When I tell people I’m from Belgium, the first few minutes will be filled with talk about beer, waffles, Bruges and Brussels. Sometimes there might even be mention of mussels and the flatness of the country. However, Belgium has so much more to offer other than the usual tourist hotspots (and it’s not flat everywhere!). Belgium has beautiful beaches, plenty of castles, gorgeous towns and rolling hills in the Ardennes.
I’ve been going through my photo collection, but most of my pictures from my visits to Belgium are family orientated. I asked my family to send me a few photos, and this is the result: A different view of Belgium.
Belgium has 10 coastal towns/cities. The beaches are long and wide with white sand and dunes. A few of the cities have high rise apartment blocks near the beach, but if you venture outside of the cities, you’ll find beautiful dunes and nature reserves.
Belgium has a rich history dating back as far as the Bronze Age. The many castles dotted around the country are evidence of a thriving culture throughout the centuries. If you’d like to know how many castles there are in Belgium, have a look here.
The Ardennes is my favourite region in Belgium. Situated in the South of the country, the Ardennes has forests, rolling hills and valleys carved out by the rivers. I spent many holidays here as a child and still return occasionally to enjoy the beautiful views and the forests. There is plenty of wildlife in the Ardennes, such as the wild boar, which can still be found living in the vast forests.
No, I don’t mean World War I battle fields in Belgium. Here, I’m talking about the actual fields in Flanders. Flanders is quite flat (except for the Flemish Ardennes), but this doesn’t mean it’s not pretty. Whenever visiting my family, I start to appreciate the hill-less landscape; fields of grass and the occasional tree and cow. The landscape is very simple, but still beautiful and tranquil.
Not all beauty lies in the big medieval cities. Some towns are worth a visit as well, if only for one hour, stop along your route, and have a drink or something small to eat in the local brasserie. Many towns have their own history and museums. Dendermonde, my hometown (considered a city in Belgium, but probably a town in England), has a beautiful medieval main square, a few museums and a cycle route along the Schelde river.
I couldn’t leave them out of this list, the medieval cities of Belgium that are so well known outside the country. Antwerpen, Brussel, Brugge, Gent, Ieper and Namur are the most famous ones.
I’m actually kind of embarrassed to say that I’ve never been to Belgium. France, Netherlands, Germany – yes, but somehow, never Belgium. All the more ridiculous when you consider how easy the Eurostar is.
It’s definitely rising fast on my ‘to visit’ list though as I’ve recently seen lots of wonderful pictures – the beautiful old city architecture, especially when set on the riverside is just so appealing to me.
The Ardennes also looks lovely – that little town on the river is so picturesque, I’d definitely not say no to visiting there 🙂
The town on the river in the Ardennes is called Dinant, and is definitely worth a visit.
For some reason, before moving to the UK, I never considered Belgium to be very interesting.
It’s only now, when I go back to visit family, that I’ve started to appreciate my home country. So I don’t judge anyone for skipping Belgium when travelling around Europe, but I know now they are missing out 🙂
I have never been to Belgium, but I had a friend play basketball there for a little while and he said how great it was. Funny because no one ever talks about or shows these other parts, so thank you for bringing light to all there is to offer there. The pictures too are so nice and it makes me want to visit even more.
Most people only know the main cities of Belgium, because visitors usually only plan a couple of days in the country. I’m happy my post makes you want to visit Belgium!
Oh you’ve certainly peaked my interest in Belgium! Love the castle, did you explore it? Also, what are the towns that are on the waterfront? They are beautiful. A lovely post and I love all the info it contains.
Thank you Melody! I’ve been to all three castles in the photos, but I was quite young then, so I can’t remember much of it. The photo with the river, castle and boat is Dinant. The second photo under cities, is Bruges, the third photo under cities is Gent. All three cities are worth a visit! I’ll have to add a caption under each photo 🙂
Those coastal views are beautiful – I never think of beaches when I think of Belgium, but clearly that’s wrong of me!
Most people don’t even know about Belgium’s beaches. They can be quite pretty 🙂
I haven’t been to Belgium yet but I’ve always thought it looked so pretty! I love the gingerbready looking houses.
Very interesting post. I visited Belgium but did’t get to see any of those you have listed. Wish I had seen a post like this before. Beaches. Wow! Didn’t even think there were any. I guess there is much more to Belgium than Brussels.
Those beaches are beautiful! I have been to Belgium before and have actually driven through it but I haven’t had enough time on either trips to fully appreciate Belgium. I’m hoping when I return to Europe to do a big trip and Belgium is going to be one of my main stops.
Oh wow thanks for sharing your gorgeous pics. It’s always great to get a locals perspective and discover things away from the tourist hot spots.
I’ve been to Belgium twice. As a kid I spent the summer in the Ardennes and I simply loved it! Two years ago I visited Brussels – which was nice in a way – I loved eating fries all day 😉 But since I spent most of the time in the government district, I didn’t really see a lot of the city.
You just made me want to visit Belgium! Seems like there’s really a lot there that I never knew about. I guess that could probably be said about all countries in the world, but yeah.. I’m definitely gonna try to visit at least one of those coastal towns 🙂 Great post!
The beauty of Europe is that the small “lesser knowns” are treasures in themselves. No matter where you go there is beauty and history and architecture, especially in Belgium. Loving the coastal views and definitive architecture!
Your images really sell Belgium! Not somewhere I’ve been would like to see Bruges (and then some!)
Being from Belgium, I can only agree with this post. Belgium has so much more to offer than chocolate, beer, waffles and “frieten” 🙂 It’s a beautiful, little and very interesting country, and should be on everybody’s bucket list. In addition I would add to visit the old coal mines in Limburg together with Bokrijk, a lovely open air museum showing life in Belgium a few centuries ago.
I am one of those people who think of wafels and beer, but I would love to check out your more “hidden” suggestions!
I have visited Belgium many times over the years and have loved it every time. You are right, there are many things about the country, like most countries, that are kind of off the beaten track but well worth the effort of a visit.
I’ve been to Brussels and Antwerp, which I loved, but not much else. But I’m planning a route through Belgium int he spring, on a hunt for the artworks of James Ensor. I know there are good collections in Antwerp, Ghent and Ostend, where he was born. Is there anything much else to do in Ostend. I know it was a major ferry port before the Chunnel opened. What else is there?
I love Liege with Outremeuse, the Montagne de Bueren, timber framed houses, the Citadelle, the War Memorial and Basilica, but mainly the warmth of the locals.
So. Don’t judge me but I’ve never thought about visiting Belgium until now. The architecture sort of resembles Amsterdams. Those pastures look amazing! Thanks for adding to my European bucket list 😉
My husband and I visited Belgium last spring, and did some of the larger, tourist-y cities: Antwerp, Brussels, and Bruges. But it was the other cities, towns, beaches and historical areas I fell in love with. There’s just something about Belgium that says you’re in the right place. It’s gorgeous, and so fulfilling. We loved it so much we are coming back in June! I can’t wait!
Wow, I have only been to Gent and Brussels, but really want to go backa nd visit so much more!
Those castles are beautiful! Your dad and sister took some wonderful pictures. Thanks for sharing!
Couldn’t agree more. We have so many beautiful villages, towns and cities. Belgium has very famous pop concerts as well, and not to forget the amazing food. Great post. Love going home to escape busy London.
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