Belgium: Mini Travel Guide

Belgium: The Underrated European Country

Belgium is so underrated.

When Mickey first proposed the idea, I was very skeptical. But as it turns out, not only is Belgium very accessible from Amsterdam, it’s also gorgeous. We now frequently recommend that our visitors include Belgium in their travel plans, and the feedback has been universally positive.

Belgium cities I have personally vetted and recommend visiting: Antwerp, Bruges, Dinant and Ghent. 

Belgium cities I have personally vetted and do not recommend visiting: Brussels

I found Brussels to be very boring and it certainly was not cozy. So my suggestion would be to skip Brussels and spend more time in some of these other cities…


Antwerp ranks among my favorite Belgium cities. Its city center is not only stunning and cozy but also offers a restaurant scene that I absolutely adore (and we all know that’s the most important). I’ve found that most other Belgium cities don’t have many restaurants that excited me… probably the one downside of Belgium.

woman and man taking a selfie in Antwerp belgium city center with belgium buildings and architecture in background

Antwerp is also pretty close to Amsterdam, so you can even make a day trip out of it. How to get there:

  • 2 hour drive. I like to use this site for finding cheap rental cars. There are several rental car company locations in the city (rather than at the airport) with easy pick up and drop off. Unlike Amsterdam, Antwerp is not a stressful city to drive in. Parking is very easy, there are several garages around the city and some are even free. 
  • 1 hour train ride on Eurostar.  

You know the drill… walk around, eat, drink, repeat. Here’s where to go:

  • Bakkerij Funk yummy bakery if you’re looking for coffee or pastries.
  • Amvrosia Cousina Greek restaurant with live music during dinner.
  • Belmondo cozy restaurant and bar.
  • Jones & Co swanky cocktail bar.
  • Elfde Gebod cozy pub with daily live music and good vibes.
  • Cinq apéro bar with a terrace under the beautiful cathedral.
  • Souvlakeri the best Greek street food you’ll ever eat.Birds Eye view of greek street food plated on table at souvlakeri in Antwerp belgium
  • Tinsel cute café outside the city center.
  • Pelgrimhuis I don’t even know how to describe this place. It’s a restaurant and art gallery and I love everything about it.pelgrimhuis restaurant interior in Antwerp Belgium with taxidermy sloth and taxidermy zebra hanging on wall
  • Cèpes for lunch and apps.
  • Pasta Hippo Vino Italian restaurant.
  • Estro Armonico hidden Italian restaurant in an alley.
  • ’t Hofke another cute hidden gem 't hofke in Antwerp belgium
  • Fiera upscale dining experience.
  • Sir Anthony Van Dijck Michelin star French restaurant.

Linking my Antwerp Google Map so you can easily find all of these places and any of my other recs. I’m constantly adding to it.


Bruges is another favorite of mine among Belgium cities. It epitomizes coziness and charm, feeling as though it’s a town caught in a time warp, untouched by the modernization that characterizes most cities today.

woman in brown trench coat and light blue jeans sitting on bench along river in bruges belgium with classic Belgian homes in background

Where Bruges lacks in its restaurant scene, it more than compensates with its extensive portfolio of boutique hotels. The city is home to numerous beautiful, cozy, and luxurious accommodations, so I’ve narrowed it down for you:

  • Let’s start with the viral hotel I shared, Guest House La Civière d’or. This is your budget option. It’s new, clean and a great option if you just need a home base. It’s located in a UNESCO protected site in the city’s market square and only costs €80/night.
  • Hotel Heritage is a Relais & Chateaux property… need I say more. And it’s fairly reasonably priced for one of their properties.

There are also three SLH properties in the city, another favorite of mine:

And a few others from Five Star Alliance, Luxe Worldwide Hotels, etc.:

I also adore The Notary. It’s an absolutely beautiful property, and although I’m surprised it’s not more recognized, I do like it that way. Keeps it a hidden gem.

