BELGIUM – EXPERIENCE LIFE AT THE HEART OF EUROPE
Culinary delights, culture galore and stunning scenery – Belgium has it all! You’ll find Radisson Blu Hotels in the country’s top spots, including lively Brussels, atmospheric Hasselt and aristocratic Spa, the world’s original wellness destination. With more than 2,000 restaurants in Brussels alone, Belgium is a true gastronomic superpower. Don’t leave without a taste of some delicious mussels and fries, and a crispy homemade waffle!
Brussels is not only the capital of Belgium but one of Europe’s great cities. To stay in a hotel right in the city centre, we offer luxurious and comfortable rooms in the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel de Bruxelles. During your stay in Brussels, start by visiting the Grand-Place, the square famous for being one of the most beautiful in the world. Next, head for the Îlot Sacré, a typical neighbourhood with cobbled streets and ancient houses. Blend in with the locals in the Marolles where you can browse the shops or just take a walk in this stylish, traditional area. To complete your excursion, see if you can find the Mannekin-Pis, the statue of the small boy which has become the emblem of Brussels.
The capital is also well known for its numerous museums. Among the must-visit ones are the Royal Museum of Ancient Art and its modern equivalent, which are located opposite each other close to the royal palace. You will also enjoy the Belgian Comic Strip Centre and the MIM (a musical instrument museum), which has proved to be very popular with visitors. Complete your tour of Brussels museums with a visit to the Magritte museum and enter into the poetic and surrealist world of this Belgian painter.
Where to eat and drink in the capital
Brussels has a wide variety of bars and restaurants where you can sample Belgian specialities and international dishes. Mussels and chips are a must-try meal during your trip to Belgium – they go perfectly with a Belgian beer and a waffle for dessert. Other traditional dishes include stewed eel, blood pudding and the famous ‘stoemp’, mashed potato and carrots, usually served with a sausage. Enjoy fine dining at the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel’s Sea Grill restaurant where you can enjoy its celebrated lobster dish.
Entertainment in Brussels
Brussels is a cosmopolitan and cultural city which is full of entertainment, day and night. Festivals are part of the Brussels way of life, particularly in summer – experience pyrotechnic shows at the Atomium, a variety of concerts at the Brussels Summer Festival and folk festivals as well. On 9 August is Meyboom, a tradition where a tree is brought to the rue des Sables and planted there, and Ommegang, a large-scale procession, takes place in June and July.
Although it is visited less frequently than the rest of the country, the North of Belgium is still full of treasures just waiting to be discovered. Take the time to take a trip to Antwerp, a cosmopolitan and artistic city where you can immerse yourself in the heart of Belgium’s cultural heritage, including seeing lots of Rubens’s works. Staying at the Radisson Blu Astrid Hotel in Antwerp, you will be in the perfect place for visiting all the well-known highlights, such as the Grand-Place, which is lovely to visit on market days, the astonishing Notre-Dame cathedral and the Cogels Osylei neighbourhood, which is full of Belle Époque architecture.
The must-see museums
Antwerp was the home of Pierre Paul Rubens, so it is the perfect place to immerse yourself completely in his world. Start at Rubens House, where you can find out more about his life and works, then follow this up with a visit to his parents’ house. Complement this with a trip to the Royal Fine Art Museum, which has amazing Flemish and European collections. Complete your trip by going to the docks area where you will find the Museum aan de Stroom (MAS), which has thematic displays and offers a beautiful panorama of the city from its top-floor terrace.
The historic university city of Ghent
The welcoming and picturesque city of Ghent is situated to the north-west of Brussels. Its importance in the Middle Ages is seen today in its historic heritage and its imposing façades. During your visit, take the time to admire the amazing Gothic Saint-Bavon cathedral which is home to van Eyck’s Adoration of the Mystic Lamb. Add the Fine Art Museum to your itinerary too, and make sure you climb to the top of the 14th century belfry, to be rewarded by a superb panorama of the city.
