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Travel Belgium, A Paradise of Beer, Chocolate and Chips

January 22, 2015

Brussels-Beautiful

If you stumbled upon this article, you’re probably one of those “well informed” folks who think about Belgium in clichés, i.e. Belgium means just what the title says : beer, chocolate and chips. But wait, there’s more. Belgium in my view is one of those gems, a hugely underrated travel destination in the European Union. Have you seen that movie In Bruges?

Well, just go see it right after you’ve read my article and if you’re not convinced yet, well, you must know that in Belgium magic mushrooms are actually legal! Just kidding folks, but stick around for some cool info about Belgium, right after the break!

Belgium is part of the Benelux region and it’s actually a kingdom, i.e. a federal monarchy and it’s one of the founding members of the European Union. It’s a cosmopolite country with three official languages : Dutch, French and German, with a land surface of 30,500 square kilometers and a population of 10, 414, 336 as per the 2009 Referendum.

Belgium sits at the crossroads of Western Europe, being neighbored by Germany on its eastern border, France in the southwest, Nederland (Holland) on the northern border and Luxembourg on the eastern one.

Due to its location and somewhat belligerent people, Belgium was dubbed The Battlefield of Europe, a “street rep” especially strengthened after WW1 and WW2.

Despite the well-known clichés I already mentioned, Belgium is pretty far from being a boring country, au contraire.

belgium

Why Travel to Belgium

To be honest, my favorite incentive for visiting Belgium is Bruges, a well preserved medieval city (I already told you about it in the preamble of the article) and believe me, that’s not the only one (medieval city, I mean). There are also old churches converted into night clubs, impeccably preserved medieval squares and churches, rock festivals, a flamboyant night life, Belgium has it all. Being a relatively small country, you can spend the first part of the day fishing for shrimp in, let’s say, Bruges (I know I’m obsessing about it) and end the evening with a dinner in Grand Place, Brussels, the capital of the country and the European Union alike.

belgium EU

What to see, what to do

Belgium is divided into three main regions : the French speaking south, namely Wallonia, the Dutch speaking north-Flanders and Brussels, the capital, the new Babylon if you like; here you can speak in whatever language you like, including English, it’s ok.

The northern part of the country is abundant in well-preserved-the medieval kind of buildings, i.e. museums and churches and also lots and lots of hip/old school looking bars and café lounges. Also you’ll benefit from the beautiful white sandy beaches alongside the Northern Sea coast, where you can try kite surfing and land boarding.

Bruges-5

In the south, things are more mellow, there are lots of castles and green pastures, especially in the beautiful hills of Ardennes.  You can go exploring the beautiful rivers (read kayaking) and also go hiking or explore mysterious caves.

While in Belgium, let it go and indulge yourself with some of the best chocolate in the world (Leonidas, Neuhaus, Pierre Marcolini).

Ostend can be regarded as the playground of the euro-aristocracy, it still lives here and while at it, go visit the newly restored Mercator Navy Ship and eat some fresh shrimp with chips at a local restaurant or in a fish market.

The Royal Museum of Fine Arts  of Belgium is another must-see destination, featuring artwork that spans over five centuries, including famous Flemish artists like Delvaux or Rubens.

Antwerp is that place where diamonds come from and also the second capital of Belgium, if you know what I mean, one of the most dynamic cities in the EU and a truly multi-cultural place to be in.

The Bastogne Historical Centre harbors the vestiges of the Battle of the Bulge, one of the greatest battles in WW2.

There are beautiful castles to be admired in Wallonia and lots of moulet frittes  (French fries) to be eaten while exploring the Bruges canals or after taking a spa.

Liege and Waterloo are regular tourist traps but in the best sense of the word, believe me.

Antwerp-Belgium

Brussels is the main city and also the “official” capital, a relatively small and compact place and a truly cosmopolite/multi-culti community. Being a mixture of Art Nouveau architecture and modern slivers, filled with flea markets and art galleries, Brussels is really the diamond in the crown of the EU’s most beautiful cities.

Phone calls to Belgium

Save money while calling and texting to Belgium or from Belgium with tap4call smartphone app.

Food and Drinks in Belgium

Some say that Belgium is home for Europe’s finest cuisine, and that’s logical, because the best of French, German and Dutch chefs gathered here. Some of the specialties include moules frites (chips and mussels), stoemp (mash potatoes with carrots and leeks), witloof en oven (endives with ham and cheese sauce), waterzooi( chicken or fish plus veggie broth), filet americain (raw mincemeat mixed with onion, egg and capers), rabbit cooked with beer and prunes, paling in ‘t groen (you’ll have a big and pleasant surprise), butter-cooked pheasant with chicory and brussel sprouts, lots of delicious salads and of course, chocolate and similar stuff (Cocoa based, like truffles).

Beer is a cult in Belgium, there are over 400 beers in that small country, along with various types of ales and spirits.

belgium choco

Visa Requirements

Belgium is a member of the European Union and it signed the Schengen treaty, hence if you’re an EU citizen, you’ll not require a passport for entering Belgium, just an ID. For USA/Canadian tourists, a passport is required (no Visa though).

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