Belgium may be a small country but it’s certainly not lacking in amazing sights, world-famous cuisine and captivating history! My guide to spending 5 days in Belgium will take you on an exciting journey through the heart of Europe.
If you’re planning a trip to Belgium and unsure of where to start, I got you covered! This 5 day itinerary for Belgium offers the perfect blend of historic cities, delicious food, cultural experiences and natural beauty.
As a small country with a very well-organized transportation system, you will be able to easily get around by train and tick off all of the top highlights on this Belgium itinerary in a short period of time.
Join me on an unforgettable Belgian adventure as we delve into centuries-old traditions and uncover the country’s hidden gems. Get ready to savour world-famous chocolates and indulge in Belgian waffles, accompanied by a wide array of artisanal beers (of course).
So without further ado, let’s dive in and plan the ideal 5 day Belgium itinerary!
➤Looking to spend 7 days in Belgium? Don’t worry, I’ve covered that too!
While this Belgium travel itinerary mainly focuses on five days in Belgium, I have also included a bonus section at the end for those interested to spend more time in Belgium’s stunning Wallonia region in the south.
Table of Contents
The Ultimate 5 Day Belgium Itinerary – How to Spend 5 Days in Belgium
Highlights of 5 Days in Belgium
- Belgian food – Get ready to taste all the incredible cuisine that the country is known for. Your five days in Belgium will involve tasting traditional waffles, chocolates, fries and beer!
- Medieval towns – Step into a real life fairy tale when you visit the well-preserved medieval towns of Bruges and Ghent, with their charming canals, cobblestone streets, and historic buildings.
- UNESCO World Heritage Sites – This 5 day Belgium itinerary includes several UNESCO sites such as the Grand Place in Brussel’s central square, the historic center of Bruges, the Belfry of Ghent and the Plantin-Moretus Museum in Antwerp.
- Natural Beauty – Venture into the Belgian countryside to explore picturesque landscapes, rolling hills, and idyllic towns such as Dinant.
- Art and Culture – Immerse yourself in the rich history of Flemish art when you visit iconic museums such as the Rubens House, the Royal Museum of Fine Arts and the MAS Museum in Antwerp.
Belgium Itinerary Overview
I would recommend arriving in Bruges a day before this itinerary begins so you can check into your hotel and prepare for the trip. This way you will wake up in Bruges and be ready to begin the day of sightseeing.
Day One – Explore the highlights of Bruges on the first day of your Belgium itinerary.
Night One – Bruges
Day Two – Travel to Ghent in the morning and spend the day seeing the highlights of the historic center, having lunch along the canals and visiting Gravensteen Castle.
Night Two – Ghent
Day Three – Take a day trip from Ghent to Antwerp by train and tick off the city’s top highlights before returning to Ghent in the evening.
Night Three – Ghent
Day Four – Take the train from Ghent to Brussels in the morning and spend the rest of the day seeing the main highlights of Brussels.
Night Four – Brussels
Day Five – Take a day trip from Brussels to Dinant by booking an organised tour or taking the train.
Night Five – Brussels
To make this a 7-Day Belgium Itinerary:
Night Five – Dinant
Day Six – Explore the hidden gems around the Wallonia region of Belgium. Discover the lesser known castles and beautiful nature parks of the area.
Night Six – Dinant
Day Seven – Spend the morning exploring the smallest city in the world, Durbuy followed by an afternoon stop in Namur on your way back to Brussels.
Five Day Belgium Itinerary Map
Click the square in the top right hand corner of this map to view each location of this Belgium itinerary. I’ve also included the optional locations at the end if you have an extra few days to spend in the south!
Getting Around Belgium
Train – Belgium’s extensive and reasonably priced train network makes it very easy to travel between all stops of this itinerary in a short space of time.
For example, trains run frequently and reliably between cities throughout the day which means you don’t have to plan your travel day ahead of time. Simply show up at the train station and you likely won’t have to wait long for the next train.
When it comes to getting around each city, you’ll find that walking is the best way to go. The historic centers of each city in Belgium are compact and well set-up for pedestrians. Exploring a new place by foot is all part of the experience anyway!
Car – While you certainly don’t need to rent a car for the first part of this itinerary (days 1-4), you might consider having a car to get around the Belgian countryside.
Once you leave Brussels and make your way to Dinant, having a car will allow you to explore more of the villages and castles that are not accessible by public transportation.
This is especially the case if you’re planning to spend more than 5 days in Belgium. See the final section of this itinerary for more info on planning your time in Wallonia, the south region of Belgium (also known as the French speaking region).
If you just want to take a day trip to Dinant and return to Brussels on the same day, a car is not necessary.
Best Time to Visit Belgium
Like most destinations in Europe, Belgium sees a big increase in tourist numbers through the summer months of June-August. The weather is warm and sunny, kids have time off school and families plan their summer holidays around this time.
This means that flight and hotel prices are usually higher during this time of year. If you’re anything like me and hate the idea of navigating through heavily crowded streets, then I would recommend missing summer altogether.
Aim for planning your Belgium itinerary during shoulder season instead. Spring or autumn is a great time of year to travel Europe with a good chance of nice weather and a fraction of the summer crowds.
