Best Weekend & Day Trips from Brussels within Belgium

Brussels is so very well known! Ofcourse its the capital of European Union. More often than not, when people visit Brussels, esp., the expats living in Brussels for a short period, go on a day trip to Antwerp, Brugge and Ghent. After that, nothing else.......... Then they begin to visit places out of the country - Paris, Amsterdam etc. So, here are some exquisite places to visit in Belgium, perfect excursions from Brussels that can be done as weekend trips from Brussels or day trips from Brussels by train, which you should consider visiting before heading to other countries.


TOP 18 BEST WEEKEND & DAY-TRIPS FROM BRUSSELS
The most beautiful places in Belgium

1. YPRES (IEPER) - WEEKEND TRIP FROM BRUSSELS
The place that made me the most emotional. Personally I'd say this is the most important place to visit in Belgium. Read about the World War cemeteries there, and esp., about the cemeteries of Indian soldiers. Then ofcourse there's the Flanders Fields Museum in the UNESCO Site of Cloth Hall. A walk around the city to see some more sites is definitely recommended.

2. MONS - WEEKEND TRIP FROM BRUSSELS
Mons is a city that pleasantly surprised me! It has so much to see & do. While Mons itself has the UNESCO listed Belfry & the very fascinating paper Google concept and some quirky things like a iron monkey, more fascinating things are in the outskirts. One is the Neolithic (new stone-age) flint mines in Spiennes where you get to go inside the mines underground with a ladder! Another are Bois du Luc & Grand Hornu, 2 of the 4 major Coal mines which in now defunct. Another is the fantastic boating trip that touches the century old boat lifts!

3. DINANT - LONG WEEKEND, WEEKEND or DAY TRIP FROM BRUSSELS
The birth place of Leffe beer! You get to go underground into the Le Merveilleuse caves and get pulled with a winch atop the hill to Dinant Citadel. This little town in the birthplace of Saxaphone. In the outskirts of Dinant is one of the most fascinating places in Belgium. Its a whole day trip by itself - Domain of the cave of Han (Domaine des Grotte de Han). While its wildlife park is great, the sound & light underground in the cave is mindblowing! If you're an adrenaline junkie, this is the place for you - Dinant Evasion.


4. NAMUR - 
WEEKEND or DAY TRIP FROM BRUSSELS
Like Dinant, Namur too has a fascinating Citadel whose underground tour is a must. Ofcourse a walk around the city, a visit to the strawberry museum are good. If you're an adrenaline junkie, you could do speed boating or wake surfing. If you visit during spring-autumn, don't miss the Rail bikes de la Molignée & Jardin d'Annevoie, between Namur & Dinant. I'd say Dinant itself, is kinda the outskrits of Namur. 

5LIEGE - WEEKEND or DAY TRIP FROM BRUSSELS
Liège city has quite a few things to do including the architectural marvel of Liège Guillemins railway station, 12th C bronze sculpture that's considered one of the 7 wonders of Belgium etc. In its outskirts are Blegny Coal Mine, the only one where you can go inside the mine!!! On the other direction, in the outskirts are Prehistomuseum (a day-trip by itself including caves, fire making with flints & more) and Val Saint Lambert Crystal Discovery (where you can see the process of making glass & crystal)!

6. SPA - WEEK-LONG, LONG WEEKEND or WEEKEND TRIP FROM BRUSSELS
The nature lover's paradise! Hiking the Ardennes Hills here is such a delightful thing to do. There are more than 70 way-marked trails. Apart from that, there's the Spa Francorchamps F1 Grand Prix race course here as well as a splendid Skydiving Spa!


7. WATERLOO
- QUICK DAY TRIP FROM BRUSSELS
The last battlefield of Napoleon Bonaparte. Today, there are 7 spots to see in this site including the Lion's Mound!

8. TOURNAI - DAY TRIP FROM BRUSSELS
While you can walk around the city, the humongous Notre Dame cathedral is just fascinating! If you're with kids, don't miss the Natural History Museum. Toddlers find this Tournai one more relatable than the one in Brussels, which is more suitable for older children. 

