Belgium travel | Europe – Lonely Planet

Bruges canals, Antwerp style, decadent chocolate, mussels and chips, belfries and castles, loopy carnivals, Tintin and Trappist beers… how might anybody name Belgium boring?!

Unexpected Riches

Belgium’s greatest attracts are its medieval city cores, house to a bounty of Unesco websites and lots of a pleasant cafe-bar serving a few of the planet’s most interesting beers. But there’s a lot extra, from stalactite-stuffed caves to put up-industrial heritage, forest-edged kayaking rivers and rural chateaux to sandy North Sea seashores. Cutting-edge museums and finely endowed galleries unveil the complicated historical past of what has been a crucible of European artwork, from the Flemish Primitives, by Rubens’ voluptuous nymphs and artwork nouveau’s sinuous curves to weird surrealism, comedian strips and twenty first-century style. Belgium additionally hosts a few of the world’s weirdest carnivals.

Battle Scars

Since at the very least Roman occasions, what we now name Belgium has commonly discovered itself within the path of invaders. Cities have been ravaged and brutal conflicts have raged, not least within the final two centuries. A lion statue atop a conical synthetic hill overlooks the world well-known Waterloo battlefield the place Napoleon was lastly defeated. Seemingly infinite rows of white gravestones in Flanders fields commemorate 4 years of WWI hell. And haunting former jail camps and quite a few museums sensitively honour those that died in WWII, the final throes of which included Hitler’s devastating ‘Battle-of-the-Bulge’ counter-assault within the Ardennes.

Town & Country

Though compact, Belgium is a spot of putting contrasts: linguistic, cultural and topographic. Most of the historic ‘art’ cities lie in predominantly flat, Dutch-speaking Flanders, seducing guests with medieval belfries, magical market squares and step-gabled homes that always overlook fairly city canals. Dotted with very good museums and galleries, these locations are shut collectively and seamlessly interconnected by common public transport. In distinction, regardless of some intriguing put up-industrial cities, a lot of hilly, French-speaking Wallonia is profoundly rural. So it is helpful to have your individual wheels to achieve the area’s spectacular caves, spectacular castles and bucolic valleys, the place there’s infinite out of doors enjoyable available.

Chips, Chocolate & Beer

Prepare so as to add an inch or two to your waistline: Belgium’s outstanding vary of comestible specialities goes far past the nation’s diminutive dimension and is not geared toward weight-watchers. Brussels and Liège compete over what constitutes the right waffle, whereas numerous speciality outlets promote a few of the world’s most luscious candies. Jumbo mussels are served with crispy, twice-fried frites that you’re going to solely name ‘French’ fries at your peril. Then, in fact, there’s beer. Brewing is an nearly mystical artwork in Belgium with a stunning rainbow of various kinds, most notably the six nice Trappist beers, nonetheless created inside energetic monasteries.

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