- Castles of Walzin & Vêves
- Castle of Freÿr and an unknown viewpoint
- Rocher du bieley – hidden gem viewpoint with a stop in Monschau, Germany
- Abbey de Villers
- Hallerbos – possibly the most magical place in Belgium for only a few weeks every year
- Hobbit house
- Halte Royale d’ardenne – a real hidden gem
- Durbuy – smallest village of the world
Belgium might be a small country but it has so much to offer. You will find beautiful cities like Bruges, Ghent, Antwerp and Brussels as well as lots of wonderful hikes in nature, old castles and architecture and lots of cultural activities.
The best time to visit Belgium will be in the summer months from June to September. The only downside of visiting in the summer months is that it’s busier everywhere due to the holiday period. Spring and fall are great months as well to visit Belgium.
In this blog article I’ve listed 13 places you must visit in Belgium. You can expect a whole lot of variation from cities to hikes, culture, Belgium’s most beautiful castles, a once in a year unique location and even an abandoned royal train station!
Belgium has many beautiful cities but there are 2 that you really need to visit: Ghent and Bruges (I will cover Bruges in the next topic). Ghent has a historic center with a lot of history behind it. The cityscape of Ghent is often described as the ‘three towers’ of the Belfort, Sint-Baafs cathedral and the St. Nicholas church.
There’s so much to see and do in Ghent and the inner city is really beautiful so you’ll have a great time strolling around. To me, Ghent is one of the more cosy cities in Belgium. You’ll find plenty of cute streets, shops, bars, restaurants,…
Bruges is without a doubt one of Belgium’s hotspots amongst tourists and it’s easy to see why. The historical center is absolutely gorgeous and there are so many streets to see as well as old buildings, cute shops, etc. I’ve been to Bruges countless times but if you haven’t, count at least 1 day here to see most of this city. There’s not really anything I would recommend for Bruges as you just have to walk around and see everything. Take your time to walk around the city, find some cozy place to get something to eat and/or drink and just enjoy the city.
Of course the city center of Bruges is very crowded but if you want to beat the crowds, I do recommend walking the ‘Silent Bruges’ city walk (click the link for more info on the walk, the explanation is in Dutch but you can just follow the map).
3. Castle of Walzin and the castle of Vêves
My favorite castle in Belgium is the castle of Walzin in Dinant. The castle is located on a steep cliff above the Lesse, a famous river in Wallonia and offers some very impressive views. There’s a beautiful hike you can do in the area, it’s only 4,5km and it’s not very hard but offers wonderful views on the castle. You can find a map of the hike by clicking this link.
I added the castle of Vêves as well because they’re located pretty close to each other so you can easily visit both of them in one day.
Other fun activities to do in the area are kajakking the Lesse and visiting Parc De Furfooz.
When visiting the castles of Walzin and Vêves, it would be a shame if you would miss visiting Dinant. Dinant is what we call a postcard city. With it’s colorful houses along the river and the Citadel in the back it makes for wonderful views. The city itself isn’t big so you won’t need much time here but visiting the Citadel is a fun activity if you have the time. It will offer you a great view over the city and the area. When you drive to Dinant, you enter the city by driving through a road carved out between some rocks and it looks really impressive.
5. Castle of Freÿr
The Castle of Freÿr is also located close to Dinant and the castles of Walzin & Vêves so it is possible to see all of them in one day but it will depend on how much time you spend at every spot. The castle of Freÿr is often called the mini version of Versailles because there are some similarities. You can visit the castle and its gardens but the most impressive way to view the castle is by visiting the viewpoint across the river. Coördinates: 50.22307350399916, 4.895546453782002. If you park the car here, you’ll see a small walking path through the woods and after a few minutes you’ll reach the rocks for some awesome views. Not many people know this place so it definitely is one of Belgium’s hidden gems.
C-Mine is located in the eastern part of Belgium and it’s a great activity if you like to go back in time. C-mine is an old mining site and takes you back to the industrial history of the area. The building is renovated and used as museum and often used for exhibitions as well. You can do the C-Mine expedition and walk the underground tunnels with visual experiences. Outdoors you can go up the tower and find your way through the maze. A perfect activity for people with children!
