24 Beautiful places in Belgium for your bucket list

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The Kingdom of Belgium is located in the western part of Europe. Often eclipsed by its well-known neighbors, Belgium is one of the lesser-explored countries in the region. From romantic castles to medieval towns this guide takes you through a handful of the most beautiful places in Belgium.

So, you have decided to branch out and visit Belgium. Great! I was born and bred right here and have ventured into the various different corners of the country, collecting memories and useful travel tips for fellow travelers. Though small in size, there are a surprising amount of places to visit in Belgium!

From a cultural standpoint, the country is split into three parts: Flanders (northern Belgium), Brussels (central Belgium), and Wallonia (southern Belgium). If your Belgian itinerary allows for it, try and squeeze in a visit to each of the regions to get a true sense of the country.


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Castle Hotels in Belgium - Kasteel van Ordingen
Copyright: Kasteel van Ordingen

Beautiful places in Belgium: Quick Planning Guide

There is a surprising amount of things to see and do in Belgium, especially if you want to split your time across the three regions. This quick overview should help you out if you are short on time.

Sustainable Accommodation


Public Transport in Belgium: Belgium has a solid infrastructure in place when it comes to public transportation (Bus-Metro-Train). It becomes slightly tricky to figure out which company services the exact part of the country you are looking to travel to as each of the three regions is serviced by different companies.

Book online: Find timetables & book tickets online via Omio


Castles in Belgium
Source: Kasteel van Ordingen

Unique Castle Hotels in Belgium

Looking for a truly beautiful place in Belgium that you can also stay in? Why not spend the night in one of the majestic castle hotels dotted all over Belgium. From luxury to budget-friendly, there is a castle for everyone.

24 places in Belgium to explore

To help you navigate all the Belgian attractions, the various spots have been merged into four different categories.

  • Six Belgian cities that will knock your socks off
  • Six little towns to wander through to get a true sense of Belgian culture
  • Seven hidden gems to explore Belgium more in-depth
  • Five Belgian Abbeys to explore and try Trappist Beer – The Belgian beer aficionado’s holy grail

These 24 carefully selected places in Belgium are but a snippet of what the country has to offer visitors. I might be biased – it is home for me after all – but Belgium truly is a diamond in the rough.

Curious to see where everything is located? Scroll to the end of the article to see the map!

Beautiful Places in Belgium - Brussels

Six beautiful places in Belgium to visit for city lovers

There is nothing like a European medieval city in my humble opinion. Walking around the old town, grabbing a coffee on the – inevitably – magnificent main square while getting lost in the myriad of little alleys is the scenography of many a Hollywood blockbuster.

All of this and more awaits you in the most beautiful cities in Belgium. The country has a long history of trade; a surprisingly voracious appetite for food and will lure you in one cobblestoned street at a time.

Visit Mechelen Belgium
Visit Mechelen Belgium

1. Mechelen

Mechelen is a picturesque little city located between Brussels and Antwerp, right in the heart of Belgium.  The inhabitants of the city are called “Moon-Extinguishers” after a legend that dates back to the 17th century which includes mist, alcohol, and the full moon. Their pride and glory is an impressive – although unfinished – Saint Rumbolds Cathedral that towers over the city.

This Flemish town is authentic and down-to-earth. The perfect place to catch a glimpse of the elusive Flemish culture, best observed over a cold beer on the flourishing vismarkt . A former fish market which now houses some of the best bars in Mechelen. As a local, I have spent many a Friday evening on this market.

Must see in Mechelen: Views atop the Saint Rumbolds Cathedral, the UNESCO classified Wintergarden, the colorful Grote Markt (main square), a bite to eat in de Vleeshallen (a hip food court), and a stroll to the 16th century Haverwerf.

Unique accommodations in Mechelen:
Coolest hotel in town: ($) Anker Brouwery Hotel
Most romantic hotel: ($$) Martin’s Patershof


Relevant Articles: Things to do in Mechelen


Brussels Grand Place

2. Brussels

One simply cannot describe all the beautiful places in Belgium and leave the nation’s capital off the list. Brussels is one of the most underrated capitals in Europe, it is easy to see why – tourist traps galore and a serious lack of sunshine. But, do not let that deter you for fortune favors the brave.

