe Islands.

Check the blog for new hiking and travel guides. 

📍 Múlafossur Waterfall, Vágar Island

#faroeislands #visitfaroeislands #färöer #faroeislandshiking #hikinginfaroeislands #faroeislandsnature #atlanticairways #adventureworthy #mythsandlegends #neverstopexploring #exploringtheglobe #outsideisfree #discoverearth #welltravelled #lifeofadventure #lonelyplanet #wonderful_places #guardiantravelsnaps #landscapephotography #depthofearth #voyaged #visualsofearth #faroeislandstravel #faroeislandstrip