Belgium- Belgium is a small nation with a big role to play in European life and world history. If you are interested in either of the world wars, Belgium has a million sites to keep you busy during your visit. If you want to learn about government, it’s the home to the European Union. But what most travelers come for is the beer, chocolate, and fries. There are over 1,000 breweries in this little country and Belgium brewers were some of the first to perfect beer brewing. Belgium’s chocolate rivals the Swiss, and the frites will make you look at French fries differently for the rest of your life. This country usually just gets glossed over as travelers – a day in Brussels, Bruges, and maybe a trip to Ghent – and then onward, but when you look deeper, you see this country has a great many medieval towns, historical sites, and parks worth sticking around for. Belgium, a country in Western Europe, is known for medieval towns, Renaissance architecture and as headquarters of the European Union and NATO. The country has distinctive regions including Dutch-speaking Flanders to the north, French-speaking Wallonia to the south and a German-speaking community to the east. The bilingual capital, Brussels, has ornate guildhalls at Grand-Place and elegant art-nouveau buildings.
Trip Planning: The planning stage of your trip can be instrumental in its success and an enjoyable part of the experience itself. You have a world of options...and plenty to consider.
Entry and Exit formalities: Visitors must hold a passport valid for at least six months & beyond at the time of entering the country. Some nationalities can obtain visa on arrival and for nationalities who requires visa please refer to the Belgium consulate website: www.vfsglobal.com/Belgium/UAE/. Belgium is part of the 26 Schengen State Countries.
Transportation: Figuring out how to get around is one of your biggest pre-trip decisions. Get our holiday expert best advice on deciding between your options. Based on your trip itinerary, our experts will help you choose wisely. You'll also find a wealth of practical travel tips.
Money: Use your money wisely. Know the best time to use cash or card — and how to avoid unnecessary fees either way — as well as tipping etiquette, and how shoppers can take advantage of VAT refunds.
Phones and Technology: Phones and other smart devices can be huge time-savers...or expensive distractions. Get our tips for making the best use of technology during your trip, and for calling home with or without your own phone.
Packing Light: On your trip you'll meet two kinds of travelers: those who pack light and those who wish they had.
Sleeping and Eating: Your hotel and restaurant choices can be a matter-of-face chore…or they can provide rich opportunities to connect with locals and their culture.
Health & Hygiene: Take comfort: Doctors, hospitals, launderettes, and bathrooms aren’t that different. Dealing with them can even be part of the fun of travel.
Sightseeing & Activities: Once you're on the ground, the real fun begins…but it pays to have a thoughtful plan. Our experts will help you get oriented to your surroundings, use your sightseeing hours wisely, and find your way off the beaten path.
Things do & see:
Brussels-is the administrative center of the European Union – and an awesome city. Visit the Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts for its paintings, the magnificent Grand Place, historic Town Hall, cafes, expansive parks, cobblestone streets, amazing beer, and more.
Belgium- though a small country, Belgium certainly has a few culinary aces up its sleeve. Waffles, chocolate, and frites shops in every street. Beer is produced in massive quantities (there are over 1000 breweries here). Belgium is simply the place to indulge in food and beer.
Bruges-is not to be missed. Key attractions include the 14th-century town hall, the Belfry Tower, the Cathedral of the Holy Saviour, its market squares, and canals. It’s beautiful. Go visit, though keep in mind it is a bit touristy and can be boring if you are there alone for a few days!
Ghent-is often overlooked compared with other cities in the country, but this university town is charming. To visit the city at its liveliest you should go in July when the largest cultural outdoors festival in Europe, the “Gentse Feesten”, takes place with food, music, and street entertainment.
Flanders-was the site of half a million deaths during World War I. There are numerous military cemeteries and ‘Missing Memorials’ commemorating those of all nationalities who fell in battle. At the museum in Ypres, visitors can discover what it was like to be a soldier in the trenches.
Castles-There are more castles per square mile in Belgium than anywhere else in the world, and with over 3000 to explore, it’s hard to know where to start. Castle of Bouillon in the Ardennes is one of the most interesting ones. Other must-sees are Beersel and Gravensteen.
Waterloo-At the site of the famous battle, there is a memorial in the form of a statue of a lion (looking towards France) on a hill, with 226 stairs, called La Butte du Lion. Other attractions related to the battle are the Wellington Museum and the Roman Catholic Church of St. Joseph.
Ardennes Forest-Ardennes Forest is the place to go for skiing or hiking. Aside from sporting pursuits, there is a lot of good meat here: game, wild boar, venison, smoked ham, the region’s famous paté, as well as the world-renowned Trappist beers.
Cathédrale Notre-Dame-The Cathedral of Our Lady in Tournai is one of the most striking examples of Romanesque architecture in Europe and is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The cathedral has five towers, magnificent stained-glass windows, and paintings by Rubens and Jacob Jordaens.
Mannenken Pis & Jeanneken Pis-These two iconic sculptures can be found in Brussels and are considered by many as a ‘must see’. There is always a group of people checking them out. They are simple, nude male and female children’s figures, peeing. The male is often dressed up in costumes. They are pretty weird tourist attractions.
Antwerp Zoo-Located in the center of Antwerp next to the train station, this zoo is a full afternoon attraction. Open since 1843, it is one of the oldest and most famous zoos in the world. There are several exhibits and unusual garden features to be seen, including crazy animal sculptures.
Oostende Fish Market Visserkaai-This is where the Ostend fishing fleet sells their catch. If you’re a fan of seafood, this is an awesome place to check out. There are numerous restaurants along the seafront, and you are guaranteed to get a fresh meal.
Cinquantenaire-This museum complex started in 1880 and has continued to expand over the past several years. It lies on the Southeast side of Brussels and is host to the Army Museum, the Auto World Museum, an art museum, and more.
Basilique de Koekelberg-The Basilica of the Sacred Heart is the 5th largest church in the world. In addition to its amazing architecture and impressive art deco, the height offers beautiful views of the city and the surrounding area. The church is very close to the center of town and inexpensive to see.
Canal tour in Bruges-Take a canal trip down the arteries of Bruges. A half hour boat trip on the waterway takes you around secret gardens, picturesque bridges, and ornately designed medieval buildings. This is a perfect way to capture the magic of the city.
Antwerp-The country’s second largest city, Antwerp is an excellent shopping location and offers an extraordinary variety of local food and beer for visitors to enjoy. For those interested in art, the Royal Fine Arts Museum houses the world’s best collection of the Flemish Masters’ works, including the largest group of Rubens masterpieces in existence.