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Belgium

Travel in Belgium

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With its incredible architecture and unique blend of French and Flemish culture, Belgium is a country of abundant charm. They do things differently here, as you can tell from famed landmarks like the Manneken Pis statue and the bizarre Atomium. A trip here is a chance to explore the ancient streets of cities like Bruges and Antwerp, gorge yourself on wonderful waffles and fabulous fries and work your way through the country's spread of over 700 beers. Sounds good, right?

Things to do in Belgium

Belgium offers a winning mix of culture, fantastic food and world-beating beer, along with some of Europe's most incredible architecture. Read on for our pick of the top attractions in Belgium.

La Tomatina Festival

Marvel at the iconic Sagrada Familla in Barcelona.

Gaudi’s majestic creation has been wowing crowds since it first began construction in 1882. Since then, multiple architects have taken up the reins on the project, some honouring Gaudi’s original designs, other’s redefining the creation completely. The multiple and varied facades of the building, plus its sheer size and majesty, make it a must do for any traveller visiting Barcelona.

See all trips that visit Barcelona

San Fermin

Indulge in traditional Andalusian delicacies in Seville.

Seville is renowned for its gastronomic offerings, and whilst the traditional dishes may be simple to prepare, they’re bursting with fresh regional flavours. Gazpacho, Pescaito frito and Huevos a la Flamenca are all famed Andalusian specialities, or for those preferring traditional tapas, Seville has around 4,000 tapas bars to choose from – take your pick!

See all trips that visit Seville

Primavera Sound

Live like a King in the Royal Palace of Madrid.

Get a glimpse of life as the other half live with a guided tour of the Royal Palace in Madrid. The largest palace in Europe, the Palacio Real de Madrid is the official residence of the Spanish Royal Family, though is only used formally for state ceremonies. Gorge your eyes on the many works of art by famed Spanish painters as you delve a little deeper into Spain’s rich history.

See all trips that visit Madrid

FIB Benicassim

Party till dawn in the clubbing mecca of Ibiza.

Nowhere on Earth will you experience clubbing quite like Ibiza. Home to some of the world’s most infamous clubs, come and join the party as night after night revered world class DJ’s play their hearts out to adoring crowds. Get into the mood with sunset cocktails at Café Del Mar then party till sunrise at Space, DC-10 or Ibiza Rocks.

See all trips that visit Ibiza

Bilbao BBK Live Festival

Bask in sunlight on Barceloneta Beach.

Some cities are fortunate enough to have the perfect city/beach balance, and Barcelona is one of them. Whilst Barceloneta Beach may be man-made, the water is clear and refreshing and the beach is alive with travellers and locals alike chatting, swimming and generally loving life. Spend long leisurely lunches in the surrounding cafes and restaurants, hire bikes or rollerblades or just relax in the sunshine.

See all trips that visit Barcelona

Islamic fortress of Alhambra

Explore the Islamic inspired fortress of Alhambra.

Rising from woods of cypress and elm, the Alhambra reigns supreme on the hillside of Gibraltar. Born in the 11th Century and then further developed over the 14th and 15th century’s, the fortress holds an extensive network of lavishly decorated palaces and irrigated gardens and gives those who visit it a glimpse into the rich history of the Spanish empire and the influence both Islam and Catholicism had on the Alhambra’s design.

See all trips that visit Gibraltar

Top 5 festivals in Belgium

Belgium is host to a huge range of festivals taking place throughout the year, so whether you're looking for culture, traditional folklore or cutting edge dance music you'll find something to please. Here's our rundown of the top 5 Belgian festivals.

1. Pukkelpop, Hasselt – This festival of alternative music was founded in 1985, and is one of the most keenly anticipated music events on the Belgian calendar. It features a wide-ranging lineup of rock, pop, hip-hop, electronica and dance music, with the likes of Nirvana, Green Day, Metallica and Björk past headliners.

For more information on Pukkelpop, click here.

2. Tomorrowland, Boom – This annual festival of electronic music is one of the largest of its kind in the world. It takes place annually over a weekend in late July in the small town of Boom near Antwerp, with a list of acts that reads like a who's who of cutting edge electronica and dance music.

For more information on Tomorrowland, click here.

3. Carnival de Binche – This historical festival of folklore is held annually over the three-day period leading up to Ash Wednesday, during which the town of Binche comes alive with colourful processions of marchers in traditional dress. Proceedings come to a climax with the marchers pelting spectators with oranges, considered a sign of good luck.

For more information on the Carnival de Binche, click here.

4. Zythos Beer Festival, Leuven – Famed as the home of Stella Artois, the city of Leuven is a Belgian brewing powerhouse, so it's quite fitting that it should host this annual festival of beer. It's held over a weekend in late April and offers up the chance to try a wide range of Belgium's most prized tipples.

For more information on the Zythos Beer Festival, click here.

5. Gentse Feesten, Ghent – This gigantic festival of music and theatre takes place over a 10-day period in July, with a program of free performances taking place across the city. Established in 1843, it now attracts nearly 2 million visitors making it one of the biggest cultural festivals in Europe.

