Ultimate Belgium Travel Guide

Belgium Travel Guide Canal Boat Tour in Bruges

Complete Belgium Travel Guide

Belgium is often one of those European countries that are overlooked, but although small, this country has so much to offer. Belgium is known for many things, including medieval architecture, canals, tempting chocolate, beer, fries, and waffles, to name a few. So if you are considering visiting Belgium, you will not be short of things to do. In this Belgium travel guide, you will learn about the essentials to know for planning a vacation in Belgium, along with additional in-depth Belgium itineraries!

Belgium is located in Northern Europe. Surrounding countries include France, Germany, Luxembourg, and The Netherlands. Nearby countries include Great Britain, Switzerland, and Denmark. Below, you will find travel tips, itineraries, and more to help you plan the best vacation in Belgium!

Bruges should be a part of your Belgium travel guide
Bruges Market Square

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Belgium Travel Guide Tips

To start off this Belgium travel guide, let’s start with some quick and useful stats and travel tips to know when traveling in Belgium. This includes Belgium’s popular cities, favorite eats, safety, and more!

Belgium Language:

The official language in Belgium is Dutch (Flemish). French is considered to be the second language and German the third. English is still widely spoken in Belgium. Don’t forget to download Google Translate.

Belgium Population:

Belgium’s population has around 11.59 million people.

Brussels Population:

Brussels (Bruxelles) is the capital of Belgium. The population is around 1.2 million people.

Credit Cards and ATMs in Belgium:

Credit cards are widely accepted in Belgium. Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted. American Express and Discover are rarely accepted. 

In most places (including transport), you can tap and pay with your card or mobile wallet.

Some of the major banks are ING, Dexia Bank, and KBC. You will find many places to exchange your local currency with Belgium’s local currency (euro).

Belgium Currency:

The currency used in Belgium is the Euro.

Tipping in Belgium:

In Belgium, you do not need to tip as the tip is usually included in the bill. Tipping, in general, is not a standard practice. If you really feel inclined for excellent service, leaving a few Euros is fine.

Belgium Airports:

There are multiple airports across Belgium. The most popular airport is the Brussels Airport (BRU).

Smaller airports include The Liège Aiport (LGG), Oostende-Brugge International Airport (OST), and the Antwerp International Airport (ANR). The most popular airline in Belgium is Brussels Airlines. Find the best flight prices here.

Belgium Safety:

Belgium is considered a safe country to visit. Crime levels are usually low however, you should be cautious of petty crimes such as pickpocketing in tourist-filled locations and railway stations. This is more apparent in Brussels.

Power Outlets in Belgium:

There are two plug types used in Belgium. Those are plug type C and plug type E. Belgium operates on 230V and 50Hz. This is the Travel Converter I use that works across the Globe.

Popular Places in Belgium:

When planning your Belgium travel itinerary, you may be wondering top places to see. Brussels, Bruges, Antwerp, Ghent, and Leuven are some of the most popular cities to visit in Belgium.

Famous Dishes Across Belgium: 

When visiting Belgium, make sure to try some of the most famous cuisines across the country. This includes:

  • Frites – Belgium claims to be the inventor of fries, so having fries while in Belgium is a must.
  • Lieges Belgian Waffle –  These waffles are made with dough and are sweet.
  • Waterzooi – A creamy soup made from fish, butter, and eggs.
  • Carbonnades – A thick beef stew cooked with beer.
  • Mussels (mosselen) – Belgium is known to have excellent mussels
  • Belgium Beer – Drinking beer is not about getting drunk, but more of an experience.
  • Belgium Chocolate – Don’t leave Belgium without having some chocolate.

Getting Around Belgium:

The most popular form of transport in Belgium is using the Tram or the Metro. For shorter trips, the bus is also a great option. Google Maps is a great way to get around.

Trams and buses allow you to tap your credit card, while train lines require buying a ticket.

You can rent a car in Belgium, but public transport is usually the best option.

Cell Service:

Belgium has great cell coverage. If your cellphone does not come with an affordable International plan, you can get a sim card when you arrive in Belgium or get an esim (what I do).

I use Holafly for esims, which works with the majority of smartphones. You will have service from the moment you land. Check plans here.

Visa in Belgium:

Most passport holders can currently receive a visa on arrival to Belgium if their stay is shorter than 90 days in a 180-day period. 

If your stay is longer than 90 days, you will need to acquire a Schengen visa. 

Starting in 2024, most visitors, including US Citizens, will need to apply for ETIAS when visiting 30 different European Countries. Learn more about the application at ETIAS. This must be done before your trip and costs 7 euros.

Chez Albert Belgian Waffles in Bruges

Weather in Belgium

Belgium experiences all 4 seasons. The weather in the summer is often mild and warm with rainfall. July tends to be the hottest month in Belgium, and January usually has the coldest temperatures.

The Spring season in Belgium begins in March and ends in May. Spring is usually still moderately cold, especially in places like Bruges. The days start to get longer, with the sun not setting until after 8 PM, and the Spring flowers start to bloom. The temperature usually remains around 50°F (10°C) to 59°F (15°C) – although Bruges is usually a little cooler being close to the water.

The summer months in Belgium start in June and span across August. The temperatures are much warmer during this time and usually range from 68°F (20°C) to around 77°F (25°C). This is the most popular season, and areas will be busiest during this time of the year. 

