For a small country, Belgium certainly packs a punch. From the rolling valleys of Wallonia to the historic cities of Flanders and all in between, the list of Belgium leisure activities knows no bounds. If you like to get active when you travel, this post will hopefully give you a few ideas for your trip to Belgium.
- 14 fun activities in Belgium
- Go rafting or kayaking in the Ardennes
- Attend a music festival
- Go on a guided boat trip in Ghent
- Get lost in the Durbuy Labyrinth
- Participate in a chocolate-making workshop
- Horseback riding on a North Sea beach
- Sail through the tree-tops at Dinant Aventure
- Feel the wind in your hair while sand yachting
- Head off for a hike
- Go caving in the Caves of Han
- Bellewaerde theme park
- Remember the First World War
- Relax at the spa in Spa
- Join a beer tasting tour
14 fun activities in Belgium
Go rafting or kayaking in the Ardennes
Whether you want to meander calmly down a gently flowing river or get the adrenaline pumping while whipping down some rapids white-water rafting, Belgium has plenty of options. The Ardennes in the South East of Belgium is one of the best places for kayaking as it has a great range of rivers for different levels of experience.
The three rivers of the Ardennes are the Lesse, the Ourthe, and the Semois. The Ourthe and the Semois are a good choice for beginners to the sport, and you’ll find yourself paddling through forest valleys, past one of the picturesque villages nestling on the banks. The River Lesse is a little more challenging, with a few small waterfalls and sections of rapids.
Spring is the best time for kayaking in Belgium, but be aware when you book your kayak tour that water levels vary according to the weather so be prepared to alter your plans.
And when you get out of the water there are plenty of delicious places in the Ardennes to go get a bite.
Attend a music festival
All year round (and especially in Spring and Summer), Belgium is pulsing with festivals of all shapes and sizes. Think vibrant regional carnivals, extravagant city processions, historical reenactments, art installations, and of course, a huge amount of music festivals in Belgium.
Going to a festival is one of the most memorable activities to do in Belgium so always check if you can book tickets to a local event when you travel to the country. There’s international mega-festival Tomorrowland for lovers of electronic music, the ten-day Gentse Feesten which has been running since 1843, the enormous Dour Festival for the more alternative music fans, and Ghent’s Light Festival for some beautiful works of public art, to name just a few.
Go on a guided boat trip in Ghent
The waterfront of Ghent is stunning, and the best way to see it is by boat. Travel through the city on a guided boat trip and take a trip through Belgium’s history. The tours last 40 minutes and they incorporate many of Ghent’s top sightseeing locations such as the Gravensteen, the Old Butcher’s Hall, and the medieval quay.
There are several pick-up and drop-off points but the main ones are on the Graslei (“Grass Quay”) and Korenlei (“Corn Quay”). These are the two sides of the river Leie that formed Ghent’s medieval harbor. Today, they still house several sites of photogenic architecture, such as guild houses dating back to the 17th century.
Get lost in the Durbuy Labyrinth
The Labyrinth of Durbuy is definitely a theme park with a twist. It does what it says on the tin – a giant maze (made of maize!) of over 11 hectares / 27 acres. There are 10 kilometers / 6.2 miles of twisting and turning paths. The labyrinth can be found in the small village of Barvaux just outside Durbuy in the province of Luxembourg. Durbuy claims to be the smallest city in the world, but if you get lost in that maze, it’ll feel as if it goes on forever…
The labyrinth is only one hour from Brussels and is themed differently each year, with actors and performers stationed around the maze and park. Over the years themes have included Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, Smurfs, Tintin, and many more. The park also boasts a few other attractions such as an eco-garden and a separate wooden maze.
Participate in a chocolate-making workshop
Belgium is known around the world as the land of chocolate so it’s a good place to try to pick up some skills. And what better place to do a chocolate-making workshop than the country’s capital of Brussels? There are many chocolatiers located just a short walk from Brussels Grand Place. You’d be surprised at just how many different types and recipes of chocolate there are.
Learn from the Brussels masters how to temper chocolate so that it keeps its shine and make your own mendiant and praline chocolates with people that have spent their entire lives perfecting the art. You’ll even get to go home with a pack of homemade chocolates – the fruits of your labor!
Horseback riding on a North Sea beach
If you’re looking for somewhere to go horseback riding, Belgium’s North coast couldn’t be a better place. With its wide expanse of sand and glorious sunsets, there’s plenty of space to ride and take in the blissful views.
You’ll find equestrian centers and riding schools all along the coastline in Belgium where you can hire a horse for a day or two of riding and horse-based activities. At many beaches, such as De Haan, there are bridle paths and riding routes that lead through woods, meadows, dunes and down to the sea itself.
You can’t take horses on the beach during certain hours of the day in the holiday season so it’s worth checking that before you go.
Sail through the tree-tops at Dinant Aventure
This is for those who want a taste of Belgium’s best adventure activities. Parc Dinant Aventure is an outdoor adventure park found overlooking the Lesse and Meuse valley in Wallonia, with amazing views of the surrounding hills. It’s got everything from hair-raising suspended bridges and ziplines to laser quest and paintballing.
