Planning a trip to Belgium? or always wanted to? If so, I have listed some of the must see places in Belgium, and the best way to see them all is on a Belgium road trip.
Belgium is such a beautiful country, since it’s located in between some of the major cities like Amsterdam or Paris, it’s often overlooked. But I say, plan your trip to Belgium, get off the beaten path, and get to know this wonderful country.
This post may contain affiliate links. Affiliate links are no extra charge to you, but I may earn a small commission if you choose to make a purchase.
Belgium Road Trip
Belgium is such an easy day trip from anywhere in Europe by train or plane. But if you want to see more of what the country has to offer, then I highly suggest you rent a car and take a road trip through Belgium.
On the blog I will highlight a few of the top places to visit in Belgium, that you can easily add to your Belgium road trip itinerary. Most of these Belgium points of interest can be seen on a day trip, but I suggest staying in each place for at least one night to experience the night life as well.
*Visit our Amazon Storefront here for more on our Must Have Travel Essentials.
Driving in Belgium
Whenever you travel internationally, make sure to read the road rules for each specific country you visit. Here are some of Belgium’s road rules.
Must have items in vehicle
- Reflective jacket
- Warning triangle
- First-aid kit and fire extinguisher
“Priority from the right” rule
Cars approaching from the right always have priority, unless a yellow diamond sign or other priority road sign has been posted. This does not apply on motorways, roundabouts, and roads sign-posted with an orange diamond within a white background. This is the most important thing to remember when driving in Belgium! Click here for a quick guide to road signs in Belgium.
Some things to know about Belgium
Belgium is bordered by France, Netherlands, Germany and Luxembourg.
The first thing we learn is that there are different languages spoken in different parts of the country. Dutch and Flemish is spoken up north in the Flanders region, French in the Wallonia region down south, some German to the east.
Most people do speak English in Belgium, so communication isn’t that hard when traveling here. I would brush up on some basic French, when visiting the Southern half of Belgium though.
Book your hotel in Belgium here:
What is Belgium known for
Belgium is world renowned for it’s chocolates, fries, waffles, and beers. It’s worth planning a trip to Belgium just for the food!
Make sure to taste Moules-Frites, which are steamed mussels served with fries. It’s one of Belgium’s National dishes, and you can find this dish served almost everywhere!
There are also a few things most people don’t know about Belgium. For one, Belgium was the scene of Napoleons defeat in the Battle of Waterloo, and there’s a museum you can visit to learn more about this time in our history.
The Saxophone was also invented here by Adolphe Sax in Dinant. You can visit La Maison de Monsiuer Sax, and explore more about his life and works.
Not many people know that Belgium is also home to Castles and Chateaus. It actually has the most Castles per kilometer than in any country in the world.
Best places to visit in the Flanders Region of Belgium
If you’re flying or taking the train to Belgium, you’ll most likely end up in Brussels. You can either use Brussels as your base when exploring Belgium, but I highly recommend you stay in different cities, or use Brugges as your base, it’s so much more charming!
Brussels is one of the bigger cities to visit in Belgium. It’s one of those cities that you will either love or hate. I say keep an open mind and appreciate the history in this wonderful city.
One of the most beautiful place to visit in Brussels is the Grand Place, which is the city’s main square. The Grand Place is absolutely stunning, and is a great place to people watch and admire the beautiful architecture.
Grand Place is even more beautiful during the holidays, when the city hosts the Brussels Winter Wonders festival, and it’s quite impressive.
Recommended Hotel in Brussels:
Here are some of the top things to do in Brussels
-The Grote Markt (Grand Place)- The central square of Brussels, surrounded by beautiful ornate buildings and opulent guildhalls, the Grand Place is a great place to people watch. Sit by one of the cafes and sip some espresso, or visit the famous Delirium bar and enjoy a glass of one of Belgium’s world famous beers. Make sure to taste some of the worlds finest chocolates, as Belgium is world-renowned for its chocolates.
-Take a stroll through the beautiful streets of Brussels and visit Manneken pis. Manneken Pis is a statue of a peeing boy, and is the best-known symbol of Brussels. It is dressed in costumes, several times each week, which our little one thought was quite hilarious!
