4 reasons Belgium belongs to your travel bucket list
Happy Belgian National Day! C's motherland appears in it's annual glow as the country celebrates its public holiday. While the country home to French fries and waffles may not be everybody's first destination to visit when planning a European vacation, and is often just treated as European crossover country, yet more, commonly referred to as boring. But there are lots of reasons the country is definitely worth climbing up the ladder of your travel bucket list. It's a country as diverse and cultural as no other. Read on to find out my top reasons to visit Belgium!
Picturesque towns: Antwerp, Bruges, Ghent
Think there is only Brussels worth seeing in Belgium? Wrong. The country has so much more to offer than just it's capital. There's a reason for a city called "The Venice of Belgium" (Bruges). The country has small medieval fairy tale towns all over, surrounding lakes and canals and featuring incredible architecture. These charming cities provide you with everything you could possibly wish for. Think ancient churches and countless bridges in the Flemish jewel Ghent, panoramic views over a 13-century belfry in Bruges, and fashion capital and art centre Antwerp, matching small boutiques, local designers and a great coffee culture. Big plus, they're all just a short train ride away from each other.
Waffles, fries, chocolate or beer, we all know these. Once you've tasted Belgian fries, you will never want to eat them elsewhere. (Trust me, as a Belgian I have tried enough foreign fries in my life and can judge a country by the fries it serves). While Belgium is particularly famous for its junk food, there's far more to its national cuisine than that. Belgium is a true culinary gem. We Belgians like to eat well, and don’t mind putting the effort and time in. We fancy eating out and have a fair share of Michelin stars per capita. Traditional dishes such as vol-au-vent (a small hollow case of puff pastry filled with a combination of chicken, mushrooms, and small meatballs) and carbonade flamande (Belgian beef stew) taste heavenly and are to be found at many taverns. Vegetarians don't have to miss out either, Ghent being considered the Vegetarian capital of Europe, and even one of the best in the world.
Diversity // cultural hub
Think Belgium has only Brussels to offer? Wrong. Belgium is such a diverse country, and from kayaking in the ardennes, catching some rays at the beach to going on a brewery tour across the country, there's something to do for everyone. And not only in terms of activities is Belgium known for its diversity. Equally for technically being split in three and thus having three different national languages – with the Dutch-speaking Flemish in the North, the French-speaking Wallonians in the South and the tiny minority, the German speaking community of the country being located in the East. The capital of Belgium and the European Union, Brussels, is full of migrants from all over Europe and even further, as culturally diverse as it can get.
Fashion & Art revolution
Belgium has recently made a name for itself in the world of couture. Belgian fashion and its designers are having some kind of a moment. The names of Margiela, Demeulemeester, Van Beirendonck and their peers have become known for the avant-garde style their country represents. Their collections can be seen on runways all over the world. Dries Van Noten and Edouard Vermeulen have even recently been awarded a title of nobelity by the Belgian king. Furthermore, next to the Royal Museum for Fine Arts, Antwerp holds one of the worlds finest academies for fashion and art studies, which has produced the likes of Raf Simons and Martin Margiela. They have become some of the most important influencers in fashion history.
Now if that doesn't give you enough reason to visit Belgium then what will? Belgium is the perfect chance to enjoy a break, and you don’t even have to spend that break in Brussels!