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Take a deep breath of Flanders

With chocolate stores on every street corner and the sweet smell of warm waffles filling the air, a visit to Flanders feels like a match made in heaven.

Situated in the north of Belgium, Flanders boasts six beautifully preserved historic cities: Antwerp, Bruges, Brussels, Ghent, Leuven and Mechelen. From medieval splendor to mouthwatering dishes, it is hard to find fault with this pint-sized destination in the center of Europe.

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Travel Information

What to Expect: Weather, Currency & More!

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Destination Overview

Flanders breathes in influences and creativity from all over the world.

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City Guides

Flanders is roughly the size of Connecticut!

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Things To Do

Activities

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Cycling

Ghent Cycling Routes
There are four brand-new cycling routes, each highlighting a different corner of the city. Discover them all: 'Religious Heritage', 'City of Green', 'Origins of a City by the Water' and 'A Green Belt Around the City.' Every route takes you off the beaten path, to discover a few lesser known spots in Ghent.

Villo Brussels
There are 180 Villo stations available, located every 450 meters (1500 feet), so there's always one nearby. To hire a bike, make sure you have your subscriber card or your 1 Day or 7 Day ticket. Log on at the terminal using your subscriber card or ticket.

Brussels Bike Tours
A daily tour will allow you to see all the main sights and several "off the beaten path" places. The visit includes a halfway 30 minute stop at one of Brussels culinary institutions: Maison Antoine, which arguably makes the best fries in Belgium (in business since 1948!). Fries can be taken to a local bar where they can teach you how to read a beer menu and help you choose the best ones, a hard task in a country with more than 1,600 different beers!

Bruges Bike Rental
In more than 85% of the one-way streets in Bruges, you can cycle in two directions. This makes Bruges a “Bike-friendly” city. The bike is the best and fastest way to discover inner Bruges and the surrounding Flemish countryside. Cycle along the charming landscape between Bruges and Damme. Cross the “syphons” and explore Oostkerke and Hoeke. An extended route even passes through the historic Dutch border town of Sluis. Or visit the nearby coastal towns of Zeebrugge, Blankenberge or Knokke. 

Tours

Brussels Hop On - Hop Off Tour
Marvel at the best of Brussels from an open-top double-decker bus. You have the option to hop-on and off as many times as you like at any of the 12 stops for your own sightseeing. The bus departs every 30 minutes and tickets are valid for 24 hours after first use.

Brussels Walking Tour with Chocolate Tasting
Discover most of Brussels in less than 2 hours, including free chocolate tasting!

Brussels by Night Foodie Tour
Discover Brussels by night on this 3 hour, small-group, foodie walking tour! Visit Brussels’ tastiest restaurants, meet well-known chefs, taste Belgian specialties and learn about the city’s history and culinary traditions. Numbers are limited to a maximum of 20 people on this small group walking tour, ensuring you'll receive personalized attention from your knowledgeable food expert.

Ghent & Bruges Day Trip from Brussels
A full-day trip from Brussels with a guided tour of Ghent and a coach and walking tour of Bruges. A multilingual guide and pickup and drop off from selected Brussels hotels are included.

Ghent Authentic Tours
Ghent Authentic Tours has so much to offer for everyone. Do you want to see Ghent at night or rather enjoy a classic tour? Are you interested in history and art or do you want to discover the local products? Choose one (or more) of their tours and you will experience Ghent in no time.

Leuven Leisure
Leuven Leisure is a new tour guide company in Leuven who believe that discovering the city should be just as easy as fun. That's why in spring and summer they organize daily scheduled walks and you don't need to register to participate which makes them unique in Leuven. Apart from that they also offer groups the usual possibility of a customized tour, year round. Their guides are interesting locals with superb knowledge of the city. Their talent and motivation guarantee great Leuven Walks, time after time.

Visit Tours
A discovery walk at the heart of the city, during which the guide tells funny stories and will reveal to you how much you really known about the capital! Along the way, you will taste some local specialties such as real Greek bread, sea snails and their famous pralines.
 

