Wanting to go for a short vacation in Europe, here’s where you can visit- BELGIUM.
Tiny county neighbouring to France is squeezed in between the top tourist destinations like London, Paris, Amsterdam when it comes to Europe holidays. But Belgium truly has a lot to offer to the travellers.
Apart from live size comic strips, fries, beer, waffle and of course chocolates. Walking though the city with string lighting hanging above the cobbled street feels like magic.
I am no expert when it comes to travel, on this post I share my family’s travel experience in Belgium and the itinerary we followed. My family and I visited Belgium in the month of October for my 21st Birthday and trust me when I say it has been the best birthday ever!
If you are visiting Belgium for the first time, like we were, and are not sure where to start with planning your trip, then this post is for you. I have made this four- and five day itinerary that bring you to the most beautiful places in Belgium.
My recommended four days itinerary include the capital city go Belgium, Brussels and beautiful towns, Ghent and Bruges. If you have an extra day to spare you many also visit Antwerp, however we didn’t visit there.
DAY 1 -ARRIVE IN BRUSSELS.
Considering, we were travelling from Mumbai, India, we took a direct about a 8hr 30mins long flight from Mumbai to Brussels. I recommend taking flights or trains (for people traveling from neighbours countries) which arrive in Brussels after 13:00 as most of the hotels and AirBnb have check in after 15:00 in Belgium. By this you wouldn’t have to wait long.
We arrived at Brussels Airport at 14:00 and took a cab to the city centre where we had booked our Airbnb for 4 nights. The public transport in Belgium is fairly good and economical however when you are family of 4, the cost of cab and public transport turns out to be the same. Our cab costed about 70 euros from airport to the city centre.
We stayed in an Airbnb, as a family a 2 bedroom apartment was a much better option than tiny European hotel rooms. Plus there are a ton of AirBnbs to rent throughout the city. A lot of the time, hosts will offer you great directions and recommendations for your time in the city when in AirBnb.
We always like to keep the first day every light, with not much planned to do, since the body is a little tired with the travel (if you took a long flight like we did to reach).
However, we where staying very close to the biggest and busiest shopping street in Brussels, Rue Neuve. Lucky to have found an Airbnb with such a good location. We spent the evening of our first day in Brussels, shopping and eating amazing waffles and fries sold on the same street.
If in case you are arriving in Brussels by train and aren’t much tired. You can use this day to visit the city of Antwerp.
DAY 2- VISIT GHENT
Ghent is the perfect place to spend the day wandering along cobblestone streets. Everywhere you turn in this town it looks like it was ripped from the pages of a story book. Moreover Ghent is incredibly picturesque with canals running through, a giant castle, and beautiful cathedral’s .
Starting with the travel to Ghent, main train station is Gent-Sint-Pieters, which is 30mins away from the central station in Brussels. I recommend taking the 10 journey pass, it can be used by everyone in the family. For instance, we brought a rail pass (mom and dad) and a go pass 10 ( my brother and I). Summing to a total of 136 euros.
Next, after arriving at Gent-Sint-Pieters station you can easily walk or take the above-ground tram into the city centre. Don’t forget to take the free city map at the train station!
I personally love to walk around new places as it gives you an opportunity to explore more about the place.
After reaching the city centre here’s what you can do:
1. Gravensteen Castle
As you walk around the city, you can’t miss Gravensteen Castle. It sits right on the corner of the road like any other building, but it’s grandeur is unmissable. Take in the sights from the perimeter or take a tour through in the inside for 10 euros.
2. Saint Michael’s Bridge
The Saint Michael’s Bridge connects two sides of Ghent and it is the only place in the city you can see Saint Bavo’s Cathedral, Saint Nicholas’ Church, and the Belfry Tower at the same time. Perfect photo place!
3. Graffiti Street
Walk through this hidden alleyway to see walls covered in creative graffiti and if you are feeling inspired, you can buy a can of spray paint and add to the art. The only rule is you can only cover the current graffiti if you can make it better.
4. Canal Tour
A canal tour is a great and efficient way to see the city. You can take a tour for around 7 euros. We didn’t go for it as we had already planned for it in Bruges.
5. Medieval Towers of Ghent
Saint Bavo’s Cathedral was built over a thousand years ago and is free to visit, but be sure to check the visiting hours online before you go.