Brussels is small in size – especially compared to other European capitals – making it a very walkable city and what’s more a very safe city. You will not be wanting for museums or unique bars in Brussels. Grab a drink at Cafe Belga on Place Flagey or in the romantic Art Nouveau cafe La Belladone.

Tip: Consider investing in the City Card (valid for 1, 2 or 3 days) which gives you access to museums and the public transport system. Very useful if you are short on time and only spending one day in Brussels.

Must see in Brussels: The Grand Place (main square) – Unesco classified square rife with lavish gold, gabled houses; Art Nouveau – Victor Horta Museum, Solvay House, MIM, The Atomium, hunt down the Comic Strip Murals or hunt down trinkets on the Jeu de Balle flea market on Sunday; Chocolate museum & workshop – you can’t leave Belgium without tasting its most famous product. Time permitting you might want to sneak a peek at some hidden gems in Brussels.

Read on for a detailed overview of the best areas and hotels to stay in Brussels.
Unique design: ($) Art Deco Berger Hotel
Coolest accommodation: ($/$$) Moxy Brussels City Centre
Best views of the Grand Place: ($$) Cocoon Boutique Hotel


Relevant Articles: How to spend an unforgettable weekend in Brussels 


in Antwerp Belgium

3. Antwerp

Antwerp is a buzzing city in northern Belgium. The city is known as the fashion capital of the country and the diamond capital of the world! Expect to find world-class shopping, great art museums, and a thriving culinary scene.

If you have time, walk through the Sint-Annatunnel which takes you underneath the river Schelde and right up to the best view over the skyline of Antwerp.Try een bolleke (De Konick beer, a local beer from Antwerp) on the Grote Markt (main square) or in the – ever so slightly odd – Het Elfde Gebod Cafe. Go for dinner in one of the many restaurants in the trendy neighborhood of Antwerpen Zuid.

Must see in Antwerp: The central station of Antwerp, the opulent Stadsfeestzaal, visit the Plantin Moretus Museum, count gables on the Grote Markt (main square), marvel at the 60 statues outside the St. Paul’s church, take in the fin-de-ciècle townhouses on Cogels Osylei, Velodroomstraat, Transvaalstraat and Draakplaats.

Unique accommodations in Antwerp:
Sustainable on a budget: ($) Antwerp City Hostel
Unique design: ($$) Lit D’Art Exclusive Boutique Hotel
Unique location & fully sustainable: ($$$) Botanic Sanctuary


Relevant Articles: How to get the most out of Antwerp in two days


View from the Rozenhoedkaai with the Perez de Malvenda house and Belfort van Bruges in the background and pleasure boats

4. Bruges

Bruges is a picture-perfect city in western Belgium. Thanks to a direct link with the sea, it was one of the most important commercial cities in Europe throughout history. The city flourished in the 15th century when merchants poured their hard-earned pennies into the city. Much of this architecture has remained, making the historic center of Bruges the most visited attraction of Belgium.

Bruges is the quintessential medieval town: walk through the cobblestone streets, marvel at the tiny gabled houses, and inviting storefronts filled with mouthwatering chocolates and other Belgian specialties. Spending one day in Bruges is a rare blend of romantic and educational!

Must see in Bruges: Take a romantic boat trip on the canal, stroll around the 12th century Ten Wijngaerde Beguinage, learn the Bruges history with a VR experience, go souvenir hunting in the Rococo Lace store, visit the Church of our Lady and spot the Michelangelo statue, climb the UNESCO classified Belfry for the best views over the city.

Unique accommodations in Bruges:
Adults only historical B&B: ($$) Bariseele B&B
Family run boutique hotel: ($$) Eco-Hotel Fevery
Unique location & sustainable: ($$$) Relais & Châteaux Hotel Heritage

Ghent Graslei Belgium

5. Ghent

If you fell in love with the medieval architecture and cobblestone streets of Bruges but are looking for less of an open-air museum and more of an actual living, breathing city then Gent is the right place for you. This city in western Belgium was second only to Paris in terms of size and importance during the Middle Ages.

Stroll around the historical center – be weary of the trams –and observe the very trendy, slightly more alternative locals while you grab a drink on de Vrijdagsmarkt. The keen observer will notice the difference in accent when locals speak Flemish – soft and more melodic – which categorizes this part of the country.