Arts

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The Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Brussels
The history of the Museums begins more than two centuries ago. Over the years, the growth of the collections and changing trends in museology have brought about radical changes in the shape and appearance of the buildings. The Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium consist of various museum entities distinct by the nature of their exhibits and are located at different sites in the city of Brussels: the Old Masters Museum, the Modern Museum, the Wiertz Museum, the Meunier Museum, the Magritte Museum and the brand new Fin-de-Siècle Museum.

The Belgian Comic Strip Center, Brussels
The stripmuseum is one of the top attractions in Belgium. Each year it receives 200,000 visitors. Children and adults alike can spend hours there perusing the comic books. With a visit to the museum, you won’t only know everything there is to know about Belgian comics, you’ll also revel in the architectural beauty of the old Waucquez warehouses, a remarkable construction from 1906 by the famous architect Victor Horta. With its constantly changing temporary and permanent exhibitions, this museum will never bore you. You’ll find all your heroes there: from Kuifje (Tin Tin) to the Smurfs to Bollie and Billie. Are you ready to discover the fascinating world of the ‘9th art’?

The Magritte Museum, Brussels
Brussels and Belgium invite all art aficionados to come and immerse themselves in the mysterious world of René Magritte. Forty years after his death, René Magritte’s paintings finally have a fitting home of their own. The René Magritte Museum is housed in a neo-classical building known as the Altenloh Hotel, part of the Museum of Modern Art complex on the Place Royale in Brussels. The museum, in the center of Brussels, has brought together works by the Surrealist painter.

STAM - Stadsmuseum Gent
The STAM – Stadsmuseum Gent – only opened its doors in the fall of 2010. But this Gent museum has rapidly become the place to begin any cultural exploration of Ghent. The STAM gives a clear overview of Ghent’s past and insights into Ghent today, as well as offering a glimpse of the city’s future.

The Design Museum, Ghent
Behind a charming 18th-century façade lurks a modern, airy building…and a top notch collection of twentieth-century and contemporary design. The Design Museum Ghent has one of the most superb Art Nouveau collections in the country. The exuberant period of Art Nouveau with its floral motifs and play of flowing lines and the more constructivist direction taken by the 1900 style are both shown in the museum. You’ll be astounded by the Belgian designers’ astonishingly sculptural furniture in bright, cheerful colors with amusing decorative elements. For children, there’s also much to experience here. With the museum game they playfully discover chairs, cabinets and other items from the past until the present.

SMAK - The Municipal Museum of Contemporary Art, Ghent
Before you go into the S.M.A.K., Ghent’s Museum of Contemporary Art, it’s probably best to look up. On the roof, you’ll see the image 'De man die de wolken meet' (‘The man who measures the clouds’) by Jan Fabre. The S.M.A.K., standing for Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, is a relatively new museum – opened in 1999 – but one with a long past. The S.M.A.K. holds a highly regarded permanent collection of local works by Karel Appel, Pierre Alechinsky, Panamarenko and others, as well as works by international celebrities like Christo, Warhol and Hockney.

The Groeninge Museum, Bruges
Six centuries of Flemish art are presented at the Groeninge Museum, also called 'The City Museum of Fine Arts Bruges'. From Gerard David to Pieter Pourbus to Emile Claus and Marcel Broodthaers. The Groeninge Museum offers a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the art history of Flanders. The centerpiece of the museum is the collection of Flemish Primitives with such well-known names as Jan van Eyck, Rogier van der Weyden and Hans Memling.

The Memling Museum at Sint Jans Hospital
Prepare yourself to go back in time and experience latter day healthcare. Over several centuries, brothers and sisters of religious orders tended to the sick at Sint Jan Hospital in Bruges. They left behind a treasure trove of stories, medical implements and works of art. The best of these is the 'Ursulaschrijn' by Hans Memling, a world renowned masterpiece from the Memling Museum that was realized in the medieval hospital. The second and more recent hospital building served as the backdrop for ‘Aspe’, a popular Flemish TV series.

M Museum Leveun
A very short name – M – considering that it’s a museum that is extremely diverse and has a substantial history. Previously, this was the Stedelijk Museum VanderKelen-Mertens, a real mouthful. The new Leuven museum unifies not only the old and new buildings, but also brings together old and new art. There’s place for paintings, sculpture, photography, video and film, design and architecture. Aside from these temporary exhibitions, there’s also a permanent collection that focuses on artistic production in Leuven and Brabant, from the Middle Ages until the present. For families, the museum organizes a ‘family day’ the first Sunday of each month; and for children there are workshops and internships during school vacations.

