This winter instead of heading back to Canada for Christmas, I have a whole month to travel. I’m choosing to spend my time in Belgium. I’ve noticed that Belgium isn’t a place normally featured on many travel blogs.
This only made me want to explore it more. There is so much I don’t know about this tiny country, and also so much to see. I have never backpacked before, so I am hoping Belgium will be kind and welcoming to me as a first time solo traveler.
I will be staying in the cheapest hostels and with friends, trying to travel as inexpensively as possible. I’ll let you know how this works out!
Below is my planned travel route, although I’m not particular to any order. I simply put together the cheapest way to travel by train. I consider myself a relatively slow traveler compared to friends. I like to spend a lot of time in a city and get to know it.
I don’t like missing anything, because then I feel the urge to return and make up for it. I’m not trying to take in the whole of Europe because I plan to return in the future and live in other European countries, such as Spain or Italy.
Belgium is a small country that I felt I could somewhat conquer in a month. In no way will I have seen everything Belgium has to offer, but I might be able to get a grasp of it. I may hit or miss the cities I’ve highlighted below, depending on who I meet and how I get sidetracked. But this is the fun of traveling: not having a concrete plan.
I’m also visiting Belgium because it will be an excellent opportunity for me to practice my French. Although certain regions of Belgium speak Dutch, I found that Belgium would be a good place to practice the language I am trying to learn fluently, as well as experience something completely new.
Although I’d love to see the Belgium countryside, it will be very cold in January and I’ll most likely be sticking to the cities. Perhaps I’ll be able to come back in the spring and see some beautiful Belgian castles and gardens. Who knows?
I’ve received all of my information from simple research. If I’ve made any mistakes, don’t hesitate to let me know!
Places I’m hoping to Visit:
1. Brussels – The capital of both Belgium and the European Union, this is where I will be starting my trip!
2. Waterloo - Just south of Brussels, Waterloo is the famous site where Napoleon was defeated by English, Dutch, and Prussian troops.
3. Antwerp - In Flanders, Belgium’s second largest city, famous for both fashion design and diamonds.
4. Ghent – Another big city in Belgium, famous for its beautiful architecture.
5. Bruges – Commonly referred to as “the Venice of the north” for its beautiful canals. At the beginning of January there’s an ice sculpture contest! I’m hoping I’ll be there for it!
6. Knokke-Heist - A posh seaside town made up of 5 villages.
7. Ostend - The only city on the Belgian coast, which used to rival Monaco but has lost its world fame.
8. Ypres – A city filled with monuments from World War I, when the place was nearly wiped off the map.
9. Kortrjik – The site of the Battle of the Golden Spurs, and one of Belgium’s oldest cities, filled with Medieval and Renaissance architecture.
10. Tournai - A quiet home to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites along the border of France.
11. Mons – A university town which is known for its beauty and clean streets. My friend lives here, so I am making sure to stop by and visit!
12. Charleroi - The second largest city in Wallonia, which is famous, like Brussels, for being a capital of Belgian comics.
13. Dinant - A historic town along beautiful stone cliffs, surrounded by castles.
14. Namur – Typically seen to be the bourgeois city of Wallonia
15. Liège – Birthplace of Charlemagne and home to Belgium’s biggest palace and also Europe’s biggest market, Marché de la Batte.
16. Hasselt – Located along the Albert Canal, with good nightlife and Europe’s largest Japanese garden.
17. Leuven – Home to the Catholic University of Leuven, one of the oldest universities in the world.
Have you ever travelled to Belgium before? Would you have any suggestions to add or take away from my list?
Post by Eva Krakowski, a travel blogger at The Vacation Rentals Experts – an online and offline digital marketing agency that creates marketing solutions for vacation rentals, holiday homes and brands.