15 most beautiful cities & towns in Belgium to visit

Dinant Belgium

Belgium might be a small country but it packs a mighty punch for its array of picture postcard cities and towns. Famed for destinations like Bruges and Antwerp, there are so many beautiful cities in Belgium to visit. As you hop from one to another, you’ll be treated to the fabulous landscapes of Wallonia and Flanders and, of course, be treated to some of the finest dining in Europe.

Many of the most beautiful cities and towns are so because of their outstanding plethora of history and architecture, often with a UNESCO World Heritage Site thrown in for good measure.

With bucket list item after bucket list item, and within such easy reach of the UK, it’s easy to keep popping back for more. So, without further ado, let me take you on a journey to the best cities and towns in Belgium to visit.

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Best cities and towns in Belgium to visit

1. Bruges

Bruges is the fairy tale destination that charms visitors with its picturesque mediaeval charm. Justifiably dubbed ‘the Venice of the North’, there’s no doubt that Bruges is one of the most beautiful cities in Belgium.

Imagine leisurely boat trips along charming canals, ambles along cobblestone streets (stopping off at a chocolatiers or two) and lifting your camera to snap image after image of captivating architecture. 

Some of the most iconic Belgium landmarks are in Bruges, making it one of the best known cities in Belgium. Unfortunately, that also means it draws throngs of tourists, so plan your trip and excursions wisely!

Make sure you take your time exploring the historic centre of Bruges, with sights such as the Belfry, Church of our Lady (home to Michelangelo’s Madonna and Child) and Quai du Rosaire. Make sure you sip a beer and enjoy some chips! Leave room for a waffle too!

Discover more of the best things to do in Bruges. Bruges makes a wonderful place to visit a world-class Michelin restaurant too.

Have a read of my guide to the best luxury hotels in Bruges.

2. Ghent

Ghent is most definitely one of the top five cities in Belgium in my opinion, primarily in terms of its beauty. Yes, it’s got a modern twist to it that marks it out from the cities more dominated solely by historical charm, but it’s this blend with heritage that makes it so appealing. It’s the second most populated city in Belgium and has a lively vibe.

Ghent wins out with architectural wonders. It feels like every corner involves a new ‘wow’ moment. Marvel at the Gothic St Bavo’s Cathedral, wonder at the incredible Gravensteen Castle and of course, climb the steps of the Belfry.

Ghent is a great city to explore by foot too, especially in the centre, because of the centralised pedestrian zone. 

A popular time to visit Ghent is during the annual music and theatre festival (Gentse Feesten). However, Ghent is perfect for a visit at any time of year, or at Christmas for the market.

A huge draw is the foodie culture, especially if you’re a vegetarian. Remarkably, Ghent has the highest number of vegetarian restaurants per capita globally!

Before you leave, stock up on cuberdons – deliciously scrumptious raspberry sweets.

Find hotels in Ghent.

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3. Brussels

Of course, it’s impossible to list some of the most beautiful cities in Belgium without mentioning its capital! Centrally located, Brussels is the beating heart of Belgium and is a feast of delights for visitors.

Bursting with UNESCO World Heritage Sites and famous landmarks, make sure you leave enough time on your visit to pack everything in!

Brussels Belgium

Must-see sights include the infamous Grand Palace, the Atomium and the comical bronze statue of a peeing boy, Manneken Pis! Plus, be sure to enjoy some fabulous shopping on Rue Neuve.

Brussels has a catchy atmosphere, with jazz, beer, waffles, shopping and chocolate all vying for attention. It doesn’t have the quaint charm of other Belgium cities, but it makes a great base for exploring other parts of the country.

Discover the best luxury hotels in Brussels. Can’t decide which city to visit? Read my guide to Brussels or Bruges.

4. Durbuy

Definitely one of the most beautiful towns in Belgium, Durbuy charms visitors with its rich history, beautiful landscape and its wending cobblestone streets. It boasts an impressive castle as well as a mishmash of other sights and monuments. These make it a must-visit city in Belgium.

Durbuy Belgium

You won’t need long to fully explore Durbuy, but make sure you visit the natural Rocher de la Falize – a stunning hiking route that offers wonderful views over the La Warche valley.

Indeed, adventure enthusiasts will find a lot to do nearby, including rock climbing. Within the city itself, take time to visit the architecturally interesting Halle aux Blés. 

Browse hotels in Durbuy.

5. Antwerp

Antwerp sits proudly on the Schelde River and is one of the better known cities in Belgium. Thanks to its world-famous collection, Antwerp is often called the diamond capital of the world, but there’s so much more to see and do here.

There’s a real wealth of interesting museums, tranquil and beautiful churches and fascinating historical buildings.Recommended museums and art galleries include MAS, Plantin-Moretus and Rubenshuis.

Antwerp Belgium City

Little ones will enjoy a trip to Antwerp Zoo. Peaceful and pensive moments can be found inside the Cathedral of Our Lady and Saint Paul Church. Culture enthusiasts should aim to visit in August during the Cultuurmarkt van Vlaanderen.

Top tip: arrive by train to be amazed at the station’s incredible architecture.

Discover hotels in Antwerp.

6. Dinant

This tiny gem is bursting with things to see, making Dinant one of the best towns in Belgium. It’s found in the Walloon Province of Namur, sitting on the Meuse River. Birthplace of Adolphe Sax, the inventor of the saxophone, Dinant is rightly proud of its heritage!

When in Dinant, you can’t help but be impressed by the citadel which sits majestically and strategically on a tall cliff towering above the river. The Church of Notre Dame de Dinant is also well worth a visit.

Dinant Belgium

Make sure your teeth are up to the challenge of trying the regional delicacy, the Couques de Dinant, a hard biscuit of honey and flour. Often exquisitely shaped and pressed, you’ll definitely need a coffee to wash it down! If you prefer something savoury, opt for the region’s flamiche.

