One of the best kept secrets in Europe, Belgium has a wide raft of attractions including quaint towns, medieval cities, gothic cathedrals, castles, idyllic farmlands and cool coastal resorts. Famous for its chocolates, Belgium also offers gourmet food and has over 400 beers to choose from.
Both Dutch and French are spoken in this multicultural country and there is a small German-speaking minority in the eastern part of the country. Dutch is spoken by the Flemish in the Flanders region; French is spoken in Wallonia, the region of farms and forests.
The currency is the Euro (€), where one Euro is equal to 100 cents. The most common paper currency comes in denominations of €500, €200, €50, €20, €10 and €5. Coins appear in denominations of €2 and €1.
Belgium is seasonal and similar to neighbouring its countries, with warm weather from May to September and snow and wintry weather likely during winter months.
Belgium is packed with a diversity of things to see and do. Architecture in many of the cities is stunning, and worthy of a visit in itself. The countryside is littered with intriguing medieval castles and chateaux looming out of the woods. The Guelle Valley Castle Trail in Liege (south), offers a great opportunity to see an assortment of castles from different eras.
It is a sad fact that Belgium has borne witness to a history of violent conflict, most of it not their own. The Wellington Museum, (Waterloo village) offers a fascinating insight in to the 1815 Battle of Waterloo. The village of Mons in southern Belgium commemorates the vicious World War I battle that took place there with a driving tour of the battlefield and an engaging Museum.
Belgium is covered with beatiful parks, many of which are actually chateaux gardens, perfect for a relaxing afternoon.
Brussels itself plays host to a number of art galleries and unusual museums. Among these the Museum of Musical Instruments offers the visitor the chance to hear the sound of every instrument there, and Brussels Mini Europe features scaled-down models of European capitals and of historical events that have shaped the continent.
- The blood alcohol limit in Belgium is 50mg.
- As with most European countries, you must drive on the right and overtake on the left.
- It is compulsory to carry a warning triangle, first aid kit and a fire extinguisher.
- A motorway tax disc must be displayed, and weekly or monthly versions are available.
- Both driver and passenger seatbelts are compulsory.
- A 'blue zone' parking system operates in major towns, and the discs are available from police, garages and tobacconists.
- Dipped headlights should be used between dusk and dawn.
- Driving with only side lights is illegal, and will attract an on the spot fine, for which an official receipt will be issued.
- Do not park within 15m/50ft of a bus, tram or trolleybus stop or in the immediate vicinity of train and tram lines crossing the road.
- Traffic entering roundabouts has priority, unless signs stating 'cedez le passage,' or 'vous n'avez pas la priorité,’ are displayed.
Food and Drink
Belgian food is heavily influenced by French cuisine. Although each region has its own specialities, butter, cream, wine and beer are a definitive feature in all.
Specialities include: Chips with mayonnaise; Belgian chocolate and Belgian waffles. Local wines are very good, and beer is of course always on offer. National favourites include: Lambic beer – made from wheat and barley and Trappist – fruit favoured beers, such as the cherry flavoured Kreik.
Brussels is certainly the busiest nightlife destination in Belgium. It is a fabulous place to eat out, in terms of sheer volume of restaurants, but also in terms of variety. It also has a diverse yet thriving nightlife. Its ten theatres produce plays in both Flemish and French. There are over 30 cinemas, countless clubs and many night time cafés dotted in and around two main areas - uptown Porte Louise area and downtown area between Place Roger and Place de la Bourse. Good clubs include: Le Crazy and Le Grand Escalier.
In any of the cities in Belgium you will find an assortment of bars and clubs to suit all tastes. Late night licensing laws in the country mean that nights out tend to start (and finish!) late.
Belgium is not only famous for its delicious chocolates - you can also buy ceramics, hand-beaten copperware, crystal, diamonds, jewellery, lace and wood-carvings. The main shopping areas are: Brussels, Antwerp, Bruges, Ostend, Namur, Mons, Liège, Ghent and Mechelen.
Shopping is usually possible Monday to Saturday from 9am to 6 or 7pm. Department stores are generally open for longer, around 9pm on a Friday. Smaller shops may close at lunch.
Tourist InformationTourist Offices Online: www.visitflanders.comwww.belgiumtheplaceto.be Additional Contacts:Tel: (Brochure Line) +44 (0)800 9545 245 Local UK rate phone line Tel: +44 (0)207 537 1132Fax: +44 (0)20 7531 0393 Email: email@example.com
All car hire locations in Belgium
- Antwerp International (deurne) Airport
- Brussels Airport
- Brussels South Charleroi Airport
- Ghent Airport
- Liège Airport
- Medan/kuala Namu International Airport
- Ostend-Bruges International Airport
- Wevelgem Airport