Tip:
Every July the city holds a free musical festival. During 10 days the city transforms into an open-air stage hosting many national and international artists.

Must see in Ghent: Visit the Gravensteen – one of the coolest monuments in Belgium, try a neuzeke (conical shaped, raspberry-flavored candy), get lost in the neighborhood of Patershol, visit the majestic St Bavo’s Cathedral, and stroll across the St Michael’s Bridge.

Unique accommodations in Ghent:
Sustainable on a budget: ($$) Boutique B&B Graaf
Unique location (former post office): ($$$) 1898 The Post
Luxurious, family-run and sustainable: ($$$) Hotel Harmony

in Belgium, Dinant at sunset

6. Dinant

Dinant is the capital of the Namur province in southern Belgium. The ancient city is guarded by the imposing Dinant Citadel, which stands proudly on top of the limestone wall at the edge of the Meuse river. The bottom of the limestone wall is guarded by the Collégiale Notre Dame de Dinant church.

Have brunch in Solbrun before heading out to explore. Be sure to be back in time for sunset, the sun sets behind the citadel and – if you are lucky with the weather – illuminates the iconic colorful houses lining the Meuse river with a warm orange glow. Dinant can be visited as a day trip from Brussels.

Must see in Dinant: Visit the magnifcent Citadel and Collégiale Notre Dame de Dinant church, explore the nearby Vêves and Walzin castle (requires a car). Dinant is the ideal hub to foray into the Ardennes from with plenty of opportunities for hiking and kayaking.

Unique accommodations in Dinant:
Family run BnB (nearby): ($) Les petits secrets de nonna
Romantic cabins on the water: ($$) Aqualodge Hôtel Insolite
Unique location (nearby): ($$$) The Castle of Namur Hotel


Relevant Articles: The best day trips from Brussels 



Charleroi Belgium

Six beautiful villages in Belgium to
explore and discover Belgian culture

Hidden away on the outskirts of the country – known to primarily locals – you can find some truly beautiful towns in Belgium. Although usually small in size, they are sure to capture your heart and give you a better insight into local life in Belgium – be it Flemish or Walloon.

De Haan Belgium

1. De Haan

When you think about the most beautiful places in Belgium, the coastline might be the last place you consider. It is true that the lack of pristine white sandy beaches and 30° water might deter you, don’t rule the coast out just yet – at least not all of it.

Steer away from the larger cities with their below-average restaurants and cookie-cutter, utterly uninspiring apartment rises. Instead opt for the lesser-known town of De Haan, with a mere 12.000 inhabitants it is considered one of the prettiest places in Belgium by the coast.

Must do in De Haan: De Haan has some of the country’s stateliest Belle Epoque mansions (be sure to check out the Town Hall and the Hotel Savoyarde). It is located a comfortable 5km away from the nearest town of Wenduine. De Haan is the perfect place if you are looking for some comfortable and relaxed walks, or simply to get away from busy city life.

Unique accommodations in De Haan:
Quaint 18th century farm (rental of whole house): ($) Hoeve Korenzegen
Luxury Belle Epoque hotel : ($$) Grand Hotel Belle Vue


Relevant Articles: The best day trips from Brussels 


Ypres Belgium
Historical Ypres (Source: reisroutes.be)

2. Ypres

Ypres is a little town located in the western part of Belgium in a province aptly named West Flanders. During the Middle Ages Ypres was most well-known for the textile industry, a remnant of which can still be seen today in the form of the beautiful cloth hall that stands on the main square.

The town is one of the best places in Belgium to see for those interested in WWI. It is during this war that Ypres held a very strategic position: The allies used Ypres as a base to break through German ranks, the Germans, in turn, bombarded Ypres through much of the war. Many millions of lives were lost on both sides and the city was raised to the ground.

Extensive rebuilds were undertaken after the war, and many historical buildings were built exactly according to the original plans. Remnants of the war can clearly be felt when driving near the outskirts of Ypres: Tyne Cot Cemetery, German War Cemetery, and many memorial sites around the Kemmelberg.

