From diamonds to chocolate, Belgium definitely packs a retail punch. Explore this shopper’s paradise with our ultimate guide to shopping in Belgium.
Whisper it quietly, but shopping in Belgium is an absolute pleasure. Despite lacking the glitz and glamor of nearby Paris and London, Belgian cities have established themselves as go-to destinations for savvy shoppers from Europe and beyond. From the grandiose shopping arcades of Brussels to the buzzing flea markets in trendy Antwerp, this cozy corner of Europe has plenty to offer. To whet your appetite, this shopping guide for Belgium looks at Brussels, Antwerp, Ghent, Liege, and the best of the rest.
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Shopping in Brussels
The capital of Belgium – and, of course, the European Union – is definitely a great place to start when it comes to shopping in Belgium. The main shopping area is located around the seemingly ever-bustling Rue Neuve; a long pedestrianized street packed with well-known international chain stores. At the street’s northern end, you’ll find the hulking City 2 mall, crammed full of more stores. This includes a large branch of the ever-popular electrical and entertainment store, Fnac.
Away from the crowds, the ornate Galeries Royale Saint Hubert is the oldest shopping arcade in Europe. Alongside upmarket furniture shops and fashion boutiques, you’ll also find plenty of delectable cafés for some afternoon treats. In the nearby Galeries du Roi, you’ll even find a cinema and old Vaudevillian theater. There’s definitely something for everyone.
For more designer threads, head to the neighborhood around Avenue Louise and Boulevard de Waterloo. Despite the rather underwhelming street environment, the area is home to a cluster of top designer outlets. Louis Vuitton, Michael Kors, and Hermès all call this corner of the city home. If you prefer your fashion with more cutting-edge, however, pop over to Rue Antoine Dansaert. Here, you’ll find the cozy boutiques showcasing the best local fashion talents.
You won’t want to miss…
Shopping in Brussels? Then add these gems to your list:
- Grand Place Market – pick up some greenery at this famous flower and plant market, open daily from 08:00 to 20:00
- Crèmerie de Linkebeek – the city’s oldest cheese shop dates from 1902 and is crammed with charcuterie, fresh sandwiches, and over 350 Belgian cheeses
- Place du Jeu de Balle flea market – charming and chaotic, you’ll want to get to this daily flea market early to grab the best bargains
- Châtelain – trendy quarter popular for its unique boutiques and cozy eateries along Rue du Bailli
- Chocolaterie Mary – for over a century, this has been the place for gourmet chocolate in the heart of Brussels
Shopping in Antwerp
As well as being Belgium’s second city, lively Antwerp is also the country’s undisputed capital of cool. Alongside its dizzying mix of dockside dining, cozy cafes, and futuristic architecture, the port city has established a fabulous fashion scene. Some of Europe’s leading designers (including the famous Antwerp Six) have based themselves in the city, and their influence has created a shopping experience you won’t want to miss.
Head to Nationalestraat and its surroundings and you’ll find yourself immersed in the heart of Antwerp’s fashion scene. Here, you can peruse the outlets of local designers – both well-known and up-and-coming – or visit the unique Fashion Museum (MoMu). You should also check out nearby Kammenstraat for its popular mix of boutiques, cafés, and quirky outlets than make this hipster neighborhood increasingly popular.
For international chains housed in spectacular 18th-century buildings, head to the city’s main pedestrianized drag, the Meir. International fashion houses including Burberry and Paul Smith have their stores on the uber-chic Schuttershofstraat. And, of course, you can’t visit Antwerp without wandering around its famous Diamond Quarter. The world capital of the diamond trade is definitely worth a visit – just be careful of scams.
You won’t want to miss…
Arriving in Antwerp? Then don’t forget to visit these must-sees:
- Stadsfeestzaal – breathtakingly ornate, this former event hall is now a great place to spend a few hours shopping, dining, or wandering
- Chocolatier & Confiserie Burie – you won’t know which chocolates to try at this delicious chocolate boutique on Nationalestraat
- Het Zuid – locals flock to the hip bars and funky outlets of this neighborhood a short walk from the center
- St Andries – you’ll find antiques, art, and more in this riverside neighborhood
- Graanmarkt 13 – Antwerp is packed with excellent concept stores to explore, but start by checking out this trailblazer
Shopping in Ghent
Ghent’s intriguing mix of medieval cobblestone streets and post-industrial grit has made it one of Belgium’s best-kept secrets. But while many visitors come to enjoy the laid-back pace of life and the enchanting cityscape, Ghent is also making a name for itself as a shopper’s paradise.
Along the main shopping area on Veldstraat, you’ll find all the international brands you know and love as well as local department stores. For designer threads from some of the world’s biggest names, head over to chic Brabantdam or go further south and check out Vlaanderenstraat. Here, you’ll find an eclectic mix of fashion boutiques, trendy bars, and more.
You won’t want to miss…
Going to Ghent? Then don’t forget to visit these must-sees:
- The Other Shop – this bookstore with a difference has outlets in Ghent and Antwerp, so there’s no excuse for not visiting
- Sint-Jacob’s Prondelmarkt – this popular weekend flea market has become a must-see tradition for locals and visitors, alike
- Het Groot Vleeshuis – the city’s Great Butcher’s Hall is a great place to grab a quick bite and try local specialties from around Flanders
- Tierenteyn-Verlent Mustard Shop – heat up your shopping trip by visiting one of the world’s best mustard shops
- Confiserie Temmerman – a traditional Ghent candy store
Shopping in Liège
As the largest city in Belgium’s French-speaking region of Wallonia, Liège should definitely not be overlooked when it comes to retail therapy. The main shopping area is centered around Rue Vinâve d’Île, a busy retail street that passes by the city’s impressive Gothic cathedral. Intriguing shopping streets head off in all directions. These combine global names with local boutiques, making it the perfect place to wander.
Near the eastern banks of the River Meus, you’ll find the bulky Médiacité shopping mall. With over 100 stores to chose from, you’ll have your choice from international and local chains as well as plenty of dining options. If markets are more your scene, though, don’t miss La Batte Sunday market. The largest in Belgium, you’ll find clothes, cheese, books, and more along the riverside. For designer labels at discounted prices, head out of Liège to Maasmechelen Village. About an hour’s drive north of the city, the outlet village is home to some of the world’s biggest names in fashion.
You won’t want to miss…
Living in Liége? Then don’t forget to visit these must-sees:
- Benoit Nihant – chocolatier par excellence with plenty of delicious tastes to savor
- Milk – got milk? You soon will at this concept fashion boutique, which is one of many in the city
- Wattitude – celebrate all things Wallonian with this store that is dedicated to all sorts of products hailing from the region
- Kazabulles – Belgium is big on comics, and Liège is home to one of the country’s best comic book stores
Shopping hours in Belgium
If you’re getting ready for some retail therapy in Belgium, you need to be aware of the local store opening times. Generally speaking, shops in Belgium are open from Monday to Saturday from around 09:00 or 10:00 in the morning to the early evening. The majority of stores are closed on Sundays, although they can legally open on Sundays in the run-up to Christmas. In Belgium, shops can only offer promotional discounts in January and July. This is when they need to shift unsold stock fast – which means knockout shopping discounts during these two months. The government controls these dates quite strictly.