I don’t think people talk about Belgium enough, especially given how accessible it is from the UK.
Before I went I didn’t know much about it, nor had I heard many recommendations from people who’d been.
I was pleasantly surprised as it turned out to be right up my street.
Brussels and Bruges were part of my first – and only – solo trip. Travelling completely solo wasn’t really for me (and if you’re the same, you might be interested in my other post on seven great alternatives to solo travelling). But I still look back on my visit there with fond memories.
WHY VISIT BELGIUM?
The medieval architecture in Belgium is something else! I’ve not seen anything quite like it elsewhere.
It didn’t take me long to gather that Belgian’s have a serious passion for beer, chocolate and waffles.
Oh, and can’t forget fries (although I couldn’t find any that were suitable for me as they all seemed to fry in animal fat, booo!).
They’re just a couple of things that were unique about Belgium. Myths and legends, quirky monuments… Wherever I went there was something new to discover.
I was also interested to learn that Belgium has three official languages which are Dutch, French and German.
Brussels and Bruges are only an hour apart from each other so they’re great to visit within the same trip. It’s possible to see the highlights of one of them in a day, so you could stay in either Brussels or Bruges and take a day trip to the other by train. There are group tours you can book onto from Brussels to Bruges and vice-versa which may be a good idea if you’re travelling solo or would like help getting from the station to the centre.
They’re both good cities to visit on a budget. I was mostly sightseeing so I didn’t spend much once I was there. There are budget accommodation options near enough to everything and both cities are walkable; especially Bruges.
Brussels is Belgium’s capital and most populous city. It’s a ‘rough around the edges’ kind of place but the more I saw of it the more I liked it. If you like art and medieval architecture then you’ll probably like it too!
I didn’t find the need to use any public transport while I was there, however, there are metro, tram and bus services in case you have a longer stay and want to venture out more.
WHAT TO DO IN BRUSSELS
- Go on a free walking tour – I booked my tour with SANDEMANs NEW Brussels via freetour.com and the guide was brilliant. You’ll learn about the history, culture, and myths and legends of the city.
- Visit the Park of Brussels. This large park lies between the Federal Parliament and the Royal Palace. It has a fountain and plenty of grass areas and benches to sit on which makes it an ideal stop for a sunny day.
- The Grote Markt/Grand Place. This is Brussels’ stunning market square where you can see many historic buildings including the beautiful Brussels Town Hall and Maison du Roi. If you can, try to visit the square during the night too as everything is lit up.
- Visit the St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral which isn’t far from the market square.
- Make sure you go to Delirium Café – a pub with a Guinness World Record-breaking 2,004 beers. If you don’t usually like beer, there’s a good chance you’ll still find something as they do tonnes of different fruity flavours! I played it safe and tried Hoegarden Rose, Jungle Joy and Hoegarden Lemon. If you do the Brussels Beer Tasting Tour, you’ll get to try out some of the other top bars as well as this one.
- See Manneken Pis. I’ll let you find out about this for yourself – one of Brussels’ many quirks with various legends behind it! (Which you’ll probably hear about if you join a walking tour).
- Look out for street art/murals. Brussels has some incredible art pieces dotted around the city centre.
This quaint, charming city is only an hour’s train ride from Brussels. Expect medieval buildings, cobbled streets and canals. Bruges seemed to come alive when the sun came out, so I had to go around the main square and re-take all the photos from the morning as you do! I’d recommend watching the film In Bruges if you want a taster of the city.
WHAT TO DO IN BRUGES
- Again, I’d recommend going on a walking tour here which you can book via freetour.com. My tour provider was Viva’s Tour and the guide was great and very informative of Bruges’ history.
- See the Church of Our Lady. You can go inside where you’ll find the statue of Madonna and Child by Michelangelo.
- Visit the Markt/Market square where there’s the famous Belfry and the Provincial Court. There are also some guild houses which have been converted into restaurants.
- Not far from there is the Burg square, another medieval square where you’ll see the Gothic Town Hall and Basilica of the Holy Blood.
- Go for breakfast/brunch. Bruges is filled with cute eateries where you can indulge in Belgian waffles and anything else you fancy.
- Take a canal boat trip – a great way to see the sights of Bruges.
- Go for a walk around at night. Like Brussels, the city is lit up at night and looks magical.
I’d gladly go back to these two wonderful cities and hope to visit some other cities in Belgium too – Ghent, Antwerp and Leuven to name a few.
Have you been anywhere in Belgium before? Let me know in the comments…
I hope you enjoyed this guide and found it useful if you’re thinking of going to Brussels or Bruges. Don’t forget to subscribe for more travel tips and inspiration!
Want to know more about Belgium? Read about some of the practical information you should know before going to Belgium here.