Must see in Ypres: Learn all about WWI in the In Flanders Fields Museum or by taking a dedicated tour of the WWI sites. Alternatively, hike around the Menin Gate (Road N345 and N332 contain cemeteries and signposts indicating where the most important battle zones were). Stroll around the historical center and grab a drink on the beautiful Grote Markt (Main Square).

Unique accommodations in Ypres:
Locally run boutique B&B: ($) Cocoon
Luxury in a historic building : ($$) Main Street Hotel

Beautiful towns in Belgium - Thuin

3. Thuin

Hidden away in southeastern Belgium, lies the storybook town of Thuin. As a local, the town took me by utter surprise – having never heard of it before, not even a squeak.
Medieval Thuin was completely self-sufficient, having a huge garden spanning 200 terraces wide filled with fruit, vegetables, and even grapes to produce local wine.

A short bike ride away from Thuin will bring you to the ruins of the Aulne Abbey which dates back to the 7th century and is well worth a walk around. It is not uncommon to see local artists painting in the gardens. Bikes can be rented downtown Thuin (4 hours/€18), the entrance to the abbey costs €4.

Must see in Thuin: Visit the hanging gardens – the best viewpoint is from the Chant des Oiseaux, clamber up the UNESCO classified belfry to get views over the little town. Time permitting rent a bike and head out to the Aulne Abbey, stop on the way at the Distillery of Biercée for a cold drink and/or meal.

Unique accommodations near Thuin:
Quirky, cozy & locally run – A caravan in the garden of a manor: ($) Le Fond de la Binch
Boutique B&B with spectacular views: ($) Auberge de l’Abbeye
Romantic historical Manor: ($$) Château Lambert


Relevant Articles: 10 Things to do in Charleroi before flying out of Charleroi Airport


La Roche en Ardenne

4. La Roche-en Ardenne

La Roche-en Ardenne is located in the southeastern part of Belgium, in the heart of the Luxemburg province. The little town is awash with adventure seekers – locals & tourists – who partake in the many different outdoor activities on offer. Hiking, kayaking,  rafting and mountain biking are but a handful of the plentiful adventures you can undertake.

The little village of La Roche-en Ardenne is also a very popular spot for teambuilding events. It is not unusual for companies in Belgium to treat their employees to a day/a weekend out outdoor door activities in the Ardennes.

Unique accommodations near Thuin:
Quirky, cozy & locally run – A caravan in the garden of a manor: ($) Le Fond de la Binch
Boutique B&B with spectacular views: ($) Auberge de l’Abbeye
Romantic historical Manor: ($$) Château Lambert

Beautiful places in Belgium Durbuy

5. Durbuy

Durbuy is a little town located in eastern Belgium in the province of Luxembourg. Often heralded as the “smallest city in the world”, a name you will understand upon walking through the tiny streets.  If medieval stone houses and gently winding cobblestones paths are your jam, you are going to love Durbuy.

The village is nestled in the Ourthe valley, with rolling hills forming the perfect backdrop for the town. Grab a delicious bite to eat at the quaint La Canette restaurant before partaking in the many outdoor activities in and around Durbuy.

Tip: If your visit happens to coincide with the summer, you will not want to miss the giant corn maze located 1.2 km outside of town.

Must do in Durbuy: Surprisingly, Durbuy is one of the top places to visit in Belgium for outdoor activities. The Ourthe provides a great spot for kayaking (prices start at €10), alternatively lace up your shoes and go on one of the many hikes (both beginners and advanced).

Unique accommodations in Durbuy:
Romantic boutique hotel: ($$) Hotel Victoria
Luxury Castle & Glamping (nearby): ($$) Château de la Chapelle

Torgny Belgium

6. Torgny

Torgny is a little village located in southern Belgium in the province of Luxembourg. It has consecutively won the award for the most beautiful town in Belgium for the last couple of years and it is not hard to see why. Stepping foot in Torgny, one could easily mistake it for a storybook village in southern France.

The abundance of limestone houses, an impressive array of flowers and vineyards would be enough to make anyone fall in love. Yes, you read that right, vineyards in Belgium! The village enjoys a micro-climate that allows it to cultivate vineyards.

Must do in Torgny: Be sure to check out the Michelin star restaurants in town: La Grappe d’Or. Taste or purchase some of the local wines in the Poirier du Loup Vineyard nearby.

