For being such a small country, Belgium has a lot to offer. From the rolling valleys of Wallonia to the historic cities of Flanders and all in between, the list of leisure activities in Belgium will surely keep you entertained. If you like to get active when you travel, this post will hopefully give you a few ideas for your trip to Belgium.
- 1. Go rafting or kayaking in the Ardennes
- 2. Attend a music festival
- 3. Go on a guided boat trip in Ghent
- 4. Get lost in the Durbuy Labyrinth
- 5. Participate in a chocolate-making workshop
- 6. Horseback riding on a North Sea beach
- 7. Sail through the tree-tops at Dinant Aventure
- 8. Feel the wind in your hair while sand yachting
- 9. Hiking
- 10. Go caving in the Caves of Han
- 11. Bellewaerde theme park
- 12. Remember the First World War
- 13. Relax at the spa in “Spa town”
- 14. Join a beer tasting tour
Listed below are the best fun things to do in Belgium all-year-round.
- Rafting or Kayaking in the Ardennes. Navigate the rivers of the Ardennes, especially the Lesse, Ourthe, and Semois. Experience diverse terrains, from calm waters to challenging rapids.
- Attend a music festival. Attend in Belgium's vibrant festival scene. Events include the world-famous Tomorrowland, historical Gentse Feesten and diverse Dour Festival.
- Ghent boat trip. Experience Ghent from its canals. Tours reveal historical sights like the Gravensteen and Old Butcher’s Hall, mainly from Graslei and Korenlei harbors.
- Durbuy Labyrinth. Navigate a massive maze in Barvaux near Durbuy, with varied annual themes and added attractions, including eco-gardens and wooden labyrinths.
- Chocolate-making Workshop in Brussels. Dive into Belgium's chocolate culture. Workshops in Brussels teach the art of chocolate-making, producing mendiants and pralines.
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
Visitors can book a boat trip in Ghent to avoid same-day queueing and enjoy a flexible cancelation policy.
4. 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.
5. 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!
6. 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.
7. Sail through the tree-tops at Dinant Aventure
This is for those who want a taste of Belgium’s best adventure things to do. 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.
8. 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.
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 and hiking 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.
10. 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.
11. 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.
12. 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 like Belgium's WW1 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.
13. Relax at the spa in “Spa town”
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…
14. 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. Book a beer tour to visit historic beer venues around Brussels, learn more about the history and fame of Belgian beer, and try multiple Belgian beers.
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!
What are the facts that Belgium is most known for?
Listed below are the facts that Belgium is most known for.
- Chocolate Hub: Its airport leads globally in chocolate sales, dispatching 800 tonnes annually.
- Fries Origin: The globally known french fries have their roots in Belgium's late 1600s.
- UNESCO Grand Place: The Grote Markt stands as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and cultural hotspot.
- Brussels Sprouts: These green veggies trace their lineage back to 16th-century Brussels.
- Beer Galore: Brussels is home to over 800 beer varieties.
- The Atomium: This iconic structure mimics an immensely magnified iron crystal cell.
- Global Diplomatic Hub: Housing entities like the EU and NATO, Brussels teems with journalists and diplomats.
What is the most typical Belgian food?
The most typical Belgian food, a true culinary delight that captures the essence of Belgian cuisine, is none other than moules-frites. This iconic dish consists of plump, succulent mussels cooked in a flavorful broth and served alongside a generous portion of crispy golden fries. It is a beloved classic that has become synonymous with Belgian gastronomy.
The mussels used in moules-frites are often sourced from the North Sea, ensuring their freshness and quality. They are traditionally steamed in a fragrant broth made with white wine, shallots, garlic, and herbs, infusing them with a delightful aroma and taste. The mussels are then served in a large pot, allowing diners to savor the communal experience of sharing and enjoying this beloved dish together.
