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Things to Do in Belgium - page 4

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Hooge Crater Museum
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The Hooge Crater Museum, outside of Ypres, has life-sized representations of war scenes on display to help visitors better understand the history of World War I, especially in Flanders. The scenes include German bunkers, British trenches, and full scale horses with cavalry troops on their backs. Other displays include an extensive collection of weapons, uniforms, photographs, and other military artifacts.

The crater was formed on July 19, 1915. Around this time of the war, the German troops had an excellent overview of the British front line in the Ypres Salient area. The British troops tried to eliminate this with a targeted attack. They exploded more than 3,700 pounds of dynamite in a tunnel, which formed a crater that was later called the Hooge Crater. Today the crater is filled with water.

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Avenue Louise
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Walking down the tree-lined Avenue Louise is the best way to experience the city’s best in luxury and fashion. Belgian and international designer labels line the elegant thoroughfare, which runs adjacent to the Boulevard de Waterloo. Here you’ll find upscale clothing shops for both women and men, with smaller, more affordable boutiques interspersed.

The avenue was commissioned by King Leopold II in 1847 to provide more direct access to the city’s Bois de la Cambre area. Named for his daughter Princess Louise, it now serves as a main street in the heart of Brussels. Keep your eyes peeled for art deco townhouses, extravagant hotels, and small, manicured parks and gardens. The avenue is also home to some of the city’s tallest office buildings. Or go for a leisurely stroll along the avenue’s 2.7 kilometers and be content with window shopping and people watching.

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FoMu (FotoMuseum)
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Found in a former waterside warehouse in the on‐trend area of Zuid south of Antwerp city center, FoMu first opened in 1986 but moved to its current home in 2004. Its clean, white lines are perfect for presenting a series of temporary photographic exhibitions sourced from its own collections, which are among the most important in Europe. Treasures in the collection include images by Henri Cartier‐Bresson and Man Ray, while recent shows have included the hard‐hitting pictures of photographic journalists Broomberg & Chanarin, who examine racial tensions and colonialism in their work. Daily movie screenings curated by Cinema Zuid are held on the premises as well as workshops and lectures.

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Lace Centre & Museum (Kantcentrum)

The Kantcentrum, or Lace Center, is a lace museum and learning center in Brugge, Belgium. It is located in the Apostoline Sisters' former lace school, which is a renovated building from 1899. The building is part of the estate of the Adornes family who were originally from Genoa, Italy in the 14th century. The Lace Center museum explores the origins of lace and its early developments. Different displays show basic techniques and movements, types of lace and their geographic origins, the lace industry's history and what the industry is like today, and lace teaching in Brugge. The traditions of lace are honored here along with more contemporary forms. While visiting the museum, you can also watch the center's bobbing lace-making demonstrations. Visitors can also explore different techniques and aesthetics, as well as learn about the lace industry itself, in an interactive way.

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More Things to Do in Belgium

Hotel Solvay

Hotel Solvay

Famous Brussels architect and leader of the Art Nouveau movement Victor Horta built this town house along Avenue Louise in 1894. Horta designed the house in great detail and with precious material from floor to ceiling. From the carpets and walls to the furniture and the light fixtures, Hotel Solvay is a display of luxury and design. The iron and marble staircase was built in collaboration with Belgian pointillist painter Théo van Rysselberghe.

Along with three of Horta’s other Brussels town houses, it was named a UNESCO World Heritage site for its contribution to the development of Art Nouveau in architecture. Chemical magnate Arthur Solvay commissioned the house with unrestricted budget and creative freedom, so Horta was able to realize all of his design ambitions for the space. Hotel Solvay is the best preserved of the four houses, having undergone several renovations and keeping original art and functionality in place.

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Hotel Tassel

Hotel Tassel

This Brussels town house is widely considered to be the first structure built in Art Nouveau style. Designed by architect Victor Horta in 1894, it was named a UNESCO World Heritage site along with three of Horta’s other iconic hotels. Horta was a pioneer of the Art Nouveau transition away from the classical tradition to modern architectural design.