I’d say you can’t go wrong with visiting Belgium during May/early June or September/early October. You’ll also benefit from lower prices during these months which is a win-win!
Do You Need Travel Insurance for Belgium?
Are you travelling to Belgium from overseas? If you are, then you’ll need to get travel insurance before you go.
The last thing you want is to have an unexpected medical emergency occur while you’re in a different country with no insurance to cover the costs!
Even if you don’t end up using it, getting travel insurance is a small investment to make for peace of mind. This allows you to focus on having a memorable, relaxing vacation instead of worrying about what could go wrong.
I always go with Heymondo. They’re one of the most reliable companies that will provide you with simple and flexible coverage. Whether you’d like to protect against medical emergencies, lost luggage, or trip cancellations, Heymondo has you covered!
As a reader of The Road Is Life, you get 5% off your Heymondo travel insurance by using the link below!
What to Pack for 5 Days in Belgium
- Universal Travel Adapter – No matter where in the world I travel, I always take one of these handy adapters with me.
- Portable Phone Charger – If you’re like me, your phone will be in full use for most of the day capturing photos and videos of your beautiful surroundings in Belgium. Ensure your phone never runs out of battery by bringing a portable charger.
- Travel Tripod – This is a great way to capture amazing travel photos without relying on strangers to take your shot. They’re lightweight and fold up very small to fit in your day pack or even hand bag.
- Collapsible water bottle – Bring a water bottle to ensure you stay hydrated throughout the day.
- Comfortable Walking Shoes – This Belgium itinerary involves quite a lot of walking, make sure to pack a pair of comfy shoes to avoid sore feet or blisters.
- Rain Jacket – No one likes to see the word rain in the forecast for their upcoming trip but getting good weather is sometimes a matter of luck. Better be safe than sorry and pack a rain jacket just in case.
- Travel Umbrella – Belgium’s weather can quickly turn from sun to clouds to rain at any time of year, don’t get caught in a downpour without one of these!
- Day Pack – An essential item for carrying your items while out and about exploring a city.
Five Day Belgium Itinerary
Day 1 – Bruges
Kicking off this itinerary in one of Europe’s most beautiful cities, Bruges is often referred to as the “Venice of the North.” With dreamy canals flowing between rows of centuries-old buildings, there’s no denying that a visit to Bruges is like stepping into a storybook.
For a more detailed post on spending the day in Bruges, you can check out my complete Bruges guide here.
Highlights of Bruges
Canal Cruise/Walking Tour – The perfect way to start your day in Bruges is by getting an intro to the city on this popular tour. The tour begins with a guided walk through the cobbled streets followed by a scenic canal cruise.
This is one of those must-do activities when you’re in Bruges and a great way to get a different perspective of the city. Bruges is known to get very busy during peak season, be sure to book your cruise online to avoid missing out.
Market Square – The bustling heart of Bruges also known as the “Markt” will wow you with its colourful, well-preserved buildings and massive bell tower (the Belfry of Bruges). Some of the buildings date to the 9th century which makes this square over a thousand years old!
Market Square is an ideal starting point for exploring the historic center of Bruges. From here you can wander down cobblestone streets, take a boat tour along picturesque canals, or indulge in delicious Belgian chocolates and waffles from nearby shops and street stalls.
My personal favourite waffle spots in Bruges were Lizzie’s Waffles and Chez Albert. With many outdoor cafes, it’s also a nice place to stop for a meal or a coffee while people watching and taking in your surroundings.
Rozenhoedkaai/Quay of Rosary – The most photographed scene in all of Bruges is located right in the heart of the historic center. The “Quay of the Rosary” offers visitors a postcard-perfect view of the city’s enchanting medieval architecture.
No trip to Bruges is complete without a quick pause here to admire the timeless beauty of Bruges and snap a few photos. Tip: avoid the big crowds and capture a more magical scene by stopping here during early morning or sunset hour.
Belfry of Bruges – This imposing medieval tower is hard to miss standing prominently in the Market Square since the 13th century. For one of the best views over Bruges and surrounding countryside, make your way to the top of the Belfry of Bruges.
The jaw-dropping tower is one of the city’s most iconic buildings and included among the many UNESCO listed landmarks that make up the historic center of Bruges. At the top of the steep and narrow 366 steps, a panoramic view over the city awaits.
Opening Hours – 9am – 8pm (hours may change depending on season, find current info here)
Tickets – €14/adult, €12/child
Historium Bruges – A visit to Historium offers a fun and interactive way to learn about the history and culture of Bruges. Take a virtual reality journey through time to experience Bruges during its Golden Era of the 15th century.
After your VR tour, head up to the top of the building for yet another breathtaking view over the Markt and Belfry Tower. This is one of the top-rated attractions of Bruges and a must-do for those with children.
Opening hours – 11am – 6pm daily (Open until 10pm on Saturday)
Tickets – €21
Horse-drawn Carriage Ride – Wandering through the pretty streets of Bruges is a great way to explore the city and find stunning scenery around each corner. For a different experience, you could take a horse-drawn carriage instead!
