22 cities in Belgium to visit in 2023: explore the country's best attractions

22 cities in Belgium to visit in 2023: explore the country's best attractions

Numerous lovers of medieval towns and Renaissance architecture have listed Belgium on their travel bucket lists. Foodies would also love to try the chocolate, waffles, and beer in this country. If the opportunity to tour the country comes, you should know all the must-visit cities in Belgium. This way, you can create a tour schedule that allows you to get the best experience in the country.

cities in Belgium to put on your bucket list
The Belgium national flag flies against a blue background. Photo: pexels.com, @Ivy Nguyen (modified by author)
Source: UGC

Did you know there are 15 primary and many other secondary cities in Belgium? There are plenty of urban areas for local and international tourists to experience and enjoy in this Western European country.

Top cities in Belgium to visit

The capital city of Belgium is Brussels. It is the largest municipality and historical centre in the country. Besides, it is the administrative centre of the European Union.

Belgium has multiple other cities and urban centres to explore as a tourist. If you are looking for a place in Belgium to tour, you should check out the list of cities in the country below.

1. Brussels

Brussels is the country's capital city. Commonly called the heart of Europe, it is also one of the richest cities in Belgium.

This vibrant city has a rich history and stunning architecture. It is also known for its delicious cuisine and a unique cultural tapestry.

When you visit Brussels, you must check out the Grand Place, a UNESCO-listed cobblestoned square surrounded by gilded guild halls. Art lovers should also visit the Bozar, a multi-purpose centre for fine arts. Other must-visit locations are listed below.

  • Comic strip murals
  • Monk (Try healthy beer)
  • Atomium (Bizarre silver structure)
  • Jeu de Balle flea market
  • Art Nouveau architecture
  • Chasseurs Ardennais Market
  • L’Epicerie (One-woman restaurant)
  • Beer tasting tour
  • Dieweg Cemetery

2. Antwerp

Antwerp is one of the major cities in Belgium. It is situated on the banks of the River Scheldt and is ideal for people who wish to witness and experience a blend of rich history, artistic heritage, and luxury.

Antwerp is commonly known as the Fashion Capital of Belgium or Diamond City. It is home to the famous Royal Academy of Fine Arts, which has nurtured some of the world's best designers.

Once there, you must visit the Cathedral of Our Lady, which houses the work of artist Peter Paul Rubens. The cathedral tower has panoramic views of the city. Other must-see and experience sites are listed below.

  • Central Station (See the most beautiful trains)
  • Antwerp Zoo
  • Diamond District (Where polished diamonds are traded)
  • Meir Shopping Street
  • Plantin-Moretus Museum
  • Grote Markt
  • Vleeshuis
  • Het Steen Castle (Oldest building in the city)
  • Antwerp Ferris Wheel
  • Scheldt River

3. Bruges

Bruges is the capital of West Flanders in northwest Belgium and is one of the best cities in Belgium to visit. It is distinguished by its cobbled streets, medieval buildings, and canals.

Did you know Bruges is commonly known as The city of love in Belgium? Its other nickname is Venice of the North.

Do not leave Bruges without climbing the Belfry Tower. The tower has 366 steps to the top, and once you get there, you will be rewarded with breathtaking views of Bruges and its surroundings.

You must also devour some rich, velvety chocolates from artisanal shops on the streets. Other things to do and see are listed below.

  • Basilica of the Holy Blood (A cloth soaked in Jesus Christ’s blood is found here!)
  • The Canal
  • Chocolatier Dumon
  • 2be Beer Wall (How many types of beer do you know? You will be surprised!)
  • Torture Museum
  • The Lovers’ Bridge and Lake of Love
  • L’Estaminet (Enjoy the food!)
  • Bruges Markt

4. Ghent

Ghent is, without a doubt, one of the prettiest cities in the country. This urban area is located along the banks of River Lys and Scheldt. Begin your journey in Ghent with a visit to Gravensteen Castle.

