On my quest to put the lesser-known gems of Belgium in the spotlight, I asked ten other Belgian bloggers to share which places they think deserve a bit more attention.
This is what they said.
10 Belgian gems that deserve a visit
1. Crossing the sea to the eastern shore
“I'm a child of the sea. Ever since I was young, I've been spending my summers at our beach cabin. And during other seasons the sea appeals to me as well. In Oostende, city by the sea, there are things to do all-year-round. I love combining the coast with shopping, culture and more. If I want to get out of the city for a while, I go to the Oosteroever (East shore). Getting there is part of the experience. The free ferry takes you over the canal. You're still close to the city and yet it's so peaceful on the other side. Walk along the dunes, get a drink or a bite at the Fort Napoleon and discover a piece of maritime history.”
Heidi of Livingbythesea.be (blog in Dutch)
2. Cycling for hours along the “Damse Vaart”
“There are a lot of surprising and fun spots to discover in Belgium, but we never get enough of the Damse Vaart, the canal that connects Bruges with Damme and runs all the way to the Dutch Sluis. Damme is great for photographers thanks to the many historical buildings and cozy restaurants. Because it's also located just five kilometers from Bruges, it attracts a lot of tourists. We love Damme, partially because the charming center is so close to the quiet Damse Vaart. Trees are lined up along the canal, which is surrounded by a beautiful landscape. You can cycle and walk there while passing by authentic villages. It's a lovely spot during every season!”
Nina & Jempi of Travelboulevard.be
3. Watching the sunset in the curve of the Schelde
“If you tell a local of Antwerp to meet at the “Scheldebocht”, the curve of the river Schelde, he'll immediately know where that is. If you follow the river to the north, toward what's known to locals als “‘t Eilandje” or “the little island” and passed the Waagnatie, you'll come across a piece of nomansland with grass, some trees and two large barbecues. This is one of my favorite spots in Antwerp. It's the place to photograph an amazing sunset while enjoying a barbecue with friends. You have a beautiful view of Linkeroever, the other shore, there. It truly is a secret part of the city!”
Nies of Reismicrobe.com (blog in Dutch)
4. Enjoying drinks and food
“One of my favorite spots in my hometown Lier is the rather new Bar Muza, next to the music academy. I love going there for lunch or to get one of their homemade juices or teas. The interior is really hipster, but that's exactly what makes Bar Muza so comfy. And while you're relaxing or working on their wooden terrace, you can hear the students practicing through the open windows of the music academy. It's a shame that I'm not the only one who knows about this place *wink*.”
Lot of Reisgoesting.be (blog in Dutch)
5. Walking in Voeren
“Last year I discovered the beautiful Voeren in the province of Limburg during my tour along some Flemish youth hostels. This town, surrounded by both Walloon and Dutch towns, is one of the best places in Belgium to enjoy beautiful scenery and walking routes. The hilly landscape, part of the Country of Herve, has some beautiful nature areas that are great for hiking. My personal favorite is the “Bronnenwandeling” or “Sources Walk” of 8.5 km. It starts in Sint-Martens-Voeren and takes you along different paths and sources. While walking, you also come across little houses and at least one herd of cows.”
Bart of Vetexbart.be (blog in Dutch)
6. Finding silence in Brugge
“Literally around the corner of one of the busiest and most touristy places in Bruges, lies the Queen Astrid Park. I grew up in one of the streets surrounding the park and still today it's a garden of peace. I can highly recommend doing a picnic there, or going there for a walk!”.
Lori of former blog Buitenshuis.com
7. Discovering art in Borgloon
“Borgloon is barely known outside of Belgium, but it's the pearl of the Haspengauw region, both regarding nature and regarding architecture! In recent years, the city invested in architectural works of art that fit right into their surroundings. You can sleep in tree tents during summer and go exploring by bike or on foot in between the fruit trees all-year-round, looking for works of art. The best-known work of art here is the phenomenal see-through church called “Reading between the lines”. It's a church that's both present and absent at the same time. Another example is the art installation Memento. Aside from the many works of art you can discover in and around Borgloon, there's the village itself which is rather small and lovely, with a rich medieval history and a few nice restaurants.”
Lotte of Scratchingmymap.com
8. Getting active at the Schulens Lake
“This pond in the middle of the Schulensbroek is definitely worth a visit when you're in the province of Limburg. You can go fishing, sailing, surfing and kayaking on the lake, as well as simply enjoy nature in one of the largest nature parks in Flanders. There are a lot of bird species here that you can spot while walking or cycling. Every first Sunday of the month there's a guided tour at 2 p.m. through a part of this 200 ha. large park. When you need a break, go to bistro ‘t Vloot to enjoy the view… and a drink.”
Stephanie of Touristexclusive.com
9. Enjoying nature in Merksplas
“Even while being a world traveler now, the place I grew up in still is magical to me. The area around the penitentiary facility of Merksplas, “De Kolonie”, is green and quiet. You can wander there for hours, through woods and fields, along green paths. Picnicking is an option too. Ever since I rediscovered this place a few years ago, I come here from my new home in Brussels to reconnect with a spring picnic or a fall walk, the two times of the year this area is at its most beautiful. I bet you'll feel the green magic as well when you go there.”
Werner of Dichtbijenverweg.blogspot.be (blog in Dutch)
10. The Winter Garden of the Ursulines
I have never been this fond of an attraction in Belgium before! The beautiful Winter Garden of the Ursulines in Onze-Lieve-Vrouw-Waver is a dreamy tribute to Art Nouveau and is easy to reach from Mechelen. Since this school is still being used during the year, this monument is only accessible on Sundays.
However, once you are inside it almost seems as if you are visiting Hogwarts. The interior is filled with lifelike statues, frills from the floor to the ceiling, beautiful stained glass windows and the complete atmosphere is absolutely magical. The main attraction in this (gigantic) school is of course the famous Winter Garden: a colorful conservatory that was probably designed by the most famous Belgian architect of all times: Victor Horta!
Sam of Checkoutsam.com
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