Accompanying the mussels are the famous Belgian fries, a true point of national pride. These fries are meticulously prepared, starting with the selection of the right potatoes, which are then cut into thick, uniform strips. The fries are twice-fried to achieve the perfect balance of a soft, fluffy interior and a crispy, golden exterior. They are seasoned with a sprinkle of salt and served piping hot, providing a delectable contrast to the tender mussels. Moules-frites embodies the essence of Belgian cuisine with its simplicity, yet remarkable flavors. It represents the country's love for fresh seafood, the art of cooking with local ingredients, and the joy of communal dining. Whether enjoyed at a cozy bistro or a bustling street-side café, moules-frites is a must-try dish that encapsulates the rich culinary heritage of Belgium.
What is the best time to visit Belgium?
As with all destinations, the best time to travel to Belgium depends a bit on what you're looking for. Belgian weather can never be trusted, but the nicest time of the year is usually from June until September. I'd recommend to visit anywhere between the second half of May and the end of September if you're looking for nice weather. Any other time is good, if you want to visit the cities in Belgium and don't mind a bit of cold or rain. Visiting Belgium in July can be quite wonderful. It's the time for outdoor dining, sunny cycle rides, picnics in parks, and more. During the summer, travelers can also visit the beaches of Belgium.
What are the best beaches of Belgium?
The beaches of Belgium indeed offer a delightful coastal experience. Listed below are the best beaches in Belgium.
- De Panne: Known for its sand yachting opportunities, De Panne is often considered a favorite beach destination among visitors.
- Knokke-Heist: Located near the Belgium-Netherlands border, Knokke-Heist is a popular coastal resort known for its beautiful beaches and vibrant atmosphere.
- Ostend: As one of the largest coastal cities in Belgium, Ostend offers a wide stretch of sandy beach and a lively promenade with various entertainment options.
- Blankenberge: This coastal town is known for its family-friendly beach and a range of activities, including beach sports and amusement parks.
- Nieuwpoort: Nieuwpoort boasts a long sandy beach and a charming marina, making it a popular destination for both beach lovers and sailing enthusiasts.
There are many other lovely beaches in Belgium. Exploring different towns and resorts will allow you to discover the unique characteristics and attractions of each beach destination.
Where to stay in Brussels, Belgium?
Brussels has a plethora of accommodation options to suit various preferences. Allow me to share with you three notable options for your stay in Brussels.
Firstly, we have the Sleep Well Youth Hostel, which is a budget-friendly choice. This hostel offers dormitory rooms as well as double and triple rooms, all equipped with a desk and a wardrobe. The bathrooms are en-suite, and guests can enjoy amenities such as table tennis facilities, a bar, terrace, and library. Additionally, bike rentals are available for those who wish to explore the city on two wheels. Read reviews on TripAdvisor / Book a room
For a boutique experience, the Art de Séjour B&B is an excellent choice. Located in a 19th-century townhouse in the historical center of Brussels, this B&B offers rooms with a computer, air conditioning, a work desk, and coffee facilities. Breakfast and free WiFi are included, and it's just a short 500-meter stroll to the Grand Place. Read reviews on TripAdvisor / Book a room
Lastly, we have the NH Collection Brussels Grand Sablon, a hotel that offers comfortable rooms equipped with air conditioning, cable TV, and a work desk. Both WiFi and breakfast are included in the stay. This hotel is situated in the Sablon neighborhood, known for its antique shops and charming atmosphere. Read reviews on TripAdvisor / Book a room
These are just a few options to consider when deciding where to stay in Brussels. Each offers its own unique features and amenities, catering to different preferences and budgets. Remember to explore the neighborhoods and areas of Brussels to find the perfect location that suits your needs.
What are the best Christmas markets in Belgium?
In Brussels, the Christmas market expands from the Grand Place until Place St. Catherine, with over 200 stands offering a variety of goods. It also features an ice-skating rink, a Ferris wheel, a light show, and a magnificent Christmas tree. Antwerp's Christmas market is another delightful option, with its location in the heart of the city. It offers a range of stalls, along with attractions such as a Ferris wheel and an ice-skating rink.
Arlon and Mons also have their own Christmas markets, each with their own distinct atmosphere and offerings. Arlon's market is known for its cozy ambiance, while Mons offers a variety of stalls and activities.
These are just a few examples of the Christmas markets in Belgium, and I encourage you to explore further to discover the unique experiences each one has to offer. Remember to plan your visit accordingly, as the markets typically start in mid-November.
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