For more information on the Gentse Feesten, click here.

Top 5 museums and galleries in Belgium

Belgium is one of Western Europe's cultural heavyweights, so you'd expect there to be an excellent crop of museums and galleries to be found here. Happily it doesn't disappoint - read on for our pick of the country's must-see museums and galleries.

1. Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Brussels – Also known as Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts, this collection of four museums houses some of Belgium's most prized artistic treasures, including an extensive body of works by Flemish masters.

For more information on the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, click here.

2. Museum of the City of Brussels – This museum is dedicated to the history and heritage of Brussels, and offers visitors a wonderful collection of paintings, tapestries, sculptures, photos and models from throughout the ages. Housed in a magnificent Gothic building on Brussels' Grand Place, it's worth a visit for the architecture alone.

For more information on the Museum of the City of Brussels, click here.

3. Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History, Brussels – Located in beautiful Cinquantenaire Park in Brussels, this excellent military museum houses an impressive array of weapons, uniforms and miniatures, but it's the collection of tanks and various aircraft - one of the world's largest - that really steals the show.

For more information on the Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History, click here.

4. In Flanders Fields Museum, Ypres – Housed in the impressive medieval Cloth Hall building in Ypres, this museum covers the history of World War I as experienced in Belgium. It's home to a fascinating collection of exhibits, as well as various videos and interactive installations to guide you along the way.

For more information on In Flanders Fields Museum, click here.

5. Plantin-Moretus Museum, Antwerp – This excellent museum of printing is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Established in 1876, it's located in a former 16th century printing house in Antwerp, and amongst its many highlights you'll find two of the oldest printing presses in the world.

For more information on the Plantin-Moretus Museum, click here.

Weather in Belgium

Belgium has a climate typical of Northwestern Europe, with mild year-round temperatures and frequent rainfall. There are four distinct seasons, with winters averaging around 6C and summers hovering in the mid-20s, though it's not unheard of for the mercury to rise up into the 30s for short periods during July and August and sub-zero cold-snaps are fairly common in December and January. Brussels weather is amongst the warmest and most pleasant in the country, while the higher elevations of the Ardennes region make it the coldest place in Belgium, with regular frosts and snowfall in winter.

Brussels Weather

Antwerp Weather

Bruges Weather

Charleroi Weather

Food in Belgium

With legendary beer, incredible chocolate and the best waffles to be found anywhere on the planet, Belgium is a place with plenty to offer the wandering gastronome. Of course, there's more to Belgian cuisine than these A-listers: choose from hearty stews, traditional soups and a host of refined dishes made from fresh, seasonal ingredients, with strong regional variation meaning there's a new local specialty waiting round practically every corner.



Carbonade flamande

Chocolate

Moules-frites – Belgium's national dish consists of a pan of fresh mussels, gently steamed in broth - white wine, shallots, butter and parsley is the classic - and then served with fries. Simple and delicious, it's a Belgium travel essential.

Best eaten at –Le Chou de Bruxelles, Florencestraat 26, Brussels

Carbonade flamande – This hearty stew of meat and onions is also known as stoverij. It's cooked in Belgian brown beer, which helps give its signature sweet and sour flavour. Served with French fries on the side, it's a staple of Brussels restaurants and a Belgium travel 2015 must-try.

Best eaten at –: Fin de SiecleRue des Chartreux 9, Brussels

Waterzooi – This traditional Belgian stew originated in Ghent. It contains either fish or chicken, cooked in a rich and creamy sauce with a variety of vegetables and herbs, and can be found in many Ghent restaurants.

Best eaten at – Restaurant Du Progres, Korenmarkt 10, Ghent

Waffles – It's difficult to believe that something made from batter could be this delicious, but try a waffle in Belgium and then tell us it's not so! They come in many varieties here, but the rich and chewy liège waffle is the place to start.

Best eaten at – Maison Dandoy, Rue au Beurre 31, Brussels

Chocolate – Belgium is world famous for its chocolate, and rightly so. Nowhere else in the world will you find chocolate so rich, creamy and delicious, nor so exquisitely crafted. Sorry Switzerland.

Best eaten at –Chocolaterie de BurgBurg 15, Bruges

What to pack

What to pack for Belgium?

A GPS enabled phone - It's easy to get lost in Belgian cities, particularly in the twisty streets of Bruges’s historic center. Pre-load a map on WIFI, then your phone's GPS will keep you right.

A camera - Belgium is almost unbelievably picturesque, and it's home to some of Europe's most incredible buildings. You could fill several SD cards in Bruges alone, so make sure you have some spares!

A waterproof coat - Belgium is notoriously rainy, so don't be surprised if you see a few showers, even in summer!

An adapter plug - Belgium uses European-style 2-pin plug sockets. The voltage is 230V, so you'll need a step-down transformer to use appliances that run on 110V.

Comfortable shoes - You'll clock up some serious miles wandering around Belgium's beautiful cities, and the last thing you want is a blister. Make sure your shoes are up to the job.

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