This is a unique and romantic way to see the best sites of Bruges and a highlight that will leave a lasting memory from your time in Belgium. Horse-drawn carriages depart from the Market Square of Bruges and there is no need to book ahead of time.
Hours of operation – 9am – 6pm daily (year round)
Tickets – €60 per carriage (max 5 people)
Learn to Make Belgian Chocolate – What better place to learn how to make chocolate than Bruges? If the art of chocolate making is something you’ve always been curious about, check out this fun 2.5 hour workshop.
Learn to make pralines, mendiants and hot chocolate from scratch and get a box to take some of your work home! This is a perfect activity if you get stuck with a rainy day in Bruges.
Where to Stay in Bruges
Snuffel Hostel – Stay in the heart of the historic center with all of the main attractions at your footstep at this highly-rated, clean hostel. The Snuffel Hostel is the ideal choice for those following this Belgium itinerary on a budget. It’s also a great place to socialise and meet like-minded travellers.
Hotel Ter Brughe – This lovely canal-side hotel is located a stone’s throw from the Market Square and offers great views from its cosy rooms. The building is full of character and you’ll be able to start your day right with their fabulous breakfast.
Hotel De Orangerie – Treat yourself to a stay in a gorgeous 15th-century former convent located along one of the main canals of Bruges. You’ll certainly feel like royalty at this historic hotel as you wake up in a beautifully decorated room and sip your coffee with outstanding canal views.
Day 2 – Ghent
On the second morning of your Belgium itinerary, make your way to the train station in Bruges to catch the train to Ghent. Only 30 minutes by train from Bruges, Ghent is a medieval canal city known for its stunning Gothic buildings, waterfront cafes and moated castle.
Ghent is truly a magical place to visit and the best part? It has all the character and charm of Bruges with far less crowds! I absolutely loved the vibe of Ghent and it turned out to be one of my favourite cities in Belgium.
Highlights of Ghent
Gravensteen Castle – The imposing Gravensteen Castle is a sight to behold. Sitting next to one of Ghent’s canals, it really looks like a scene from a fairy tale. Dating to the 12th century, the castle is a remarkable example of medieval architecture.
Step inside Gravensteen to learn more about the castle’s history and the daily life of its inhabitants during the medieval times. Be sure to climb to the top to see a panoramic view over the city. This castle was definitely one of my top highlights of spending the day in Ghent!
Graffiti Street – Not too far from the castle is a quirky little side alley covered top to bottom in graffiti. Make your way over to Werregarenstraat to see a fantastic display of street art that changes on a weekly basis. This fun street provides a great backdrop to your Instagram photos!
St Bavo’s Cathedral – Continue your journey through Ghent to find the city’s oldest cathedral which dates back to the year 942. This majestic building is famous not only for its history but also because it’s home to the Ghent Altarpiece.
It’s an important work of art that was completed by famous Flemish artists, the Van Eyck brothers in the 15th century. You can view this masterpiece when you enter St. Bavo’s Cathedral.
There is currently no cost to enter the cathedral but you must buy a ticket to see the Ghent Altarpiece. A virtual reality experience is included in the ticket.
Tickets: €16 / adult, €8/child
Ghent Altarpiece: Mon – Sat: 10 am – 5 pm. Sun: 1pm – 5 pm
Cathedral: Mon – Sat: 8:30 am – 5.30 pm. Sun: 1 pm – 5.30 pm
Ghent Belfry Tower – The Ghent Belfry tower has stood tall over the city since the 14th century. At 91 metres tall, it’s one of Belgium’s highest and most impressive towers. It’s also been recognised as a UNESCO site.
Needless to say, a breathtaking view over Ghent rewards those who make the climb to the top of the tower. Unlike most medieval towers in Europe, the Ghent Belfry has an elevator to accommodate those with limited mobility (or those who simply don’t feel like climbing hundreds of steep stairs!)
Tickets: €11/adult, €2.2/children under 19, free/children 12 and under
Opening Hours: 10am – 6pm daily
St Michael’s Bridge – Standing on St Michael’s Bridge, you are completely surrounded by the beauty of Ghent. No matter which direction you look, a beautiful view can be seen from every angle.
This is the best spot to capture the iconic three towers of Ghent in a row and marvel at the amazing view of the Graslei and Korenlei canal districts.
Graslei and Korenlei – On the banks of the Leie River, the Graslei and Korenlei quays are bustling with cafes, restaurants and shops. This is a great place to find a restaurant and grab a bite to eat while enjoying views of the well-preserved buildings on either side of the canal.
There are many restaurants to choose from here but I can recommend having lunch at Meraki which has an outdoor patio right on the waterfront.
As you sip your coffee and take a bite from your sandwich, it’s pretty remarkable to think that boats have been cruising along this very canal since the 11th century!
Saint Nicholas’ Church – Take a look inside this majestic 13th century Gothic-style church to see the stained glass windows, beautiful medieval art and altars with ornate sculptures. Entry to this church is free and it won’t take long to walk around and admire the interior.
Tickets: Free entry
Opening Hours: 10am – 4pm daily
Canal Boat Tour – Just like in Bruges, taking a canal tour of Ghent is an awesome way to learn about the history of each landmark while floating past the beautiful buildings in a boat.
