#01 Beer

With over seven hundred different brews to choose from, picking your way through the beer menus of Belgium’s many cosy cafés is one of the country’s real pleasures.

Things not to miss: Chilling by the river, Belgium.© Pennypayton/Shutterstock

#02 The beach

Like many of the resorts along Belgium’s coast, Ostend boasts a glorious stretch of beach.

Things not to miss in Belgium: Beach at Ostend, Belgium.© Illya Kryzhanivskyy/Shutterstock

#03 Kayaking and hiking in the Ardennes

The Ardennes’ stunning hills and valleys are perfect for a range of outdoor activities, and you don’t have to be a well-equipped expert to have a go.

Things not to miss: Frahan village, river Semois, Wallonia, Ardennes, Belgium.© trabantos/Shutterstock

#04 St-Baafskathedraal, Ghent

Ghent’s centre is a joy to discover, and its cathedral is home to Jan van Eyck’s Adoration of the Mystic Lamb – one of the medieval world’s most astonishing paintings.

Saint Bavons cathedral, Ghent, Belgium.© Alfiya Safuanova/Shutterstock

#05 Museés Royaux des Beaux Arts, Brussels

You’d have to go an awfully long way to beat Belgium’s best art museum, with superb collections ranging from Jan van Eyck, Bosch and Bruegel to Ensor and beyond.

#05 Museés Royaux des Beaux Arts, Brussels

#06 Grand-Place, Brussels

There are beautiful, delicately carved guildhouses in many Belgian towns, but none quite reaches the heights of those in the capital’s main square.

Brussels. The Grand Place© Galina Savina/Shutterstock

 

#07 Musée Hergé

Everyone knows Tintin, and this is an appropriately thoughtful homage to his creator, housed in a magnificent purpose-built structure.

Things not to miss: fox terrier dog miniature toy.© Ankur K Gautam/Shutterstock 

#08 Antwerp’s Cathedral

Perhaps the most beautiful Gothic structure in Belgium, with an interior graced by four fine paintings by Rubens.

Things not to miss: Antwerp with cathedral of our lady taken, Belgium.© Pigprox/Shutterstock

#09 Carnival

Nowhere else in Europe celebrates carnival with the vim and gusto of Belgium. For originality, the pick of the carnival crop is at Binche, Malmedy – and Stavelot, where hooded Blancs Moussis take over the streets.

Things not to miss: traditional cultural costumes of Carnival of Binche, Belgium.© Alexander Narraina/Shutterstock 

#10 Bruges

With its canals, museums and gorgeous medieval architecture, Bruges is without question one of Europe’s most beguiling cities.

Things not to miss: Bruges, Belgium.© thesixthfloor89/Shutterstock 

#11 Moules

Belgian cuisine is second to none, but has none of the pretentiousness of French food – and the national dish, mussels and fries, proves the point.

Moules, Belgium© NeydtStock/Shutterstock

#12 Brussels’ Art Nouveau

The capital’s middle class took to this style of architecture like ducks to water; Victor Horta and Paul Hankar are the names to conjure with.

Things not to miss: Art nouveau, Brussels.© E. Pals/Shutterstock

#13 Menin Gate

World War I was decided on the plain of Flanders, a point hammered home by the interminable names on the hulking mass of the Menin Gate in Ieper – perhaps the world’s saddest war monument.

#13 Menin Gate

#14 Musée Magritte

One of Brussels’ unmissable sights, the Musée Magritte displays the definitive collection of works by Belgium’s most famous modern artist.

Things not to miss: Surrealistic door open on the ocean.© Melanie Lemahieu/Shutterstock

Top image © Sira Anamwong/Shutterstock

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