Top 9 Places to visit in Belgium
Welcome to our pick of the Top 9 places to visit in Belgium. First of all, Belgium is just an ideal place to visit from the UK because it’s gorgeous and it’s also so close to Calais.
So, if you’re short on time or don’t want a long drive, it’s a really easy destination to reach, making it perfect for a quick tour in the campervan.
In fact, one of the most fascinating and beautiful location – Bruges is only 70 miles along the motorway from Calais. This allows you to be off the Ferry and in this brilliant little city in under one hour thirty minutes!
To be honest, we love Belgium for a tour. Not only is it underrated as a travel destination by us British, but it’s such a great country to explore by motorhome.
To start with, Belgium is totally campervan friendly allowing for easier travel through having plenty of Aires at your disposal. Then there’s some great archietcture, incredible war time history and a really upbeat, modern vibe.
Finally, it also has brilliant infrastructure. We love the miles of marked cycle paths and great mix of walking trails.
So, here’s our selection of our Top 9 places to visit in Belgium!
Top 9 places to visit in Belgium
I have to say that Bruges is probably one of our favourite city breaks in Europe. It’s somewhere we return to year on year and one place we never tire of. Most importantly – there’s a brilliant Motorhome Aire within just a few minutes walk of the centre, making it super convenient.
Not only does Bruges have UNESCO World Heritage status – a statement in itself. But this is one of those cities that just gets under your skin!
No matter how many times we Visit Bruges, we always leave wanting more! This great city may be small but it’s certainly big charm. Best of all, it’s an easy place to navigate and isn’t over exhausting.
In a nutshell, Bruges is simply delightful, positively brimming with atmosphere at every corner.
Plenty of Charm
Let’s being with the cobbled streets where horse-drawn carriage rides take visitors through the charismatic centre.
Then there’s the quirky little parks, each adding to the romance and ambiance. Once you start exploring you’ll be smitten. Passing historic buildings which ooze character at every angle. From their intricate facades edging sometimes hovering above a maize of a canal network.
The best way to see the historic architecture is on a boat ride, ferrying tourists through this maize of narrow waterways.
There’s a whole mix of activities to keep you entertained. From window shopping and cheeky chocolate displays – yes naughty shaped chocolate is a speciality in Bruges! To people watching whilst sipping a local beer in one of the pavement bars.
How about a stroll to one of the markets or fabulous squares in the centre before visiting a museum or maybe a cycle ride around the city.
If you follow the outer rim on foot or by bike, you’ll come across a selection of windmills lining the old ramparts to the city.
Bruges is just so pretty and changes with the Seasons, making it an all year round destination.
Visiting in Spring brings daffodils in abundance across the lawns whilst Summer has mass tourists, but an infectious atmosphere. Expect queues for boat rides and busy restaurants. During Autumn the changing colours of trees brings an extra special beauty to the parks and gardens. Finally – Winter is delightful but it can be freezing, so even those canals can freeze over!
2. Ghent – Top 9 places to visit in Belgium
The city of Ghent maybe larger than Bruges but it’s a charismatic city all the same.
We love its modern approach – mixing cultural charms with all the beauty of the canals. Then there’s historical architecture, intricate carvings on the buildings accompanying the street lined cafe’s.
There’s more UNESCO status here too, not forgetting a “Creative City of Music” title – one of only 4 cities to have achieved this.
Above all, Ghent mixes an arts scene with a shopping area that attract’s the more individual, creative types. There are really great food shops, along with flea markets and health focused cafe’s, all selling the most delicious fresh food, loaded with goodness!
We managed to park on a side street, which was perfect for a daytime visit at just 6 Euro.
For Aires, check out Campercontact App .
3. Antwerp – Top 9 places to visit in Belgium
This is one big, busy city, very much a commercial hub, with the old historic town the attraction for the tourists. It’s the second biggest city in Belgium and capital of Flanders and has a huge port, bustling with energy at every corner.
There’s the mix of beautiful Flemish architecture, historic squares and a hip, modern element. It’s also renowned for it’s diamond quarter, in-fact, it’s the largest in the world, what’s not to love about that?
Antwerp has a mix of unusual elements, such as, walking through the old sewerage system! Then the more original attraction of Het Steen, the 11th century castle, that dominates the water front.
Overall, the busy market squares, upmarket shops and parks and gardens are an inviting addition and combined make for a great day out.
We parked for 8.50 Euro, at an Aire on the perimeter of the city, an old campsite, Camperpark Vogelzang
The number 6 Tram from outside the Aire, took us to the city within a few minutes. We also walked the route, which took us around 30 minutes.
