Belgium is a country often overlooked by many European visitors, but it’s well worth a stop on your travel itinerary. Belgium offers a long and interesting history, some of Europe’s most beautiful architecture, and plenty to see and do – not to mention, friendly locals and relatively affordable prices.
While Belgium is a fairly easy spot for many tourists to navigate, you’ll still want to do some research on your destination before you go. Fortunately, I’m here to help! I’m excited to share a few tips to help you make the most out of your first trip to Belgium.
Here’s what you need to know before you go:
ENGLISH IS A COMMON LANGUAGE. You won’t be overwhelmed by any language barriers in Belgium. Unless you choose to visit towns and villages well off of the beaten tourist-traveled path, you’ll likely find English speakers virtually anywhere you go. This makes navigating public transit, ordering meals at restaurants, and simply getting to know the locals a much more pleasant experience.
GO EASY ON THE ALCOHOL! Belgium is known for brewing up some of the best beers in the world. However, you should always proceed with caution when drinking in Belgium, as many of these well-loved beverages boast an ABV far higher than your typical Coors or Budweiser. Drink too quickly – or on an empty stomach – and you may find yourself spending the afternoon in your hotel room.
YOU SHOULDN’T SKIP OUT ON BELGIUM’S SMALLER CITIES. Many visitors are eager to spend all of their time in Brussels, but after two or three days in the city, you’ve had a chance to experience the majority of it. You can stay in Brussels and take the train to other destinations throughout the country, like Bruges, Antwerp, and Ghent, or you can pack your bags and spend at least a night or two in a different destination. These smaller cities offer a slower pace and allow you to get an even better feel for what it’s like to experience Belgium like a local, even during a short stay.
BE PREPARED TO PAY FOR WATER. Want a glass of water with your dinner? Don’t be surprised when you see it on your bill. Many restaurants in Belgium – especially those in larger cities – will not offer free tap water with your meal, which is a common courtesy many Americans are well accustomed to. This won’t make or break your vacation, but it’s good to know before you arrive, so you aren’t blindsided the first time you sit down for dinner.
DON’T PLAN TO VISIT MUSEUMS ON MONDAYS. In Belgium, many museums and attractions close their doors on Mondays. While there are plenty of other ways to enjoy a day regardless of which city you choose to explore, you don’t want to be caught off-guard, especially if your itinerary doesn’t offer much wiggle room.
While Belgium may sound like a foreign spot for many American travelers, you may be surprised to see how comfortable you feel while you’re there. Equipped with these tips, you’ll be prepared to plan wisely and avoid any unwelcome surprises.