Belgium is a small European country, but it has ample attractions and activities to delight a couple on holiday — especially a pair with a good appetite. Below find my personal list of the top Belgian attractions and activities for lovers.
Brussels' central square, the cobblestoned Grand Place, is lined with ornate gothic and baroque structures that centuries ago housed members of Belgium's powerful guilds.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Grand Place is a must-see attraction for photo-takers. Some buildings are decorated with gold leaf; all surround you with a sense of the ancient city. Although you may be tempted to slip into one of its many pretty street-level cafes, be on notice that some of them are simply tourist traps where the food is, in a word, bad.
One of Europe's earliest covered shopping areas, Galeries Royal St Hubert puts Belgium's best products on display. There's a lace shop, a Delvaux store that features high-end leather bags, toy and shoe stores, and jewelers. But the category you will see most on this skylit strip are chocolatiers, the pride of Brussels. Neuhaus and Corné are among the brands that cause window-shoppers to start salivating and treat themselves to a taste of bliss.
Belgium is justifiably proud of its world-class beer production and encourages visitors to try a variety on their visit. I've heard that the number of unique beers in Belgium ranges between 400 and 500 for standard brews and more than 8,000 for special one-offs. So it's likely you'll find several to please your palate. (Especially if you combine them with thick Belgian fries.) At a shop off Brussels' Galeries St. Hubert called the Bier Tempel, you can choose from hundreds in stock. They include this saucy set from a steam brewery.
Brussels' Magritte Museum houses the largest collection of works by the famous Surrealist painter. From the building's trompe l'oeil exterior to its mind-bending display of paintings by the renowned Belgian artist, couples will be entertained and intrigued by what they see.
You know how to eat them. But would you like to know how to make them? You can enroll in the workshop at Mary Chocolatier of Brussels. During a two-hour morning or afternoon session, you'll get a 45-minute overview of the history of chocolate and learn how the company makes its artisanal brand. And then you'll get to try your hand at the skill that eluded Lucy and Ethel. Click on the link to make an online reservation.
Held on Sundays, it's one of the oldest in Europe. You're likely to see a lot of old silver pieces, jewelry, Art Deco pieces, and less-expensive items easy to take home such as prints, corkscrews and kitchen items, lace handkerchiefs, and other collectibles.
AddressSinter-Goedeleplein, 1000 Brussel, Belgium
You need not be religious or even spiritual to be impressed by the size and beauty of the Brussels Cathedral. From its soaring vaulted ceilings to its magnificent pipe organ to its hand-carved wooden confession booths and intricate stained glass windows, the cathedral awes and inspires.
Treat Yourselves to a Gourmet Meal
Chef Yves Mattagne consistently earns two Michelin stars for the fine fare at his Sea Grill restaurant inside the Radisson Blu hotel. Although the restaurant décor needs an update, the food is modern and inspired. We were particularly impressed with the Belgian caviar served with crème fraiche and a perfectly formed waffle flecked with nori.
Stay Someplace Wonderful
Why dampen a visit to Brussels by sleeping at a mediocre chain hotel when you can cosset in truly beautiful surroundings, where service is excellent and the guest rooms so seductive you won't want to leave each morning? High fliers and big spenders opt for the penthouse at Hotel Amigo, which overlooks Grand Place and commands one of the best views in Brussels. Two other recommended hotels are the classy The Dominican and the chic Sofitel Brussels Europe.
Most travelers agree that ancient Bruges, with its scenic canals, cobblestone streets, human-scale buildings (some are more than 500 years old), and horse-drawn carriages is the most romantic place in all of Belgium. And it's only a short train ride from Brussels. Couples who want to experience more of the country's historic landscapes in an even lower-key location ought to put Ghent on their itinerary. And if your eyes sparkle at the thought of diamonds, you must visit Antwerp, one of the world's largest jewelry centers.