Next, check out St. Bavo’s Cathedral before wandering along the picturesque Graslei and Korenlei canals. Other locations you should tour are listed below.

  • Ghent Belfry
  • Patershol
  • Vrijdagmarkt (Friday market)
  • Citadel Park
  • Castle of Gerald the Devil
  • Great Butcher's Hall
  • St Nicholas' Church

5. Lier

Lier is one of the names of cities in Belgium. It is a municipality located on the outskirts of Antwerp. The city centre is surrounded by the river Nete, around which it grew.

You must explore Grote Markt to see Gothic and Renaissance architecture. Ensure you do not miss Lier's Zimmer Tower, that has an iconic astronomical clock. Climb the tower to view the town and its scenic surroundings. Check out other spots to visit.

  • Begijnhof Lier (Community for widows and unmarried women)
  • Stadhuis
  • Zimmer Museum
  • Stadsmuseum Lier
  • Sint-Gummaruskerk
  • Gevangenenpoort (Prison Gate)
  • Vleeshuis
  • Kinderboerderij ‘t Struisvogelnest
  • Wintertuin
cities in Belgium to visit in 2023
A close-up picture of the Leuven Town Hall Façade. Photo: pexels.com, @Diego F. Parra
Source: UGC

6. Mechelen

Mechelen is a hidden gem in the country. It is located between Brussels and Antwerp. The urban centre has impressive cathedrals, numerous museums and galleries, and many stunning churches.

The magnificent St. Rumbold’s Cathedral has a towering spire that dominates the skyline. It is a must-visit spot. Mechelen is less crowded and far more affordable than Brussels and Bruges. Other must-see spots are listed below.

  • St-Romboutskathedraal
  • Begijnhof
  • Fort Breendonk
  • The Technopolis
  • Speelgoedmuseum
  • Lady Hanswijk
  • Het Zotte Kunstkabinet
  • Planckendael

7. Leuven

Another interesting city to visit is Leuven, where culture and history meet academic excellence. The urban area is home to one of Europe’s oldest and most prestigious universities, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KU Leuven).

The city is located east of Brussels and is also known for its breweries. You must visit the iconic Town Hall, the remarkable St. Peter’s Church, and the Oude Markt. Other spots to visit are listed below.

  • Schatkamer
  • Stella Artois
  • M Leuven Museum
  • Leuven’s University Hall
  • Groot Begijnhof
  • Sint Jan De Doperkerk
  • Leuven Beer Festival
  • Keizersberg Abbey

8. Namur

Did you know Namur is the capital of the Wallonia region? Belgium has distinctive regions, i.e., the French-speaking Wallonia, Dutch-speaking Flanders, and a German-speaking community.

Namur is located along the Meuse River. Some of the magnificent sites to visit are listed below.

  • Citadel of Namur
  • Saint-Aubin’s Cathedral
  • The Rops Museum
  • Rue de Fer
  • Central Old Town
  • The Semois Valley
  • Abbey of Notre Dame d'Orval

9. La-Roche-en-Ardenne

La Roche-en-Ardenne is a city and municipality of Wallonia located in the province of Luxembourg. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Ardennes.

The city is perched on a bend of the meandering River Ourthe and crowned by the ruins of a medieval castle. During the Second World War, La-Roche-en-Ardenne played a significant role in the Battle of the Bulge. Here are some of the things to do in La-Roche-en-Ardenne.

  • Wildpark - Gibier La Roche
  • The castle ruins of La Roche
  • The dam of Nisramont
  • Battle of the Ardennes Museum
  • Parc Chlorophylle
  • Purnalet
  • Grotten van Hotton

10. Dinant

Dinant is a riverside gem situated on the banks of the Meuse River and backed by steep cliffs. Did you know that Adolphe Sax, the inventor of the saxophone, was born in Dinant? Below are the must-tour spots in this charming and picturesque urban centre.