6. Saint Nicholas’ Church
It is architecturally beautiful and is free to enter. Climb to the top of the Belfry Tower (8 Euros) for an epic view of the city.
Ghent is littered with all kinds of museums from the Dr. Guislain Museum, to the Design museum, to the museum of fine arts, to Museum Arnold Vander Haeghen. Be sure to check the websites for entrance fees and opening hours. My family and I are not into museums so we gave it a skip.
DAY 3 – VISIT BRUGES
The main train station is Brugge , which is 60mins away by rail from the central station in Brussels. After arriving to the station visit the Market square. Grote Markt is the large square in the centre of Bruges. Outlined by multicoloured buildings and filled with carnival games and booths, this square is truly the heart of Bruges.
It is 20 minutes walking from the train station or 5 minutes if you take a bus to the Market square. In front of the train station you will find buses and taxis. You can take any bus that says CENTRUM (or MARKT) on top of the bus. They will stop on the central Market Square, which is the third bus stop from the train station. You can buy your ticket in the ticket shop, that’s the small building next to the bus stop: 1.20 Euros per person for a single trip. We choose to walk till the market square and trust me, it was the best walk ever. Wandering along the cobblestone streets and alleyways of this city is a great way to pass time.
Once you are in the Market square here’s what you can do:
1. City tour
There are 3 options to tour the city.
- Bus ride- which is approx 20 euros per person for a 15 mins ride.
- Horse carriage ride- which is approx 50 euros per person for a 30 mins ride.
- Walking- Wandering along the cobblestone streets and alleyways of this city is a great way to pass time. The good news is, Bruges is insanely walkable, and with all its main monuments and sights packed tightly into a small city centre, you’re able to explore to your heart’s content without getting totally worn out. We choose to walk and discover the place at own pace.
2. Canal tour
Bruges is often called the Venice of the North, as canals run through the whole city. Moreover, it’s the best way to learn some history and get a great view of all the beautiful neighbourhoods from the water. In other word, you can’t go to Bruges without experiencing a boat ride along its world-famous canals. The ride is for approx 30-40 mins for just 8 euros per person.
3. Belfry Tower
Go up this medieval clock tower for a great overall view of the city and Grote Markt.
The view from this bridge is one of the most photographed spots in the world. You will most likely pass by it as you walk around, so be sure to stop to snap a pic.
5. Take a brewery tour at De Halve Maan
The tour cost 10 euros per person. The guide was hilarious, and it’s a really fun experience overall to see where one of the country’s most famous products is made. At the end of the tour, you’ll of course be rewarded with a glass of Brugse Zot beer for your efforts. Also they have a really good cafe for lunch.
DAY 4- ROAM AROUND BRUSSELS
Brussels is a tiny city and incredibly walkable. Save money on public transportation and just walk everywhere! Our plan for this day was to just wander around the city and when do that you are bound to come across some of the main highlights.
1.Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert
Walk through this beautiful hall of luxury shops for the ultimate window shopping experience. The Galleries are also home to a few of the world best chocolate shops that are definitely worth the visit.
2.Comic Strip Walls
Brussels is the birthplace of iconic comics like the Smurfs and Tintin. In honor of these and many others, you will find comic strip murals all over the city. Start at the Comic Book Centre, and make your way around the comic book route to try to catch them all.
3. See the Statues
Hidden throughout the city are some iconic little statues that you have to see to believe me. There are three in total, and they have something special in common; Mannekin Pis, Zinneke Pis, and Jeanneke-Pis. You will undoubtedly pass all three as you walk around the city, but be sure to keep your eyes open or you might miss one.
4. Walk Around the Grand-Palace Sqaure
Lastly, The Grand-Palace Square is the stunning centre of the city. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site and has been the home to countless historical events.
DAY 5- TRAVEL BACK
Since we had our flight around 11:30am back to Mumbai, we ate our breakfast at The Coffee Club which was close to our AirBnb apartment and headed to the airport. Our Uber costed us around 80 euros this time, nevertheless it was the best option when you have lot of luggage.
Now, that’s the end to my beautiful travel blog. I really hope you liked my itinerary for 5 days in Belgium and it helps you plan your trip. Comment below if you have already been to Belgium and would like to update me about any interesting place which I have missed. Also, let me know if you want me to share my other travel itineraries.
Happy Summer Holidays!