Things to Do

The best places to visit in Belgium

From fairytale castles and Gothic cathedrals to epic battlefields and dreamy chocolate shops, here are some of the best places to visit in Belgium.

Places to visit in Belgium

By Sophie Pettit

Updated 22-1-2024

Believe it or not, there is far more to do in Belgium than simply guzzle beer and devour chocolate. As fun as that may be, the country is packed full of fascinating sites and attractions that draw millions of tourists each year. Furthermore, its excellent transport links and close proximity to major cities mean it is easy to plan leisurely weekend getaways and short trips.

If you are feeling adventurous, however, here are some of the best places to visit in Belgium.


Discover the excitement of Walibi’s roller coasters and enjoy a family-friendly day out with a range of gentle rides, thrills, and captivating live shows. Visit Walibi for an exhilarating experience and wonderful entertainment for visitors of all ages.

Marvel at the architecture in Brussels

The bustling capital of Brussels is unsurprisingly one of the most popular places to visit in Belgium. Filled with wonderful architecture, great museums, and luxury shops, the city is a great place to explore for a day.

If you’re an avid foodie, you’ll be in paradise as the city is known as one of Europe’s gourmet centers. In fact, the Michelin Guide ranks it as the third most-starred European capital city.

Whether you want to sip on a coffee in one of the many terraces in the main square, stroll around the elegant shops in the glass-roofed Galeries St Hubert arcade, or wander around the stunning Royal Palace, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

Grand Place in Brussels
Grand Place

What makes Brussels particularly special, however, is its stunning architecture. Grand Place, for instance, is surrounded by opulent 17th-century baroque townhouses and a Gothic town hall that dates back to the 13th century.

The city was also at the center of the 19th-century Art Nouveau movement. As a result, you will spot whole neighborhoods designed by the famous Belgian architects Victor Horta and Paul Hankar.

Of course, Belgium is also the birthplace of Georges Remi, the creator of Tintin. Fans of the comic strip hero won’t want to miss visiting the Hergé Museum just outside Brussels in Louvaine-la-Neuve. Alternatively, they can walk the Brussels comic book mural tour.

Brussels’ most striking architectural landmark, however, is arguably the Atomium. This futuristic structure is the most popular tourist attraction in the capital of Europe. It attracts 600,000 visitors per year, who come to enjoy the panoramic view from the top.

Take a boat trip on the canals in Bruges

Located just an hour or so from Brussels, Bruges (or Brugge in Dutch) takes visitors back to medieval times. Surrounded by an extensive network of canals, the picturesque city is often dubbed the Venice of the North.

Its historic center is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site and perhaps the best-preserved example of medieval Flanders in the country. A fun way to experience Bruges is by hopping in a boat and taking a scenic canal tour. There are five landing stages around the city and boat rides last half an hour.

A canal in Bruges

Meanwhile, chocolate lovers will enjoy exploring the numerous chocolate shops dotted around the city and the Choco-Story chocolate museum. Beer lovers, on the other hand, can sip to their hearts’ content at the De Halve Maan brewery. Foodies will no doubt enjoy delving into a delicious bowl of moules frites or treating themselves to a Michelin-star dinner.

And for the ultimate culture fix, you can head to the Groeningemuseum and discover the Flemish masters (including Brueghel). The 83-meter-high belfry tower is also worth a visit, as is the Basilica of the Holy Blood where the Belgians keep a preserved relic of the Holy Blood.

Explore Notre-Dame Cathedral in Tournai

One of the main reasons to visit the French-speaking city of Tournai is to marvel at the magnificent Notre-Dame Cathedral. Built during the 12th and 13th centuries, the UNESCO World Heritage Site is considered one of the most beautiful religious buildings in the world. The cathedral now houses The Shrine of Our Lady and works by Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens.

Notre-Dame Cathedral in Tournai
Notre-Dame Cathedral

If you have the energy to climb the 257 steps of the Belfry bell tower, you’ll be rewarded with fantastic panoramic views of the city.

Meanwhile, the Museum of Fine Arts boasts magnificent architecture and an impressive collection of works. These include paintings by Brussels patron Henri Van Cutsem and the French artist Édouard Manet.

And if you need to rest your feet after all that exploring, the cafés in La Grand-Place provide a great spot to relax and people-watch.