  • Citadelle de Dinant
  • Collégiale Notre Dame de Dinant
  • Charles de Gaulle Bridge
  • Maison de Monsieur Sax
  • Maison Leffe
  • Rocher Bayard
  • Castle of Freÿr
cities in Belgium to check out in 2023
A mesmerising concrete building in Antwerp, Belgium. Photo: pexels.com, @Pixabay
Source: UGC

11. Torgny

Nestled in the rolling hills of the Belgian Gaume region, Torgny is arguably the most beautiful place in Wallonia. It has a rustic charm, colourful buildings, and a serene countryside setting.

Interestingly, it is a small town with only about 200 inhabitants. It is a popular tourist destination because of its charming cobblestone streets, beautiful vineyards, and delicious local cuisine.

Tourists are encouraged to explore Torgny on foot and below are the amazing spots you must check out.

  • The town square
  • Eglise Saint-Martin de Vieux-Virton
  • Aérodrome Longuyon-Villette
  • Cimetière Saint-Hilaire
  • Local wineries
  • Hiking in the forests and rolling hills

12. Durbuy

Did you know Durbuy is the smallest city in the world? It is no bigger than an average village, and that alone is a reason to visit this urban centre.

It has a clifftop Belvedere viewpoint that overlooks the town and Ourthe River Valley. The things you should explore in this urban centre are listed below.

  • Durbuy Vieille Ville
  • Le Labyrinthe (A maze)
  • Rocher de la Falize
  • Topiary Park
  • Halle aux Blés
  • Village de Wéris
  • Musée des Mégalithes de Wéris
  • Wéris Megaliths

13. Knokke

Knokke is nestled along the pristine Belgian coastline bordering the Netherlands. It is known for its beach and the Zwin Nature Park. Knokke is commonly known as the Monaco of the North.

It is a popular spot for people with holiday homes due to its multiple beaches and decent nightlife. The must-see spots are listed below.

  • For Freedom Museum
  • Knokke’s Nature Reserve
  • The Grand Casino
  • Knokke-Heist
  • Art Nocturne Knokke gallery
  • Surfer’s Paradise

14. De Haan

De Haan is a coastal city known for Belle Époque architecture and a serene environment. On the outskirts of town are expansive sand dunes crossed by paths.

The urban area is commonly known as Belle Époque Queen because of its well-preserved architectural heritage from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The must-visit spots are listed below.

  • Albert Einstein Statue
  • De Concessie
  • L'Esperance
  • Beach De Haan
cities in Belgium to visit in 2023
A panoramic view of Namur. Photo: pexels.com, @Wijs (Wise)
Source: UGC

15. Middelkerke

Middelkerke is a municipality located in the Belgian province of West Flanders. It has miles of golden sandy beaches that stretch as far as the eye can see.

The urban area is renowned for its family-friendly atmosphere. Middelkerke offers numerous activities for all ages, including mini-golf, playgrounds, and amusement parks. Below is a list of the must-explore spots.

  • Ganzepoot
  • Panorama Hoge Blekker
  • De IJzertoren
  • Fort Napoleon
  • Koning Albert I Monument
  • Caterpillar - Kunst am Strand
  • De IJzer Nieuwpoort

16. Ostend

Ostend is a coastal city and municipality located in the province of West Flanders in the Flemish Region of the country. Ostend is known for its long beach and promenade.

In this city, you will find the Mercator, a three-masted 1930s ship that now serves as a floating museum. Some of the attractions to explore are listed below.

  • Atlantic Wall Open Air Museum
  • Fort Napoleon
  • Maria Hendrika Park
  • Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul
  • Ostend Pier
  • Wapenplein Square

17. Rochefort

Rochefort is a city and municipality of Wallonia located in the province of Namur. Did you know Rochefort was a resort in the 19th century?

If you are looking for a picturesque Belgian retreat, Rochefort is the place to visit. When you get there, you should explore these spots.