The MAS, Antwerp
The MAS is an innovative and ambitious project related to a topical and active city museum in Antwerp. It has been built on Hanzestedenplaats, in the center of the Eilandje district, the interface of city and port. MAS tells tales based on the amazing and diverse objects in the Municipal Collections, showcasing them in adapted presentations. The backbone is made up of the collections of the National Maritime Museum, the Museum for Regional Ethnology, the Ethnographic Museum, the Vleeshuis Museum and the collection of port-related maritime and industrial-archaeological objects dating from prehistoric to the present. But one of the most exciting aspects of the building is the building itself—check out the modern architecture and take the free escalators to the rooftop for a panoramic view over Antwerp!

Museum Plantin-Moretus
The Plantin-Moretus Museum is a printing plant and publishing house dating from the Renaissance and Baroque periods. Situated in Antwerp, one of the three leading cities of early European printing along with Paris and Venice, it is associated with the history of the invention and spread of typography. Its name refers to the greatest printer-publisher of the second half of the 16th century: Christopher Plantin (ca. 1520 - 1589). Here you can learn everything about early book printing and follow the fascinating family sagas of the Plantijns' and Moretus' of Antwerp. Not to be missed are the two oldest printing presses in the world, which date from around 1600.

Culture

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American Military Cemetery, Waregem
This is the only military cemetery in Belgium for American soldiers killed in World War I and the smallest American cemetery in Europe. The elegant Flanders Field American Cemetery and Memorial has 368 tombstones in white marble from Carrara and is located in a beautifully maintained park spread over two hectares. Every year a Memorial Day for American victims of war is held at the cemetery on the Sunday closest to 30 May. On 30 May 1927, Charles Lindbergh flew over this cemetery in his Spirit of St. Louis to salute his fallen compatriots and to scatter poppies over their graves, just nine days after his historic flight across the Atlantic Ocean.

In Flanders Fields Museum
The newly renovated In Flanders Fields Museum takes prime place as a must-see attraction in Ypres. A new permanent exhibition focuses on personal stories of ordinary people and establishes a link to the landscape of World War I in West Flanders. The museum has doubled in size and now hosts a WWI knowledge center. More than 2,000 original objects and documents are on display and visitors can follow four personal stories through interactive kiosks. New scenography highlights the most recent museum applications, including touch screens, interactive poppy bracelet, video projection and soundscapes. Everything contributes to a rich experience and submerses visitors in life on the front. In addition, visitors can now climb the bell tower for an extraordinary view of what was once a completely devastated region.

Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917
The museum focuses on the military history of the war, and in particular the Battle of Passchendaele. In 1917 the town of Passchendaele was the scene of some of the most dramatic events of the Great War. Almost half a million soldiers died, went missing or were seriously injured. Housed in a striking chateau, the museum in Zonnebeke focuses on the material aspects of the war, including uniforms, weaponry, engineered constructions and battlefield archaeology. Its reconstructed dug-out creates a realistic sense of what life would have been like for soldiers working and living in the trenches. The newly opened section of the museum is dedicated to the Battle of Passchendaele, especially the contribution of soldiers from the various Commonwealth countries involved in the battle.

Tyne Cot Cemetery
This is the largest Commonwealth War Graves Commission military cemetery in continental Europe, with almost 12,000 tombstones. The back wall of the graveyard is inscribed with the names of 34,957 missing soldiers who fell in the Battle for Passchendaele. The graveyard can be reached from the Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917 along a 3 km (2 mile) walking and cycling path.

Kazerne Dossin, Mechelen
Kazerne Dossin is no ordinary museum site, but a ‘place of remembrance’. The kazerne – or barracks – will be forever associated with Belgium’s Shoah or Holocaust. Between 1942 and 1944 the Nazis used the barracks as an assembly camp, transporting 25,484 Jews and 352 gypsies from here to Auschwitz-Birkenau. On this emotionally-charged site the museum tells the story of the persecution of Jews and gypsies in Belgium. The old Jewish Museum of Deportation and Resistance is now a memorial, a place of reflection for victims and their relatives, while a brand-new building – a white monolith - opposite the old barracks houses the permanent historical exhibition. The new building occupies the site of the former detention building, opposite the barracks, emphatically marking the spot where the events of the Second World War unfolded.