Find hotels in Dinant.

7. Leuven

Home to one of Europe’s oldest universities (founded in 1425), you can envisage the character of Leuven that persists to this day. It’s a vibrant student city retaining its historical personality, and with its university buildings evident across the city, it’s well worth exploring.

In keeping with its student roots, Leuven is the birthplace of Stella Artois! Indeed, you can visit the world’s largest brewery here.

Leuven Belgium

Unfortunately, Leuven was badly hit in both World Wars. But it’s still worth visiting the central library dating from 1636 which has been painstakingly restored.

There are a number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Leuven, such as St Peter’s Church and the Great Beguinage. Take time to also visit the Gothic Town Hall and Arenberg Castle.

Just a short drive east of Brussels, Leuven is worth tacking on to your Brussels trip if you have time. 

Browse hotels in Leuven.

8. Spa

Spa is famous for exactly what you’d expect: it’s grown as one of the nicest towns in Belgium because of its natural springs. Visitors have been drawn to Spa for its… spas… since as early as the early 16th century. 

Unsurprisingly, a visit to Spa is characterised by enjoying the springs and accompanying resorts. It’s a romantic spot, especially as it’s nestled amongst hills, mountains and splendid forests of the Ardennes.

Spa in Belgium

Spa is a perfect place in Belgium to unwind and relax. A hydrotherapy experience at Thermes de Spa is a must-do. 

If you need livening up a little after all that relaxing, then make sure you visit the Casino de Spa – the world’s oldest casino. 

Discover hotels in Spa.

9. Liège

Liège is a dynamic and bustling city and is often overlooked as one of the best Belgium cities to visit. However, if you’re after great and dazzling nightlife after dark and rich architecture by day, then Liège will likely fit the bill. 

Liege City in Belgium

There are a remarkable number of things to see and do in Liège, so make sure your hangover allows it. Places to visit that you shouldn’t miss include the Grand Curtius Museum and La Boverie Museum.

Another reason not to party too hard the night before is that you’ll want to tackle the Montagne de Bueren – one of the world’s most insane staircases.

Browse hotels in Liège

10. Mechelen

If you’re planning a Belgian tour and will be travelling from Antwerp to Brussels, or vice versa, make sure you stop off at Mechelen. This historic city is a characterful place with some of Belgium’s best known monuments and buildings. 

Mechelen

Start a visit to Mechelen by taking a deep breath and climbing the 514 steps of St Rumbold’s Tower for incredible views of the city. It will help you get your bearings before exploring further.

Favourite places to visit include the 13th century Brusselpoort and the Mechelen Toy Museum.

Round off a stop in Mechelen by enjoying a cool glass of Gouden Carolus beer.

Find hotels in Mechelen.

11. Ieper/Ypres

Formerly known by its French name Ypres, Ieper has a fascinating and heart-rending history associated with the First World War. Sitting in West Flanders, it was a strategic place. Expect to see war memorials to the brave souls who lost their lives here.

Ieper Belgium

The Last Post Ceremony is a respectful and meaningful ceremony worth attending. It’s also possible to go on remembrance hikes as well as visit the Flanders Fields museum.

Beyond World War I history, also take time to visit the Lakhenhalle and Grote Markt, and discover the rich textile heritage.

Discover hotels in Ieper.

12. Nieuwpoort

You don’t tend to think of the seaside when you think of Belgium, but don’t overlook the seaside town of Nieuwpoort. It’s a stunning spot with a mixture of its lovely coast (and wonderful beach) as well as its historic centre. 

If you can draw yourself away from beach days, do make sure you visit the vismijn, marina and staketsel. If you’re feeling mildly energetic then hire a bike and cycle along the Frontzate. 

Find hotels in Nieuwpoort.

13. Namur

The striking capital of Wallonia, Namur has mastered welcoming visitors. It’s a small but stylish city that is sure to charm anyone who explores it.

Perhaps the most famed highlight to visit is the dominating Citadel, around which much of the city’s history centres. From here you can also snap some wonderful shots of the city skyline and Meuse River which wends its way through the city’s heart.

Namur Belgium

Another place well worth visiting in Namur is St Aubin’s Cathedral. Spend some Euros on Rue de L’Ange and also take a leisurely boat tour.

Browse hotels in Namur.

14. Bouillon

Another Wallonian town to visit is Bouillon. The star of the show is Bouillon Castle which is actually one of the most famous places to visit in the country because of its wealth of history. 

Bouillon is a small city, but it’s very picturesque as a result, and you can expect wonderful views and scenes.

A view over Bouillon, Belgium

Within easy reach of the city you can enjoy wonderful walks in the beautiful countryside. Make sure you take in the view from Le Tombeau du Géant of the Senois River. 

Discover hotels in Bouillon.

15. Torgny

One of the most beautiful towns in Belgium to visit that Brits have rarely heard of is Torgny. It sits right down on the border with France, just west of Luxembourg. It has its own microclimate making it a picturesque and flowery place to discover.

It’s particularly wonderful to take a walk through Torgny’s pretty streets with its stone buildings brought to life with floral displays. 

Torgny Belgium

Torgny is also a vineyard town and wine lovers can enjoy both the landscape and the tastes. Here you will also find Belgium’s first nature reserve.  Torgny even has its own Michelin-starred restaurant. 

Find hotels in Torgny.

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There are plenty more beautiful towns and cities in Belgium to visit that I couldn’t list here, but hopefully this gives a flavour for the fabulous array of places to visit beyond the expected.

If you can’t fit it all in on one trip, which would be near impossible, it’ll just have to be an excuse to come back again!

Looking for more Belgium travel inspiration? Have a read of my Bruges travel guide.

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