-Visit Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert, shop at one of the most luxurious shopping centers in Brussels, or simply dine in one of the elegant cafes. Built in the early 19th century, the glass ceiling is spectacular.
-If you happen to be here in the summer, you can take a tour of the Royal Palace, its only open for about a month every year, as it is the official residence of the Royal family.
-For a nice relaxing time, visit the Brussels park, an urban oasis in the city complete with playgrounds for the kiddos.
-Visit the Mont Des Arts district for amazing views of the city and a beautiful serene garden.
When flying into Brussels airport, take the train on the ground floor of the airport and stop into Central station, from there it’s an easy walk to get to into Brussels city center and many of the hotels in the area. You can also get around Belgium using the Central station to get to the other cities. Besides driving, the train is the best option to get around.
Road trip through Belgium: Brugges
One of the most interesting place to visit in Belgium has got to be Bruges. A visit to Bruges is like being transported back into medieval times.
This place should definitely be on your Belgium road trip itinerary. It’s one of the few cities in Belgium that have never been destroyed, and you will notice that the minute you step foot into the city.
Distinguished by its canals, cobbled streets and medieval buildings, Bruges is just absolutely magical. Visit the Markt square and just admire all the medieval architecture around you while you enjoy a Belgian waffle or the best tasting frites ever!
Recommended Brugge Hotel:
*Read more about our visit to Bruges with kids on the blog here.
Visit Antwerp Belgium
While your driving around Belgium, make sure to visit the port city of Antwerp. It’s just a short drive away from Brussels, and is another one of Belgium’s points of interest.
The Grote Markt, which is the cities main square is the best place to experience Antwerps Medieval Flemish Renaissance architecture and is quite impressive!
If your in the market for some new diamonds then your in luck, Antwerp is known for it’s centuries old Diamond District houses, with thousands of diamond traders, cutters and polishers. It was amazing to stroll through here and just window shop and be amazed by all the gorgeous stones!
Some of the highlights of Antwerp are it’s zoo, the shopping and diamond district, and it’s castle, which unfortunately is being restored.
Visit the Groot-Bijgaarden Castle
Just outside of Brussels is the 12th century Groot-Bijgaarden Castle and Gardens. This is one of the most interesting places to visit in Belgium. The castle is surrounded by a large moat, which was so amazing. I haven’t been to a castle with it’s Moat still intact!
The dramatic entrance to the castle was quite impressive with it’s bridge flanked by two heraldic lions from the 17th century. It felt like you were being transported back in medieval times.
The highlight of the Groot-Bijgaarden Castle is it’s annual tulip festival. In the spring the castle gardens open to the public for about a month for an international flower exhibition with tulips from the Netherlands, called Floralia Brussels. It was quite impressive and reminded me of the tulip field in the Netherlands.
Visit the Hallerbos Forest
One of the most amazing sites to see on your Belgium road trip is the enchanting Hallerbos Forest. Every year in the spring, from about Mid March to early May, the Hallerbos forest blooms with a magical carpet of bluebells.
The forest floor is covered with this bright blue carpet of bluebells and it’s just so spectacular! It’s definitely one of the highlights when visiting Belgium in the spring!
Road trip through Belgium: Ghent
Another one of our favorite Belgium destinations is Ghent. Ghent is a university town and cultural hub. Its pedestrianized center is known for medieval architecture such as the 12th-century Gravensteen castle and the Graslei, a row of guildhalls beside the Leie river harbor.
It was especially cool to take a tour of the 12th century Gravensteen castle, located right in the middle of the city. The castle was used as a courthouse, a prison and eventually was left in ruins. It has now been restored and you can take a self-guided tour of the castle.
Visit Leuven Belgium
One of Belgium’s hidden gem is Leuven. Leuven is a university city, home to one of the oldest and largest Catholic Universities still in existence!
The beautiful architecture will astound you, especially the Leuven Town Hall. This 15th Century town hall building is one of the cities main attraction and is absolutely gorgeous!
Stroll through the picturesque streets and you will come across the 13th century Leuven Beginjhof, which was a community for unmarried, semi-religious women. Today it is now used as a campus by the University of Leuven, and houses faculty and staff.
Road trip through Belgium: Ostend Beach
A road trip through Belgium isn’t complete without a stop to the coastal town of Ostend beach. You would never think of Belgium as a beach destination, it’s not a tropical place with turquoise waters, but to say you swam in the North Sea in Belgium is quite an experience.