The Red Star Line Museum, Antwerp
The Red Star Line Museum tells the story of the millions of Europeans who dared to leave everything behind and go in search of happiness and a better life. It is a tale of high expectations and deep disappointments, of hope and sleepless nights. The shipping company’s old buildings will help make all these emotions and stories tangible and visible. The museum tells the story of the shipping company, of its origins, its growth and its demise. But above all, the museum focuses on the story of the millions of passengers of the shipping company.
 

Events

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Brussels Flower Carpet – August
Since 1971, every 2 years, the Grand-Place has been carpeted with flowers covering hundreds of square meters, each time with brand new motifs and more original from year to year. Laid flower by flower (begonias) by horticulturalists from Ghent, directly onto the cobblestones of the square, it’s also illuminated and adorned with fountains. This tapestry of plant life can be admired from the balcony of the Town Hall, which is open to visitors. Experience the beauty in August every even numbered year, 2016, 2018, ...

Pukkelpop – August
Pukkelpop is an alternative three-day music festival at Hasselt-Kiewit which is internationally recognized as the trendsetter among music festivals. Over the past years Pukkelpop has developed into one of the biggest alternative open-air festivals in Belgium. Pukkelpop has an eye for the best in underground music. On eight stages, Pukkelpop offers the most progressive, contemporary and alternative of today's and tomorrow's music.

Rock Werchter – July
For four whole days, on three stages, the festival features the music industry’s latest and greatest. Famous names to grace Rock Werchter stages include Jack Johnson, The Black Keys, Artic Monkeys and Metallica, among a host of others. The festival site is increasing in size, to the tune of two and a half hectares.

Tomorrowland – July
Yesterday is History, Today is a Gift, Tomorrow is Mystery. What started out in 2005 as a one-day festival has grown into a three-day festival. It is one of the biggest electronic music festivals in the world, taking place in the city of Boom, just south of Antwerp.

Holy Blood Procession – May
The Procession of the Holy Blood, which dates back to 1304, is held every year on Ascension Day. Despite the changes that the procession has undergone throughout the centuries, the most profound spirituality prevails through the memory of the suffering of Jesus Christ. There are two parts to the procession: the first by tableaux and floats enacts scenes from the Bible up through the coming of Christ and His Resurrection. The second part depicts the return of the Count of Flanders to Bruges.

Ommegang – July
This great folkloric procession is one of the most important events in Brussels history and culture. The Ommegang recreates a famous celebration organized in 1549 on the Grand’Place in honor of Charles V and his son Philippe II. The whole of the royal court parades before your eyes in all its finery: more than 1,000 extras in period costume, dozens of horses, carts and giants. Horse-drawn carriages and flag throwers are also at the party in the magical setting of the Grand Place.

Royal Greenhouses of Laeken – April/May
Built in 1873 by the architect Alphonse Balat at the request of Leopold II, this is a real town of glass which took more than 20 years to grow in the area around the Royal Castle of Laeken: rotundas, cupolas and galleries house magnificent collections of exotic plants, trees and flowers, some of which were brought back from the Congo. The greenhouses are open for one fortnight a year in the spring just when the azaleas are in full bloom; the place is magical, the setting enchanting and the fragrances captivating.

Annual Christmas Markets – November through January
There are wonderful Christmas markets held each year in Brussels, Bruges, Antwerp and Leuven filled with holiday cheer!

Armistice Remembrance – November
The Armistice is commemorated each year in Ypres with an extensive programme of events. Highlights include the Special Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate and the ‘The Great War Remembered’ concert in St Martin’s Cathedral.

Ghent Festivities – July
After more than 160 years of existence, the Ghent Festivities have become one of the best festivals in Europe. Four international festivals take place there over a period of ten days, with free music on 10 squares, children’s entertainment at various different locations in the city and hundreds of indoor and outdoor activities. Now the festival starts on a Friday evening and ends on a Sunday evening.
 

