Bruges by night, Belgium
When you visit Belgium with your Eurail pass, you’ll discover a place that’s more than just a stop in your travel between France and Holland. Belgium is known for its troubled history, its excellence in art and athletics, its friendly people and – oh, yes – sumptuous beer and decadent chocolate.
Beauty and bonbons in Brussels
One of the most vibrant squares in Europe, the Grand-Place is a 13th century market in the city center of Brussels. It blends age-old architecture with modern shops, markets and cafes. Home to the famous Atomium and Manneken Pis, the Grand-Place is steeped in history. The Chocolate Museum (Musée du Cacao et du Chocolat) must be seen to be believed. The country produces well over 150,000 tons of the sweet stuff each year. View more things to do in Brussels.
Grand-Place is less than a 5-minute walk from Brussels Central Station (Bruxelles-Central).
Hip and happening Antwerp
Belgium’s second-largest city, Antwerp (Antwerpen), is a busy, buzzing metropolis with plenty to see and do. From unsurpassed cuisine to cutting-edge fashion to architecture and history, Antwerp is a traveler’s playground. The Cogels-Osylei, one of the most fascinating streets in Belgium (and some believe, in all of Europe), is teeming with magnificent 19th century architecture.
The Cogels-Osylei is just outside the Antwerpen-Berchem train station.
Get social in Ghent
Although it lies quietly in the shadow of Antwerp, Ghent (Gent) is a perfect stop between modern Antwerp and ancient Bruges – and a place where food, beer and fun have risen to an art form. Wander the 13th century streets and it won’t be long before you find the perfect environment for your taste, and friendly people with whom to share it.
Intercity trains will get you from Antwerp to Ghent (station Gent-Sint Pieters) in about 45 minutes.
An enchanting experience
One of Flanders’ more historic cities, Bruges’ (Brugge) presence was felt in medieval times, and it was western Europe’s most important trade city by the 15th century. A walk through Bruges today is like walking back into times long passed, since even modern renovations are done to preserve the medieval look and feel.
Intercity trains will get you from Ghent to Bruges in about 25 minutes.
Oozing artistic charm
Art and history reign supreme in Liège (Luik). No visit would be complete without a trip to the Musée d’Art Réligieux et d’Art Mosan. For a peek inside the lives of Wallonia’s most famous artists (including René Magritte and Paul Delvaux), try the Musée de l’Art Wallon.
From station Liège Palais, you are within walking distance of the Musée de l'Art Wallon.
Outdoor fun throughout Belgium
Mild temperatures and varied landscapes make Belgium a great outdoor destination. The Ardennes are a nature-lover’s paradise: lush hills, flowing rivers, cycling, kayaking, skiing – the works. In Rochefort, rent bikes and cycle along unused train tracks to Houyet. And the Waterloo Battlefield, looking as it did during the famous battle back in 1815, is near Brussels. In June, there are costumed battle re-enactments.
To get to the site of the Waterloo Battlefield, it's possible to take a bus (W or 365) from Brussels or Waterloo. Take a bus from Jemelle train station to get to Rochefort, as Rochefort is not connected to the railway system.
When to go
When is the best time to use your Eurail Belgium (Benelux) Pass? Anytime! Spring and summer are perfect for hitting the beach, enjoying the flower festival or heading to the Ardennes for fishing and kayaking. Winter brings downhill skiing, Yuletide markets and much more.
The northwestern, coastal region of Belgium has a slightly warmer, more humid climate. As you move inward and towards the Ardennes, the weather becomes milder, and slightly cooler. Rainfall is spread pretty evenly throughout the year, and snow is likely in wintertime. Summers are generally mild, with temperatures rarely rising above 75 degrees Fahrenheit (24º C).
- February 19-21, 2013
This celebration before the Lent is all about colorful costumes, rich folklore, food, music, parades and performances. The most popular and famous event is held in Binch. You haven’t seen anything until you set eyes on the wax-masked Gilles clowns throwing oranges at passersby.
Binch can be reached by train.
Brussels beer weekend
- September 6-8, 2013
Not to be outdone by its eastern neighbor, Brussels also hosts a weekend for celebrating the frothy brews that make Belgium famous. The Grote Markt bubbles over with more than 400 types, tastes and sorts of beer, and a lively crowd to go with it.
The Grote Markt is within walking distance of Brussels central station.
Beer Passion Weekend
- June 28-30, 2013
The Belgians are known the world over for producing the most delicious – and widely varied – beers available. The Beer Passion Weekend in Antwerp celebrates more than 40 different breweries and 200 specialty beers. The festival is free, and open to all.
The festival is held at the Groenmarkt., which can be reached by tram.