This is a fun and relaxing way to see the sights of Ghent and give your feet a break from all that walking! The boat tours run regularly throughout the day in 8 different languages, book ahead of time to secure your desired time slot.
Vrijdagmarkt – During your day in Ghent, you must stop by one of the city’s main squares, Vrijdagmarkt (Friday Market Square). On Fridays and Saturdays, the square comes to life with a market which has been ongoing since the middle ages.
The square is filled with restaurants, bars and cafes giving it a vibrant energy and a nice place to stop and watch the world go by. The square surrounds a big statue of Jacob van Artevelde, a Flemish leader who became a hero during the Hundred Years’ War before he was murdered in the 14th century.
Taste Belgian Beers – One reason to stick around the Vrijdagmarkt is to try some Belgian beers at Dulle Griet. This traditional pub is home to over 500 different beers and you’ll get the chance to try a beer served in a 1.2 litres glass!
Another one of my favourite spots to try Belgian beers in Ghent is the waterfront bar called Het Waterhuis aan de Bierkant. It’s located in a really scenic spot on a canal with a great selection of beers to try.
I’m not going to lie, I’m not really into drinking beer but Belgium has SO many beers on offer, you’re bound to find something you like. Belgium is probably the only country I’ve actually enjoyed drinking beer in! Give Kasteel Rouge a try if you’re not a beer lover, it’s my favourite.
Where to Stay in Ghent
Hostel Uppelink – This popular hostel couldn’t be located in a better spot, it’s right next to St. Michael’s Bridge. It’s not often you’ll find a hostel with such a great view right from the dorm! A buffet style breakfast is served every morning for an additional cost.
Hotel Chamade – This cosy hotel is located just outside of the historic center of Ghent, only a few stops away by tram. Each room is spacious with comfy beds, private bathrooms, aircon and the option to include breakfast in your stay.
B&B The Verhaegen – If your budget allows for it, you could stay in this lovely 18th century mansion in the heart of Ghent. The decor of this place will truly impress you and the peaceful garden offers a welcome retreat at the end of the day.
Day 3 – Day Trip to Antwerp
Make your way to the train station on the morning of day 3 and get ready to take a day trip to Antwerp from Ghent. Spending one day in Antwerp will give you a great overview of this vibrant Belgian city and allow you to gain more insight into Flemish culture and heritage.
Many Belgium itineraries might skip out on Antwerp but I had such a great time there and loved the beautiful buildings and overall vibe of the city. Antwerp really has a lot to offer and in my opinion, it’s not worth missing.
Highlights of Antwerp
Antwerp Central Station – The sightseeing begins immediately upon arrival when you get off the train at Antwerp Central Station. Often hailed as one of the world’s most beautiful train stations, it really is a sight to behold.
Take some time to admire its grand façade and interior that features an impressive domed ceiling and intricate details. It’s not hard to see why this train station is one of Antwerp’s most well-known and loved landmarks!
Diamond District – If you have an interest in diamonds, take a walk through Antwerp’s Diamond District, located near Central Station. Here, you can see some of the world’s finest diamond shops and learn about the city’s diamond trade history.
Antwerp has long been known as the diamond capital of the world and handles a significant portion of the world’s rough and polished diamond trade. I simply enjoyed window shopping here but if you’re in the market to buy some new jewellery, this is the place to do so!
Rubens House – One of Antwerp’s top attractions, a visit to the iconic Rubens House allows you to step into the world of one of Belgium’s most influential painters. The museum is housed within the gorgeous 16th century mansion that was once home to Peter Paul Rubens himself.
Inside the Rubens House you’ll get to see an extensive collection of artworks, including many paintings, sketches, and personal items belonging to Rubens. There’s also a reconstruction of Rubens’ studio, which offers a glimpse into the environment where he created some of his most famous works.
**Update 2023** At the time of writing, the Rubens House is temporarily closed for renovations. In the meantime, The Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp is a nice alternative to those who are keen to see some of his work.
Meir Shopping Street – In the mood for some shopping? Take a walk along Antwerp’s famous shopping street. Meir Street is a lively pedestrian area with numerous shops, restaurants, and cafes.
The buildings that line Meir Street are full of character so you can enjoy shopping surrounded by historic architecture with beautiful facades. While you’re there, you can check out the Stadsfeestzaal shopping mall.
It’s located just off of Meir Street and features a stunning gold-covered domed ceiling. It’s worth spending a few minutes inside the mall just to admire the unique design.
Antwerp Cathedral of Our Lady – As you make your way toward Antwerp’s main square, the first landmark to catch your eye will be the striking Cathedral of Our Lady that measures in at 123 metres tall. It’s considered one of the tallest church spires in the world!
This awe-inspiring Gothic-style cathedral is home to an impressive collection of artworks, including stained glass windows, ornate carvings, and several paintings by Peter Paul Rubens.
With a history that dates to the 14th century, it’s one of the city’s oldest buildings and became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999.
Opening Hours: Monday – Friday 10am – 5pm, Saturday – 10am – 3pm, Sunday 1pm – 5pm
Lunch Stop – While exploring the streets of Antwerp you’ll have endless opportunities to try some Belgian snacks and treats as you go (who can resist all those fresh Belgian waffle stands?!). If you’re seeking a restaurants to sit down and have some lunch, I can recommend stopping at Elfde Gebod.