Explore The Outdoors

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Bruges Ballooning
Bruges Ballooning offers, in exclusive co-operation with the city of Bruges, hot air balloon flights over the center of Bruges. Daily departures at sunrise and 2 hours before sunset. A one-hour balloon trip takes you over the city of Bruges and its wonderful surrounding castles and fields. Every balloon flight is different; different people from different countries join in. Champagne and hotel pick-up are included.

Kleine Zavel
There are 58 statues in this beautiful park in the fashionable Sablon district of Brussels. The Kleine Zavel (or Petit Sablon in French) was opened in 1890 and is the work of architect Henri Beyaert (1823-1894). It is enclosed by a wrought iron, art nouveau fence that is punctuated at regular intervals by neo-Gothic pillars, each bearing a different bronze statue. The statues, 48 in all, represent the Brussels guilds. The 10 statues inside the park are well known humanists such as Mercator and Ortelius.
 

Family

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Antwerp Zoo
The Antwerp Zoo is the oldest and largest in Europe, housing more than 4000 animals. Right across the street from the Zoo, you can visit the underwater world of Aquatopia.

Castle of the counts, Ghent
Discover your inner knight in the halls and dungeons of the Castle of the Counts, but don’t let the torture rooms scare you! The view from the top of the castle is magical.

Atomium, Brussels
Nine large spheres, 20 pipes and 102 meters (335 ft) high. What else could it be but Atomium, the pre-eminent symbol of Belgium? This creative pearl came into existence on the occasion of the World Exposition in 1958. Six months later it was due to be pulled down, but thankfully that didn’t happen because of the enthusiasm of the Belgian public and much attention from abroad. The Atomium stayed standing. Since then it’s become an obligatory stop for school trips, not just for the interesting exhibition ‘Expo 58’ but also for the unsurpassed view of Brussels. This attractive construction has been beautifully restored: the balls shine again just as brightly as before.

Chocolate and Friet Museum, Bruges
Chocolate museum: Have you always wanted to know more about your favorite treat? Visit Choco-Story and learn how chocolate is made. If you're still hungry, you can head over to the Frietmuseum and learn about national dishes: Belgian Fries. Afterwards you can treat yourself to some fries at a local ‘frietkot’.

Planckendael
In the little, yet fun, town Mechelen you can pay a visit to the unique zoological garden Planckendael. Planckendael is now home to the Antwerp Zoo’s most famous baby, or by now toddler, Kai-mook the elephant and all of his family.

Technopolis®
Have you always wanted to land an airplane, sleep on a bed of nails, stand in the middle of a soap bubble or ride a bike 5 meters (15 ft) above the ground? At the Technopolis, the Flemish science center in Mechelen, you can! There you can experiment with more than 280 interactive exhibits which are fun, exciting and instructive.

Food

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Whether you are looking for fine dining, a beer café, or want to become a Flemish foodie, Flanders has an endless list of options for you to choose from on every corner.

Monuments

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Canadian monument- Saint Julian
This impressive statue is popularly known as 'The Canadian'. The 10 meter high granite pillar supports a bust of a Canadian soldier whose folded hands are resting on his reversed rifle. This position, 'Arms reversed', is the traditional military greeting to fallen soldiers. Two thousand Canadian soldiers died here during a gas attack in April 1915. Located in a park full of roses, conifers and juniper bushes, it is correct to say that this memorial is one of the front's most beautiful monuments. The word 'Canada' is engraved in large letters on the front of the pillar.


German Military Cemetery, Langemark
Behind its monumental entrance building lie some 44,300 German soldiers, half of whom are buried in a mass grave. Over 3,000 cadets and student volunteers are among the dead, which is why the cemetery is also called the Studentenfriedhof.

 

Museums

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Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and of Military History
Calling all fans of weapons, armour, army uniforms, tanks and fighter aircraft: this is one of the largest military museums in the world! Not only is there a lot to see, but also to experience. The 'kids tour' will take you back to the 19th century and 'Edmond the dog' will lead you through the trenches of the 'Great War'. The temporary exhibitions are also well-worth seeing. They cover topics such as the Shoah, the Korean War, animals in war and much more. In 2011, the museum celebrated its 100 year jubilee with a photo competition.
 

