NOTE: COVID-19 has heavily impacted everything travel-related. Make sure to read my Guide to Coronavirus Travel if you plan to travel at this time.

The Ultimate Travel Guide To Belgium

Everything you need to know about visiting Belgium
The flag of Belgium which is a top destination for travelers in Europe

What To Expect

Belgium is home to world-famous beer, chocolate, and french fries (which were actually created in Belgium, despite the name) and attracts millions of tourists every year thanks to its beautiful medieval cities, charming small towns, and spectacular scenery.

The people are a unique bunch, living together in an arranged marriage of three distinct parts: Dutch-speaking Flanders, French-speaking Wallonia, and the capital Brussels.  Most people start their trip in Brussels which is considered to be the capital of Europe since it’s home to many important European institutions.  It’s also full of things to see and do and is the best place to start your trip.

After Brussels, most people visit the picturesque cities of Bruges, Antwerp, Ghent, Mechelen, Tournai, Leuven, and Mons.  And if you’re a history buff, then visits to the region of Namur for its medieval castles and the cities of Waterloo and Ypres as well as the region of Ardennes for their historical significance are a must!  The Ardennes is also home to some spectacular scenery characterized by stunning forests, caves, and cliffs.

All in all, Belgium has a lot to offer and is a great destination!

Belgium
The picturesque city of Ghent

Belgium is part of the Schengen Area which has a single visa policy for all the countries that are in it.  Citizens of most developed countries can enter the Schengen Area visa-free for up to 90 days in a 180 day period.  If you are not a citizen of a visa-exempt country, you must go to the nearest Belgian embassy and apply for a Schengen Visa to be granted entry. 

There are no health risks in Belgium requiring any specific travel vaccinations for normal travelers.  Make sure you are up to date on your standard vaccinations and consult a health professional for further advice.

Belgium

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Key Information

Population: 11.5 Million
Capital City: Brussels
Languages Spoken: Dutch & French
Currency: Euro (EUR/€)
State Railway: SNCB
Driving Side: Right

Largest Airports:
1. Brussels (BRU) – Zaventem
2. Charleroi (CRL) – Brussels South 
3. Ostend (OST) – Bruges
4. Antwerp (ANR)
5. Liège (LGG)

Best Time To Visit

Belgium has a temperate maritime climate characterized by cold, rainy winters and warm, dry summers.  The eastern parts of the country can get slightly cooler than the rest.

Therefore, the best time to visit Belgium is just before or after the busy summer season (May or September) when you aren’t surrounded by a million other tourists and the weather is still quite pleasant.  Your transportation and accommodation will also be cheaper and you won’t have to wait in long line-ups when visiting some of the main attractions.

However, if you want the best weather possible, then the summer is the best time to visit.  Keep in mind that this is the busiest time of the year in Belgium so make sure to book your transportation and accommodation in advance to avoid sold-out tickets and fully-booked rooms!

High Season: June – August
Low Season: November – March

Top 5 Destinations

Brussels which is a top destination for travelers in Belgium
Brussels
Belgium
Bruges
Belgium
Antwerp
Belgium
Ghent
Belgium
Ardennes

Currency Information

Euros which are used by travelers when traveling to Europe

The currency used in Belgium is the Euro (EUR/€).  The notes come in denominations of 5€, 10€, 20€, 50€, & 100€.  

The Euro is further divided into 100 euro cents – “cent” in Dutch & “centimes” in French – (c).  The coins come in denominations of 1c, 2c, 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, 1€, & 2€. 

Use the currency converter below to determine the latest exchange rate.

Tipping Guide

Tipping is not customary in Belgium so nobody will think twice if you choose not to tip, but if you wish to tip for good service, here are some guidelines to follow:

Hotel Bellhops: 1-2€ per bag
Hotel Housekeepers: not expected
Restaurant Servers: since most restaurants already include a service charge, just round up to the nearest whole number
Cafés & Baristas: round up to the nearest whole number
Bartenders: round up to the nearest whole number
Taxi/Uber Driver: round up to the nearest whole number
Tour Guide: not expected

Note: Tips should be left in cash as most card machines or bills won’t give you an option to tip.

Power Outlet Information

A drawing of the Type C power outlet which is used in many countries around the world
Type C
A drawing of the Type E power outlet which is used in many countries around the world
Type E

Just like most of Europe, Belgium mainly uses the Type C power outlet.  However, they also use the Type E outlet which is unique in that it has a metal prong sticking out of it.  

Type C & F plugs can fit in a Type E outlet as long as they are compatible.  Make sure your Type C adapter is oval-shaped or you have a Type E/F adapter.

Get your compatible Type C & Type E/F adapter here.

The voltage used in Belgium is 230V.  Learn more about how this may affect your electronic devices in my Guide to the Top Travel Accessories.

Belgium
The charming town of Dinant in the Ardennes

Cellphone Information

Belgium has excellent overall 4G LTE coverage so it is unlikely that you will ever need to use their 3G networks, but it doesn’t hurt to be safe anyways.  Make sure your phone is GSM-compatible with at least one of the 3G frequencies and one of the 4G LTE bands used in the country to ensure you will always have a connection. 

Learn more about this in my Guide to Travel-Ready Phones.

Information about local prepaid SIM cards in Belgium

Calling Code: +32
Emergency Number: 112 (Police, Ambulance, & Fire)
3G Frequencies Used: 2100 & 900
4G LTE Bands Used: 3, 7, & 20

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