This unique restaurant is conveniently located right next to the Cathedral of Our Lady. Claimed to be one of the oldest restaurants in Antwerp, you can really feel the history of this place when you enter the building.
With plenty of beers on the menu and a variety of tasty food to choose from, this is a great place to break up the sightseeing day with a traditional lunch.
Grote Markt – After lunch it’s time to explore the main square of Antwerp, so make your way over to the Grote Markt. If you had lunch at Elfde Gebod, you’re only a 3 minute walk away.
Like most big squares in Europe, the Grote Markt features an impressive city hall and beautiful guild houses surrounding the iconic Brabo Fountain. This is by far the most photographed spot in the entire city and it’s not hard to see why.
The Brabo Fountain depicts the scene of a famous legend, Brabo, who defeated a giant, cut off his hand and then threw it into the Scheldt River. Be sure to snap a few photos and soak in the atmosphere of this lively square before continuing to the next stop on your Antwerp day trip!
Plantin-Moretus Museum – A short walk from the Grote Markt will lead you to the Plantin-Moretus Museum. Take a step back time through the history of the printing and publishing industry in the 16th century.
This UNESCO Heritage listed museum displays a range of historic printing presses which happen to be the oldest in the world. On your tour of the Plantin-Moretus Museum, you’ll get to see beautiful rooms decorated with art and furniture that offer a glimpse into the daily life of a wealthy Renaissance home.
Tickets: €12/adults 26+, €8/adults 18-26, free/visitors under 18
Opening Hours: 10am – 5pm (Tuesday – Sunday, Closed Mondays)
Het Steen Fortress – Perhaps the most well-known landmark of Antwerp, Het Steen Castle is strategically located on the banks of the Schedlt River. Since the 13th century, this well-preserved medieval fortress has defended the city and controlled access to the waterway.
Climb up to the terrace on top of the castle for an amazing view over the Sheldt River, the city and the port of Antwerp (this is free). Inside Het Steen, you can also check out the visitor center and the “Antwerp Story”, a museum that shares an interactive look into the city’s history through the centuries.
Antwerp Story Tickets: €7/adult, €5/child
Visitor Center Opening Hours: 10am – 6pm daily
Museum aan de Stroom (MAS) – Immerse yourself in Antwerp’s history and culture at the MAS Museum. This modern museum showcases a huge collection of exhibits and a panoramic view of the city from its rooftop. No tickets are required to access the viewing platform!
Learn all about Antwerp’s maritime history as you explore the many fascinating exhibitions on each floor of the museum. This is one of the city’s top rated museums so if you still have some time left on your busy day in Antwerp, make sure to visit the MAS Museum!
Opening Hours: 10am – 5pm (Tuesday – Sunday, Closed Mondays)
Antwerp BeerWalk – Finish off your day in Antwerp in the best possible way by taking a BeerWalk tour around the city. This is a fun way to learn more about the history of Antwerp while partaking in the locals favourite pastime: drinking beer!
Day 4 – Brussels
Day 4 of your Belgium itinerary is all about exploring the country’s bustling capital city, Brussels. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing the top highlights of Brussels with several breaks in the day to stop and taste the most divine Belgian waffles.
Spending one day in Brussels will allow you to see the main attractions around the city center. If you have time left in the day, you could also include a visit to the Atomium which is accessible from the center by metro.
With more than one day in Brussels, you’ll have time to visit more of the museums, restaurants and hidden gems around the city. If you want more time in Brussels, I would suggest spending an extra day or two in the city once you finish this Belgium travel itinerary.
Highlights of Brussels
Manneken Pis – No trip to Brussels is complete without a quick stop to check out this quirky bronze statue of a boy urinating into a fountain. It might sound like a strange attraction but Manneken Pis is indeed one of the most famous landmarks of Brussels.
To be honest with you, this small statue isn’t the most impressive thing you’ll see in Brussels but it’s very easy to include as a quick photo stop on your Brussels itinerary.
The statue that you see standing today is actually a replica of the original one that dates back to 1618. The original suffered vandalism and was even stolen, if you want to see it head over to the Brussels City Museum.
Fun Fact: Manneken Pis is not the only peeing statue that you’ll see in Brussels, keep your eye out for Het Zinneke (the peeing dog) or Jeanneke Pis (a peeing girl).
Grand Palace (Grote Markt) – The central square of Brussels is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the most beautiful squares in Europe. It’s surrounded by grandiose guildhalls, the stunning Town Hall and the King’s House which is now home to the Brussels City Museum.
This vibrant square is a happening place with many cafes, restaurants and crowds of tourists coming and going. If you want a chance to appreciate this place and photograph it without hordes of people, get there in the morning (the earlier the better!).
The Grand Palace is often where various events and festivals are held throughout the year such as the Christmas Markets during the winter and the Flower Carpet during summer. This takes place every 2 years when a beautiful carpet of flowers is placed in the square.
Eat a Belgian Waffle – As you wander the streets around the Grand Palace, you’ll come across many Belgian waffle shops featuring colourful displays of waffles loaded with delicious toppings. This is your chance to indulge because when in Brussels, right?!