Places

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Flanders, Belgium is located in Western Europe. Bordering the North Sea between France and the Netherlands, Belgium is about the size of Maryland and Flanders roughly the size of Connecticut.


Brussels
It is an international metropolis – a mosaic of languages, cultures, and traditions. Brussels hosts over 80 museums, numerous tourist attractions, a vibrant nightlife, countless restaurants and shopping opportunities. Brussels is also the ultimate European city. As the headquarters to the European Union and NATO, it is often referred to as The Capital of Europe. The starting point for any visit to Brussels is the Grand Place which was built as a merchants' market in the 13th century. It serves as the center of the city and hosts numerous concerts and festivals, including the Ommegang pageant held every year in July. Every other year for two days (next time will be August 2016, then 2018...) the Grand Place is decked out in an amazing flower carpet, made up of one million begonias.

Bruges
The heart of Bruges (written “Brugge” in the Dutch language), surrounded by an almost continuous ring of canals, is the best preserved example of medieval Flanders. So picture postcard perfect is the city center, known as 'the Venice of the North', that it is virtually impossible to take a bad photograph. With the city center closed off to cars, all the stunning beauty and culture of this unforgettable city can be easily explored on foot, by boat ride along quiet canals, or by horse-drawn carriage over cobblestone streets. Although Bruges is a small city, it will easily take more than one day to explore all of its architectural and artistic treasures, folklore, chocolate shops, lace boutiques, and local restaurants. The historic center of Bruges is on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and is teeming with places of interest. Bruges is so magical that it's akin to a film set. This seems appropriate given that the 2008 film ‘In Bruges’ was filmed on location in the city. This film, starring Ralph Fiennes and Colin Farrell, features two hit men holing up in the city after a difficult job.

Antwerp
Belgium's ‘so cool it’s hot’ city has received a lot of well-deserved attention lately, especially since becoming one of Europe’s Cool Capitals. Always creative - in the 16th and 17th century, the city was home to great masters such as Rubens and Anthony Van Dyck; in the 20th and 21st century, to fashion designers like the world-famous Antwerp Six. There are always a lot of cultural activities, but the city is also well worth a visit for its excellent restaurants, bars and clubs, as well as for its shopping. Much like Antwerp diamonds, the city sparkles with an impressive range of architecture from medieval buildings in Art Nouveau styles to the contemporary Courthouse.

Mechelen
Mechelen is a small and picturesque city that is big on charm and history but is probably best known for its carillon school. Here students from all over the world come to learn to play church bells. One of the most pleasant experiences to have in Mechelen is to sit outside on the terrace of a cafe sipping a local beer while listening to the delightful bell music coming from the sky. It is a city thriving with quaint shops, car-free areas and amazingly pleasant little squares. The grace of centuries-old palaces and majestic churches appeals to everyone. Mechelen is a city for all ages. Young people can actively enjoy themselves in the Toy Museum or the Tivoli Children's Farm, whereas the young at heart can entertain themselves at the Anker, one of the oldest operating breweries in Belgium. There are also many parks and gardens to stroll in, and the boat trip to these parks from Mechelen Central Station is not to be missed. Mechelen has no less than 336 listed buildings and monuments including eight gothic and baroque churches from the 14th century through the 17th century.

Leuven
Whether you’re looking to quench your thirst for knowledge or just your thirst, Leuven is the ideal place. This youthful town, less than half an hour by train from Brussels, is home to one of Europe’s oldest universities (KU Leuven), and history is present on every street corner. A few lucky students even have the distinct privilege of living in the 13th century stone beguinage (begijnhof) selected as a world heritage site by UNESCO. And where there are students...there is beer! Leuven is Belgium’s reigning brewing capital – no small feat in a country that produces hundreds of delicious varieties. Leuven is the headquarters of ABInbev, the world's largest brewing company, famous for Stella Artois beers. Centuries of Flemish tradition and craftsmanship lie behind Leuven’s premium brews. More info on all beer related activities in Leuven. The university, one of the oldest and most important in Europe, has its roots in the center of Leuven, and its historic college buildings dominate many of the squares and streets. The university and its 28,000 students and professors have a special tie with Leuven, which has existed since the university’s founding in 1425. Leuven is a great place for the curious traveler with time to explore. It is an intimate city; any spot can be easily reached on foot or by bicycle.