Unique accommodations nearby Torgny:
Quaint Eco B&B: ($$) Cochlea
Romantic Castle Spa Hotel: ($$$) Le Château de Mirwart


Relevant Articles: The best day trips from Brussels 



Hotels in Mechelen

Seven awesome spots to visit in Belgium for travelers
who have been to Belgium before

Aside from beautiful cities and towns, there are a few other very unique places to visit in Belgium. For example, did you know Belgium has over 3000 castles? For the size of the country, that is a feat and a half!

What is not included in this portion is all the 40 unique hikes you can do in Belgium. So perhaps packing hiking shoes to visit Belgium is not a bad idea!

Borrekens Castle Belgium

1. Borrekens Castle

With over 3000 castles in Belgium, it stands to reason at least one of them receives an honorable mention as one of the most beautiful places in Belgium. The honor is bestowed upon Borrekens Castle – a fairytale castle hidden in northern Belgium. complete with turrets, a moat and a drawbridge.

This fascinating castle comes with a moat, a drawbridge and a lush forest – nowadays accessible to the public. The castle itself cannot be visited as it is privately owned by the noble family Borrekens.

The original castle dates back to the 12th century and was built on this location to defend the trade route between Cologne and the dukedom of Brabant. Over the various centuries, the castle changed hands and with it underwent continuous renovation. The castle you see today dates back to the 19th century and is Neo-Gothic in style with a touch of Romanticism – which was all the rage back in the day.

Practical information: The park surrounding the castle is open to the public all year long. Walk around to the left-hand side of the castle, where a clearing in the vegetation offers the best views.
– Located 40 km from Antwerp (40 min drive); 88 km from Brussels (80 min drive)

Accommodations nearby Borrekens Castle:
Unique design: ($) Art Deco Berger Hotel
Coolest accommodation: ($/$$) Moxy Brussels City Centre
Unique location & fully sustainable: ($$$) Botanic Sanctuary


Relevant Articles: The 10 most beautiful castles near Brussels


Reading between the lines Borgloon Belgium

2. Doorkijk Kerk Borgloon

Reading between the lines is an artwork by two local Belgian artists located in the province of Limburg in eastern Belgium. By stacking 30 tons of steel wire on top of each other the artists managed to craft a unique structure forming the shape of a church.

Upon closer inspection, it becomes clear that one can see the landscape unfolding through the steel wires. The best time of day to visit is at sunset when the soft light casts a golden glow that pierces through the lines.

Practical information: Park your car on the parking (Pb) located off the Sint-Truidersteenweg. Follow the yellow (12,5 km), orange (9 km), blue (5,5 km) green (4 km) hiking routes to reach the church. The church is not reachable by car.

Accommodations near Borgloon:
Cozy (huge) wooden wine barrel: ($$) Helshovens wijnvat
Romantic medieval castle: ($$$) Kasteel van Ordingen

Bokrijk Belgium
Source: visitlimburg

3. Bokrijk and surroundings

The open-air museum of Bokrijk can be found in the southeastern part of Belgium in the province of Limburg. The museum is nestled inside an enormous 550-hectare park and contains a collection of 148 historical buildings, depicting the history of rural life in Flanders across the centuries.

Walk around the park and see if you can find them all. Bokrijk is a very unique place to visit in Belgium for children too! Aside from house hunting, you might want to pack your bike to explore the park (bike rental is also available on-site near P1 parking).

The park contains a myriad of different bike paths some of which pass by a little stretch called cycling through water, a 200-meter bike bridge that traverses one of the many ponds in the park.

Practical information: The park is free to visit, parking (P1 or P2) will cost you €5/day. The entrance fee to the open-air museum is €15 and can be purchased online.

Accommodations near Bokrijk:
Family run Eco-minded B&B: ($) Hotel Zuid
Romantic family-minded castle: ($) Kasteel Pietersheim

Beautiful places to visit in Belgium - De Schorre Boom

4. De Schorre (Boom) – Troll hunting on a well known place in Belgium: Tomorrowland

The Provincial Domain De Schorre might sound vaguely familiar to you; every year hundreds of thousands of festival-goers gather in this very park for the iconic music festival Tomorrowland. Located a 15 km ride away from Mechelen in central Belgium, the park can be visited as a day trip from either Brussels or Mechelen.

