Belgium may be a small country in Europe, and perhaps you haven’t even heard of it, but it is certainly worth a visit!
For overseas visitors, it may come as a surprise to find out that the language French is not spoken everywhere. In fact, the biggest part of Belgium (what is called Flanders) speaks a language that is the same as Dutch, but only has slight differences in pronunciation. These Dutch-speaking people will, for the most part, also know other languages such as French, English, Spanish and German.
There are many things to see and do in Belgium. I can strongly recommend some of the regions. The coastal area borders the North Sea. It has nice and broad sandy beaches, and ranges of dunes. When you travel south, you’ll reach the French speaking part of the country and his area is known as the Ardennes. This is an area with hills and forests and ideal for hiking and wild water rafting. Fans of the mountain bike may go to the Flemish Ardennes, which is in the southern part of the province West-Flanders and has some really tough terrain for cyclists!
Overall in Belgium you’ll find testimony to times past. Remember, people already lived in these parts when Caesar conquered Gallia. There are still remains of walls around cities, old castles and fortresses, churches dating back to the Middle Ages. The country Belgium itself
was only founded in 1830. Before that it consisted of different counties, like Flanders, and duchies.
When you visit for the first time, and you can spare a couple of days, I’d urge you to visit at least some of the big cities.
Brussels is the capital, and is world-famous for its beautiful Grand Place (=market place) where tourists from all over the world stand in awe. Also go and see Manneken Pis (a curious statue of a little boy peeing).
In Antwerp you can go to the house of renaissance painter Pieter Paul Rubens, which is restored to its original beauty. There is also the printing museum of Plantijn-Moretus, the castle near the river, Het Steen and for lovers of diamond, there is the Diamond Museum.
The town of Ghent used to be the capital city of the county Flanders and has an imposing keep where the counts resided, called Het Gravensteen. There is also the famous St.Peter cathedral with painting of for instance Van Eyck.
Bruges is in fact an open-air museum. The old town center is kept like it was in the Middle Ages, and you can walk through narrow streets discovering their secrets. Bruges is conveniently situated near the coast (only 15 kilometers) and you can easily reach it by public transport, or hire a bike and ride along one of the picturesque biking routes leading to the coast. Another visit from Bruges may be to the town of Ieper, where you can visit Flanders Field, commemorating World War One. Each evening, the Last Post is being performed at the Ypres Gate.