The town house’s floor plan, materials, and decorations, including custom built furniture, were highly innovative at the time of their construction. The two main parts are connected by a steel structure with a glass roof that brings in much of the rooms’ natural light. With mosaics and stained glass throughout, much of the house’s beauty is due to the small lavish details Horta urged. The use of stone alongside a modern use of metal materials was groundbreaking in the 19th century. The open floor plan and curved lines of decoration blend seamlessly with the square structure of the rooms, another progressive architectural move.

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Brussels Gueuze Museum (Musée Bruxellois de la Gueuze)

Brussels Gueuze Museum (Musée Bruxellois de la Gueuze)

At the Brussels Gueuze Museum you will see the working brewery almost unchanged from 1900. You can view all the steps of lambic’s mysterious journey and perhaps even catch the brewer mixing or bottling the beer.

Beer is one of the best things about Belgium and that’s showing no disrespect to Belgium because the beers are out of this world! A style of beer particular to Brussels is lambic beer which is allowed to spontaneously ferment using wild yeast from the atmosphere; it has a distinctive sour taste.

The Cantillon Brewery is the last brewery left out of the 70-odd that once brewed lambic in Brussels. Its specialties include gueuze (a blend of one-and two-year-old lambics), kriek (lambic with cherries added) and framboise (lambic with raspberries).

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Ciamberlani House (Maison A. Ciamberlani)

Ciamberlani House (Maison A. Ciamberlani)

The Ciamberlani House is a townhouse in Brussels that was built by Paul Hankar for the Italian artist Albert Ciamberlani in 1897. Hankar and Ciamberlani collaborated on the design and details of the house, and it is one of the major Art Nouveau buildings in Belgium. Architect Adrien Blomme renovated the house in 1927 resulting in aspects of both Art Nouveau and Art Deco in the interior. One of the most remarkable details about this building is the spectacular sgraffito on its facade. The facade combines elements of ironwork, bricks, and natural stones. Two large, semi-circular windows on the first floor allow sunlight to flood the rooms located in this section of the house.

A row of six windows, which are separated by cast iron posts and flanked by small columns, illuminates the second floor. On the top level there is another sgraffito designed by Adolphe Crespin with a frieze of sunflowers and seven medallions themed around the Labors of Hercules.

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Bastogne War Museum

Bastogne War Museum

7 Tours and Activities
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Mardasson Memorial

Mardasson Memorial

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Bastogne

Bastogne

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1 Tour and Activity

The sleepy Ardennes town of Bastogne made history back in 1944 as the site of World War II’s notorious Battle of the Bulge, when the heroic efforts of besieged American soldiers managed to hold off German forces, despite freezing conditions, heavy fire and their being outnumbered 5 to 1. More than 70 years on, Bastogne hasn’t forgotten its valiant fight, and the town’s poignant monuments, war cemeteries, battle-field memorials and museums have drawn visitors from all around the globe. Roads converge on the town from every direction (a trait that made it vitally important for war efforts), making Bastogne a convenient day trip away from nearly anywhere in the Ardennes.

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Tyne Cot Cemetery

Tyne Cot Cemetery

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Essex Farm Cemetery

Essex Farm Cemetery

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The Essex Farm Cemetery is a World War I burial site outside of Ypres, Belgium. There are 1,200 servicemen buried or commemorated here, including 103 unidentified soldiers. Essex Farm was an Advanced Dressing Station during the war, so many of the casualties handled there were laid to rest in this cemetery. Remains of some of the bunkers used for medical services can still be seen near the cemetery. There is also a memorial to the 49th West Riding Division. John McCrae, a World War I soldier who fought in the Ypres Salient battlegrounds, wrote a poem called “In Flanders Fields” after a friend of his was killed. It is believed that he was in the area of the Essex Farm Advanced Dressing Station when he wrote it. In the poem, he talks about the poppies in Flanders fields, and his short but moving poem became well known. Because of this poem, the poppy has become a symbol of remembrance.

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