List of cities in Belgium by population

List of cities in Belgium by population

Belgium is situated in Western Europe and is one of the smallest countries on the continent. And yet, there are a lot of reasons to visit Belgium. You can fall in love with the local cuisine, including Belgian waffles, fries and beer. But the biggest reason to travel to Belgium is the local architecture. Every big city in Belgium is a separate thing of beauty with picturesque streets and dozens of historical landmarks. We’ve prepared a list of cities in Belgium that you must visit.

Ghent river

List of biggest cities in Belgium – Top 5

1. City of Brussels

Brussels Grand Palace

Population: 1,019,000

Brussels is the biggest city in Belgium by population and perhaps the most interesting and beautiful one. The town, which began its existence as a fortress, went through different stages of development in its existence. It is considered to be the capital of Flanders, Belgium, and even Europe.

The most popular tourist attraction in Brussels is the cobbled medieval-styled main square – Grand-Palace. Among dozens of impressive buildings, you can also find the flower market. It fills the streets with a variety of bright colours and smells. Once every two years, in the middle of August, the square is also decorated with thousands of begonia flowers that create a unique, gigantic floral carpet. While you’re here, you should also visit the Gothic Town Hall, which was constructed back in the 14th century.

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Brussels archway

Whenever you happen to be in Brussels, you have to visit the City Museum, also known as the Kings House due to its royally astonishing look. If you want to enjoy a calm, relaxing day, take a stroll through the Heysel Park and Atomium. The Atomium is an enormous, more than a hundred meters in height, model of an atom made out of metal.

Brussels Atomium monument

Other places of attraction in Brussels include:

  • Manneken-Pis
  • Belgian Comic Strip Center
  • Mini-Europe
  • Basilica of the Sacred Heart
  • Royal Museum of Fine Arts

2. Antwerp

Antwerp city

Population: 459,000

Antwerp is the second biggest city in Belgium, and also the country’s largest port. Due to the historical significance of this city, its atmosphere portrays power and wealth. Antwerp is called the diamond capital of the world. That is because the diamond mining industry has always been the backbone of the city’s economy.

As we already mentioned, Belgium is most known for its beautiful buildings and cathedrals. Your first stop should be the Antwerp Central Station. This structure possesses an awe-inspiring gothic exterior, and the look of the main hall will make your jaw drop.

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Antwerp Central Station

Next, we recommend visiting the Museum Plantin-Moretus. Not only is it beautiful on its own, here you can learn the history of printing press. Another recommended landmark is the Rubenshuis – the residence of the world renowned artist – Pieter Paul Rubens. For the nature lovers, we advise you take a trip to the historic Antwerp Zoo.

Here’s a short list of other places in Antwerp that are worth a visit:

  • Red Star Line Museum
  • Cathedral of Our Lady
  • Het Steen
  • MAS Museum
Rubenshuis in Antwerp

Other than the mentioned landmarks, Antwerp is also known as the fashion and art center of Belgium. If you happen to travel here, be sure to take a look at the local galleries, and you won’t be disappointed.

Tip: To get the most out of your experience, we advise to do the majority of your exploring on top of a rented bicycle.

3. Ghent

Ghent Canal

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Population: 231,000

Ghent is the third biggest city in Belgium by population. The town itself is a magnificent mixture of bridges, canals, and monuments that will take your breath away. Add to that the local Flemish cuisine, and you have a wonderful vacation.

One of the must-visit places in Ghent is the Patershol. It’s a wild arrangement of twisting cobblestone streets with old houses and semi-hidden restaurants waiting for a curious traveler. Another stop should be the MSK art gallery. It contains not only hundreds of pieces of fine art, but the building itself is styled to look like an ancient Greek temple.

Bicycles in Ghent near canal

People who love to visit Christian landmarks must see the St-Pietersabdij – one of the biggest abbeys in Belgium. We also advise you to take a look at the grand St-Baafskathedraal cathedral.

Tourists interested in historical battles should travel to the 12-th century Gravensteen castle. The last place we recommend seeing is the MIAT museum of Ghent’s history. It’s located in a 19-th century mill-factory structure and has five floors of various expositions.

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4. Charleroi

Charleroi city center

Population: 200,000

Charleroi is the biggest city in the Wallonia region and the fourth most populated city in the country. This town is commonly overlooked by tourists that are planning to visit Belgium. The reason lies within the fact that Charleroi is an industrial city and so, regarding landmarks, it isn’t as attractive as Brussels or Antwerp. The town earned its wealth by being the Belgian leader in the production of iron, steel, glass, and chemicals.

Despite its industrial nature, Charleroi has more than enough attractions to keep a traveler interested for a couple of days.

Charleroi Town Hall

The Jules Destree Museum offers its visitors historical documents from the last few centuries, while the Museum of Fine Arts can also steal a couple of hours of your time. Architecture-wise, we recommend you see the Town Hall, as it is undoubtedly the most impressive building in Charleroi. The structure is an unusual combination of the Classical and Art Deco styles and is worth taking a couple of pictures.

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By the way, if you’re a fan of photography, Charleroi is the place for you. The city is the proud owner of the largest Photography Museum in Europe and is a Mecca for the followers of this art form.

5. Liege

Liege Cityscape

Population: 182,000

Like the previous town in our list, Liege is also one of the biggest industrial centers in Belgium. It was one of the first towns in the world to start mining coal and forging steel. Liege also doesn’t have a lot of monuments or castles, but the places it does have are definitely worth seeing.

The most beautiful architectural structure is the Palais des Princes-Eveques. Formerly the palace of princes, now it serves as the Walloon government house. This building is a prime example of a mixture of the Renaissance and Gothic styles.

Another landmark is the Museum of Walloon Life that used to be a Minorite monastery. As Liege is the biggest city in the region, this museum has thousands of exhibits that depict the culture and history of Wallonia. While you’re here, you can also visit the Museum of Religious Art that is situated right next door.

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Liege Landmark

As you’re wandering around the central part of the city, walk along the Feronstree street, which will not only make you feel like a time traveler, it will also send you back to Medieval times and will lead you to the Ilot Saint-Georges Complex and the Museum of Walloon Art.

If you’re a romantic at heart, we also recommend you take a stroll along the bank of the Meuse River. The calm, relaxing atmosphere and the historical surroundings will prove to be unforgettable.

As you can see, the biggest cities in Belgium have a lot to offer. All you have to do is to take a step in their direction, and you will never regret your decision.

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