For some of the best in town check out Maison Dandoy, Waffle Factory, Los Churros & Waffle or VeganWaf’ (if you’re seeking a vegan waffle). All of these great waffle places are located close to the Grand Palace.
St Michael and St Gudula Cathedral – Once you’ve eaten your fill of desserts, it’s time to make your way to the most beautiful cathedral in Brussels. The history of this impressive cathedral goes all the way back to the early 11th century when it was built on the ruins of an earlier Romanesque church.
Upon entry you’ll notice the eye-catching stained glass windows, some of which date back to the 16th century. For an entry of €3 you can also check out the crypt beneath the cathedral to see the ruins of the original church that once stood on the site.
Tickets: Free entry/access to the crypt €3
Opening Hours: 8am – 6pm daily
Delirium Café – If you’re in the mood to taste a few Belgian beers, there’s no better place in town than Delirium Cafe. This place has a list of over 2000 beers to taste ranging from famous Belgian Trappists to Belgian Abbey beers.
It might seem a bit overwhelming at first but the staff will guide you while giving their recommendations to suit your preference. With unique décor and snacks to pair with your beers, the place has a great overall vibe.
Parc du Cinquantenaire – This massive park is full of beautiful manicured gardens, impressive arches, fountains and several museums. Located in the eastern part of Brussels, the park was opened in 1880 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Belgian independence.
The striking Triumphal Arch is the centrepiece of the park and makes for a great photo opportunity. To reach the park you can walk for 40 minutes from the city or hop on the metro from De Brouckère station to get there in under 15 minutes.
Atomium – An iconic symbol of Brussels that was built in 1958 for the Brussels World’s Fair (Expo 58). A funny fact about the Atomium is that it wasn’t meant to be a permanent landmark but it became so popular that it ended up staying!
A few of the spheres are open to the public and host a range of permanent and temporary exhibits while others are used for events. Looking for an epic view over Brussels? Head up to the observation deck in the top sphere!
The Atomium is located out of the city center but it’s easy to take the metro there. From the Parc du Cinquantenaire you have to hop back on the metro toward the city and get off at Beekkant Station. From there, switch metros to the line 6 toward Roi Baudouin and ride it for 8 stops. See Google maps instructions here.
Keep in mind that the Atomium can get very busy with tourists during high season, so before you head out there it’s better to book your tickets online ahead of time.
Tickets – €16.95/adult, €9.25/child
Opening Hours – 10am – 6pm daily
Brussels Walking Tour – This tour provides a great way to get an overview of the main attractions while learning the history about each landmark from your local guide. Familiarize yourself with Brussels on this popular 2.5 hour walking tour and gain insight from your guide about the best restaurants, bars and chocolate shops.
Walking Tour with Lunch, Chocolate and Beer – Discover the highlights of Brussels with plenty of food stops along the way on this walking tour with a twist. The 4 hour tour includes 3 chocolate tastings, 3 beer tastings, Belgian waffles and a traditional lunch.
This is a great opportunity to combine sightseeing with a food tour as you taste your way around the city learning fascinating facts as you go.
Where to Stay in Brussels
Sleep Well Youth Hostel – Located in a central spot, this is the ideal place to base yourself to explore the city. This popular and clean hostel will allow you to connect with other travellers and easily get around by foot.
Hotel Les Ecrins – Only steps from the Grand Palace, this cosy hotel will have you feeling at home with its modern décor and comfortable rooms. An easy walk from all of the city’s main attractions and close to the metro/train station, you can’t go wrong with staying at Hotel Les Ecrins!
Radisson Collection Grand Place Brussels – Treat yourself to a bit of luxury in Brussels with a stay at this gorgeous hotel only 5 minutes from the Grand Palace. The rooms are spacious, the hotel has a gym and you can begin the day with a fabulous breakfast to fuel your adventures.
Day 5 – Day Trip to Dinant
Day 5 will bring you to my favourite part of this 5 day Belgium itinerary, the beautiful south! The scenery changes drastically as you enter the Wallonia region of Belgium. With rolling green hills and gorgeous little villages, you might even feel like you’re entering a different country.
Taking a day trip to the stunning town of a Dinant is easy to do from Brussels. Whether you prefer to book an organised tour or take the train, the option is yours.
This part of Belgium is so magical that you might regret not staying longer. That’s why I’ve included an extra section at the end of this Belgium itinerary including more things to see, if you have the time to spare.
Getting to Dinant From Brussels
Organised Tour: If you’re opting for a tour, check out this popular full day trip to Dinant that also includes a visit to Luxembourg! The tour makes for a long day of 11 hours but its a great way to squeeze a lot of sightseeing in if you’re short on time.
Train: You can catch the train to Dinant from Brussels-Centraal Station. Trains run every hour throughout the day and might involve changing trains in Namur (depending which time you select). The entire journey takes around 1hr 45mins and the trains stops 10 times before arriving in Dinant.
Rent a Car: If you plan to stay for a few nights in the south of Belgium, I would highly recommend renting a car. This will make it much easier to get around the small countryside villages and see some of the lesser known castles and attractions. If you just want to see the highlights of Dinant on a day trip from Brussels, a car is not necessary.
