Belgium, a small European nation often overshadowed by its larger neighbors, is a hidden gem when it comes to picturesque cities and towns.
Nestled in the heart of Western Europe, this country boasts an astonishing array of charming destinations that will captivate travelers with their beauty and character.
And I would know cause I have lived in Belgium my entire life! I grew up in Tienen (which definitely won’t be mentioned in this guide :p), studied in Leuven, moved to Ghent and now ended up near Antwerp!
As you explore Belgium’s cities and towns, you’ll encounter a delightful fusion of languages, cultures, and influences, all set against a backdrop of stunning landscapes and rich history.
Whether you’re drawn to the quaint charm of Bruges or the bustling cosmopolitan vibe of Brussels, Belgium’s diverse array of destinations promises to leave you awestruck and inspired. Did you know we even have a town in Belgium that will make you feel like you’ve arrived at the Provence? Keep on reading to find out more!
So join me on a journey through the most beautiful cities and towns in Belgium!
25 Most Beautiful Cities and Towns in Belgium
The most popular cities of Belgium
Welcome to Brussels, the vibrant capital city of Belgium and the heart of Europe!
This enchanting city is a harmonious blend of rich history, stunning architecture, delicious cuisine, and a unique cultural tapestry.
Start your Brussels adventure in the heart of the city at the Grand Place, a UNESCO World Heritage site that will leave you in awe. This magnificent square is surrounded by opulent guildhalls, each a testament to Brussels’ medieval past.
Just a short stroll from the Grand Place, you’ll find the iconic Manneken Pis statue. This cheeky little bronze boy relieving himself in a fountain has become a beloved symbol of Brussels.
FUN FACT – The statue has a wardrobe of over 1,000 outfits, and you might just catch him dressed up in a unique costume during your visit.
Satisfy your sweet tooth with luxurious Belgian chocolates from artisanal shops dotted around the city. And, of course, don’t miss out on the chance to sample some of Belgium’s finest beers at a traditional Belgian pub.
For art enthusiasts, Brussels offers an array of world-class museums. Explore the Royal Museums of Fine Arts, housing works by renowned artists like Bruegel and Magritte.
The Atomium, a futuristic building designed in the shape of an iron crystal, is another must-visit. Inside, you’ll find exhibitions that offer a unique blend of science and art.
2. Antwerp – Explore the richest city in Belgium
Nestled on the banks of the River Scheldt, Antwerp is a Belgian gem that has long been a magnet for travelers seeking a blend of rich history, artistic heritage, and a dash of luxury.
Known as the “Diamond City” and the “Fashion Capital of Belgium,” Antwerp boasts a unique character that invites exploration and offers a diverse range of experiences for every kind of traveler.
Antwerp’s Old Town is a picturesque labyrinth of cobblestone streets, historic facades, and charming squares. At its heart lies the stunning Cathedral of Our Lady, a masterpiece of Gothic architecture that houses works by the legendary artist Peter Paul Rubens. Climb the cathedral tower for panoramic views of the city.
Visit the Rubenshuis, the former home and studio of the great Baroque painter Peter Paul Rubens. Explore the artist’s exquisite living quarters, adorned with his own works and an impressive collection of art from his contemporaries. The lush garden is a serene retreat in the heart of the city.
Antwerp is synonymous with cutting-edge fashion, thanks to the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, which has produced some of the world’s top designers known as the “Antwerp Six.” Explore the city’s fashion boutiques, where you’ll discover unique styles and trends. The ModeMuseum (MoMu) is a must-visit for fashion enthusiasts.
3. Bruges – The city of love in Belgium
Bruges is a city straight out of a fairytale. With its enchanting canals, cobblestone streets, and medieval architecture, Bruges has earned its nickname as the “Venice of the North.”
This picturesque town is a living canvas of history and culture, inviting travelers to step back in time and experience the charm of a bygone era.
Take a serene boat ride through the meandering waterways that wind their way through the city. Admire the well-preserved medieval buildings that line the canals, and let the peaceful ambiance transport you to another world.