The park itself is in the middle of a wood on an 18 hectare / 44.5-acre site that used to be a sandstone quarry. It’s been recognized for its amazing wildlife and is listed as a Natura 2000 site. You can go on their aerial route through the tree-tops, and there’s abseiling, climbing, caving… the list really is huge. There’s even the “XL swing”, which drops you from a 60 meter / 197-foot height on a rope.
Feel the wind in your hair while sand yachting
There’s no bigger thrill than speed, and there’s no shortage of that when you’re racing down the North Sea coast on a three-wheeled cart, with wind and sea spray in your sails. Sand yachting (otherwise known as land yachting or dirt boating) has got to be up there as one of the most fun Belgium activities.
The coastline of Belgium is 65 km / 40 miles and there are some great beaches and beach towns to visit. The beaches are mostly wide and sandy which makes ideal sand yachting territory. The best beach for sand yachting in Belgium is De Panne but you’ll find plenty of others. You can also go sand yachting by some lakes, such as the Eau d'Heure lakes in the province of Namur.
Head off for a hike
Belgium might not be known for its hills but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have some good hiking trails. In fact, there are thousands of popular routes to choose from.
Whether it’s the lush valleys of the Ardennes, the castles near Geraardsbergen, or the dune networks of Zwin, there are some amazing opportunities for walks around the country, for all experience levels.
And it’s not just the countryside – one of the best things to do in a city is to map it out physically and you can find city walking tours in most Belgian urban areas. Why not get some miles in around the cobbled streets of Bruges, or even the Diamond Quarter of Antwerp?
Go caving in the Caves of Han
Located outside the village of Han sur Lesse, in the Southeast of Belgium are the Caves of Han (the “Grottes de Han”). They’re widely considered one of the most spectacular cave complexes in the world, formed by the underground passage of the river Lesse through a limestone hill.
Among the best things to do in Belgium is to book a guided speleology tour in the Caves of Han. You’ll get to travel back into deep time with experts in the rock formations, wandering between stalagmites and stalactites, through cavernous halls and galleries of stone.
The caves are brought to life by special LED lighting and sounds, and there’s a small 100-year old tram that trundles you into the cave mouth. There’s also a restaurant/ bar where you can wind down after your adventures.
Bellewaerde theme park
As with nearly any country, there are tons of theme parks in Belgium and they vary hugely in content and quality. Bellewaerde is unusual as it has a mix of many different parks in one. It originally opened as a zoo and safari park back in 1954 (making it the oldest theme park in Belgium), and although today it focuses on thrilling rides, it’s retained the animal park aspect too. It’s one of the best things to do in the gorgeous countryside near Ypres in West Flanders.
When it comes to rides, Bellewaerde has some great roller coasters, river rapids, and a water flume called Niagara (the name speaks volumes!). The park is sited on the site of the Second Battle of Ypres in World War I.
Remember the First World War
The image of poppies growing in Flanders Fields is one of the most enduring symbols to commemorate World War I. The area surrounding the city of Ypres in West Flanders was the site of one of the most tragic periods of Europe’s history, some of the most famous battles of the Western Front during the First World War. More than a million people from over 50 countries were injured or killed here.
Today, there are hundreds of things to see in and around Ypres – war memorials, cemeteries, and interactive museums. You can walk among the preserved and recreated trenches at Flanders Fields, and listen to the Last Post sounded by the buglers every evening at the Menin Gate. It’s a haunting but important experience.
Relax at the spa in Spa
Ever wondered where the word “spa” came from? The term originated in the Belgian town of Spa in the eastern province of Liège. It is known worldwide for its mineral-rich waters and natural springs. It was even popular with the Romans who knew the city as “Aquae Spadanae” and Pliny the Elder raved about its healing springs.
Today, it’s home to Les Thermes de Spa, a luxury spa center that brings wellness and nature together. There are outdoor activities with views across the landscape of Belgium, and many therapy and beauty treatments for the world-weary traveler. Steam baths, mineral baths, saunas, 800 square meters / 8610 square feet of indoor and outdoor pools not to mention things like reflexology, aromatherapy, shiatsu…
Join a beer tasting tour
Beer-brewing has been a staple of Belgium’s culture since it began in roughly the 12th century, with monks creating the drink from within their abbeys. Today, there is an abundance of different beers to sample across the whole of Belgium, from bars lining bustling streets off the Grand Place in Brussels, to small family-run breweries in the Belgian countryside.
A beer tasting tour is one of the best ways to develop a wider understanding of this beloved nectar. You can find tours all over Belgium, and Brussels has many great experiences to choose from. You’ll be led by a guide to a selection of top bars around Brussels to sample some of the local produce and learn about the amazing history of the beer culture itself.
This is just a handful of ideas for when you travel to the land of chocolate, beer, and waffles. Some final advice – always try to check out what is happening locally when you visit as there are often free community activities scheduled for certain times of the year. Have fun!
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