Blogs,  Europe,  International

Belgium: Chocolates, Waffles, Beer and More…

Belgium is a small and beautiful country known for its medieval towns and wonderful architecture. It is famous for chocolates and beer. Let me tell you a lesser known fact about Belgium: the popular French fries despite its name, is not French. The origins of the French fry have been traced back to Belgium!!

To plan Belgium trip first thing, you should check is visa requirement. To visit Belgium, you need Schengen Visa. You can check your eligibility here.

We planned 4 days for this country and visited 3 beautiful towns: Brussels, Ghent and Bruges.

Brussels

We spent 2 days to roam around in Brussels, but it was our base camp. We stayed all 4 nights here and traveled to other towns from Brussels.

Grand Place

First place we visited in Brussels was Grand place also known as Grote Markt. It is a central square of the city. Many historic buildings dating from the 17th century are located here. It is surrounded by so many shops, cafes and restaurants. Every night this place is illuminated with amazing lights. Fortunately, our hotel was on walking distance, so we used to come here every night to gaze at it.

Mini Europe

A miniature park located near Atomium which has reproduction of monuments in the European Union. It was a fun experience. This attraction is quite outside of the city, so you need to use public transport. You will need around 1 hour for this attraction.

Entry Fee: Adults: €15.50 | Children: €11.50

Park Timings: Changes as per season. Click here for the schedule.

Atomium

It is the landmark of the Brussels city. It is a 6 minutes’ walk from Mini Europe attraction.  It’s a unique and impressive architecture. A must to do if you are in the city. They have some museum inside, but we didn’t do it. I read in many reviews that there is always long line for tickets and inside is not worth the wait. But we spent good time from outside taking pictures and admiring its beauty. If you want to visit it; better buy ticket online. You can check price for Atomium ticket here.

If you want to visit it from inside you can buy combo package with Mini Europe. To see these options, click here.

Walking tour of the city

If you would like to walk and explore the city I would highly recommend this tour. Walking tours are offered in all the major cities of the Europe. They are free of cost, but you are expected to give tip per person. It was 2 hours tour and our guide gave us very good information about history of Belgium, their chocolates, major attractions, European union and it was very interactive, and I think it’s a great way to explore the city. On our walking tour we saw below attractions:

  • Grand Place
  • Guild Houses
  • Serclaes Monument
  • Town Hall
  • Maison du Roi
  • Comic art scene
  • The Stock Exchange
  • Galeries Saint Hubert
  • Manneken Pis
  • The Monnaie Opera
  • St Nicolas’ Church
  • River Senne
  • The Royal Square
  • Mont des Arts

You can book a spot in walking tour. They also allow walk-ins, but these tours take only 10-15 people per group, so I would encourage to book it in advance and be on the safer side. To book the tour click here.

Bruges

This is the cutest city I ever visited. This city is so beautiful that it is protected by UNESCO. It is famous for its canals, cobbled streets and medieval buildings. We traveled from Brussels to Bruges which was 1-hour journey. We reached Bruges around 9:00 AM. First thing we did was having Waffle at Chez Albert – Gauffres. These waffles were awesome. We also tried their Waffle on a stick later in that day which was fantastic. You can choose from their chocolate dip and number of toppings. After this we spent some time in the Markt. This area is surrounded by gorgeous colorful buildings. There are plenty of restaurants each with different cuisines to choose from.

Below are the things we did in our one day trip.

Walking Tour

Markt was a meeting point for our walking tour.  It was a 2 hours tour but unfortunately our tour guide was new, and she did not get in more details and finished tour in just 1 hour. But I would say instead of reading history on wiki (which we don’t do often) it’s good to hear it from someone who has expertise. We covered following points in our walking tour.

  • Market square
  • Cloth halls
  • palace of Gruuthuse
  • Old St John’s hospital
  • Beguinage
  • Lake of Love
  • Half Moon brewery
  • Stove street
  • Church of Our Lady
  • Bonifacius bridge
  • Groeninge museum
  • Dijver
  • Rozenhoedkaai
  • Fish market
  • Burg square

You can book this tour here. This tour company has several other packages to choose from like beer tasting. You can check these details on their website.

After this we had lunch at one of the restaurants in Markt square. It was not that good, so I don’t remember its name 😀

We then spent remaining time just strolling around the city by ourselves, taking pictures, admiring its culture. This city is so small but cute.

Canal Tour

Almost forgot to mention about canal boat trip. We did this tour with Boottochten Brugge.

Hours of operation: 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Price: €8.00

Suggest doing this ride around 4:00PM. So, you won’t get big lines of people and also its more pleasant in late afternoon.

But seriously it’s a wonderful experience. Between walking tour and canal tour if you want to choose I would recommend doing canal tour. You can get more information about this here.

Harp Concert Bruges

If you like music I would highly recommend attending this concert. It’s a one-hour concert and first come first serve so go early to grab a seat. This concert happens only Tuesday through Saturday at 5:00 PM and 6:30 PM. Its free but donations are welcome. More information about this can be found here.

We had coffee in one of the cafes with awesome speculoos biscuit. We tasted Belgium beer at ‘t Poatersgat. We got this coupon on our walking tour. It a cool underground bar with a variety of beer selection.

We left Bruges at 8:00 PM and traveled back to Brussels.

Most of the cafes, shops and restaurants in Bruges closes at 6:00 PM.

Ghent

It was the third town in Belgium which we visited in our short stay. Each town has different architecture and different vibes. Brussels and Bruges are very popular tourist places so if you want quite place Ghent is for you. It is my next favorite after Bruges. We did half day tour from Brussels to Ghent. It’s just 30 minutes train journey.  We visited Gravensteen Castle, Saint Nicholas Church, Korenmarkt, Belfry and Cloth hall.

I love love love walking on St Michael’s Bridge. So many colorful buildings and beautiful canal. It gives amazing views of the city.

If you want to buy some souvenirs I would recommend buying it in Ghent as there was notable price difference.

 

Recommended Restaurants/Cafes/Chocolates

Maison Dandoy – Best Waffle and Bakery Items

Waffle Factory – Good Waffle

L’Express – Very good Shawarma & hospitality

Neuhaus Belgian Chocolate – We liked these chocolates the most

Gallery

Belgium Photo Gallery