A lovely small city, close to the coast and ideal for a leisurely stroll. Interesting shopping streets lead through to a lovely square, with ornate buildings, almost gothic in architecture.
There’s a small marina on the canal and across the road is an Aire for campervans. Although spaces are small and it is on the road but it’s still great for parking and exploring the town.
5. Waterloo – Top places to visit in Belgium
We’ve all heard of Waterloo, even if it’s only through the Abba song! This town to the South of Brussels, was home to one of the most famous battles in history – The Battle of Waterloo.
Fought between the great Napolean and Wellington, the bloody battlefield of 1815, is now swathes of green fields and makes for a captivating visit.
Parking for the van is easy, with a large parking area (the battlefield itself is on the outskirts of the town). A visitor centre leads you to the main attraction – Lion Mound. This grassy formation with a Lion statue looks out over the battlefield. Steep steps lead you to the summit, gaining incredible views, under the watchful eye of the Lion.
In Waterloo town, you can visit the old headquarters of Wellington himself. Now a museum, it houses lots of artefacts for those battle enthusiasts.
This Flanders town was a significant stopping off post for the British during the First World War. It escaped occupation by the German’s and was known as “Pop” to the British soldiers who were based here. They set up hospitals and lodgings for use on the way to and from the horrors of the front line.
Today, it’s a busy town with the scars of WWI still cemented in it’s history. It was here, in the courtyard to the Town Hall, that executions took place of those so called ‘deserters’ of the war. Unbelievable to imagine, in our now peaceful lives.
These young men, many suffering from shell shock and savagely damaged by war, were shot at dawn, to be made examples of for others to see. It’s a heartbreaking and tragic reminder of what these young, heroic men went through.
The Poperinge of today is a pleasant town and now it’s known as the hops capital of Belgium. So be sure to grab yourself a beer in one of the many bars!
Parking was easy on our day visit, there are Aires in the vicinity too.
In the heart of WWI historic sights, Ypres is home to the Menin Gate. It’s here that the “Last Post” is sounded by Buglers, all volunteers of the local fire brigade. It’s certainly one of the most emotional and poignant experiences and one that we won’t forget.
Since 1929 at 8pm each night, this commerative ceremony has remembered all those who fell during the first world war. The only time that it hasn’t occurred, is during four years of the second world war.
Ypres and its surrounding countryside and townships are full of World War I historic sights. We drove to the battlefields of Hill 60 and 62, a few miles from Ypres, followed by the Hooge Crater Museum.
The Yorkshire trench and dugout in the middle of an industrial estate were found in 1992. Further excavations between 1998 and 2000 revealed the full extent of the British trench and tunnels here. The dig unearthed the remains of 155 soldiers, only one of which was able to be identified – a true testament to the horrors of war.
Essex Farm is not far from here, the cemetery and bunker were the location of a field hospital. It’s here that John McCrae is buried, a surgeon from Canada who wrote the iconic poem “In Flanders Fields”.
From here we drove the same route that the soldiers had taken to Passchendaele.
There’s a campsite just outside the town of Ypres and an Aire a little further out. The CamperContact App has details.
The scale of destruction from the muddy hell of the battle at Passchendaele can be seen at Tyne Cot Cemetery. It holds the graves of 12,000 commonwealth war dead, rows of white graves dominating the landscape.
The glistening walls bear the names of 35,000 British men who were never found, only their names remaining, carved into the stone as a memorial and acknowledgment of their sacrifice.
We have visited many historic sights from both WWI and WW2. All are a heroic testament to those that fought, however, this is the largest in the world for Commonwealth soldiers.
The area around Passchendaele and all of Flanders is scattered with the remnants of a war. Although ending 100 years ago, scars of devastation are still vivid and distinctively real.
We always say that people should visit these sights, if only to realise how fortunate we are today. Especially so we can pay our respects to our ancestors, who went through the hell of these conflicts which are beyond our imagination.
There is parking at the Memorial Museum.
9. Coastal Belgium
The North Sea resorts between De Panne and Zeebrugge are, like many seaside towns, a little bleak in Winter but thriving in Summer. We’ve visited in both Winter and Spring, so we’ve probably never seen it at its best! The miles of sands and all the fun of the seaside on a warm Summer’s day, would be well worth a visit.
One thing’s for sure, this stretch of coastline is surprisingly upmarket, boasting designer stores and affluent restaurants. An abundance of recreational activities such as walks among marked trails through the vast sand dunes.
Cycling is easy here, perfect for getting out the bikes along the miles of Cycle Paths.
A 67km coastal tram links the towns along the coast, making it the longest in the world! So you can even just park up and hop on to save driving.
We managed to park easily off season, in all these coastal towns. However, for overnight stops check out the Camper Contact App
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