Outside of Bruges & Brussels

March 13, 2015

3 comments

Belgium is famous for a number of reasons, beer, chips, chocolate, but isn’t exactly known for having a wide range of popular tourist cities, outside of Bruges and Brussels.

There are plenty of fantastic cities around the country which deserve just as much attention as its capital, or its famous fairytale town.

 Antwerp

One for younger travellers, Antwerp has some of the best nightlife in Belgium, with a ton of cool bars and great restaurants sure to give you a night to remember. For many Belgians, Antwerp is the capital of cool, with a world-famous Fashion Academy, but for tourists it is a beautiful city which juxtaposes modern architecture with beautiful historic buildings and a fantastic artistic heritage.

Ghent

Ghent is one of the most popular cities with Belgians, and it’s no surprise really. Most of the city’s town centre is closed to cars, meaning the best way to get around is either to walk, cycle or take a barge up the pretty canals. With Gravensteen Castle, 100 churches, hundreds of historical buildings and a whole host of museums, there’s no shortage of culture in Ghent, but if you’re after a fun, relaxing city break then you’ll find plenty of cafes, bars and the ten-day Ghent Celebration Festival, with plenty of locally-brewed Stropke Beer!

Liege

Belgium’s largest French-speaking city, after the capital, it is perhaps fitting that Liege is connected to Paris by high-speed rail thanks to its stunning, modern train station. Liege is also home to several historic buildings, including galleries and museums such as the Grand Curtius, which is home to archaeology, decorative art, religious and Mosan art museums, as well as weaponry and glass museums too. History buffs should head up to the Citadel of Liege for an incredible panoramic view across the city, or to the Henri Chappelle American Military Cemetery, the largest of its kind in Belgium.

Spa

Often referred to as the Pearl of the Ardennes, Spa is a traditional and picturesque Belgian town just outside of Liege. Perfect for outdoors types, it is surrounded by beautiful forest and rolling hills, just begging to be explored. The world’s oldest casino, dating back to 1763, is also in Spa and the city hosts the biggest French-speaking music festival, The Francophiles, each year.

Spa was named because of its hot springs, which saw it become a popular resort, these days it also hosts the formula 1 every August at its famous Spa-Francorchamps racetrack.

Namur

Namur is the capital of Belgium’s French-speaking region and is an impressive fortified town surrounded by one of Europe’s most ancient citadels. First built around the 3rd and 4th century, the citadel was rebuilt more than 100 years later.

The city of Namur itself is pretty and has plenty to do, including its famous boutique shops, but more adventurous travellers can travel to out to Dinant and Wepion, picking up some food from the farmers markets.

3 comments on “Outside of Bruges & Brussels”

Polly

March 16, 2015 11:59

Nice round-up! I'd also add Leuven and Mechelen to the list - they're not very well known in the UK, but they deserve to be seen. Think medieval architecture, gorgeous food and plenty of culture. It's really easy to reach them from Brussels on the train, too.

Ian Wright

March 28, 2015 20:28

Leuven ,Bokrijk, hans sur lesse all worth a visit along with the strawberry festival in Wepion

Graeme

April 03, 2015 15:28

I have just come back from a short break to Ypres (Ieper). A central location from which to explore WW1 sites. The town is easy to explore, has some great museums and architecture. And only an hour from Dunkirk makes it easily accessible. Its also not far to reach Brugge and Brussels.

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