Top 9 Places to visit in Belgium
Welcome to our pick of the Top 9 places to visit in Belgium. For those living in the UK, Belgium makes a great location for a quick getaway.
That’s because, not only is it an easy destination to reach, but it’s also full of immense history and some extremely beautiful cities.
Bruges, is one of our favourites and is located only 70 miles by motorway from Calais, meaning it can be reached in under an hour and a half.
Ultimately, we love visiting Belgium, not only does it have some incredible sights, but it’s also motorhome friendly and benefits from a great cycle network.
Top 9 places to visit in Belgium
Bruges is one of our favourite city breaks and it’s somewhere we feel we can return to any time of the year. There’s also a motorhome Aire within a few minutes walk of the centre, making it a really convenient place to stay.
Not only does Bruges have a UNESCO World Heritage status, but it’s also home to some fabulous breweries and delicious chocolate makers. Ultimately, there’s something for everyone any time of year.
Whenever we visit Bruges, we leave wanting more and although it’s relatively small, it’s undoubtedly big on charm and return appeal. Best of all, it’s such an easy place to navigate and it isn’t overly exhausting. It’s also a city where we feel safe, which is really important to help with an enjoyable stay.
Cobbled Streets and Plenty of Charm
Through the historic centre, cobbled streets guide the way, where horse-drawn carriages take visitors through the historic sights.
There’s also secluded parks, with an intimate feel and all adding to the romance and ambiance. One of the best ways to see the city is by canal, where small boats ferry tourists through a maize of narrow waterways.
Finally, you may want to look out for some of the naughty chocolate displays, a speciality in Bruges shop windows. Not forgetting to head out to see the windmills which line the old ramparts to the city and are accessible along the excellent cycle path network.
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 and one that retains a real sense of character.
We love its modern approach, mixing cultural charm with all the beauty of the canals, not forgetting its historical centre.
It also has UNESCO status, as well as being named a “Creative City of Music”- this being one of only 4 cities to do so.
Ghent mixes the arts with individual shops, great food and flea markets, making it a diverse mix of antiquities and indulgence.
As for parking, we managed to find a place on a street, which cost 6 Euro for a daytime visit with an easy walk into the centre.
3. Antwerp – Top 9 places to visit in Belgium
This city with a commercial feel is the second biggest city in Belgium and capital of Flanders, not surprisingly, it’s a little bit daunting at first glance.
Nevertheless, there’s a mix of beautiful Flemish architecture along with historic squares and a hip, modern element. Above all, it’s renowned for its fascinating diamond quarter, in-fact, it’s the largest of its kind in the world!
Antwerp also has some unusual sights, like walking through an old sewerage system, not exactly your average visitor attraction. Another, more traditional sight is at Het Steen, an 11th century castle dominating the water front.
Finally, there’s the busy market squares, upmarket shops and pleasant parks which all make Antwerp worthy of a visit.
We stayed at an Aire on the perimeter of the city, Camperpark Vogelzang and the number 6 Tram stops just outside the site. From here it goes into the city, although we walked the route too, taking about 30 minutes.
Veurne is a lovely small city which is fairly close to the coast and is an ideal stop for a leisurely stroll.
It has some interesting shopping streets and a lovely town square with ornate buildings of almost gothic appearance. Consequently, it makes a good place to sit and watch the world go by at one of the pavement cafe’s.
Last but not least, just beyond the town centre is a pleasant canal system with a marina and an Aire on the road opposite. Another reason to make this a stop on a tour of Belgium.
5. Waterloo – Top places to visit in Belgium
Waterloo is a town located to the south of Brussels. It’s famous for one of the most ferocious battles in history between Napolean and Wellington – The Battle of Waterloo.
It’s now a place of green fields and home to an interesting visitor centre which gives information about the famous battle of 1815.
Back in the town of Waterloo there’s the old headquarters of Wellington, which is now a museum housing artefacts from the battle.
This Flanders town was a significant stopping off post for the British during the First World War, remarkably escaping occupation by the German’s. It was known as “Pop” to the British soldiers based here, significantly 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 but the scars of WWI remain in its history. Tragically, it’s here, in the courtyard of the Town Hall, that executions took place of so called ‘deserters’ of the war. Unbelievable to imagine, in our now peaceful lives.
These young men, many suffering from shell shock were shot at dawn to be made an example of. It’s heartbreaking and such a tragic reminder of how horrific the war was.
Poperinge is however a pleasant town and also hops capital of Belgium, with plenty of bars to sample one of the many beers on offer.
Ypres is situated in the heart of the WWI historic sights and is home to the Menin Gate. It’s here that the “Last Post” sounds by Buglers, all volunteers of the local fire brigade. Undoubtedly, this is one of the most emotional and poignant experiences and one that will stay with us forever.
This began in 1929 and sounds at 8pm each night, no matter what. This commemorative ceremony remembers all those who fell during the first world war and remarkably, the only time 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, all of which are just unbelievable.
World War sights
The Yorkshire trench and dugout are located in the middle of an industrial estate and 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 also 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 – a memorable experience in itself.
There’s a campsite located outside the town of Ypres and there’s also an Aire a little further out, giving a good choice for motorhome stops.
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 over 100 years ago, the scars of devastation are still vivid and distinctively real.
There’s parking at the Memorial Museum.
9. Coastal Belgium
The North Sea resorts between De Panne and Zeebrugge are typically bleak in Winter, but unfortunately for us, this is when we seem to visit.
However, this stretch of coast is surprisingly upmarket, boasting a selection of designer stores and many affluent restaurants, as well as an abundance of recreational activities, such as scenic walking trails through vast sand dunes.
On top of the many walks on offer are numerous cycling routes, making it a perfect place to enjoy a bike ride along the many miles of Cycle Paths.
There’s also a 67km coastal tram which links the towns along the coast, making it the longest in the world – quite something. So, there’s no need to worry about transport.
We were able to park in all the coastal towns along the route during our trip.
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Thank you! Yes fingers crossed we can all be touring again very soon, keep safe and happy future travels! Are you thinking of a new van?
Nice post going to be very useful too us soon..thanks Tony and Teresa
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