Ostend Beach is the most popular beach in Belgium and can get quite crowded in the summer. It’s not your normal beach town, the boardwalk is lined with rows and rows of condos and apartments, not quite what we expected, but it was a fun family friendly beach that is well maintained.
In the summer, Ostend beach also hosts the Disney Sand Magic event, with a different theme every year. These larger than life sand castles are just so amazing, and so worth the visit!
There are many beach destinations in Belgium, and you can get on the coastal tram and visit them all! Ostend beach is just a short drive from Bruges or Brussels, so make sure to leave the city for a day of relaxation.
The Wallonia Region of Belgium
The Wallonia region of Belgium, is the French speaking region of Southern Belgium. There are lots of medieval towns in this region to explore, and is known for it’s traditional Trappist beers. Here on the blog, I highlight some of Wallonia Regions larger cities, and are easy to see on a day trip during your road trip through Belgium.
Road trip through Belgium: Dinant
Another great stop to add to your road trip through Belgium is Dinant. Dinant is located along the Meuse river, famous for it’s Citadel perched on an outcrop above the town. From here you get magnificent views of the town below.
Dinant is also the birthplace of saxophone inventor Adolphe Sax, his home is now an interactive exhibit on the instrument’s development.
We were blown away by the city of Dinant, it was one of the most beautiful towns in Belgium. You can rent a kayak or a boat and take a ride on the river and just admire the town. It’s an easy day trip from Brussels, and is a must see if your ever in the area.
Visit the Paira Daiza Zoo
One of the best reasons to go on a road trip through Belgium is having the option to explore the hidden gems of the country. One of these hidden gems is the Paira Daiza zoo.
Pairi Daiza is a privately owned zoo and botanical garden located in Brugelette in the province of Hainaut, Belgium. The 65-hectare animal theme park is located on the site of the former Cistercian Cambron Abbey, and is home to over 4,000 animals.
The zoo has won multiple awards as being one of the most beautiful zoos in Belgium, and it’s no wonder, this was one of the coolest zoos we have ever visited. It almost felt like you were transported to another place in every themed area you visit!
You can feed the giraffes up on a treehouse, be up close and personal with the elephants and visit the most popular exhibit, the cute and cuddly pandas. The gorilla habitats were amazing, and so were the white tigers den.
Paira Daiza is about an hour away from Brussels, but it’s so worth the drive. It’s a beautiful, serene place away from the city, the beautiful gardens alone is worth the trip!
If you have time to explore Belgium more, then I suggest you visit the smaller towns in the country. You’ve probably never heard of the town called Mons in Belgium, but it’s worth a visit even as a quick layover.
Mons Grand Place is just so beautiful, and is the perfect place to take a break from your road trip though Belgium.
Make sure to find the Guardhouse monkey sculpture on the Grand Place, which is said to bring you good luck when you rub its head.
Grab a cold Belgian beer and relax in one of the outdoor cafes and just admire the beauty of Mons Belgium.
Just a short drive from Mons Belgium is the town of Namur, which is the capital city of the Wallonia region. Namur is famous for its Citadel, which is a medieval fortress, with 7km of underground passages to explore. Namur can easily be a quick stop on your Belgium road trip.
If you decide to visit Namur Belgium, make sure to visit the Citadel. The views up here are amazing, and there is a museum you can visit to learn more about it’s history. There’s even a cafe within the Citadel, where you can grab a quick lunch and grab a cold Blanche De Namur beer!
These are just some of the must see places on a road trip through Belgium. There are many other places to see in Belgium if you can spend more time here.
You can explore historic Abbeys, go on a Belgian beer tour, visit the American Memorial Cemeteries and explore World War history. You can also go for a hike in the Ardennes forest if you’re into some outdoor adventures.
Belgium is not just about waffles and chocolate. Experience Belgium for yourself and see what else this country has to offer! It has been one of our best road trips in Europe, and I hope this Belgium travel guide inspires you to plan that trip to Belgium.
SAVE ON PINTEREST FOR LATER
Disclaimer: Skylar Arias Adventures is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com and its partners. Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. These links are no extra charge to you, but I may earn a small commission if you choose to make a purchase.