Best Places to Visit in Belgium | Travel Gems!

Belgium may not be the first country that comes to mind when planning a vacation, but it offers an abundance of hidden gems waiting to be discovered. If you’re looking for off the beaten path destinations, unique attractions, and picturesque landscapes, Belgium has it all.

Let’s dive into some of the must-visit locations and tourist attractions that Belgium has to offer. Whether you’re planning a weekend getaway or a longer trip, these travel gems will leave you mesmerized and wanting more.

Best Places to Visit in Belgium

From the historical charm of Bruges to the vibrant city life of Brussels, Belgium has something for everyone. Whether you’re interested in exploring medieval castles, indulging in mouthwatering Belgian chocolate, or immersing yourself in the rich art and culture of the country, there are plenty of things to see and do in Belgium.

The Underrated City of Mechelen

Situated between Brussels and Antwerp, Mechelen is often overlooked by tourists. However, this charming city has much to offer.

Start your exploration by visiting St. Rumbold’s Cathedral, a magnificent masterpiece of Gothic architecture. Climb the tower and be rewarded with breathtaking views of Mechelen and its surroundings.

While you’re in Mechelen, make sure to check out the city’s hidden highlights. Head to Noen for a cup of coffee in a cozy atmosphere, or indulge in delicious seafood-inspired cuisine at Vismarkt.

Take a leisurely stroll through the picturesque streets and discover beautiful historical buildings, like the Palace of Margaret of Austria or the grandiose City Hall.

For art lovers, the Hof van Busleyden museum is a must-visit. Immerse yourself in the rich cultural history of the city and explore its diverse art collection.

mechelen belgium

Amidst the hustle and bustle of more prominent Belgian cities, Mechelen offers a tranquil and authentic experience. So, step off the beaten path and immerse yourself in the hidden gems of Mechelen, Belgium.

Secret Small and Great Beguinages in Leuven

When exploring the charming city of Leuven, don’t miss the opportunity to discover its hidden treasures – the beguinages. Leuven is home to not one, but two beautiful beguinages that offer a glimpse into the city’s fascinating history.

The Grand Beguinage, dating back to the 13th century, is a remarkable UNESCO World Heritage site. Once a self-sufficient community of religious women, it now belongs to the university. As you wander through the cobbled streets and picturesque gardens, you’ll be transported back in time. Admire the charming brick houses, ornate gates, and the tranquil atmosphere that pervades this unique place.

For those seeking a more secluded experience, the Klein Begijnhof is a hidden gem worth exploring. Tucked away on a smaller street, this beguinage offers a peaceful retreat from the bustling city center. Stroll along the narrow lanes, marvel at the well-preserved architecture, and imagine the lives of the beguines who once inhabited these houses.

Both beguinages provide a fascinating insight into Leuven’s past and its cultural heritage. Take your time to explore these off-the-beaten-path locations and immerse yourself in their historical significance.

beguinages leuven

Uncover the History

As you wander through the beguinages, you’ll feel the echoes of the past. These beguinages were not just communities, but also centers of religious devotion. The beguines, women who dedicated themselves to a religious life without the formal vows of a nun, played a significant role in the cultural and social fabric of Leuven.

At the Grand Beguinage, you can visit the museum to learn more about the beguines and their way of life. Discover their daily routines, their work, and their unwavering commitment to faith. The museum offers a fascinating journey into the history of these remarkable women.

While the Klein Begijnhof does not have a museum, the atmosphere itself is a testament to the beguine’s legacy. As you walk through the tranquil streets, you can’t help but imagine the stories that unfolded within these walls.

Escape the Crowds

Leuven’s beguinages are a peaceful respite from the hustle and bustle of the city center. As you explore these hidden gems, you’ll feel a sense of tranquility and serenity. Take a moment to sit on a bench, enjoy the well-maintained gardens, and appreciate the beauty of these preserved architectural treasures.

The beguinages are also a fantastic opportunity for off-the-beaten-path photography. Capture the charm of the cobblestone streets, the vibrant colors of the flowers, and the timeless elegance of the buildings. These picturesque locations are sure to add a touch of magic to your travel album.

So, when in Leuven, venture beyond the well-trodden path and discover the secret beguinages. Immerse yourself in history, enjoy the tranquility, and create lasting memories in these hidden corners of the city.

The Sugar Town of Tienen

Tienen, a small city near Leuven, is a hidden gem in Belgium that offers a unique and off the beaten path experience for travelers. With its rich history and charming atmosphere, Tienen is definitely worth a visit.

One of the highlights of Tienen is its historical significance in Roman ceramics and glass-making. Take a stroll through the city and you’ll discover remnants of its ancient past. Explore the main churches, such as the beautiful Sint-Germanuskerk, a Romanesque church with a UNESCO belfry, and admire their architectural splendor.

No trip to Tienen is complete without stepping foot in the central square. Immerse yourself in the vibrant ambiance of the Markt, the heart of the city. Here, you’ll find quaint cafes and restaurants where you can indulge in traditional Flemish cuisine and savor the local flavors. Don’t forget to try the delectable Belgian waffles and chocolates.

To visualize the beauty of Tienen, just take a look at the image below:

Experience Tienen’s unique charm and immerse yourself in its captivating history. This off the beaten path destination in Belgium is sure to leave a lasting impression on any traveler.

