Belgium is far more than just beer, fries and mussels (although the country’s cuisine is a definite draw). Belgium is home to more than 60 Unesco sites, has been home to some of the world’s greatest ever artists, and often surprises visitors with its fascinating and unique cultural highlights.
As one of the low countries of northern Europe, Belgium’s flat landscape is perfect for exploring on two wheels. From the streets of Europe’s unofficial capital at Brussels to the medieval masterpieces of Ghent and Bruges, Belgium’s urban centres are full of incredible historical sites.
Visitors will also be intrigued by Belgium’s split personality. It’s a country of two definite halves, divided down the middle between the Flemish-speaking Flanders in the north and the French-speaking Wallonia in the south. Cycle between these two countries within a country, passing ancient castles and monasteries, caves and rural valleys.
Of course, Belgium is the world’s beer capital too, with a truly astonishing array of styles and tastes to sample. Try Trappist beers, made by monks who have followed the same secret recipe for centuries. The scale of flavours, vintages and strengths is enough to rival any wine destination, with even non-beer drinkers intoxicated by the aromas and history of production.
Belgium’s unusual history has given rise to strange carnivals and gothic imagery, with visitors often stumbling across magical and mysterious events. Of course, Belgium’s past is also closely intertwined with the events of both World Wars. It’s a humbling experience to visit the battle sites at Ypres and Passendaele and remember that it was little over 100 years ago that such colossal tragedies happened here.
The magical forest of the Ardens is home to some exceptional cycling but it was also the site of fierce fighting in World War II. Belgium’s important strategic position straddling central Europe has made it a focal point of much of Europe’s past, both recent and ancient.
Belgium is a country that keeps a low profile, which is just the way the locals like it. With a self deprecating sense of humour, the Belgians don’t like to boast about their unique culture and history, but it’s all there for visitors to discover.
Take in historical sites, a vibrant artistic and cultural heritage and some of the world’s best-preserved architectural masterpieces – washing it all down with the best beer in the world. Belgium makes for an accessible, eventful and mysterious holiday destination.