  • Parc Animalier du Domaine des Grottes de Han
  • Grotte de Lorette-Rochefort
  • Parcours Speleo
  • Grottes de Han-sur-Lesse
  • Le PréhistoHan
  • Château Comtal de Rochefort
  • Malagne – Archéoparc de Rochefort
  • Han 1900

18. Bouillon

Bouillon is a city in southern Belgium near the French border. The city is known for the medieval Bouillon Castle that overlooks the Semois River.

With its medieval castle, winding river, and lush forests, Bouillon offers travellers a unique blend of culture and nature. Here are the best things to do or visit in Bouillon.

  • Archéoscope Godefroid de Bouillon
  • Castle of Bouillon
  • Musée Ducal
  • Bouillon Belvedere
  • Point de Vue Frahan
  • Le Tombeau du Géant
  • Abbaye Clairefontaine
  • La Ferme des Fées

19. Malmedy

Malmedy is a city and municipality of Wallonia located in the province of Liège. The city is dominated by its crown jewel, the Château de Bouillon. It has ancient halls, towers, and a large animal park. Below are the must-visit spots in Malmedy.

  • Cathédrale Saints-Pierre-et-Paul et Saint-Quirin
  • Malmundarium
  • Malmedy Massacre Memorial
  • Cascade du Bayehon
  • Rocher de Falize (Rocher de Warche)
  • Baugnez 44 Historical Centre
  • Maison Villers
  • Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps
cities in Belgium to visit in 2023
A panoramic view of Namur with the cathedral of Saint Aubins. Photo: pexels.com, @Wijs (Wise)
Source: UGC

20. Spa

Spa is a city for relaxation and rejuvenation. It is located in the Ardennes region of eastern Belgium and is known for its mineral-rich thermal waters.

Resting in a valley close to the point where the Ardennes massif meets the Hautes Fagnes plateau is the world’s original spa resort. Did you know Spa became the generic English term for hydrotherapy because of this city? Below are the must-explore spots in Spa.

  • Thermes de Spa
  • Église Notre-Dame-et-Saint-Remacle
  • Pouhon Pierre-le-Grand
  • Parc 7 Heures
  • Casino de Spa
  • Domaine de Berinzenne
  • Musée de la Ville d’Eaux
  • Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps
  • Lac de Warfaaz

21. Thuin

Thuin is a city and municipality of Wallonia located in the province of Hainaut, Belgium. One of Thuin's most exceptional features is its UNESCO World Heritage-listed Hanging Gardens. Below are other spots to explore in Thuin.

  • L'abbaye d'Aulne
  • Natura-Parc
  • Château d'Hourpes
  • Jardins suspendus
  • Grand pont de Blaimont
  • Le Posty Bury et Rempart du Midi
  • Traversée du ruisseau à Estinnes-au-Val
  • Cimetière Français 14-18

22. Ypres

Ypres is located in the Belgian province of West Flanders. It is associated with some of the most bitter battles of the First World War.

The city is surrounded by the Ypres Salient battlefields, where many cemeteries, memorials and war museums. Some of the must-see spots are listed below.

  • WWI Battlefields
  • Flanders Fields Museum
  • Menin Gate
  • Grote Markt
  • Sint-Maartenskathedraal
  • St. George's Memorial Church
  • Fortifications of Rijselpoort
  • Hooge Crater Memorial Museum

Is the list of cities in Belgium long?

Yes. The country has 15 primary cities, which make up most of the country's population. These are Brussels, Liège, Antwerp, Ghent, Charleroi, Schaerbeek, Anderlecht, Bruges, Namur, Leuven, Mons, Mechelen, Hasselt, Tournai, and Ninove.

How many cities are in Belgium overall?

There are 52 prominent cities in Belgium. 15 of them are considered primary cities.

What are the top 5 major cities in Belgium?

The five major cities in the country based on population are Brussels, Antwerp, Ghent, Charleroi, and Liège.

There are multiple cities in Belgium, and many of them are tourist attraction sites. The country has multiple places to explore for local and international tourists.

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