Highlights of Dinant
Dinant Citadel – One of the first things to catch your eye upon arrival in Dinant is the citadel that’s perched on the hilltop above the town. Steeped in history and boasting some of the best views in town, a visit to the citadel is one of the top things to do in Dinant.
Take a step back through the history of Dinant when you enter the museum inside the citadel. You’ll get to learn all about the attacks and invasions the town faced over the centuries. To get there, climb 408 steep steps from the town center or ride the cable car instead.
An amazing panoramic view over the Meuse River and town of Dinant awaits you at the top!
Tickets: €12/adult, €10/child
Opening Hours: 10am – 5pm daily
Rocher Bayard Rock Formation – Upon entry to Dinant, you will pass through this striking rock formation that welcomes visitors into town. This natural wonder consists of three limestone pillars, and it is famous for a large split in one of the pillars.
If you’re entering the town by car, you will drive straight through Rocher Bayard. However if you arrive by train, you will have to take a walk along the riverside promenade to the other side of town. It’s definitely worth checking out as this unique formation makes for an interesting photo!
Collegiate Church of Notre-Dame de Dinant – One of Dinant’s most prominent landmarks, the beautiful Gothic cathedral, is located in a very scenic setting on the banks of the Meuse River. The cathedral holds great cultural significance and rich history that dates back to the 13th century.
The Church of Notre-Dame is known for its pear-shaped bell tower that stands out and adds to the distinct appearance of Dinant’s skyline. It’s free to enter and inside you will come across gorgeous stained glass windows and ornate decorations.
Opening Hours: 9am – 6pm daily
La Maison de Monsieur Sax – The history of Dinant has long been associated with the invention of the saxophone by the famous Belgian musician, Adolphe Sax. Evidence of this can be seen by the giant saxophones that are scattered around the town.
La Maison de Monsieur Sax is a museum dedicated to the life and work of Adolphe Sax, it’s housed within the building that he was born. It’s a small museum that will only take 15 minutes from your day, plus it’s free to enter.
Inside you’ll get to see a collection of historic saxophones and learn all about its development over the centuries. This is such an important part of Dinant’s history, so don’t miss out!
Opening Hours: 9am – 6pm daily
Cruise on the Meuse River – One of the most popular things to do in Dinant is taking a relaxing cruise along the Meuse River. This will give you a different perspective of the town and the natural scenery that surrounds it.
The Dinant boat cruise departs from the dock near the center of town and takes you on a scenic journey along the Meuse River to the town of Anseremme. You’ll get to see many of the town’s highlights on this cruise, including Rocher Bayard.
There are different departure times offered throughout the day and hours of operation change with the seasons. You can find more info about cruise times and booking your tickets here.
Tickets: €11/adult, €8/child
Opening Hours: 10:30am – 5:00pm
Charles de Gaulle Bridge – Spanning across the Meuse River, this iconic bridge was named in honour of Charles de Gaulle. He was the famous French general and statesman, who played a crucial role in defending against the Nazis during WWII.
Take a stroll across this bridge for a postcard-perfect view of Dinant on the other side of the river. You’ll also get to see the many saxophone statues lining the bridge that represent the different countries of the European Union.
Maison Leffe – Once you’ve made it to the other side of the river, you’ll be a 5 minute walk from the Maison Leffe. Built within an ancient monastery, Maison Leffe is a beer museum that offers an interactive beer tasting experience.
This museum is very well done and it was a stand-out highlight from my time in Dinant. The Leffe House takes you on a journey through time to the beginning of Leffe Beer production in the year 1240. Your ticket also includes the beer tasting at the end of your visit as well as some beers to take with you.
Opening Hours: 11am – 7pm daily
Taste the Dinant Cookie – The bakeries around Dinant all have one thing in common: the Dinant Cookie. Also known as the “Coque de Dinant”, it’s a traditional sweet treat that must be tried when you’re in town.
The cookies are known to be extremely hard and feature beautiful decorative designs. Some people prefer not to eat them and keep them as a Christmas decoration instead. If you do try one, it’s best to break off pieces to avoid chipping a tooth!
Grotte la Merveilleuse – One thing you might not expect to find in Dinant is this incredible underground cavern. The Grotte la Merveilleuse is located just 10 minutes out of town and features amazing stalagmites and stalactites.
You can either explore the cave on your own or join an organised tour to learn more facts and information from a guide. See the official website to plan your visit and find the seasonal opening hours.
Tickets: €10/adult, €7/child
Opening Hours: 1pm – 3pm (weekdays) 11am – 5pm (weekends)
Spending More Than Five Days in Belgium?
If you have the luxury of more time, spending one or two nights in/around Dinant is the perfect addition to this 5 Day Belgium itinerary. Checking out a few of the nearby castles and nature parks makes for a great day of exploring if you have rented a car.
It’s also worthwhile to spend a half day exploring the smallest city in the world: Durbuy. On your drive back to Brussels you could stop for a few hours in the lovely capital city of Wallonia, Namur.
Filled with quaint villages, beautiful castles and pristine nature, this part of Belgium has so much to offer. See below for my suggested itinerary.