Climb the Belfry Tower for an unforgettable experience. The 366-step journey to the top is rewarded with breathtaking views of Bruges and its surroundings.
Visit the Beguinage, a tranquil sanctuary hidden within the city. This former community for Beguines, devout women who lived a quasi-monastic life, is a serene spot with a central courtyard surrounded by white-washed houses.
Belgium is renowned for its chocolate, and Bruges is no exception. Indulge in the rich, velvety chocolates from artisanal shops that line the streets. You can even take a chocolate-making workshop to create your own sweet delights.
4. Ghent – One of the prettiest cities in Belgium
Nestled along the banks of the River Lys and Scheldt, Ghent is a captivating Belgian city that effortlessly balances its rich history with a vibrant contemporary spirit.
Often overlooked in favor of its more famous neighbors, Brussels and Bruges, Ghent is a hidden gem that rewards travelers with a blend of medieval grandeur, world-class art, and a progressive, youthful energy.
Begin your journey in Ghent with a visit to Gravensteen Castle, a medieval fortress that seems plucked from the pages of a fairy tale. Explore its imposing stone walls, climb the turrets for panoramic views, and discover the castle’s intriguing history as a symbol of power and authority.
St. Bavo’s Cathedral is a masterpiece of Gothic architecture and home to one of the world’s most celebrated artworks, the Ghent Altarpiece by Jan and Hubert van Eyck. The altarpiece is a true treasure of Renaissance art and a must-see for art enthusiasts.
Wander along the picturesque Graslei and Korenlei canals to soak in the medieval charm of Ghent. These beautifully preserved waterfront streets are lined with historic buildings, cafes, and restaurants. It’s the perfect place for a leisurely stroll and some people-watching.
For some of the best views of Ghent’s historic skyline, head to Grasbrug and St. Michael’s Bridge. These vantage points offer stunning vistas of the city’s spires, towers, and the flowing river below
🎒 TOP TOUR – Ghent: 50-Minute Medieval Center Guided Boat Trip
The most underrated cities in Belgium
Often bypassed by tourists in favor of larger Belgian cities, Lier offers a serene escape where history, culture, and natural beauty converge.
Start your exploration in Grote Markt, the central square of Lier. Here, you’ll find the town hall, a stunning example of Gothic and Renaissance architecture. The square is surrounded by quaint cafes and shops, making it the perfect spot for people-watching and sipping a coffee.
The Zimmer Tower, with its iconic astronomical clock, is a Lier landmark not to be missed. Climb to the top for panoramic views of the town and its scenic surroundings. The clock, which dates back to the 1930s, is a marvel of engineering and artistry.
Lier’s scenic beauty extends to the River Nete, which meanders through the town. Take a leisurely boat ride to appreciate the town from a different perspective and soak in the peaceful ambiance.
6. Mechelen – A Hidden Gem in Belgium
For travelers seeking an authentic Belgian experience away from the crowds, Mechelen is a hidden gem waiting to be explored. This picturesque city boasts a rich history, stunning architecture, and a vibrant cultural scene that will capture your heart and imagination.
Mechelen is a city that breathes history. Its cobblestone streets wind through centuries-old buildings, each telling a story of its own. The magnificent St. Rumbold’s Cathedral, with its towering spire that dominates the skyline, is a must-visit.
Art enthusiasts will find solace in Mechelen’s numerous museums and galleries. The Museum Hof van Busleyden is a cultural treasure trove, showcasing the city’s history through art and artifacts.
Mechelen surprises visitors with its lush green spaces hidden behind unassuming facades. Explore tranquil courtyards like the Beguinage, a UNESCO World Heritage site, where you can stroll among picturesque white houses and serene gardens. The Kruidtuin, Mechelen’s botanical garden, is a peaceful oasis in the heart of the city, perfect for a leisurely afternoon.
Be sure to savor Mechelen’s local specialty, “Mechelse Koekoek” (Mechelen chicken), known for its tender meat and unique flavor.
