Belgium is one of those hidden gems that often gets (rudely) overlooked by its more popular neighbors- France, Netherlands and Germany. Considering Belgium’s central location, it’s an ideal location to swing through and stay for a 3-5 day trip. I managed to convince my parents to visit over Thanksgiving break for my mom’s birthday. In their honor- and because I’m craving some frites right now- I wanted to share a very quick (read: RUSHED!) overview of my most recent trip to Bruges & Ghent. I hope you enjoy.
Location: Nestled between France, the Netherlands, and Germany, Belgium is the perfect central location- make it your primary stay or a pip-stop during a European adventure. An ideal stay, in my opinion is about 3-5 days.
Currency: Euro (€)
Language: There are three official languages: French, Dutch and German. Please note that language (and national identity) are a sensitive subject. In the North (Flanders), residents typically speak Flemish (Dutch). In the South (Wallonia), residents speak French. In a small section of the east, residents speak German. To avoid, offending anyone, it’s best to stick to English. And also read up on this history before you go…just to be well informed.
Electric: Type C two-prong plug
Weather: Temperate, though make sure to bring a jacket if you’re traveling in the winter months. That means you, Dad!
Transportation: Within the major cities— Brussels, Ghent, Bruges, Antwerp- you can easily walk from place to place. Between cities, you can easily and unexpectedly travel via train.
Deciding Where to Go:
I’ve only been to three places- Brussels, Bruges and Ghent in Belgium and I’d recommend them all. Brussels, being the capital, has a lot to offer. Bruges (Dutch) or Brugge (French) is one of my favorite cities. This charming UNESCO World Heritage site is filled with cobble-stone alleys, picturesque canals and the most quintessential market squares. It honestly looks like it came out of the set of a medieval fairy tale. Ghent is equally charming- but is much larger and cosmopolitan.
Where We Stayed:
We opted to stay in the most charming medieval hotel the Hotel Ter Brughe. Seriously, our room overlooked a bridge, canal and a tree that looked like it was painted.
Where We Stayed:
Things I Ate & Liked in: (Bruges)
- We had a wonderful Vlaamsche Stooflees (flemish stew) at ’t Gezelleke
- The best beer — and I say this as a none beer drinker— was the house beer at the Staminee de Garre Warning: it does look like you are breaking into a private courtyard. There are no signs at all.
- The waffles at Chez Albert are completely instagram worthy
- If you need a fancy dinner, try the Park Restaurant.
Franz* in front of ’t Gezelleke
G and the best Vlaamsche Stooflees
Waffles from Chez Albert
Fancy Birthday Dinner at the Park
Things We Ate (& Did) in Ghent
- The Best frites (fries) are at Frituur Big Sint-Jacobs
- For handmade, incredible chocolates try: Chocolatier L. Van Hoorebeke
- We had the coolest, local pub experience at Water House on the Bierkant
- Last but not least, my absolute favorite thing that we’ve done— tourist wise— in Belgium is visit the Ghent Altarpiece It’s tucked in a small room in the Cathedral and they do a wonderful audio tour of it’s history (including ALL the times it’s been stolen).
Postscript: I know G is reading this and shaking his head because I named Franz post trip. I tried to convince him that all cars- see Lord Dashell of Steph and my UK+ Ireland Road Trip— need names but he was not convinced. Also, I was tired and not creative.