7. Rocher du Bieley
Rocher Du Bieley is a viewpoint located in the eastern part of Belgium, very close to the border with Germany. It’s also located close to the ‘Hautes Fagnes’, one of Belgium’s most famous walking regions and also one of the highest points in Belgium. It’s not easy to find but I’ll give you some information so you can start exploring already. Coördinates of Rocher Du Bieley : 50.495795636674075, 6.26373353342307. To start the hike, you best park at Ferienhaus Gut Heistert (Coördinates: 50.505898523876716, 6.246492024241124). From here it’s a 45 minutes walk to the viewpoint. The parking is located just across the border of Germany.
It’s a big area so after visiting the viewpoint you can continue exploring and do some of the hikes there or you can visit Monschau, which is located really close to this spot. Monschau is one of Germany’s most beautiful little towns. It’s really small so it won’t take much time to see all of it.
Maybe I’m a bit biased because I’m living in Lier, but it’s a wonderful little city in Belgium not far from Antwerp. Lier is like a small version of Bruges with a cute historic little city center, the famous ‘Zimmertoren’ and some views along the river flowing through the city.
What to do in Lier: just stroll around the city, visit the Center of the city: Grote Markt, the famous Zimmertoren and the Begijnhof (Beguinage). Have a drink at one of the many café’s and do some local shopping! Maybe you’ll even find me here photographing some of our beautiful streets and buildings.
9. Abbaye de Villers
The Abbey of Villers is a remarkable well kept abbey south of Brussels. With almost 900 years of history you go back in time visiting the old structures and beautiful flower gardens.
The Hallerbos in Brussels is world famous for an event that occurs once every year. Every year around April, the floor of the forest is covered in thousands and thousands of these gorgeous purple hyacinths. Only for about 2 weeks you can enjoy the forest in the most fairytale-like scenery you have ever witnessed.
During this period, the Hallerbos is flooded by people that want to see this phenomenon so if you want to go, I suggest you go early in the day. We went there by sunrise to capture it with the golden light of the sun.
There are quite a few walking trails you can find here. Info about these trails in the Hallerbos can be found on their official website.
11. Hobbit house
The Hobbit house is another spot on this list that is not well known by many, which makes it nice to visit as you won’t find too many other people around. You can find this place in Chevtogne, Provincial Domain (it’s located not all too far from Dinant, in the South of Belgium). It’s a domain with some walking paths where an artist has built some creations for the park. Normally they take them down again after a while but they let the Hobbit house stay. Exact coordinates: 50.22683117050933, 5.136831696085608.
In the summer and during holidays you have to pay an entrance fee to enter the park but we went there in fall and could enter without paying any fee.
12. Halte Royale d’ardenne – a real hidden gem
I like visiting abandoned locations and on one of my searches, I found out about Halte Royale d’ardenne. This train station was built by King Leopold II where he welcomed royalties that were invited in his luxury hotel in the area. Guests were welcomed in this train station and taken to the hotel by carriage along the spiral road. Now, it’s been out of use for years and it’s completely abandoned and overgrown. Trains still pass here but they don’t stop there anymore. The last train to drop off passengers did so in 1919. Coördinates of Halte Royale d’ardenne: 50.19979785285484, 4.999325642343071.
Last but definitely not least: Durbuy! Durbuy is called the smallest town in Belgium and it named itself smallest village of the world. I don’t think that’s really true but it is very small and won’t take you that much time to see it all. You can walk the streets, passing historical houses and buildings, small and cozy shops, bars and restaurants. This town is a must see and is lovely in whatever season you’re visiting Belgium. Those who like some action can also visit the adventure park nearby!
Important note: Belgium is a small country but it has so many great spots you can visit. Of course there’s tons of other places I could add like Antwerp, Antwerp’s world famous train station ‘Antwerpen Centraal’, Brussels, the seaside, some more hikes in southern Belgium,… but maybe that’s for another blog post. Enjoy planning your trip!
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