Top 4 Destinations for Extreme Travel in Belgium
Belgium may be best known for its chocolate, beer and fries; but this country offers so much more! Discover its fascinating culture on a canal tour or by visiting some of its premier art galleries.
Belgium offers the perfect blend of old world charm and contemporary fashion, making it the ideal vacation spot. From vintage castles to trendy restaurants and shops, Belgium provides plenty of leisure activities.
The Ardennes is a South Eastern region characterized by wooded hills and historic towns, featuring unspoiled nature. Forests consisting of both broadleaf and fir trees provide shelter to an array of wildlife while rivers swiftly traverse hilly landscapes. Visitors to this area can discover folklore, traditions and arts from villages steeped in history.
Ourthe River runs through this region of Belgium and boasts some of its finest hiking trails. If walking isn’t your cup of tea, cycling and canoeing along its length are also options. Your visit wouldn’t be complete without visiting one of the legendary Trappist abbeys located nearby!
Orval Abbey in Gaume region of Belgium is an impressive attraction and spiritual retreat, set within dense forest. Hikers can hike there from Torgny Village which lies near French border. Torgny itself evokes images of southern France with its ochre-coloured houses and hand-hewn stones reminiscent of southern France villages.
There’s also an abundance of regional produce, from wild game meat to an abundance of trout and carp in its rivers and streams. Gastronomy is also a highlight when visiting Ardennes; popular options include moules-frites – consisting of shell-on mussels in an aromatic broth paired with crispy fries – and boletes a la Liegeoise; juicy meatballs bathed in sweet-and-savoury sauce.
Nautik Evasion offers three different Ourthe River paddle tours ranging from 2.5km to 7.5km for paddlers who wish to relax on the water, with comfortable boats that accommodate up to three people per trip. If paddling is not your cup of tea, other boat options exist on Meuse or Semoy rivers and brewery tours can also be booked locally.
Ghent is an architectural feast, boasting stunning medieval buildings lining narrow streets and quaysides. To get an excellent panorama of Ghent, head up to its 13th-century Belfry atop one of three towering spires; though if stairs prove too daunting a climb for you, don’t worry; most visitors take advantage of a lift that carries most visitors directly up there!
At the top of the tower are breathtaking views not only of the castle and moat but also of the city below – definitely worth spending an extra EUR12 entry fee for photo opportunities! Plus don’t forget to hear those bells play their tuneful melody over your city!
Ghent offers another stunning perspective with its river and canals providing a relaxing way to take in its sights; such as medieval merchant buildings along Korenlei and Castle of Counts on Lieve. A boat tour can also be purchased with a Visit Gent city card for added savings!
Ghent offers many things to see and do, from admiring its elegant architecture and historic streets like Graslei and Korenlei to visiting grand medieval cathedrals like Gravensteen Castle and taking strolls through some of Belgium’s largest car-free areas such as public squares.
Once you’ve experienced history, head to the Design Museum for an educational tour through furniture from Renaissance to today, including Art Deco, Art Nouveau and retro pieces such as some bright ’70s sofas. Admission costs PS3.
Although most visitors to Ghent from Brussels visit only for one or two days, it’s easy enough to make Ghent your base for 2-3. This gives you ample opportunity to enjoy its many restaurants after day-trippers have left and enjoy its magnificent nighttime sights; many historical buildings and bridges illuminated at night adds an atmosphere of mystery while welcoming bars provide a comfortable place for relaxation after exploring Ghent during the daytime.
Dinant lies along the narrow banks of the Meuse, at a place where its course cuts deeply through western Condroz plateau. Due to this dramatic setting, Dinant has long been at the centre of conflicts and wars that have resulted in battles, destruction and devastation throughout history.
Dinants is a small French-speaking town known for its history as Adolphe Sax’s birthplace and home of Abbaye Notre-Dame de Leffe brewery’s Leffe beer production.
Dinant, located within Wallonia – an area which predominantly speaks French – is home to most residents who speak it, despite having three official languages in Belgium: Dutch, German and French. Dinant can be reached within an hour’s drive of Brussels or Namur which are two other Wallonia cities.
Dinant may be small in size but it offers plenty of activities for visitors of all ages to do. From hiking and cycling to sightseeing in the surrounding hills and countryside, to museums and restaurants in town as well as two castles worth seeing, Dinant offers visitors plenty of things to keep themselves occupied!
Dinant offers adventure seekers Parc Dinant Aventure – an outdoor adventure park featuring thrilling suspended bridges and zip lines with incredible views across Lesse and Meuse Valleys.
This destination offers something for families, groups of friends, and solo travelers looking to push themselves beyond their limits. Everyone should put it on their bucket list!
Dinant makes for an ideal base to explore the Ardennes. Just an hour’s drive away lies Passchendaele Battlefield – which was an important turning point of both World Wars. There are tours available from Dinant to visit this famous battlefield; many tours also include visits to its memorial and museum dedicated to fallen soldiers.
If you are visiting Dinant or any of the cities in Ardennes, I strongly advise obtaining travel insurance as part of your itinerary. That way, should anything unexpected come up during your travels, you’ll have peace of mind knowing you are covered.
Bruges is an idyllic coastal town perfect for exploring Belgian culture while indulging in some delectable food. Cobblestone streets, historic churches and Bruges Castle make this destination one of the most unique in Belgium – while it makes a wonderful day trip destination, consider making Bruges your base when exploring West Flanders further!
The In Flanders Fields Museum in Ypres is one of the region’s premier attractions, housing an extensive collection from World War I. An annual Remembrance ceremony featuring buglers playing The Last Post to commemorate those lost is also hosted here.
Ypres served as the front line for some of the bloodiest battles during World War I. John McCrae wrote his eloquent poem In Flanders Fields here, helping to establish red poppies as a symbol for those lost during the brutal conflicts. Essex Farm Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery in Diksmuide is another key battlefield, offering insight into this part of Belgium during war time and how its destruction changed life here.
Horseback riding along Belgium’s North Sea coast is an increasingly popular activity, particularly during summer when you can enjoy it directly on the beach! Equestrian centers and schools can be found throughout its coastline so it’s simple to book an excursion through one of them to fully experience this experience.
The Caves of Han are an incredible natural formation in Southeast Belgium and an outstanding place to experience cave diving. Guided tours allow visitors to discover this vast underground complex for themselves – guaranteed to give an unforgettable experience!
Belgium tours should not limit themselves solely to visiting Brussels; there are many smaller cities and towns worth exploring as well as stunning natural environments to behold throughout this magnificent nation.