MAS Museum Rooftop in Antwerp

When it comes to experiencing the best views in Antwerp, a visit to the MAS Museum rooftop is an absolute must. Located on the ninth floor, this rooftop terrace offers an unparalleled panoramic outlook of the city. From here, you can marvel at the architectural wonders and stunning skyline that Antwerp is known for.

As you soak in the breathtaking vistas, don’t forget to capture the moment with your camera. The glass panels surrounding the terrace feature small camera holes, allowing you to snap picture-perfect photos without any obstructions. It’s an ideal spot for capturing memorable shots of Antwerp’s skyline, its iconic landmarks, and the winding river Scheldt.

Best views in Antwerp

Visiting the MAS Museum rooftop is like discovering a hidden gem within the city. While many tourists flock to Antwerp’s traditional viewpoints, this rooftop offers a more unique and intimate experience. It’s the perfect spot to appreciate the beauty of Antwerp from a different perspective.

Whether you’re a photography enthusiast seeking the best vantage points or simply looking to soak in the remarkable views, the MAS Museum rooftop should be at the top of your Antwerp itinerary. Plan a visit, and prepare to be captivated by the awe-inspiring scenery that awaits you.

Swap a Shoe for a Beer in Ghent

dulle griet ghent

Experience one of the quirkiest pubs in Belgium, Dulle Griet, in Ghent. This pub allows you to swap your shoe (either foot is fine) and some cash for a beer. Enjoy the warm ambiance, wide variety of beers, and interesting decor. Dulle Griet is located near the famous Ghent Canals and offers a unique drinking experience.

Kasteel van Arenberg in Leuven

Situated on the outskirts of Leuven, the Kasteel van Arenberg is a breathtaking castle that showcases the rich history of Belgian castles. This architectural masterpiece stands as a testament to the grandeur of the past.

While the interior of the castle is not open to the public, visitors can still marvel at its magnificent exterior and explore the beautiful surrounding parkland. The castle’s picturesque setting provides the perfect backdrop for a peaceful picnic or leisurely stroll.

Surrounded by lush greenery, the Kasteel van Arenberg offers a serene escape from the bustling city life of Leuven. It’s an ideal place to unwind, soak in the tranquility, and appreciate the beauty of the Belgian countryside.

Whether you’re a history enthusiast or simply looking for a delightful day trip, the Kasteel van Arenberg should not be missed. It’s a testament to the rich cultural heritage of Belgium and a reminder of the country’s enchanting past.

Explore Leuven’s Castle Heritage

  • Discover other castles in Leuven, such as Kasteel van Horst and Kasteel van Heverlee.
  • Learn about the history of these remarkable structures and the stories they hold.
  • Uncover the architectural marvels of Leuven and immerse yourself in the castle culture.

Leuven’s castle heritage offers a fascinating glimpse into the past. From medieval fortresses to elegant manors, these castles provide a window into the region’s rich history and cultural legacy.

Conclusion

Belgium is a treasure trove of hidden gems and secret spots that truly make it a must-visit destination. Whether you explore the underrated city of Mechelen, discover the beguinages in Leuven, immerse yourself in the rich history of Tienen, enjoy breathtaking views from the MAS Museum rooftop in Antwerp, swap a shoe for a beer in quirky Dulle Griet in Ghent, or admire the majestic Kasteel van Arenberg in Leuven, each destination offers its own unique charm and attractions.

These off the beaten path places showcase the lesser-known side of Belgium, allowing you to escape the crowds and create unforgettable memories. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a nature lover, or a foodie, these hidden gems will captivate your senses and provide an authentic Belgian experience.

So, when planning your visit to Belgium, don’t forget to explore these best-kept secrets. Go beyond the tourist hotspots and venture into the lesser-explored corners of the country. Discover the hidden treasures that await you in Mechelen, Leuven, Antwerp, Ghent, and beyond. Belgium’s hidden gems are waiting to be uncovered, offering a truly unique and immersive travel experience. Start your adventure today!

FAQs

Are there any secret beguinages in Leuven?

Yes, Leuven is home to two beautiful beguinages – the Grand Beguinage and the Klein Begijnhof. The Grand Beguinage is a UNESCO World Heritage site owned by the university, while the Klein Begijnhof is a smaller street with charming brick houses.

What makes Tienen a unique destination?

Tienen, a small city near Leuven, was once at the heart of Roman ceramics and glass-making. Visitors can explore the main churches, soak up the ambiance of the central square, and admire the impressive Sint-Germanuskerk, a UNESCO belfry.

Where can I find the best views in Antwerp?

For stunning views of Antwerp, head to the rooftop of the MAS Museum. The ninth-floor terrace offers panoramic views of the city, and you can capture picture-perfect photos through the small camera holes in the glass.

What is Dulle Griet in Ghent known for?

Dulle Griet is one of the quirkiest pubs in Belgium. Located in Ghent, this pub allows you to swap a shoe (either foot is fine) and some cash for a beer. Enjoy the warm ambiance, wide variety of beers, and interesting decor.

Can I visit Kasteel van Arenberg in Leuven?

Although the interior of Kasteel van Arenberg is not open to the public, visitors can admire the stunning castle from the exterior and explore the surrounding parkland for a peaceful picnic spot.

What are some hidden gems and secret spots in Belgium?

Belgium is a treasure trove of hidden gems and secret spots. Mechelen, Leuven, Antwerp, Ghent, and Tienen are just a few destinations that offer their own unique charm and attractions. Don’t miss these off the beaten path places when exploring Belgium.

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