The most beautiful cities in Belgium to see: travel between Flanders and Wallonia
Who wants to do a trip in Belgium he will certainly think of going to the discovery of the most famous – and beautiful – destinations like Brussels, Antwerp, Gent or Bruges. But this little big country has many other pearls to offer to those who want to get out of the more predictable path by passing through West Coast at Flandersfrom the Limburg to the area Vallona. With many surprises awaiting. So here is a guide to most beautiful cities in Belgium to be seen. And often all to be discovered.
The most beautiful cities in Belgium: medieval palaces and beer
Our itinerary starts from Veurnean idyllic town that seems lost among the fields of Flanders westerners but which instead is a kind of catalog of the most beautiful ancient buildings of the country and a favorite destination for architecture enthusiasts. As it often happens Grote Marktthe town square, is the main hub of Veurne and it hosts many of its most interesting places as well as it is logical in settlements that have a history that goes back to the Middle Ages. Here you find for example the Belfortthe octagonal bell tower of 1628, a World Heritage Site, which houses the tourist office and allows you to see the city from above.
Behind Grote Markt, in the small and pretty Walburga Parkthere is the imposing church of St-Walburgakerk, which shows the many stratifications due to the centuries but also contains much venerated relics. The most famous is a fragment of the cross of Jesus. Let yourself be told about the many local legends: you will be fascinated.
Dinant, on the banks of the Meuse
Our tour of the most beautiful cities of Belgium leads us to Dinantundoubtedly one of the most picturesque in the region of Wallonia. Dinant is nestled in the winding valley of the river Meuse– which runs for 925 km through the Francethe Belgium and theHolland – and its splendid buildings seem straight out of a fairy tale. The origin of the city, which is located in the province of Namuris medieval but over time it has become famous for a series of other curious reasons: here one of the Belgium’s most famous beersthe Leffe, and is the hometown of Adolphe Sax, the inventor of the saxophone. During a stopover try the Couques de Dinant: they are biscuits made of honey and flour and with an infinite series of shapes.
The most beautiful cities in Belgium: flavors in the hills
Proudly regarded by its inhabitants as one of the smallest cities in the world Durbuy has had its city status since the 14th century. The beauty of the place is not given only by the picturesque surrounding green hills but also by the signs left by man such as the 9th century castle overlooking the Ourthe river and the network of narrow cobbled streets in which to stop to taste one of the local beers. One of the options is to take a canoe trip on the current to see what is around the village.
Always among the hills, those of the eastern countryside of Belgium in the province of Liegewhere it is nice to drive among herds of grazing cows and sheep and where it is not even unlikely to see the majestic race of a deer, check the city of Herve. The rural landscape is what makes this place extraordinarily beautiful and it is pleasant to fill your eyes with the colors and the slowness of life away from the hectic cities. But there are also special flavors: Herve is known for its creamy yellow cheese which is often added to soups to enrich their flavor, or simply spread on a slice of toast for a robust snack.
The most beautiful cities in Belgium: caves and battles
With its many spiers and medieval castle ruins, it’s no wonder that La Roche-en-Ardenne is one of the most visited cities of the Ardennes. Settlements dating back to Neolithic but a Celtic archaeological site very ancient.
For centuries the town’s fame has been based on the production of a fruit and honey based liqueur which is highly appreciated but a few kilometers north of the city it is possible to visit the caves of Hotton reaching 75 meters deep in the heart of the Ardennes which, however, have experienced devastation in the recent past. You can understand this by visiting the Battle of the Ardennes Museum which evokes the fierce fighting in the offensive of December 1944 during which it destroyed 90% of the city of La Roche and which led to the death of 114 of its inhabitants.
The small and pretty Mons
The journey through the most beautiful cities of Belgium now leads to Monsa university town and capital of the Hainau provincet. The name of the city derives from the Latin Montes even if in reality it is only a hill. Despite the lack of extraordinary monuments, Mons is undoubtedly one of the most pleasant cities in Belgium, thanks to its architectural homogeneity, its clean streets and pleasant atmosphere. The most important building is certainly the St. Waltrude church which took two centuries to finish.
Other things to see are linked to the history of Mons as a place of pilgrimage and this explains why around its cobbled streets there are so many churches, chapels, convents or abbeys. But there is also something secular: it is the 15th century bell tower of the town hall 87 m high, erected in 1661. The bell tower is the only one in the Baroque style in Belgium, is UNESCO heritage and, curiosity, it houses a youth hostel at its feet.
The most beautiful cities in Belgium
If you want to discover the most beautiful cities of the Belgium towards the sea is definitely a Ostend that you have to go. This is in fact the only real city on the coast even if the dimensions are small since it has less than 70 thousand inhabitants. Directly connected with Brussels by train, Ostend was born from the dream of King Leolpold II who wanted to give life to one fashionable seaside resort. In the last years of the 19th century, Ostend rivaled Monte Carlo, Brighton or Deauvilleand it was the place loved by the aristocracy who competed to be seen in what was called the “Queen of the Belgian beaches“. And even Queen Victoria crossed the English Channel to rest in Ostend in 1834.
The two world wars gave Ostend a hard blow and today the city has lost much of its past glory, but it’s still worth a visit for its nightlife and museums. The painter James Ensor he lived in Ostend from 1917 until his death, and his house can still be visited. If he loves art then don’t miss the Museum of Modern Art, dedicated to the Belgian painters of the twentieth century, and the Museum of Fine Arts, which owns many works by Ensor, among others. And finally, go to the beach to enjoy the spectacle of the North Sea, the wind and fishermen on horseback with baskets of shrimps.
The most beautiful cities in Belgium
A journey through the most beautiful cities of Belgium cannot avoid a direction towards Spa, the town between the hills and forests of the Ardennes, which already from the name reveals its origin as a spa town. Spa in fact prides itself on having one of the oldest spas in the world And among the most famous in Europe. And here it arose the first casino in the world. Its thermal waters were already known in antiquity but it was only at the end of the 1700s that it became a top-class destination loved by the rich and powerful like the Tsar Peter the Great of Russiathe emperor Joseph II of Austria or the king Leopold II of Belgium but also loved by writers like Victor Hugo or Alexandre Dumas who came to pass the waters at Spa.
Even today the brand new ones Thermes de Spa they offer a complete catalog of swimming pools, Turkish baths, mud baths and therapies of all kinds. There are a few other museums in town and it is possible to rent mountain bikes for nice rides in the wooded countryside.
Rochefort, the medieval city of beer
We conclude the journey among the most beautiful cities of Belgium with the famous Rocheforta kind of peace retreat in a pastoral context on the banks of the Lomme River. Rochefort is a medieval city that has lost some of its old charm as it has been the scene of frequent conflicts, particularly during the Second World War.
The Rue de Behogne is the main life of the city and leads up to the ruins of the Chateau Comtal, a medieval castle on top of a hill. But you don’t come here just to admire the ancient stones: there are good hotels and restaurants here that make it a convenient base for exploring the region. Not only that: here beer is king. Production has been certified since 1595 and Rochefort is renowned for his Trappist beer. Fans from all over the world thank and toast.