Where to eat in the North
The North of Belgium is a friendly place where meals shared with friends are de rigueur. Try some chips from the local chip shop, then enjoy carbonade flamande, a type of sweet and sour beef and onion stew made with beer. Stop by in one of the many café-bars for an amber beer – De Koninck is a very popular beer in Antwerp. This city is also famous for its pastries and confectionery. Make sure you try ‘Antwerp hands’, which can be biscuits or chocolates covered with marzipan, mokatines (hard coffee-flavoured sweets), and chocolate of course!
Make your way into the heart of forest country, green valleys and cultural towns. East Belgium is full of surprises! Start your visit to this region in Liège, a city which is particularly vibrant thanks to its student population. One of its main sights is Le Carré, with its numerous cafés which are lively every day of the week. You can also admire many religious edifices, including Liège Cathedral, built in the Middle Ages, Saint-Jacques Church and the recently restored Collegiate Church of Saint-Barthélemy.
Complete relaxation in Spa
To make the most of your trip to Belgium, do not miss the opportunity to visit Spa. This is the town which has given its name to well-being centres around the world, so Spa is the perfect place to indulge in thermal baths or relax in a fitness and well-being centre. By staying at the Radisson Blu Palace Hotel or the Radisson Blu Balmoral Hotel, you will be able to unwind in the heart of the natural surroundings of the Belgian Ardennes. You can also visit the golf course or the casino, and take a stroll in the Sept Heures park.
The urban-rural city of Hasselt
The welcoming and green city of Hasselt is made in the defining image of East Belgium. You will love its relaxing natural surroundings, Japanese garden where serenity rules, and the interesting museums. These include the Jenever Museum, where you can learn about the manufacturing of this Dutch gin, the Fashion Museum and its huge collection, and the Z33, a contemporary art space which hosts films and exhibitions, which are often free to visit. Staying at the Radisson Blu Hotel d’Hasselt, you can relax in the sauna and covered pool, then take a stroll in the marketplace right by the hotel.
A trip around the Belgian Ardennes
Namur is the gateway to the Belgian Ardennes, and is an excellent starting point for a visit to the region. Take a moment to admire the Baroque cathedral of Saint-Aubin, then visit the citadel, a 10th-century fortress overlooking the city. From Namur, you can set off for a walk on one of the many footpaths, or take your bike on one of the RAVel tow paths. An example of one such route is the GR126 from Namur to Dinant
Bruges is one of the major cities of Flanders. This historic and vibrant city will enchant you with its romantic atmosphere and canals, which you can travel by barge. Climb to the top of the 12th-century belfry in the Grand Place. This is the heart of the city which extends across 1 hectare from the centre. Next, head to the Place du Bourg for a coffee or beer in an authentic atmosphere. If you’re a museum-lover, take time to acquaint yourself with the world-famous Groeninge collections, and visit the Historium which exhibits fascinating historical reconstructions to immerse you in the history of the city.
The west is where you will find the Belgian coast, the beaches of Flanders and the picturesque coastal ports. The area of Knokke-Heist is 30 minutes north of Bruges, with its 11 km of coastline and beaches, and during your trip here you can visit Heist, Duinbergen, or the famous town of Albertstrand. Continuing along the coast to the west, you arrive in Ostend in approximately 40 minutes. This city is particularly busy in weekend evenings, when locals and visitors alike come to dine on seafood in the seafront restaurants, before enjoying a drink in one of the bars on Langestraat.
The land of confectionery
Your trip to Belgium would be incomplete without trying some of the Flanders specialities and local produce. As Bruges is the chocolate capital, you shouldn’t miss a trip to one of the city’s chocolate shops. You will delight in the home-made pralines, truffles and chocolate sea shells, and traditional Belgian waffles are also an integral part of Bruges and Flanders culinary heritage. Enjoy them warm with crumbled sugar in the ‘Liègeois’ style, or try some Flanders waffles, which are thicker and crispier.
Entertainment and local celebrations
The festivals and celebrations allow you to discover another side to Bruges and West Belgium. Do not miss the family-friendly Giants of Ath festival, which is in August. The Reiefeest, the Festival of Canals, takes place every three years. The Procession of Saint-Sang is on the Thursday of Ascension, when you can travel back in time to the Medieval era in the streets of Bruges. There are free large-screen films in the summer on Côte Beach. Finally, the famous Festival of Prawns in Oostduinkerke is very popular with the Belgians and an occasion not to be missed.