Ghent
“Here’s a secret within a secret: Ghent might just be the best European city you’ve never thought of visiting, in a country that continues to be criminally overlooked.” - Lonely Planet 10 places to visit in 2011. If you’re the type who prefers exploring away from the tourist hordes, funky Ghent is definitely the place to go. Ghent is praised for its brilliant mix of a wonderful past and a vibrant present. Here hides one of Europe’s finest panoramas of water, spires and centuries-old grand houses. But this is no place to simply kick back. It’s also Flanders’ biggest university town, which means linger-as-long-as-you-like cafés, well-priced restaurants and a laid-back atmosphere. Under the watchful eye of Gravensteen Castle or Castle of the Counts, the city boasts an Opera House, 18 museums, 100 churches and over 400 historical buildings. The most visited site in Ghent is the famous polyptych, The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, painted by the brothers Jan and Hubert van Eyck in 1432. It still hangs in its original location, the St. Bavo Cathedral. The locals, while intensely proud of their city, are very modest and would never brag about its merits. One reason, perhaps, why it has taken so long for the rest of the world to discover this little gem.

 

Restaurants

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Top Beer Restaurants in Flanders


1. Pakhuis in Ghent
You will enjoy the interior as much as the food here in restaurant Pakhuis. It is situated in the city center of Ghent and offers a wide range of traditional upscale dishes.

2. Domus Leuven
Domus Leuven is a cozy restaurant with a traditional interior and great food made with their own Domus Beer. You can try a Domusburger or just order a Domus beer to improve your dish. Don't forget to visit the brewery on your way out!

3. Restobieres in Brussels
You should come and taste the outstanding prune rabbit served with a trappist or a gueuze from Cantillon in an authentic setting, in the heart of the Marolles. Restobieres is specialized in the typical regional cuisine cooked with beer.

4. Duvels Genot in Antwerp
While enjoying one of their fantastic meals made with beer, you are situated at the water with the best view on the MAS museum. The interior is decorated with national and international artwork. If you are not that hungry, just adore the wide range of beers, wines and champagnes.

Shopping

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Visit authentic Belgian designers’ shops in Antwerp so you can bring home unique styles you will only find at shops like Stijl, Dries Van Noten, Kipling, and Ann Demeulemeester. Also, with your choice of endless boutiques, all of your shopping needs are sure to be satisfied. Don’t forget to stop by a variety of beer and chocolate shops to taste all of what Flanders has to offer.

Sports

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Brussels Marathon & Half Marathon
Some sportsmen and women maintain that the Brussels Marathon is one of “the 101 races to run before you die”! Perhaps not everyone’s experience of it is quite so thrilling but one thing is certain: every participant makes his race an occasion of fun and sharing (or.... of pain too), some running for themselves, others as a group or for a good cause. The Half Marathon appeals to the runners with not quite so much stamina and is run over a shorter.

Tour de France
In 2014 the Tour de France commemorated the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I by holding a stage in the West Flanders town of Ypres. In 2015 the Tour visited the city of Antwerp. And we look forward to more stages in the future.

Tour of Flanders
Taking place this year (2016) for the 100th time, the cycling classic Tour of Flanders is one of the twelve world cup competitions. In-between the departure point in Bruges and arrival point in Oudenaarde, cyclists are faced with an exhausting ride across the hills of the Flemish Ardennes.

Tour of Flanders for cycling tourists
Thousands of cycling tourists will tread in the footsteps of Tom Boonen and Fabian Cancellara and cycle the Tour of Flanders themselves. At the request of the public authorities and to guarantee the quality of the course, only a limited number of participants can be accepted. If you want to ensure your place on the starting line, it is best not to wait too long to register. What’s more: the sooner you register, the less you pay. The Tour of Flanders Cyclo is the absolute classic among the cycling tourist circuits and an ideal opportunity to beat your cycling friends, to amaze your family or simply to bring the journey to a successful conclusion. On the following day you can watch the pros thunder along the same circuit from your easy chair or the sideline.

What kind of vacation would you like to take?