Day 6 – Castles & Parks
Château de Vêves – Discover this gorgeous medieval castle in the village of Celles, just 10 minutes from Dinant. It’s a small castle but it’s very well preserved and full of fascinating history.
The foundations of Château de Vêves can be traced back to the 7th century however it has undergone many changes over the centuries. This is a fun castle to visit for families as they often have activities offered for children such as the chance to dress up as princesses or knights.
Tickets: €9/adult, €6/child, free/children under 4
Opening Hours: 10am – 5pm daily (view current opening hours here)
Castle of Freÿr – Follow the Meuse River for around 9 minutes south of Dinant and you’ll arrive at the majestic Castle of Freÿr and its lovely landscaped gardens.
You can tour the castle’s interior to see an impressive collection of Renaissance artwork and take a leisurely stroll around the gardens. The castle’s manicured gardens are an attraction in their own right featuring fountains, terraces, statues and breathtaking views of the river.
Tickets: €9/adult, €7.5/student, Free/child 12 and under
Opening Hours: 11am – 5pm
Castle of Crevecoeur – This ruined fortress dates back to the year 1320 and boasts epic views of the surrounding countryside. The Château de Crèvecoeur is perched on a hilltop overlooking the small village of Bouvignes and the Meuse River.
Climb a set of stairs to reach the castle or follow a gravel road to the nearby parking lot. It’s located just 5 minutes north of Dinant and there isn’t much left of the actual castle but it’s worthy of a short stop for the view. There are no amenities on site.
Parc de Furfooz – Located 15 minutes from Dinant, this scenic nature reserve is a lovely place to go for a walk among the trees and take in the pretty views. There are several walking trails to explore in the park and there are even some caves and Roman ruins to check out.
Dinant Aventure – For those seeking some adventure and adrenaline, you must check out Dinant Aventure. Choose from a series of outdoor challenges and activities while surrounded by the stunning natural scenery of the Meuse Valley. It’s only a 10 minute drive from Dinant.
From via ferrata courses to zip lines and suspended bridges, there’s something to suit every thrill seeker here. Find more information about what is offered at Dinant Aventure on the official website. It’s best to book your adventure online before showing up, especially during the summer months.
Opening Hours: 9am – 6pm daily
Day 7 – Historic Cities
Durbuy – The quaint city of Durbuy is known as the smallest city in the world. It’s narrow cobbled streets, stone buildings and fairy tale castle give it more of a village vibe. The city is located in the heart of the Ardennes region, just 45 minutes from Dinant.
On the final day of your Belgium itinerary, it’s worth spending the morning exploring this charming little city. There are many cute cafes with outdoor patios where you can sip a coffee and enjoy the surroundings.
Take a stroll along the banks of the Ourthe River to enjoy views of the Château de Durbuy, it’s not open to the public but it is a stunning sight to behold!
For a panoramic view over the city, make your way to the the Belvédère Tower which is only accessible by the tourist train (cost of the tower is included in the train ticket).
Before you leave town, be sure to stop at the fascinating rock formation Roche à la Falize, a 300 million year old limestone rock featuring layers in a swirling pattern.
Travelling with kids? You might want to make time to check out The Labyrinthe of Durbuy, a theme park with a giant maze and other fun attractions for children.
Namur – On your way back to Brussels make a stop in the capital of Wallonia, the beautiful city of Namur. This lovely historic gem is an underrated destination of Belgium with a lot to offer.
Located along the Meuse River, the old town of Namur features cobblestone streets, lovely old buildings, and many shops and cafes to check out.
The top highlight is visiting the Namur Citadel, an ancient fortress perched on a hilltop offering panoramic views of the Meuse River and a glimpse into the city’s past. It’s free to enter but you can take a guided tour to learn more.
Namur is also home to an 11th century cathedral, Saint-Aubin’s Cathedral, and a UNESCO listed Belfry tower (which is not open to the public.)
One of the best thing to do in Namur is simply to stroll along the Meuse river, enjoying a bite to eat from one of the nearby restaurants and taking in the scenery.
Where to Stay in Dinant
Les Voisins De Mr Sax – If you’d like to be based right in the center of Dinant with a view overlooking the riverfront, look no further. These cosy rooms are surrounded by popular cafes and shops, it is also a pet friendly property.
La Clochette – During my trip to the south of Belgium, I decided to stay at this lovely guesthouse about 10 minutes from Dinant. I really enjoyed my stay at this place and found the location to be perfect for exploring the area by car.
The room was very comfortable and the restaurant on-site served a delicious breakfast every morning (at an additional cost). I also ate dinner there one night and had the best meal, so even if you’re not a guest there, don’t miss out on this restaurant!
Castel de Pont-a-Lesse – This luxurious countryside inn is a 5km drive from Dinant and offers all the amenities one could wish for. With a heated swimming pool, restaurant, bar and terrace, you can relax and unwind in a serene natural setting.
Discover More Belgium Travel Guides
- How to Spend One Day in Antwerp
- The Perfect One Day Itinerary for Ghent
- 13 Best Things to do in Dinant, Belgium
- Day Trip to Bruges from Amsterdam – How to Spend a Day in Bruges
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