9. CHARLEROI - DAY TRIP FROM BRUSSELS
There are 3 main things to do in Charleroi - Belfry (which is one of the 56 belfries listed by UNESCO), Bois du Cazier coal mine (which is one of the 4 coal mines listed by UNESCO) and a short ride to the outskirts to the very picturesque ruins of Thuin Abbey.
  
10. DURBUY - WEEKLONG, LONG WEEKEND or WEEKEND TRIP FROM BRUSSELS
This little town is considered the smallest city in the world, but it has so much to do including a maze made of plants, a stone-age dolmen and so much more! This city is also the home to Radhadesh - Iskcon temple in Belgium. 3 of the 30 most beautiful places in Belgium (plus beaux villages de Wallonie) are located close to Durbuy, one of which is also the best preserved megalithic site in Belgium.


11. MECHELEN 
- QUICK DAY TRIP FROM BRUSSELS
Mechelen has a belfry & beguinanges, but more importantly it has Het Anker Brewery where Gouden Carolus is manufactured! In its outskirts is the Winter Garden of Ursuline Nuns which has some exquisite stained glass windows!

12. HASSELT - WEEKEND or DAY TRIP FROM BRUSSELS
The most important place here is the very beautiful open air museum of Bokrijk. Its a Flemish village, frozen in time, a few centuries ago... Very unique feature here is the possibility to bike between water and even over the trees! By chance if you're planning to visit in July, don't miss the lavender fields at Limburg Lavedel Belgium and within the city is Europe's largest Japanese Garden as well. 

13. LEUVEN - QUICK DAY TRIP FROM BRUSSELS
Leuven, like Ghent, is a youthful city, thanks to the university. Leuven Library is a definite must-visit. A walk around the city to see the unique street art & sculptures is a must and so is going on a tour of Stella-Artois brewery! You could do either Stell-Artois brewery tour or Town Hall tour that happens at the same time! A short cycle ride away from Leuven takes you to the vineyards & wine region of Flemish Brabant with an option of wine-tasting of some best Belgian wines.

Unique international border Baarle Hertog

14. BAARLE HERTOG 
- DAY TRIP FROM BRUSSELS
Well the best way to explain this would be with Google Maps! That's bits & pieces of Belgium inside Netherlands with a very complicated border with several enclaves! Today the border runs in the middle of houses and businesses!!! 

15. HALLE & SONIAN FOREST - MULTIPLE DAY TRIPS FROM BRUSSELS
There are 5 way-marked trails & entry points with tourism offices in Sonian Forest. So far I've been only through Groenendaal Trail and Chateau de la Hulpe Trail. Halle, on the other hand, is best visited during April for Hallerbos - when the Bluebells are in bloom!

16. VENNBAHN-PAD - WEEKEND or DAY TRIP FROM BRUSSELS
Like Baarle-Hertog, this area again has the enclave situation but with just 5 enclaves of Germany in Belgium! Or in other words, the historic, Vennbahn railway line, splits small bits of Germany from mainland Germany. Today the railway line is defunct and there's a dedicated biking path along the line. So essentially, you're cycling in Belgium, but on either sides of you, is Germany!!! I'm yet to go here...

17. TONGEREN - WEEKEND or DAY TRIP FROM BRUSSELS
Did you know Tongeren is the oldest city in Belgium! This was called Aduatuca Tungrorum, the capital city of the Roman Province of Civitas Tungrorum in 1st C CE. There's a lot of historic Roman sites to see all over Tongeren and its surroundings. There are the UNESCO listed Belfry & Beguinage here as well. 

18. BORGLOON - DAY TRIP FROM BRUSSELS
This little town is located half-way between Tongeren & Sint-Truiden. There's a unique church here called Doorkijkkerk (which literally means see-through church)! As the name says, its made of strips of metal sheets, making the whole church see-through!!! Again I'm yet to visit here!

19. ROCHEFORT - WEEKLONG, LONG WEEKEND or WEEKEND TRIP FROM BRUSSELS
Located close to Caves of Han, the little town of Rochefort has another cave called Cave of Lorette which has a unique interior hot-air-balloon inside the caves. Close to it are the Rochefort castle as well as Malagne - Archéoparc de Rochefort. 

