It has been a year since my trip to Belgium. (starts crying hysterically)
Anyway moving along…
As a travel obsessed blogger, I thought why not write yet another post about how much I loved this little country?
What can I say I am feeling kind of nostalgic over here!
1. The Architecture
Belgium was once one of the most powerful regions in Europe. You may be surprised when you travel through the country to see palaces, churches and other buildings with intricate details and amazingly preserved beauty.
Dutch homes are freaking magical. In places such as Ghent and Bruges, the gabled houses near the canals are picture perfect.
2. Beer, Beer, Beer
This is obviously worth mentioning. There are over 180 breweries in Belgium and there are around 1150 different Belgium beers. Um, ya. Basically a beer lovers dream. There is a flavor for everyone and if you are not a beer enthusiast when you arrive you will be when you leave. I tried a bunch, and although I am not a huge beer drinker myself it was awesome to have such variety, I managed to walk away with a deeper love for a brew.
3. The Grub
Check out my Belgium food diary to discover what some of my favorites were because there were so many. Belgium has amazing food, yummy comfort dishes that go great with… you guessed it, a beer! Eating amazing food is one of my favorite parts of traveling and Belgium did not disappoint in that department!
4. Low Key Vibes
Something I really enjoyed about Belgium that I was not expecting was its low-key vibe. Outside of larger cities like Antwerp and Brussels, there is a real calm and chill atmosphere. Even in crowded tourist towns like Bruges. It is easy to get into restaurants, to visit museums and walk around with ease. There is no sense of hustle and bustle at every turn which makes relaxing a little easier.
Yes, you are still going to be paying European prices for most things, but I was surprised to discover that if you stay out of the super touristy spots you can get very affordable meals. Many museums are free or next to nothing in price and many churches only ask for a donation to visit. You can also find affordable accommodations in both hotels and Airbnbs. Again just remember you will be paying more in Brussels.
6. War Memorials
Being Canadian I was eager to pay my respects to the countless memorials for Newfoundland and Canada that are in Belgium. The Flanders Museum in Ypres does an amazing job at showing the war in an honest and educational way and its effects on all countries that fought, especially the damages that WWI had in the Flanders area, which is still evident today. This was an amazing experience for me, and one I will not ever forget. Check out my heart filled post about my visit to one of those memorials here.
I have always had a slight obsession with medieval times, I don’t now why. Maybe because all of my favorite movies are old-timey, or maybe I am a giant nerd, or maybe both.
Staying in Ghent was an amazing example of the very old and new. It was easy to imagine what life was once like just by walking the streets. We visited the museum of medieval torture devices in Bruges. I have to admit it was a little too real fo me, so I had to leave while my boyfriend finished the tour. However, if you are looking to discover what Flanders was like during the medieval ages then you will have lots of opportunities in places like this.
8. The Chocolate
Guys, I freaking love chocolate, I can not stress how much. In fact, the chocolate was one of the reasons I wanted to go to Belgium in the first place. I tried so many different kinds and brought back so much that a year later I am still eating it. Browsing around Belgium and visiting chocolate shops was beyond incredible.
9. Beautiful Canals
How romantic are canals? We stayed in Ghent while in Belgium and on our first evening after a day of exploring we grabbed a beer and sat by the canals people watching. It is one of my favorite memories. The canals in Bruges and Ghent were the perfect place to hang out, relax, and people watch.
10. Awesome Shopping
Antwerp is known as a huge shopping hub and people all over Belgium travel there to spend some serious cash. I did more shopping than I probably should have while in Belgium, but I regret nothing. There is something for everyone and all budgets. The picture below was an outdoor Sunday book market. It was wonderful!
11. Easy Communication
Belgians learn three languages in school, Dutch, French and English and sometimes even German. Every single person we came across spoke English. A very helpful bonus, although I do suggest learning some dutch as it will help with your own personal navigation and food ordering. Something I regret is not learning more dutch food names.
12. So Many Castles
Being a Potterhead since the age of 11, I must admit my fascination with castles is both magically infused and enchantingly profound. Basically, I love me some castles. As we don’t really have any in Canada visiting somewhere like Belgium where there are over 400, was kind of a dream come true.
13. Beautiful Churches
Back in the day, people took their religion very seriously. King, Queens, and Counts built beautiful churches and cathedrals as a way to pay homage and be closer to god and win over their underlings no doubt. As a result, the churches in these regions are filled with sculptures, paintings, and masterpieces of all kinds and charged with inspiration. The architecture and art found in the churches and cathedrals of Belgium was a wonderful way to enjoy the art of the time in its original home. It was simply breathtaking.
14. Holy Relics
Speaking of churches the Basilica of the Holy Blood in Bruges is said to house drops of Christ’s blood. This place is so elaborately decorated it is worth waiting in the line to go see. Not to mention if you are a believer this is an amazing holy relic that has been viewed here for hundreds of years. I wrote more about it in this Bruges post.
15. Easy Transportation
Belgium’s train system is so easy to use it made getting from one side of the country to the other a piece of cake. Not to mention many of the trains are new, clean and spacious. There was always lots of room on the trains and buying our tickets ahead of time through Eurail meant we didn’t have to worry about purchasing. Using trams, cabs, and buses were also easy to navigate.
When we traveled to Belgium it was weeks after the terrible airport bombings. The country was under a terrorist threat and extra security forces were seen in many of the main areas. I have never felt safer visiting a country. Outside of the hustle and bustle of Antwerp and Brussels, the cities were quiet the people friendly and I felt no threat of pickpockets or scams.
If you are interested in reading more about my Belgium adventures you can check out the below posts.
- My Belgium food Diary
- 10 Things to do in Bruges
- 3 Ghent Highlights you need to Explore
- Finding Patriotism in Kortrijk, Belgium