Head into the thick of the forest, cross the rolling planes and wade through a few little ponds to find 7 giant (handmade wooden trolls). The trolls were created by Thomas Sabo, who envisioned them as 7 friends working together to build a better future for mankind.

Accommodations in Mechelen:
Coolest hotel in town: ($) Anker Brouwery Hotel
Most romantic hotel: ($$) Martin’s Patershof


Relevant Articles: Restaurants in Mechelen for a wonderful dinner


Hallerbos Belgium

5. Hallerbos

The Hallerbos or Blue Forest is a vast forested area in Halle, not far from Brussels. Come spring (March-April depending on the weather) the forest receives a little makeover as a carpet of bluebells reveals itself. The forest turns into a fairytale and becomes one of the most romantic places in Belgium to visit in spring.

Well, sort of. The beautiful bluebells only bloom for a couple of weeks and are popular amongst the locals. If you wish to enjoy peace and quiet, you might want to set your alarm a little earlier and go in the morning.

Practical information: Aside from spotting bluebells, there are plenty of other hikes and leisurely strolls to be done amongst the ancient giant Sequoia trees in the forest.
– Location: Hallerbos is 19 kilometers away from downtown Brussels (roughly 30 min drive)

Accommodations in Brussels:
Unique design: ($) Art Deco Berger Hotel
Coolest accommodation: ($/$$) Moxy Brussels City Centre
Best views of the Grand Place: ($$) Cocoon Boutique Hotel


Relevant Articles: Getting the most out of one day in Brussels


Japanese Tower Brussels

6. Museum of the Far East (Brussels)

The Museum of the Far East is located in Laeken (Brussels) right opposite the royal palace. It consists of three buildings: The Chinese Pavilion, the Japanese Tower and the Museum of Japanese Art. All three buildings date back to the early 20th century and were commissioned by King Leopold II.

Due to structural instabilities, the museum has been closed for renovations since 2013 the lack of information on the reopening coupled with the remote location has meant this museum is slowly slipping into obscurity. A real shame! As an architecture buff and China lover, the museum was one of the top things to do in Belgium.

Practical information: The three buildings that make up the Museum of the Far East are closed for renovation until further notice. The park in front of the Chinese pavilion is open and can be accessed freely. – Location: Avenue Van Praet 44 – 1020 Brussels

Accommodations in Brussels:
Unique design: ($) Art Deco Berger Hotel
Coolest accommodation: ($/$$) Moxy Brussels City Centre
Best views of the Grand Place: ($$) Cocoon Boutique Hotel


Relevant Articles: Hidden gems to see while visiting Brussels


Villers la Ville Abbey Belgium

7. Villers Abbey

The ruins of the Villers Abbey (Villers-La-Ville Abbaye) are located in southern Belgium in the province of Walloon Brabant. The impressive abbey was built around the 12th century and thoroughly renovated around the 18th century. The rebuild was sadly short-lived as the abbey was ransacked during the French revolution and left in ruins.

These days nature is reclaiming the grounds, turning the site into a mix of ancient craftsmanship and lush vegetation creating an almost fairy-tale-like ambiance. The abbey is not traditionally on the itinerary for most tourists when visiting Belgium. A visit can be combined with one of the many hikes in the surrounding forests making for a perfect day trip from Brussels.

Practical information: The entrance fee to the abbey is €9, there is free parking on site (250 meters from the abbey).  The bistro Le chalet de la foret (located right next to the parking) serves decent traditional Belgian and has a good selection of Belgian beers on offer.
– Location: The Villers Abbey is a 30-minute drive from Charleroi and a 50-minute drive from Brussels.

Accommodations near Villers la Ville:
Unique design: ($) Art Deco Berger Hotel
Coolest accommodation: ($/$$) Moxy Brussels City Centre
Romantic historical Manor: ($$) Château Lambert


Belgian Beer

Five places in Belgium to visit for lovers of Belgian beer

Belgium beer is a synonym for quality all over the world and has put the country on the map. But did you know that there is a type of Belgian beer called Abbey Beers & Trappist Beers?