Visit the war museums in Waterloo and Flanders Fields

Belgium is steeped in military history. The country was not only involved in the World Wars, but also in the Napoleonic Wars. These ended with the famous Battle of Waterloo in June 1815 when the Duke of Wellington defeated Emperor Napoleon I.

Today, you will find a range of historical attractions that commemorate the epic battle in the town of Waterloo. These include battlefield tours, Napoleon’s Last Headquarters, the Wellington Museum, and a re-enactment every June.

Several important historical monuments include Lion’s Mound, an artificial hill that is topped by a cast-iron lion that overlooks the battlefield.

Lion's Mound in Waterloo
Lion’s Mound

At the foot of the hill is a rotunda that houses a circular painting called the Panorama of the Battle. Nearby, the Mémorial Waterloo 1815 museum illustrates the battle’s historic significance.

Of course, Flanders Fields, which straddle the French-Belgian border, is the famous battleground of World War I. There are numerous monuments, sites, and cemeteries in the area that are open to the public.

One of the most famous battles of World War II (the Battle of the Bulge) also took place in the forested Ardennes region, near Bastogne. Today, the Bastogne War Museum offers a glimpse into the causes, events, and consequences of the war. Simultaneously, it honors the lives of all the fallen soldiers.

Shop for diamonds in trendy Antwerp

Located in Flanders, Antwerp (or Antwerpen in Dutch) is Belgium’s creative city and the diamond capital of the world. In fact, more than 85% of the world’s rough diamonds and 50% of cut diamonds are traded in the city. You can buy a better quality diamond cheaper than anywhere else; just be careful of the many scammers!

Instead of shopping for diamonds, however, you can always step inside one. Antwerp’s finest architectural jewel, The Port House, resembles a giant diamond and offers a stunning panoramic view of the city.

Port House in Antwerp
The Port House

But it isn’t just diamonds that Antwerp is famous for. The city has acquired an international reputation as a leading fashion capital.

Fashionistas may already be familiar with the Antwerp Six. This was a group of fashion designers who graduated from Antwerp’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts in 1980–1981. They will no doubt want to visit the MoMu Antwerp Fashion Museum for its vast collection of clothing, accessories, and textiles from across the world.

Meanwhile, art lovers will enjoy visiting the home – or Rubenhuis – of Flemish artist Sir Peter Paul Rubens. You can also see his work, alongside that of other Flemish artists, in the city’s cathedral. The Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten also has a beautiful collection of his.

History buffs, meanwhile, might want to explore the Red Star Line Museum. The exhibition tells the fascinating story of the two million European emigrants who sailed to America after 1800.

Get snap happy in Charleroi

If you love photography, then Charleroi in the Walloon province of Hainaut is one of the best places to visit. It is home to the largest Museum of Photography in Europe, housed inside an ancient renovated Neo-Gothic Carmelite convent.

The impressive museum conveys the history of photography from its inception in the 19th century to the present day. More than 80,000 prints and 3 million negatives are on display to view, alongside photographic equipment from throughout the ages.

Museum of Photography in Charleroi
The Museum of Photography

Besides photography, there are many other must-see attractions to explore in the city. These include the Glass Museum of Charleroi, the 17th-century Cartier Chateau, and the beautifully renovated Saint-Christophe Church. The town hall of Charleroi is also worth a visit, mainly due to its 70-meter high belfry, which is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Enjoy one of Belgium’s exciting amusement parks

Aqualibi water park

For something a little different (but certainly no less fun!), you can go to Aqualibi indoor water park, associated with Belgium’s biggest theme park, Walibi.

The action-packed park is the perfect place to cool down in the warmer summer months with the whole family. There are numerous attractions to keep kids of all ages entertained – not to mention adults!

Aqualibi water park

Children will have hours of fun riding the high-speed and gentle water slides, and gliding down the never-ending wild water river. Meanwhile, adults can relax and unwind in the dreamy whirlpools and jacuzzis.

If your kids aren’t able to swim yet, that’s not a problem. They can enjoy splashing around at the brand-new kid’s zone, Kiddie Bay, which features fountains and cascades, custom-made glides, and other fun surprises.

Given the popularity of Aqualibi, however, you might want to visit outside school holidays in order to dodge the queues.