The fall season in Belgium is from September – November. This is when temperatures start to drop, and you can expect more rainfall. However, the temperature is bearable, and there are usually fewer tourists during this time. The temperatures average around 53°F (12°C) to around 59°F (15°C).

The winter season in Belgium is wet and cold. The temperatures decrease but not to anything too extreme. This is the low season (except Christmas time), so some attractions close during this time due to frozen canals and rainfall. The temperature ranges from 37°F (3°C) to 44°F (7°C). However, temperatures could lower, especially in Bruges.

Canals in Bruges Belgium

Brief Belgium History

The history of Belgium has a lot to do with its neighboring countries, France, Germany, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. In fact, Belgium used to be referred to as the “crossroads of Europe.” The land was often a part of other countries and under their rule. This includes being a part of the Southern Netherlands and then under French Rule after the French Revolution.

In 1830 the Southern Netherlands rebelled in what was called the Belgian Revolution. This established the modern Belgian state.

Now, Belgium is an independent country and has been since 1839. Belgium is sometimes called Flanders, which is the Northern Flemish area of the country that speaks Dutch (Flemish).

Today, Brussels is the capital of the European Union, making Belgium a very important European country.

Ghent Canal Tour is perfect for one day
Canals in Ghent

Popular Things to Do in Belgium

Belgium is known for its historic charm and medieval infrastructure. Travelers often find themselves exploring medieval architecture, touring down the canals, indulging in Belgian delicacies, and visiting one of the many museums.

Some of the most popular things to do in Belgium include:

Gravensteen castle in Ghent
Gravensteen castle in Ghent

Fun Belgium Fact: Did you know that Belgium is known as a trilingual country with three national languages?


Belgium Travel Guide Itineraries


The Best Time to Visit Belgium

The most popular time to visit Belgium is from July to August. Summer is always a popular time to visit Europe, and since Belgium is more north, Summer offers warm weather that isn’t too overwhelming. This is also when you can expect the highest prices in for hotels.

That being said, Spring is also a great time to visit as the weather is milder and attractions are less busy. 

September and October can also be great times to visit, although the weather is colder but not freezing. Since this is Belgium’s off-season, you can enjoy the fall season with fewer crowds. Hotel prices are also usually lower at this time. 

If you’re someone who loves Christmas Markets, visiting during the holiday season can be a great time to visit Belgium. You will find Christmas Markets in all of Belgium’s major cities, including Brussels, Bruges, Antwerp, and Ghent.

Chocolate Shop in Belgium

Where to Stay When Visiting Belgium

This is a common question when trying to decide where to stay in Belgium. The 3 most popular places to stay in Belgium are undoubtedly Brussels, Ghent, and Bruges. Most locals will steer you towards Ghent and Brussels. These are both larger cities and less touristy in many aspects.

All three cities are within an hour of one another, making it easy to take day trips from either.

If you’re someone who wants to be in a big city with nightlife, Brussels will be a better option.

Ghent is a college town, so there are definitely things going on, and it has more of a quaint feel, and interesting attractions.

Bruges is perfect if you want more of a fairytale, yet medieval small-town vibe where everything is within walking distance.

Bruges Rosary Quay is a must with 3 days in Bruges
Bruges

Is Belgium Budget-Friendly

Belgium is a fairly budget-friendly trip for Europe compared to its neighbors. Depending on the season, prices for hotels are usually between €100-€200 per night. Bruges tends to have slightly higher prices. Most attractions range from 15 euros or less. You can also get a museum pass in most major cities to help reduce costs.

Street food can be around €5-€10 euros a person and sit-down meals can be enjoyed for around €18 Euros per person.

Belgium Fun Fact: Beer has been ingrained in the Belgian culture because beer was safer to drink than water.


Dutch Words to Help You Get Around Belgium

Although Belgium has 3 official languages, Dutch (Flemish) is the dominant language. If you speak French or German, that is usually perfectly acceptable to speak while in Belgium as well. Moreover, English is widely spoken, but learning some Dutch words is a great way to embrace the culture.

Don’t forget to download Google Translate as well to help in the case of any language barriers.

Common Dutch Phrases:

  • Hallo – Hello
  • Tot Ziens – Goodbye
  • Ja – Yes
  • Nee – No
  • Bendankt – Thank you
  • Graag Gedaan – You’re welcome
  • Pardon – Excuse me

Planning a Belgium Itinerary

Depending on where you’re planning to visit, most people spend 3-5 days in Belgium. Many times Belgium is part of a larger Eurotrip.

  • Brussels (2-3 Days)
  • Ghent (1-2 Days)
  • Bruges (2-3 Days)

For longer trips in Belgium, consider visiting Antwerp, Liege, Dinant, and Ypres.


Books About Belgium

For additional guidebooks and reading about Belgium, check out:


Destinations from Find Love & Travel
Netherlands Travel
Photo of author

Samantha Oppenheimer

Samantha Oppenheimer (Sam Opp) quit her corporate marketing job in 2018 to travel the world and become a travel writer, blogger and content creator. She loves experiencing authentic travel experiences, photography, and nature. Sam shares helpful travel itineraries, travel tips, budget tips, and travel advice from her personal experiences. You can also find Sam's words featured in large publications including Mirror, Thrillist, and Well + Good.

2 thoughts on “Ultimate Belgium Travel Guide”

  1. Great article, thanks for sharing. i also use this travel app constantly while being on the road – ATM Fee Saver. it shows ATMs with their fees and limits for withdrawing cash. I found it super useful for being abroad =)

    Reply

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