20. TORGNY
Also one of the 30 plus beaux villages de Wallonie, located in the southern-most tip of the country! This is in the Gaume region that's in a lower altitude than Ardennes. I'm yet to visit here...

21. BOUILLON
Not only there's a castle, but there's the Tomb of Giant. Cycling in this region is something I'm hoping to go cycling here soon.
 

People crowd to this city to see its landmarks - the pissing boy of Manneken Pis, Atomium & Grand Place.... Here are some more things to see & do in this city!
1. Museums - Musical Instruments Museum, Cinquantenaire Museum, Hallepoort (part of the 14th C City Fortification wall)
2. Floralia Brussels - Belgian Tulip Festival (ofcourse, its in bloom only in Apr & May)
3. Flower Carpet or Flower Time - Again applicable only if you're here in mid-August, for both happen only for 3 days every alternate years! Here's about Flower Carpet 2016, Flower Time 2017 and Flower Carpet 2018!
4. Jeanneke & Zinneke Pis - While the pissing boy is famous, here are also the not-so-famous sister & dog!
5. Koekelberg Basilica - One of the 2 very unique architecture for a church that I've seen. This is Art Deco architecture! If you're curious, the other is La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona with its Art Nouveau architecture.
6. Comic Strip Walk - With 2 museums dedicated to Comics & a gazillion murals, being the birthplace of Tintin & Smurfs, the Brussels comic strip walk here needs a whole day and lots of energy!!!

Train Travel in Belgium SNCB

TRANSPORTATION IN BELGIUM

Belgium is very well connected by trains. There are 2 interesting aspects of Belgian Rail that I would like to point out - Weekend Internet ticket & B-Excursion. The process to book a Weekend Internet Ticket is like usual online ticket booking and the end of the steps, one of the options is this, which is 50% off from standard pricing applicable for travels from Friday 7:00PM to Sunday midnight. Discovery Combi (earlier called B-Excursion) is a combination of train ticket + entrance ticket of certain attractions/festivals. This is listed in a separate page within their site. This works out cheaper than separately buying the tickets, esp. more so, in midweek. Some sites incl. Caves of Han, Bokrijk, Pairi Daiza, Dinant etc. Read more about various other cheap Belgium train tickets that can be bought by residents & tourists alike. 


UNIQUE HOTELS TO STAY IN BELGIUM

1. Dream Hotel, Mons - It was a church!
2. La Merveilleuse, Dinant - It was a convent!
3. Hotel Neuvice, Liege - It was 3 houses of 18th C!
4. Hotel Les Tanneurs, Namur - It was a part of city fortification in 14th C!
5. Hotel Prinsenhof, Brugge - It was 2 houses in early 20th C!
6. Ghent River Hotel, Gent - It was a house of 16th C which was then a cotton mill in 19th C!

Here's your ultimate travel inspiration to explore around Belgium. To begin with, click the below images to enlarge them, take a print out of this Belgian Bingo (EN), Belgische Bingo (NL) or Bingo Belge (FR) and put it up on your fridge or the pin-board of your desk. Start checking-off one by one...
Browse up, to see more details about these places as well as the links to read the articles in detail about each & every place (well... most! I'm yet to do a couple more) mentioned here.
Let me know once you've done it all. Send me some pics and I'll be happy to share them on my FB page & Insta. Also, I'll give you some more places to check-off!!!

Places to see in Belgium - Belgian Bingo

Plaatsen om te zien in België - Belgische bingo

Lieux à voir en Belgique - Bingo Belge (FR)


3 comments:

  1. Wow, now I have to say, I did not know there are so many lovely places to visit from Brussels, I have only heard of (as you mention), Antwerp, Brugges and Ghent. I am planning on visiting Belgium in December, although I haven't finalised the plan yet, for Christmas markets. Looks like I can add a couple of these off beat day trips to my plan, especially Spa, I am a nature lover myself and would love to do some hiking. I just hope it isn't too cold at the time!

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  2. I live and work in Ghent. I believe this is some gold digging info. Kudos to you for sharing this. At least 3-4 places are added to my bucket list and will visit before the year end. Hope these places are a photographer's paradise too.

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  3. thanks. Lovely to visit some places again, and regret of not reading your blog before visiting Belgium.

    ReplyDelete

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