Are you keen and able to explore Belgium this year? Then check out this post with 23 fun things to do in Belgium in 2023.
We have historical sites, natural beauty, top cities, museums for the art lovers and, of course, many restaurants serving up the best fries and typical Belgian beers such as a Leffe Brown or a Westmalle Tripel.
Check it out!
- Things to do in Belgium in 2023
- 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
- 22. Visit one of Antwerp's top museums
- 23. Stroll over Brussels' Grand Place
- Where to stay in Belgium
- How to get to Belgium
- Don't forget travel insurance
Things to do in Belgium in 2023
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.
Read here where to find the best waffles in Brussels.
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.
Check here for an extensive overview of the WWI memorials, museums, cemeteries, and battlefields in Belgium.
Check here for World War 2 tours, museums, and war memorials in Belgium.
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.
Prefer the quiet of nature over the booming of boxes? You can also go hiking in Belgium!
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's army 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.
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!
It's also a lot of fun to create your own chocolate you can then take home as a souvenir (or eat straight away – I won't judge). This one-hour workshop gets great reviews.
11. Walk in Colin Farrell's footsteps in Bruges
Visiting Bruges is one of the top things to do in Belgium for many visitors. Sometimes called a Venice of the North due to its many canals, Bruges is a popular tourist destination and yes, you can take a little canal cruise there.
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 town. 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 stands and activities take place all over the old town.
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.
22. Visit one of Antwerp's top museums
Antwerp is a city of culture, art, and history. You can find a wide variety of museums there, including my favorite Belgian Museum, the Plantin-Moretus Museum.
Want more options? Go through the museums in Antwerp I've written about and take your pick.
23. Stroll over Brussels' Grand Place
The Brussels Grand Place (or “Grote Markt” in Dutch) is one of Belgium's most popular tourist attracts. Located in the capital city, here you'll find Brussels city hall alongside some remaining guild houses and other beautiful historic buildings. It's a must-see in Belgium but please don't limit your visit to Brussels to the area around the Grand Place. While the Grand Place is beautiful, there is so much more to see, such as the Horta Museum and the famous yet small bronze sculpture of Manneken Pis.
Where to stay in Belgium
Now that you know what to 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.
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.
Don't forget travel insurance
Plan for the best, prepare for the worst. Travel insurance has you covered in case (part of) your trip gets canceled, you get sick or hurt abroad, and sometimes even when your electronics break or get stolen. I always make sure I'm covered every trip I go on.
Don't have travel insurance yet? Check out SafetyWing. They offer super flexible plans that you can even sign up for while you're already on your trip. On top of that, they were the first travel insurance to cover COVID, and when I got COVID, they reimbursed all of my expenses without making a fuss. Their customer support team is great and I can personally recommend them.
And that's it! I hope you found this post on things to do in Belgium useful.
PIN FOR LATER
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
86 interesting facts about Belgium.
Brian Lomax says
Great list, Sofie! I’ve done 5 of the 16, and would like to try a few more. Thanks for the suggestion of a chocolatier in Brussels! :)
Thanks! 5 is a good start ;-)
Cool, after 6 years in Belgium I have done a lot if this. I would love to visit the Ghent castle. I also heard if the Karreveld castle in Brussels, would you recommend it ?
And what brewery would you advice to visit in Brussels ?
Thanks a lot !
I’m afraid I haven’t been to the Karreveld Castle yet so I can’t omment on that. The Cantillon Brewery in Brusselsis supposed to be really nice:)
Let me know if you decide to go!
Tim UrbanDuniya says
Oooooooh can’t wait for August!! And I love that eat a waffle is on the top of the list – yes please!!
Hahaha, purely by accident;-)
Jenever festival at Hasselt!
That was the time! :)
Hahaha, never been to the festival!
Loved your list! The best thing is that the advice is applicable even in other countries. Like general tourist ideas :)
Hi Sofie, your list so cool! Belgium is on my list. I’m a Asian, visit Europe is a great on travel. Thanks a lot.
You’re very welcome! I’m so happy you like the list and hope you’ll get to visit :-)
Super leuke lijst! Zelf was ik al vergeten dat ik naar Villers-la-Ville ben geweest. Zo fijn om terug te kunnen denken aan die leuke dag, dankzij je post. :)
Villers-la-Ville was een echte ontdekking voor me. Ik hoop zo dat ze het wat “in ere” gaan houden en “deftig” gaan restaureren. Even lekker op zen Vlaams :D
Haha, ja. Het is bij mij al enkele jaren geleden dat ik er geweest ben. Hopelijk houden ze het inderdaad in ere. Zou zonden zijn anders.
Helemaal mee eens!
our recent country to live is actually not bad at all hah ? :)
It’ll do :D
Leuk lijstje Sofie! Hallerbos hoop ik dit jaar ein-de-lijk eens te geraken
Super! Ik vind het best wel een aanrader. Lekker rustig daar en fijn wandelen zo tussen het paars :)
Such a cool list! I live in Belgium and haven’t even done all of these. My goal for 2017 is finally set! :)
Thanks so much! And an awesome goal to have :) Keep me up to date on how it goes! :-)
Ishan Milind kulkarni says
Love this list. I’m going in June to attend rock werchter. It’s a rock concert!
Awesome! I’m sure you’ll have a great time. It’s always sold out!
Its our Day 2 here in Brussels…don’t forget the Belgian Frites…visit Mannekin Pis…the European headquarters…Royal Palace of Belgium…the oldest Centraal Station in Antwerp…and we are still Exploring!
Enjoy your trip!