This year will start off with some gentle exploring but if you're keen and able to explore Belgium,
check out this post with 21 fun things to do in Belgium in 2021.
These tips are written for normal times. Please take current COVID restrictions in mind when planning your getaway in Belgium.
Go for it!
- Things to do in Belgium in 2021
- 1. Have a waffle
- 2. Visit a castle
- 3. Have a beer and visit a brewery
- 4. Visit a beguinage
- 5. Commemorate the World Wars
- 6. Attend a music festival (but maybe not yet this year + an alternative)
- 7. Read a comic book
- 8. Climb the Lion's Mound in Waterloo
- 9. Watch a folkloristic parade
- 10. Try some Belgian chocolate
- 11. Walk in Colin Farrell's footsteps in Bruges
- 12. Go south
- 13. Get acquainted with Belgium's mining history
- 14. Try a sip of jenever
- 15. Learn about the language situation
- 16. Visit the Brussels Christmas market
- 17. Admire the bluebells at the Hallerbos
- 18. Visit a lesser known city
- 19. Climb to the highest point of Belgium
- 20. Go on a river tour
- 21. Go for a walk on the beach
- Stay a while!
- How to get to Belgium
- Pin for later
Things to do in Belgium in 2021
1. Have a waffle
You can't start the year hungry, now can you? I realize a waffle isn't the most nutritious breakfast, but it will certainly get you in a Belgian mood!
Just remember that there's no such thing as “Belgian waffles” (and if you call them “Belgium waffles”, now's the time to hang your head in shame). There are Liège waffles, Brussels waffles, and then a whole bunch of lesser-known waffles. “Belgian waffle” is not a type of waffle.
2. Visit a castle
There are more castles in Belgium per square kilometer than there are in any other country in the world, so visiting a castle is definitely a thing to do in Belgium this year. One of the best known Belgian castles is the Gravensteen in Ghent.
3. Have a beer and visit a brewery
There are 800 to 1,000 different beers in Belgium, depending on the source, and they come from breweries all over the country. Some have been around for centuries, others are relatively new. A famous smaller brewery is the Halve Maan in Bruges, but you can taste great beers in just about any tavern or “brown bar”, as we call them.
Oh, and did you know our Belgian beer scene recently became UNESCO World Heritage? Well, it did!
4. Visit a beguinage
Real beguinages only exist in Belgium and the Netherlands and several of Belgium's beguinages are recognized as Unesco World Heritage. One of them is the Grand Beguinage in Leuven. Located at the edge of the city, it's always peaceful and quiet there.
5. Commemorate the World Wars
Belgium has suffered a lot both during World War I and World War II. These events have left a mark not only on people's lives but also on the country's attraction as a tourist destination.
Every year, people come to Belgium to visit Flanders Fields and other memorial sites and museums dedicated to these dark periods in European history. A lesser-known memorial that deserves more attention is the Breendonk Fortress.
6. Attend a music festival (but maybe not yet this year + an alternative)
Belgium is a festival country. In summer, you can attend a different festival every weekend, and often there are several music festivals going on at the same time. Pop, rock, techno, folk, jazz, big small, free or paid; there's a festival for everyone over here.
Unfortunately, at the time of writing it is still unclear whether attending a music festival will be an option in 2021 but what you can do, is go hiking in Belgium away from the crowds.
7. Read a comic book
Did you know Tintin is Belgian? And so are the Smurfs. In fact, just like we have more castles per square kilometer than any other country in the world, we also have more comic artists per square kilometer than any other country in the world.
Several museums are dedicated to comic books and their art, like the Comics Art Museum in Brussels.
8. Climb the Lion's Mound in Waterloo
Napoleon was defeated in Belgium before it officially became Belgium, in 1815 during the Battle of Waterloo. Several sites in this city south of Brussels tell the story of what happened before, during, and after the battle, but the most famous one is the Lion's Mound.
You can climb all the way to the top of this artificial hill and have a view of what used to be the battlefield. It's one of the things to see in Belgium if you're into history.
9. Watch a folkloristic parade
Belgium has quite a few folkloristic traditions that are usually tied to a specific city. These events take place year-round and range from very small and local to big and drawing in spectators from all over the country and abroad.
A few examples are the carnival parades, the giant parades and the Doudou in Mons.
These kinds of events will likely not take place yet at the start of 2021 but let's hope we'll be able to attend some later in the year!