The name Abbey Beers is a denominator for beers that have a link to an existing or dissolved Norbertine or Benedictine abbey. Trappist Beers are part of the Abbey Beer family, however, they are brewed within the walls of a Trappist monastery (by the so-called ‘Belgian beer monks’).

What does this have to do with beautiful places in Belgium you might ask? Simple, the imposing nature of the abbeys and the culture of brewing abbey beers provide you an extra insight into the richness of the Belgian culture – one very much worth exploring!

Westvleteren Abbey Belgium
Source: The Jakarta Post

1. Abbey of Saint Sixtus (Westvleteren)

There are a few things Belgium is known for and Westvleteren Trappist beer is most certainly one of them. Located in the far western corner of Belgium lies the Abbey of Saint Sixtus which brews one of the most coveted and (internationally) renowned Belgian Beers – Westervleteren.

Westvleteren XII is consistently ranked among the top beers in the world, yet this has had little to no influence on the traditional brewing methods upheld by the monks: Small batches, brewing within the abbey grounds.

Despite ever-growing (international) demand, the monks refuse to sell their beer in retail chains and instead opt to sell in the abbey itself. The beer can only be purchased upon appointment: Be sure to check out their website for more information.

Practical information: The abbey itself is not open for visitors, but the cafeteria on site is! You can try one of the famous Westvleteren beers accompanied with some delicious Paterkeskees (Monks Cheese).
– Location: 1h drive from Bruges (70 km)

Accommodations in Bruges:
Adults only historical B&B: ($$) Bariseele B&B
Family run boutique botel: ($$) Eco-Hotel Fevery
Unique location & sustainable: ($$$) Relais & Châteaux Hotel Heritage

Abdij der trappisten Westmalle
Source: trappistwestmalle.be

2. Abbey of Our Lady of the Holy Heart of Westmalle

The Westmalle Abbey is home to monks of the Cistercians order. The monks devote their lives to prayer, contemplation and work. This work includes the brewing of the world-renowned Triple Beer: Westmalle! The abbey is located in northern Belgium in the province of Antwerp.

The history of the brewery of Westmalle goes back to 1836 when the monks were allowed to drink beer during their meals.  What started out as a simple brewery, brewing beer for their own use has now turned into the largest Trappist brewery of Belgium.

Practical information: The abbey itself is not open to visitors, however, there is a nice walk around the abbey, which provides you with a 360° view of the abbey itself. As for the Westmalle beer, you can try it in the café across the street from the abbey. The café also has a documentary showcasing the brewing process of the beer.
Location: 40 min drive from Antwerp (31 km)

Accommodations in Antwerp:
Sustainable on a budget: ($) Antwerp City Hostel
Unique design: ($$) Lit D’Art Exclusive Boutique Hotel
Unique location & fully sustainable: ($$$) Botanic Sanctuary


Relevant Articles: A wonderful weekend in Antwerp


Abbeys in Belgium - Maredsous Abbey

3. Abbey of Maredsous

The spectacular neo-Gothic Abbey of Maredsous is located in southeastern Belgium in the province of Namur. Within the walls live a host of Benedictine monks, which have called the abbey home since 1872.

Inside the vast grounds stands the remarkably well-preserved abbey which can be visited both with or without a guide. Included in the visit is a tour of the Maredsous cheese factory which highlights the production process of the famous Maredsous cheese.

Important to note is that the Maredsous beer is no longer produced inside the abbey itself. That being said, if you do want to do a beer tasting in Belgium this would be the place to do so. The spacious on-site cafeteria offers a tasting menu of the three beers & the delicious cheese.

Practical information: The abbey and the grounds are free to visit without a guide. Guided tours cost €7 and last 1.5 hours (Only available during the weekends at 14.00 and 16.00 tours are in Dutch or French only). – Location 1h30 hour drive from Brussels (97 km)

Accommodations near the Maresous Abbey
Silent retreat it the abbey itself: Book via the abbey website
Romantic cabins on the water: ($$) Aqualodge Hôtel Insolite
Unique location (nearby): ($$$) The Castle of Namur Hotel

Abbey of Orval
Source: Wikimedia Commons Jean-Pol Grandmont

4. The Orval Abbey

The Cistercian Orval Abbey is located in southern Belgium in the Luxembourg province. The first settlement of monks in this region dates back to the 11th century, legend has it the brewing of Trappist beer commenced right at the start of the settlement. The official brewery as it stands today stems from 1931.

