3:47 PMTravel to Belgium
Belgium is often overlooked by travellers as being dull and bureaucratic partly a reputation gained by being the home of the European Union and myriad of red tape jockeys that surround it. In truth Belgium is a somewhat under-rated country to travel in. It has some excellent beers including the smooth but powerful Duvel and some incredible cuisine not least of which are the famous Belgian truffles and Belgian chocolates.
Belgium, as it is quite a small country, is probably unsuitable for a full backpacking tour on its own but can easily provide enough to do for those wanting to stay a few days in the heart of the EU or those just travelling through to other areas of Europe.
Belgium's climate is seasonal and reasonably similar to its neighbouring countries, snow is likely in the winter months although the summers can be quite temperate. There is a small amount of precipitation all year round so it is advisable to pack at least a waterproof no matter when you are coming to Belgium.
Things to see and do
Brussels is home to the EU, NATO and many other international institutions and many backpackers and travellers like to take a peek at the EU's headquarters despite it for the most part just being a very expensively decorated office building. However there is plenty of other things to do in Brussels, a "Brussels Card" costs about £20 and gives access to over 30 museums and access to public transport for 3 days. This should give you enough time to cover most of what the city has to offer. Sites of particular interest are the Church of Our Lady of Sablon, the Sunday antique market in the Atomium, a retro futuristic atom shaped tower originally built for the 1958 world trade fair. Europe's second largest port Antwerp is a city of high fashion with hundreds of exclusive boutiques and outlets spread throughout the city.
Antwerp is also known for its nightlife and boast an array of modern trendy bars and night clubs which might be needed to liven things up after some of the more historic aspects of Antwerp. Such historic landmarks include the Royal Museum of fine arts, the National Maritime Museum and the 17th century house which was home to famous Belgian painter Ruben.
For those wanting to avoid the crowds and travel a little off the beaten track one overlooked destination is Ghent. Ghent was formerly a centre for the cloth trade and at one point was the second largest medieval city in Europe after Paris. Key attractions include the foreboding Castle of the Counts, surrounded by the Lieve canal, and St Bavo's Cathedral where Charles V was baptised.
Rail travel in Belgium is a very quick and affordable way to travel but you may be confused at the multitude of ticketing methods on offer. By far the best bet is to use one of the available travel passes. The network is operated by b-rail.be and the trains are modern and comfortable. Within Belgium journeys will last a maximum of a couple of hours so you won't need to go looking for high speed trains here.
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