10. Try some Belgian chocolate
It goes without saying that we have the best chocolate in the world, right? Right. There are the famous brands you can find at the airport, like Neuhaus and GuyLian, but I personally think the best chocolate can be found at the specialist chocolatier shops in Brussels. A personal tip? Chocolatier Frederic Blondeel!
11. Walk in Colin Farrell's footsteps in Bruges
Visiting Bruges is one of the top things to do in Belgium for many visitors. Especially if it's their first time in the country. If you're a fan of the movie “In Bruges”, you can get a map with a lot of the “In Bruges” locations and simply visit them by walking through the streets of the old center. That way you'll add a little something-something to your Bruges trip. Don't forget your camera!
12. Go south
A lot of the people visiting Belgium, limit themselves to the northern part of the country. Cities like Bruges and Brussels are definitely worth visiting but don't discard the south. There are some true gems across the language border, like the Abbey of Villers-la-Ville.
13. Get acquainted with Belgium's mining history
Coal mining used to be a big industry in Belgium and has left its marks on the landscapes. Several old mining sites have gotten a new function and are now open to the public to be visited, like Unesco World Heritage site Grand-Hornu near Mons, C-mine in Genk and be-Mine in Beringen.
14. Try a sip of jenever
Most people will know jenever as “gin”, but the two alcoholic drinks are not exactly the same and the name “jenever” can only be used in Belgium, the Netherlands, certain areas in the north of France and certain areas in the northwest of Germany. It's a shortdrink that requires a specific first sip. You can learn all about it at the Jenever Museum in Hasselt.
15. Learn about the language situation
Most tourists seem to know that the language situation is a bit of a mess, but that's usually all they know. While you'll probably get by with English in most places (although more so in the north and Brussels than in the south), it might be interesting to learn a bit about how things work here (or not) before visiting.
16. Visit the Brussels Christmas market
Belgium isn't as known for its Christmas markets as Germany is, but the Brussels Christmas market is definitely worth a visit. There's a Ferris wheel, a light show, lots of food and drinks, and after the rough Christmas season the city just had, it deserves a little love in 2021, don't you think?
17. Admire the bluebells at the Hallerbos
Just once a year and only for two weeks or so, the ground of the Hallerbos, nearby Brussels, turns purple with blooming bluebells. It's absolutely beautiful and the fact that the forest is a nice place to go for a walk is certainly a plus! For the best photos, go in the morning or the evening but make sure to stay on the paths!
18. Visit a lesser known city
Mechelen usually isn't the first place people go to when they visit Belgium, but the city makes for a great day trip and is easy to reach by train both from Brussels and from Antwerp. It has a rich history, lots of nice cafes and some interesting museums. Here are some things to do in Mechelen to help you plan your trip.
19. Climb to the highest point of Belgium
The highest point of Belgium is a small hill in the province of Liège that's 694 meters high but they placed this staircase with a little standing platform over it to make it reach 700 meters. The place itself is nothing special but it's one of those unique things to do in Belgium when you have the chance to.
20. Go on a river tour
Belgium is home to quite a few waterways and plenty of them offer the opportunity to go sightseeing from a different angle. Glide past quaint little villages or Antwerp's massive port while lounging comfortably on the deck of a riverboat, drink in hand. River tours make for a great afternoon out.
21. Go for a walk on the beach
Belgium has a coastline of no less than 65 km / 40 miles. No matter the weather, it's the perfect place to go and let the wind blow your thoughts away. Have a hot chocolate or an ice cream after at one of the many boardwalk cafes.
Not sure where to go? Check out these 10 fun beaches in Belgium.
Stay a while!
Now that you know what to see and do in Belgium, you probably realize there's no way you'll get to do them all in a day. And rushing things isn't fun, is it? The solution: stay a while!
Booking.com has an extensive list of hotel options for all budgets and needs.
If you're looking for an apartment rather than a hotel, I would recommend checking Airbnb. They have a great selection of rental apartments and houses.
How to get to Belgium
If you're traveling from abroad, you can fly into Brussels Airport or Brussels South (really Charleroi). Click here to find the best flights for your trip.
Alternatively, you can also take the train into Belgium. Click here for timetables and train prices.
Pin for later
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
86 interesting facts about Belgium.
Don't make these mistakes when planning your next trip
Sign up for the newsletter and learn which mistakes you need to prevent when booking your trip - especially given the current circumstances.