The home of surrealism, Belgium is a fascinating country, with two languages French and Flemish and two atmospheres to experience. Take in the cobbled lanes of diamond-capital Antwerp and chocoholic Brussels, pausing for a Lambic beer in medieval squares. Escape to the country in the Ardennes' wooded tracks and trails. And make time for the poignant First World War battlefields of Flanders. Be invigorated on the sandy beaches and dunes of the Flemish coast, and the leafy waterways that criss-cross the country. And don't forget to try Belgium's famous beer and chocolate.
Explore the French-speaking Wallonia region located in the south of Belgium. Flemish (similar to Dutch) is the main language in Flanders, which occupies the northern part of the country. You might want to learn a few words but most residents of Brussels speak very good English. A string of resorts and the ports Ostend and Zeebrugge line Belgium's 40 miles of North Sea coastline. Inland, you'll discover picturesque Belgian cities and towns with well-preserved medieval architecture.
Brussels is famous for its swirling Art Nouveau style, epitomised by architect Victor Horta you can even visit his house, la Maison Horta. Close to the capital, the university town of Leuven is packed with breweries, bars and restaurants. Admire Antwerp with its striking Renaissance Old Town, best viewed from the River Scheldt. Savour a fresh seafood meal then have a flutter at the casino in Ostend, which celebrates the fancy-dress Dead Rat Ball every March. Explore the web of canals in romantic Bruges, and the waterways and medieval architecture of Ghent. Or travel south to artistic Lige, the fortified centre of Namur and the gothic splendour of Mons. Pamper yourself in the healing waters of Spa.
Set your own pace and walk or cycle along hundreds of miles of footpaths and disused railway lines in the Ardennes. Enjoy boating along Belgium's canals and waterways. Wander the windswept sand dunes and beaches lining the Flemish coast. Visit the Zwin, nature reserve near Knokke-Heist and enjoy a gourmet meal at a rural restaurant. Contemplate the tragic loss of life at Flanders' World War I battlefields.
Fast Facts - Belgium
Dutch, French and German
GMT + 1 (GMT + 2 in summer)
220V AC, 50 Hz, two-pin plugs are standard
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