Bellewaerde Park

Bellewaerde Park near Ypres is Belgium’s oldest theme park, and it truly has something for everyone. It’s a real paradise for children and teenagers, with adventure playgrounds, thrilling rides, and even an animal park. And that’s not all – adults can enjoy the rides or relax in the stunning gardens, eateries, and shops.

Bellewaerde often has special offers during school holidays, so it’s worth checking out their website to find a deal.


Located near Wavre, Walibi is one of the biggest theme parks in Belgium. It’s the perfect place for thrill-seekers, families, and anyone looking for a great day out. Adults and kids alike will enjoy Walibi’s famous rides such as Radja River and Calamity Mine.

Families looking to fill the school holidays with fun activities will be pleased to know that Aqualibi and Walibi offer combined deals for tickets.

Explore the Gothic churches in Ghent

The Flemish city of Ghent (Gent) is a laid-back university town that boasts numerous cafes, restaurants, and a generally cool vibe. But what really makes it special is its amazing architectural history.

The city has a backdrop of 13th-century Gothic churches, 17th-century canal-side houses, and the commanding Gravensteen. This medieval fortress, complete with battlements and torture chamber, is also known as the ‘Castle of the Counts’. The incredible structure also offers fantastic 360-degree views of the city from its rooftop.

Gravensteen in Ghent

Ghent is a fantastic city to explore on foot or by boat. There are various tours available on the rivers and canals. 

While you’re there, make sure to swing by Sint Bavo’s Cathedral. It is home to one of western Europe’s most sought-after treasures: the famous panel paintings of The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb. This was painted in 1432 by Jan and Hubert van Eyck.

Other notable attractions include the 91-meter-high Ghent Belfry, a recognized UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the Vrijdagmarkt, a large square in the historic center which is named for its popular Friday market.

Discover fairytale castles in Namur

If you grew up loving fairytales then a visit to Namur is a definite must. Located in the French-speaking Wallonia region of Belgium, the city boasts an abundance of whimsical castles that are open to the public. Unsurprisingly, it remains one of the most popular places to visit in Belgium.

The Castle of Vêves is particularly striking with its spooky dungeons and six-pointy towers that date back to 1410. Perched on a hill overlooking the sleepy village of Celles, the castle looks like something straight out of the pages of a children’s storybook.

The Castle of Vêves
The Castle of Vêves

The elegant 18th-century Castle of Annevoie, meanwhile, attracts thousands of visitors each year who come to wander its beautiful gardens filled with fountains and waterfalls.

The Castle and Gardens of Freÿr, near the city of Dinant, is another impressive sight to behold. Aptly named after the Scandinavian goddess of beauty, the castle features a walled terraced garden.

The most famous castle in Wallonia, however, is the Castle of Lavaux-Saint-Anne. This consists of an eccentric, moat-encircled series of domes and contains three separate museums and a collection of stuffed animals.

Explore the cultural capital of Liège

Situated on the Meuse River, Liège is considered to be the cultural capital of Wallonia. It is also the birthplace of Emperor Charlemagne and writer Georges Simenon (creator of the fictional detective Jules Maigret.)

The city is the third-largest in Belgium and is filled with landmarks that date back to the medieval era. Needless to say, if you love history, then this is one of the best places to visit in Belgium. Must-see sights include Saint Paul’s Cathedral, or Liège Cathedral, which was built in the 15th century and is still revered today for its Gothic architecture and collection of treasures.

Palace of the Prince-Bishops in Liège
The Palace of the Prince-Bishops

The Palace of the Prince-Bishops is also worth visiting for its remarkable Gothic and Renaissance design. The impressive structure has a grand court enclosed by 60 columns. These feature richly ornate details such as grotesque masks and fantasy human figures.

Meanwhile, Le Grand Curtuis museum is worth visiting for its archaeological treasures all housed within a 17th-century mansion. If you have the energy, it is well worth climbing the 374 steps of the Montagne de Bueren. From the top, you can enjoy breathtaking views, which is perhaps why so many people consider it to be one of the world’s ten most extraordinary staircases.

If you fancy shopping, make sure to visit the La Batte market, the largest and oldest market in Belgium. Here you will find fruits, vegetables, books, clothes, and plants amid picturesque stalls.