2. Take a canal boat tour in Ghent or Bruges. Viewing a city from a different vantage point gives you a new perspective of a city. You see places you may have otherwise missed, such as charming waterside cafes, and the ride is pretty and relaxing in its own right.
3. Take a walk in Ghent after dark and follow the path of illuminated buildings. Every evening after the sun sets, the city lights up with a creative lighting plan that highlights details of the buildings that can be missed during the day. There is a path that leads you through the highlights–it takes around 2 hours to walk, and you can pick up a map from the tourist office.
4. Eat fries with mayonnaise, the traditional Belgian way–they were invented here after all. Traditional Belgian fries are freshly cut, cooked twice, at least 10mm thick, typically served in a paper cone and are delicious! If you really love fries, make a stop at the Friet Museum, dedicated solely to the potato treat.
5. Search for the best Belgian waffle in every city you visit. Waffle stands and shops are everywhere you turn. There are two main varieties: traditional Belgian waffles and liege waffles. The traditional waffles are what you would expect, light and airy, but I preferred the liege waffles even more, as they had an almost chewy crunch due to sugar that caramelizes on the inside. You can get them loaded with whipped cream, chocolate and fruit, or eat them the Belgian way, plain with powdered sugar.
6. Tour the Gravensteen Castle in Ghent. This castle was built in 1180 and has worn many hats throughout the years–it has also been used as a courthouse, prison, and even a factory. Today, it houses a museum, which displays torture devices that had been used throughout Ghent’s dark past.
7. Drink amazing hot chocolate in Bruges. De Proveriere is a little cafe not too far from the center of town. Order the hot chocolate, and you won’t regret it. It is served as a cup of warm milk, a smaller cup of melted chocolate, a dollop of cream and four chocolates on the side. Make sure to sneak a spoonful of the pure chocolate first, and then mix it together yourself–it is to die for!
8. Speaking of chocolate, no trip to Belgium is complete without eating your weight in chocolate. There are over 2,000 chocolate shops throughout the country, so you shouldn’t any have trouble finding one. Belgium has some of the best gourmet chocolate in the world; the reason Belgian chocolate is so unique is that they are very particular about their ingredients and adhere to very strict Old World production techniques, where most of the chocolate is still made by hand in small shops.
9. Search for peeing statues in Brussels. Yes, there are, in fact, three peeing statues located within the city of Brussels, a family of sorts. Mannequin Pis, a statue of a young boy doing his business in a fountain, was the first statue that was put in place back in 1618. His little sister, Jeanneke Pis, was put in place in 1987 by a restaurant owner looking to attract visitors. The third is their dog, Zinneke Pis, the youngest of the three, which was installed in 1998. These statues are fun and quirky, and they also lead you along the path of some fun shops and restaurants. If you are lucky, you will see Mannequin Pis wearing one of his 800 outfits!
10. Climb the 366 stairs to the top of the Belfry of Bruges tower. You will need some activity to walk off all the beer and chocolates, and climbing the tower is the perfect way to get it. The stairs are steep and there isn’t much room to stop, but once you make it to the top, you will be rewarded with amazing views. Make a stop in the carillon room to have a look at the carillon bells that are played multiple times throughout the day. You can also try climbing one of the many other towers scattered throughout the country.
Jenna and Micah created a travel site called Wander The Map, to share their experiences and provide tips and inspiration for others. Always up for an adventure, they travel as much as their schedules allow to capture the world through photos, videos and words.