BARE FACTS: BELGIUM
Sometimes the past is a beautiful thing to look back on and Belgium and its medieval charm is just the place to do so. Almost like stepping back in time, Belgium's cities have kept their architecture and embraced hearty traditions. Belgium has definitely gained a world wide reputation when it comes to their production of beer, chocolate and friend which is reason enough to visit. We loved everything about Belgium from the plethora of sights to see and the great Christmas atmosphere we had walked in to. Whether you can make it down for a day or the whole week you definitely have to go.
VISA WHAT NOTS
Like many countries in Europe, you won't need a visa if you're a tourist staying for a short time. Keep in mind Belgium is part of the Schengen Zone which means you can only stay 90 days out of 6 months in these zones.
Belgium is really easy to navigate and if you book in advance you'll travel cheaply. Most cities can be walked around or take local buses or trains. Venture inter city via Belgium Rail or use Megabus or National Express to get there from the UK.
Belgium is known worldwide for their beer brewing and nearly every city will have a brewery. Don't forget to try their chocolate and frittes (fries) both are delicious and people travel here just to try them..yum!
Be taken back in time to the 15th century where Bruges was the central shipping port for Europe and watch a love story unfold through this interactive exhibition. A true multi sensory experience, you'll enjoy seeing, smelling and touching as history comes alive. Fun, affordable and great for the whole family.
DE HALVE MAAN BREWERY
De Halve Maan brewery is a fun way to pass an hour or so and embrace some of Belgium's beer making culture. You'll learn lots of great facts along the way while you enjoy the charm of the old brewery buildings. You'll get a great view from the roof at the end of the tour and a beer to wash it all down.
Considering this square is at the center of the city, you're bound to run into it-lucky you! The square has so much charm and in summer it's covered in a carpet of flowers. Winter makes it the perfect setting for the Christmas markets and to enjoy a beer whilst people watching.
We love us a good design/boutique hotel and the 9 did not disappoint.Rooms were minimalist and industrial but were soften with beautiful decor. Great proximity to the center of town and for €85 a night it was reasonable for 2 people. Breakfast wasn't included.
HOSTEL DE PASSAGE,
Set in a beautiful art deco building, Hostel De Passage is an interesting place to stay. The owner is quirky but the location is perfect and the adjoining restaurant is mindblowingly good. Bathrooms weren't overly clean but rooms were cosy.
ANTWERP CITY HOSTEL
Modern, colourful and with all the amenities a backpacker could ask for. Located in Grote Markt, the central city square, the location could not be better for sight seeing. They also have their own 'street food' restaurant which is great if you can't be bothered venturing out.
€50-€75 A DAY
With hostel beds coming in at around €20-€30 Euro a night, you won't have a whole lot left over to play with. Buy some food at the markets and munch on frites, kebabs and other little local snack food. Throw in a few meals at local restaurants and avoid touristy places. You'll need to do a good mix of free attractions and just one or two paid sights with this budget. Local train travel is cheap so use a mix of this and walking.
A LIL SWAGGER
€80-€125 A DAY
You can find some decent budget hotels for around €50 per night which will leave you a bit of budget room. Throw in a few more museums and sights and enjoy a few more beers, perhaps even a brewery tour. Try out some local restaurants for a meal a day and buffer the cost with little cafes and food markets.
€150+ A DAY
There is no limit to what you can spend for an opulent stay in Europe but €150 a day will mean you can stay in a nice hotel or Air B & B. You'll really be able to sink your teeth into the culture with this budget and not only get a great grasp of all the local attraction, foods and wines but you will also be able to indulge in Belgium's finer meals once or twice. You'd even enjoy a few cab rides for when you're too full of food to move.
A single bed in a dorm room should cost between €12-29 depending on the occupancy. Hostels are usually very high quality with plenty of amenities and resources.
Basic private rooms will cost anywhere between €40-€70, try a private room in a hostel for the lower end of the scale and consider a room in a Air BnB for a glimpse into local living.
Budget hotels can go from €70+ so do some research and enjoy a little luxury. Alternatively look for an Air Bnb that rents the entire space and enjoy the added bonus of a kitchen to cook in.
Sure it's not a restaurant but when you can get tasty goodies for a few € it's worth mentioning. The tastiest street food are the endless frite shops that will change the way you view the original French fries. Finish the experience off with delectable waffles dripping in sticky sweet sauces. For less than €10 you can you have your cake and eat it too.
Located in Bruges under the Passage hostel, this restaurant puts together beautiful European comfort food at a very reasonable price. Make sure you try the delicious mussels and of course try and maneuver your way through the full rack of ribs complete with fries for a about €15-17. Amazing food and prices make up for the sometimes slow service.
DE KARMELIET RESTAURANT
If you have a spare €250-450 lying around then you could have a 6-course dégustation culinary delight prepared for you at the famous 3 Michelin star restaurant, De Karmeliet. Awarded 3 stars from 1996-2015 there is plenty of reasons to splurge on Geert Van Hecke's brilliant menu. Nestled away in the beautiful city of Bruges, there is no better backdrop for such beautiful creations.
Things get a bit cold and wet in Belgium from October onward which means less tourists. While hotel prices are less it can mean that some sights are closed. Despite the weather, Christmas is a very pretty time to see Belgium's winter markets.
MAY, JUNE & SEPTEMBER
With weather starting to improve this will bring a few more people Belgium's way. Weather is typically clear with some nice sunny days as it heads towards the summer months. Enjoy it being bustling but not jam packed full of tourists.
As with most of Europe, the warm sunny weather brings in peak season with a bang. Enjoy picture perfect weather and extended summer business hours but be warned that you will need to fight off the rest of the mass of tourists.
Belgium used to use to the Belgium Franc but as with most of Europe they'd move to the EURO. The Euro comes in 1c, 2c, 5c, 10c, 20c and 50c coins and €5, €10, €20, €50, €100 and €200 notes.
Belgium is a rather multilingual country with the main languages spoken being French, Dutch and German. Flemish is the local dialect of Dutch spoken in the area and English is also widely spoken and understood.
Belgians usually greet new people with a formal handshake. Once acquainted, a customary three kisses on the cheek may take place.