As is the case with all Belgian Trappist beers, Orval is brewed within the walls of the monastery. This particular brew bears the name of the abbey and is sold successfully worldwide. Aside from beer the monastery also produces a delicious cheese made with milk collected from local farms.

The good news is that Orval is one of the abbeys in Belgium that you can visit yearlong. The Orval beer and cheese can be purchased in the Abbey shop (no on-site tasting available).

Practical information: Entrance tickets to the Abbey cost €7 and include a visit to the old Cistercian Abbey, the hospitality house and the medicinal herb garden.
The brewery itself is open on select days each year be sure to keep an eye out on the website for more information. – Location: 2 hour drive from Brussels (185km)

Accommodations near the Orval Abbey:
Rustic wooden chalet: ($) Woodstone
Bungalo & tent park – Great with kids: ($) Camping Le Canada

Abbey of Scourmont Chimay
Source: www.scourmont.be

5. The Abbey of Our Lady of Scourmont (Chimay)

The Abbey of our Lady of Scourmont is located in the Hainaut province in southern Belgium. It was established in 1850, with the on-site brewery and cheese farm directly incorporated in the original build. Both are still active to this day – one of the few Trappist monasteries in Belgium to do is in fact – producing Chimay beer and cheese (named after the region).

Visit the abbey a beer tasting can be done with Chimay Experience. A little further down from the abbey you will find the Chimay Castle, which is also well worth a visit if you have the time.

The unrivaled combination of the abbey, the Trappist beer brewery, and the castle make Chimay the perfect place to get a feel for Belgium.

Practical information: The Chimay Experience visit and beer tasting take around 40 minutes and costs €6.5. The entrance tickets for Chimay Castle cost €9 and can be bought at the entrance.
– Located 2h drive from Brussels

Accommodations near Chimay:
A quaint 17th century Manor: ($) Tromcourt
Quirky family oriented hotel: ($/$$) La Chapelle de Verre
Romantic glamping: ($$) Domain de Carnin 

Map of places to visit in Belgium

Find exactly where all these beautiful places in Belgium are located on this interactive map made especially to help you plan the perfect trip around Belgium.

Simply click on the link to start exploring!

Belgium Trip: FAQ

Belgian Fries

When to visit Belgium

Belgium has a maritime climate making summers cool and winters very moderate. Over the last few years, climate change has caused the average summer temperatures to creep up, sometimes reaching 35+ degrees for a few weeks at a time.

Now, what about that rain? If you ask any Belgian, they will tell you it rains pretty much all the time. While it is true that Belgium has a higher than average rainfall per year, it most certainly does not rain all year long. The driest months of the year are April to September.

In short, if you are ok with a little crisp weather then April to June are the best months to visit. If you like traveling when it is a little warmer, aim for July to October.


Official language in Belgium

Officially Belgium has three languages: Dutch, French, and German.
Each of the languages is spoken in a different region. Flanders (North of Belgium) speaks Dutch, and Wallonia (South of Belgium) speaks French. German is spoken by a very small community in the East of Belgium.

The capital of Brussels is bilingual (French and Dutch) though in practice French is much more widely spoken.

Locals are usually proficient in English, especially if they happen to be working in the tourism industry.

I hope all these places to visit in Belgium have inspired you!

Explore more of Belgium with these in-depth guides
Castles: 16 Castle hotels you can stay in Belgium
Brussels: How to spend an unforgettable weekend in Brussels
Brussels: An in-depth overview of the various areas and hotels to stay in Brussels
Antwerp: A weekend guide including where to eat
Mechelen: A local’s 2-day guide to Mechelen
Charleroi: 10 Things to do in Charleroi

Beautiful Places in Belgium: Save It
Beautiful Places in Belgium
Beautiful places in Belgium
Caroline Muller

Thanks for dropping in! With this blog I hope to harness the power of travel to do good in the world. Think connecting with local cultures, sustainable tourism and in-depth guides to known and lesser-known adventures. 

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