I must admit, Belgium is a country that has always fascinated me.
From their amazing beers and decadent chocolates, to their surprisingly love of fried potato strips, Belgium is a country that many a keen traveller has bookmarked as one of the “must-visit” destinations for the near future.
After reading this article, I’d be very surprised if many of you didn’t bump Belgium up the queue several places, as it were, and make it a priority once you’re able to travel.
Despite the country becoming such a tourist hotspot over the years, a lot of keen explorers have yet to discover the hidden gem that is Belgium.
That’s where I come in.
For today’s article, I’m going to share with you, se7en things that Belgium is most famous for.
Some may be obvious, and some may come as quite the shock, in any event, take a look and see how many you were familiar with.
Bruges is a city located in Belgium that is famous for its Gothic architecture and its rich and storied history.
Those that visit Bruges describe it as being the closest thing you can get to a real life fairy tale city setting.
The capital and the largest city of the province of West Flanders, Bruges is an incredibly beautiful city that everybody needs to see at least once in their lifetime.
The city shot into the limelight back in 2008, thanks to the black comedy/crime thriller ‘In Bruges’, starring Colin Farrell, Brenden Gleeson, and Ralph Fiennes, which told the tale of a disgraced hitman exiled to the city by his gangster boss so that he could enjoy the city before being executed.
Bruges is a very popular tourist destination, though for a truly magical feel, try to visit in the winter time around Christmas, as it really is magical.
Okay, now, if I were to ask 10 people to name 1 think that Belgium was famous for, I’m confident that at least 9 would say ‘Chocolate’. The final person might say Waffles, but I’m not going to talk about waffles today, don’t worry.
Belgium makes, without a shadow of a doubt, the best chocolate in the world.
There, I said it. Anybody that tells you otherwise is either delusional, or has no taste.
Belgium chocolate is like no chocolate you’ve ever experienced before. It’s sweet, it’s rich, it’s creamy, it isn’t pumped full of chemicals and artificial ingredients, and it puts a smile on my face every single time I eat it.
Belgium is home to some of the finest chocolatiers on the planet, and in fact, in Brussels airport alone, more chocolate is sold each year than anywhere else. Around 700 tonnes of finest Belgium chocolate is sold at the airport, so it’s safe to say that people are fans.
Each year, the average Belgian consumes around 8kg of chocolate, yet they’re a surprisingly slender bunch.
In any event, if you like chocolate, this alone is a fantastic reason to visit Belgium.
They flourished without a government
Right, I know that I’m already treading on egg shells and am on very thin ice by simply mentioning governments and bringing politics into today’s article, but there’s a reason for why.
Back in 2010 and late 2011, Belgium saw a political upheaval which resulted in the country having no government for nearly two entire years!
Some of you may be shocked to learn that the country didn’t slip into a deep recession, or anarchy for that matter, and in actual fact, everything ran smoother than ever before.
Belgian proved that, if people worked together, they could make a difference, and I think that’s great.
After 541 days, a new government was formed and was headed by Elio Di Rupo.
They love to party
The Belgians are a very friendly and welcoming bunch, and it’s safe to say that they know how to party and have fun.
In fact, Tomorrowland is the most hotly anticipated and highly sought-after EDM (Electronic Dance Music) festival on the entire planet, and you can guess where it takes place, right?
Yep, the festival takes place not far from Antwerp, in a town aptly named Boom.
There are of course many other festivals celebrating different genres of music.
If you enjoy your music, Belgium is a must.
They love their fries
Again, I’m being a bit controversial here but I’ll go on record as saying that no other country in the world does fries better than Belgium, and yes, that does include France.
Belgium and France have been engaged in somewhat of a friendly battle over whom invented the ‘French Fry’ but there is no other country in the world with more fry stalls than Belgium.
The Belgians serve fries with many of their classic dishes, as well as tasty and delicious street snacks when you’re hungry and on the go.
The key to a super crispy and fluffy fry? Double frying!
Nope, I haven’t lost my mind, and this isn’t a late April Fools, I promise you.
Belgium is very well known for its many bronze statues of people and animals, that are, well, urinating.
The Belgians are a friendly and lovable bunch that are not afraid to have fun and they certainly don’t take themselves too seriously.
Brussels for example, has the ‘Manneken Pis’ which is a bronze statue of a small boy urinating.
The city also features Jeanneke Pis Zinneke Pis, which are companions of the peeing boy in the form of a urinating girl and dog, respectively.
It’s a little out there, but that is what Belgium is all about.
Okay, if the things I’ve listed so far haven’t persuaded you to visit Belgium, how about the beer?
Belgium beer is amongst the most highly sought-after beer on the planet.
Since the middle ages, the Belgians have shown a true art for brewing beer, and right now they have a thriving beer culture with plenty of breweries located throughout the country.
Whether you’re in the mood for an Abbey beer, a Trappist beer, a cherry beer, banana beer, strawberry beer, or any other beer for that matter, Belgium definitely has you covered.
If you do visit a brewery for a tour, just be sure to get the bus or a taxi, as you don’t want to be driving and missing out on the delicious samples along the way.
There are always more things to tell you about but I am commited to keeping these lists short and sweet. For that reason I won’t include a personal favourite: Ghent.
Without further ado, stay safe and if possible, don’t stop wandering!