Holidays in Belgium: A Short Introduction
You get the best of two worlds in Belgium. The north of the country is Flemish, while the south is French-speaking. Small wonder it?s the heart of the EU. Here, you can cut through the European red tape to sample beer, chocolate and other Belgian delights. Here are 10 great reasons to visit Belgium to help start your holiday planning.
A jester throws toy cats down from the belfry of Ieper on the second Sunday in May. Meanwhile in a parade, a few dozen floats and 2,000 actors present the role of the cat in history, literature, and folklore. This is the famous Cat festival of Belgium, an event which takes place every 3 years. It is just one of the surprises to await the visitor who expects simple normality in this country which is often perceived as straight-laced as befits a city at the heart of EU sobriety.
You get the best of two worlds in Belgium. The north of the country is Flemish, while the south is French-speaking. Small wonder it?s the heart of the EU. Here, you can cut through the European red tape to sample beer, chocolate and other Belgian delights.
Here are 10 great reasons to visit Belgium to help start your holiday planning.
Belgium is a place that buzzes with cutting-edge design and a contemporary lifestyle, while retaining age-old traditions. You can be sitting in an old-fashioned coffee shop one minute and admiring the latest fashions in a trend-setting boutique the next. The country also has a quirkiness that never ceases to amaze - from cheeky statues to weird and wonderful festivals.
Cities: Brussels, with its stunning Grand Place and art nouveau heritage, and picture-perfect Bruges, with its pretty canals and medieval buildings, are the shining stars - but it is also worth discovering trendy Antwerp, historic Liege and quaint Ghent.
Chocolate: Forget the diet and enjoy some of the richest, smoothest chocolate to be found anywhere. Wherever you go in Belgium, you won't have to look far. The country has more than 2,000 tempting chocolate shops.
Beer: Tickle the taste buds with over 400 different types of beer. Some of the best is made by Trappist monks.
Dining: Local favourites include waffles, mussels, and chips with mayonnaise. Gourmets are spoilt for choice. The country boasts more Michelin star-rated restaurants per head of population than France.
Battlefields: Famous battlefields such as Passendale and vast cemeteries such as Tyne Cot are sober reminders of the Great War. The Last Post is sounded every evening at the Menin Gate in Ypres, where the excellent In Flanders Fields museum tells the story of the region's role in World War I.
Beaches: Have some family fun at over a dozen seaside resorts along the coast of Belgium. Top spots include Ostend and Knokke.
Art: Belgium's great artistic heritage is reflected in the grand masters and also in famous cartoon characters. Rubens and Van Dyck lived in Antwerp. Brussels has museums dedicated to Magritte and comic-strip heroes such as Tintin.
Fashion: Funky Antwerp is the capital of cool. Home to one of Europe's leading fashion schools, the city boasts designer boutiques as well as stylish restaurants, bars and clubs.
Countryside: Head for the hills of the Ardennes and explore dense forest and deep valleys. Take a hike or bike ride through wooded trails or try the excitement of canoeing and paragliding.
Continuous availability of bargain flights to Belgium - plus rail too - is another reason to consider a visit to this great country of constant surprises.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jimi St. Pierre, in collaboration with travel correspondent Penny Church, writes for the map-based holiday destination and flight finder Travelwhere. On Travelwhere's website you can find cheap flights to Belgium along with a wealth of additional information - including the package holiday brochures of specialist tour operators to Belgium.