Belgium is a leisurely country of seemingly endless cafés, myriad varieties of fine beers and chocolate, world class art and architecture, stunning castles and chateaus and beautiful rolling landscapes is a sumptuous and still relatively undiscovered treasure of Europe. Rich with wildlife Belgium is an ideal destination for those who enjoy tasteful surroundings and experiences. Belgium is a welcoming country with a unique heritage. Divided by two separate cultures, the Flemish north and Walloon south, both speaking their own language, Belgium has a reputation as a classy European holiday destination. Its capital Brussels is also the capital of Europe.
Situated between Holland, Germany, Luxembourg and France, Belgium is one of Europe's smallest countries. The north is very flat, making it ideal for cycling, and the south, which includes the beautiful Ardennes national park and the rugged North Sea coastline. Lower Belgium includes a major network of canals. The major cities of Belgium, along with Brussels, include Antwerp, Bruges, Dinant, Charleroi, Mons and Oostende.
Belgium is credited with inventing oil painting. The work of artists such as Brueghel and Rubens are some of the finest examples.
Brussels City Museum tells the incredible history of Brussels leading up to its important role today. Also includes an eccentric collection put together over several hundred years of over 600 costumes donated to the Manneken Pis.
Vast collection of paintings from the 14th Century, including Rubens, Van Dijck and Jordaens. Set in a majestic neoclassical building complete with Corinthian columns.
Grand 19th Century shopping arcade near the Grand Place. Includes cinemas, cafés, bookshops and a theatre. You can also indulge in some chocolate tasting at the original Neuhaus shop, famous for Belgium Pralines.
Oldest town in Belgium. Originally a major Roman stronghold it includes the remains of a 4th Century Roman tower, Roman walls and cloisters.
Belgium has over 3,000 castles, about 300 of which are open to the public. Gravensteen is one of the most popular. It is one of the strongest moated fortresses in Europe built in the 12th Century.
The battle of Waterloo secured the defeat of the Emperor Napoleon courtesy of the Duke of Wellington. The Lion of Waterloo victory monument is a huge man made hill topped by a 28 ton lion. Lots of memorial attractions are at hand, including the Wellington Museum.
Flemish art museum dedicated to major examples from all eras of Belgium considerable art legacy.
Antwerp has long been the world centre for the diamond business. This museum traces the production process from mining to finished product.
Belgium's largest animal park, covering 40 hectares, includes dwarf chimpanzees and koalas.
Historic town famous since Roman times for its baths and beautiful architecture. It is where the word spa gained its meaning.
Many visitors wish to pay their respects at this memorial inscribed with the names of 55,000 British and Commonwealth troops who died during World War One on Flanders fields. A bugler sounds the last post every evening at 8pm. There are numerous war memorials in the area, including the authentic trenches in Sanctuary Wood and the bunker of John McCrae, the site where he wrote the memorable poem In Flanders Fields.
Entering via narrow side alleys this magnificent central square creates a massive visual impact. Full of baroque buildings, cafes and restaurants it's a beauty. Every December and January it's transformed into an ice rink and during even years it is covered in a carpet of flowers for three days in August. It's also home to the famous statue/fountain - Manneken Pis.
Gothic masterpiece town hall dating from the 15th Century is the main building in the Grand Place.
With steep river valleys and dense forests the Ardennes covers the eastern third of Belgium. Its renowned for good food and popular with cycling and hiking tourists. It's also perfect driving country.
Brussels airport is Belgium's main international airport - 14km north east of Brussels. Brussels is also well connected to mainland Europe by bus and rail. The country's rail network is efficient and comprehensive. Car/passenger ferries operate to and from Britain. Cycling is popular in the flat north and many roads have separate lanes for bikes, making touring extremely pleasant. Boat hire is another option as there are lots of rivers and canals from which you can explore the country.
Regarded as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe it is no surprise that Bruges is the most visited city in Belgium. Known as the Venice of the North, due to its network of canals and 50 bridges which span them, Bruges was once a major port. Now its streets are packed with restaurants and cafés, superb museums and churches. Bruges contains some of the best preserved medieval architecture in Europe.
Belgium produces 172,000 tons of chocolate each year and has over 2,000 chocolate shops. Belgium also has over 400 different types of beer.
Much of Belgium enjoyed a golden age of prosperity and artistry under the French Duke of Burgundy during the 14th Century. This was a boom time for cloth trading Flemish towns - Ypres, Bruges and Ghent with Antwerp becoming one of the greatest ports in Europe.