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The historical wonders of Belgium are widely known. Common postcard visions are of Brussels' Grand Place, the facades of its Gothic and baroque masterpieces ablaze with light, or reproductions of the ancient and modern art that adorns the capital's Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts. Bruges has similarly been promoted to within an inch of its medieval life, as evidenced by the huge crowds that wander its serene canals and browse the fabulous collection of Flemish Primitives artworks in the Groeninge Museum. It may surprise some, however, that Belgium is also highly regarded for its cookery. Pots of steaming mussels, the creamy stew called ...

The historical wonders of Belgium are widely known. Common postcard visions are of Brussels' Grand Place, the facades of its Gothic and baroque masterpieces ablaze with light, or reproductions of the ancient and modern art that adorns the capital's Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts. Bruges has similarly been promoted to within an inch of its medieval life, as evidenced by the huge crowds that wander its serene canals and browse the fabulous collection of Flemish Primitives artworks in the Groeninge Museum. It may surprise some, however, that Belgium is also highly regarded for its cookery. Pots of steaming mussels, the creamy stew called waterzooi and freshly pressed waffles are just some of the dishes that seduce visitors. Such a low profile does not afflict the world-famous Belgian praline (filled chocolates), nor Belgian bière (beer), the best of which is brewed in Trappist monasteries. Working off such high-calorie treats is easy in the Ardennes, a beautiful region of forested hills and secluded valleys that delights cyclists and hikers.

Paul Smitz
About the Expert

Paul Smitz has coauthored a dozen guidebooks for Lonely Planet on places such as Australia, New Zealand, Malaysian Borneo, Brunei, various Pacific Islands, Prague, and Brussels.

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Paul Smitz for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Northwest Europe bordered by the Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg, and France, with a short coastline on the North Sea.
  • Language: Dutch, French, German
  • Currency: Euro
  • Research: Wikitravel | Wikipedia
  • Weather: Rainfall