And finally, if you’re looking for a more intimate stay, bed and breakfast type, here are a few I’d recommend:

As for what to do and eat…

The city is very manageable on foot, and I’m fortunate enough to be dating a historian tour guide, so I always explore by walking. However, if you don’t have a built-in tour guide, you can also take a boat tour to see the city and learn more about its history.

Get Belgian waffles from Chez Albert. I did not expect Belgian waffles to be this good.

belgian waffles with whipped cream, strawberries and Belgian chocolate

For drinks/apps:

  • Have a beer at The Beer Wall where you can sit outside on the river.
  • Blend winjbar has a bunch of wines you can taste and purchase.
  • Bar Ran is a cozy cocktail bar.
  • Pergola is a lovely terrace at the Die Swaene hotel.

For dinner:

  • Bistro Zwart Huis has live music on Friday nights.
  • Mozart serves all you can eat ribs and has a really cool interior. You’ve probably seen my posts, I go here every time I’m in Bruges LOL.Mozart restaurant interior in bruges belgium with walls lined with bookcases and books, crystal chandelier hanging from ceiling and tables set for dinner
  • De Vlaamsche Pot is the most charming restaurant serving typical Belgian food.
  • In The Mood for an outdoor dinner in the park.

After dinner, go to one of the city’s iconic cave bars – they’re everywhere! I marked a few on my Google Map, such as Le Trappiste and ’t Poatersgat.


Dinant is the ultimate hidden gem. Located just over 60 miles south—or about a 1.5-hour drive for those of us who can’t comprehend milage as a measurement of distance—of Brussels, this oasis is, in my opinion, 100% worth the visit. Although it’s small and somewhat remote, there’s actually lots to do, and it is uniquely beautiful.

view of dinant belgium. colorful Belgian buildings along blue water with cathedral and fortress in background

The fortress you see in the photo is called La Citadelle. I suggest looking at their website for information on how to visit the fortress. They also offer cable car rides and Meuse river boat cruises.

If you want to get a little adventurous, you can hike Park Furfooz. This will take you through the remains of a Roman fortress, some caves and has a beautiful view at the top. Don’t worry, there’s a cozy place on the river—La Flobette—to stop for drinks and snacks along the route.

There are also a few castles in the area that you can visit. Vêves Castle and Castle of Freÿr are my top picks.


Last but not least, Ghent. I’ve heard many people say this city gives Hogwarts vibes but I haven’t seen the Harry Potter movies. I don’t have many specific recommendations for Ghent, but I wanted to include it because I highly recommend a visit.

Ghent belgium view of belgium buildings along river

My past visits have been either day drips or passing through on the way to/from Bruges. Similar to the other cities I’ve mentioned, it’s a fairly small city and doesn’t require much time to see it all.

A random tip if you’re driving… you can park in the Marriott parking garage (even if you aren’t staying there) and it spits you out right in the city center. I marked the garage on my Google Map.

A few things I can recommend:

Definitely consider a boat tour to see the city and and learn more about its history. Boat tours are becoming SOP in these Belgium cities. There’s no need to book in advance as tours run continuously throughout the day. Just show up when you’re ready and catch the next departure. Tickets are only €10 for an hour cruise. The location is saved on my Google Map as well. I suggest grabbing a drink from one of the nearby bars to bring with you!

group of 4 people sitting on boat on river cruise in Ghent belgium

Gravensteen, the medieval castle at the heart of the city, once served as the residence of the Counts of Flanders. Today, it stands as a historical landmark to explore. Tickets and other info are available on their website.

There are also several beautiful cathedrals you can visit during opening hours. Most close at 17:00, just keep that in mind.

You know I’m one for exploring a city on my own—typically by foot—but they do offer guided biking tours, if that’s your cup of tea.

I have yet to find any standout restaurants or bars but I do have a few cute places for food and drinks marked on my Google Map. And if you didn’t get to try the all you can eat ribs at Mozart in Bruges, fear not! They have a second location in Gent, it’s named Amadeus on the map.

ok love you guys, enjoy Belgium!!! 

xo, mikaela

woman in jean jacket and black trousers posing in vlaaikensgang alley way in Antwerp belgium city center

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