7. Leuven – Where History, Culture, and Academic Excellence Converge
Leuven’s history dates back to Roman times, and its cobbled streets are lined with centuries-old buildings that tell tales of the past.
The iconic Town Hall, with its ornate Gothic architecture and stunning facade, is a true masterpiece. Visitors can also explore the remarkable St. Peter’s Church, a stunning example of Brabantine Gothic architecture, featuring awe-inspiring stained glass windows and intricate carvings.
Leuven is synonymous with knowledge and learning, thanks to the presence of the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KU Leuven), one of Europe’s oldest and most prestigious universities. The beautifully landscaped campus, with its historic buildings and modern facilities, lends an academic charm to the city. Don’t miss the University Library, a striking architectural gem that houses a vast collection of rare manuscripts and books.
Leuven’s youthful energy is palpable, thanks to its diverse student population. The Oude Markt, often referred to as the “longest bar in the world,” is a bustling square lined with bars and cafes, making it a hub of social activity. Join the locals for a drink and soak in the lively atmosphere.
Leuven is dotted with serene beguinages, including the Grand Beguinage, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
8. Namur – The capital of the Wallonia region
Namur’s strategic location along the Meuse River offers an enchanting backdrop of glistening waters and lush greenery. The riverbanks provide a tranquil escape for those seeking leisurely walks, bike rides, or even a peaceful picnic. Embark on a river cruise to witness the city from a unique perspective, framed by the stunning Ardennes hills in the distance.
The magnificent Citadel of Namur, perched on a hill overlooking the city, is an imposing fortress that has guarded the region for centuries. Explore its intricate network of tunnels, bastions, and ramparts, and you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking panoramas of the city below.
Saint-Aubin’s Cathedral, a masterpiece of Gothic architecture, stands proudly in the heart of Namur.
The Rops Museum, dedicated to the works of local artist Félicien Rops, is a must-visit for art enthusiasts. Meanwhile, the Namur Archaeological Museum showcases the city’s ancient past through a fascinating collection of artifacts.
Namur’s proximity to the Ardennes region makes it a gateway to outdoor activities. Hiking, biking, and kayaking are popular pursuits in the nearby natural reserves and along the riverbanks.
The most colorful towns in Belgium
9. Dinant – A Riverside Gem in the Heart of Belgium
Tucked away amidst the rolling hills of the picturesque Ardennes region, Dinant is a small Belgian town that packs a big punch when it comes to natural beauty, history, and culture.
Perched high on a limestone cliff, the Citadel of Dinant is the town’s most iconic attraction. Visitors can choose to take a cable car or climb the 408 steps to the top for panoramic vistas of the town and the surrounding countryside.
Dinant holds a special place in the world of music as the birthplace of Adolphe Sax, the inventor of the saxophone. The Adolphe Sax House offers an intriguing glimpse into the life and work of this musical pioneer. You can also spot saxophone-shaped decorations and sculptures throughout the town, paying homage to this unique connection.
Take a leisurely river cruise to explore the town from a different perspective, passing under the iconic Charles de Gaulle Bridge. For the more adventurous, kayaking along the river offers an exhilarating way to experience Dinant’s natural beauty.
10. Torgny – The Provence of Belgium
Nestled in the rolling hills of the Belgian Gaume region, Torgny is a village that seems to have stepped out of a storybook. This hidden gem, often described as the “most beautiful village in Wallonia,” enchants visitors with its rustic charm, colorful buildings, and a serene countryside setting.
Torgny’s most distinctive feature is its colorful houses adorned with flowers, creating a picturesque scene that’s straight out of a postcard. Stroll along the village’s winding streets, and you’ll be greeted by charming facades in shades of pastel blues, pinks, and yellows. The well-tended gardens and window boxes bursting with blooms add to the village’s vibrancy.
Despite its small size, Torgny is a culinary destination of note. The village is renowned for its gastronomy, and its restaurants and bistros serve up delicious local specialties. Don’t miss the opportunity to savor dishes like “Gaumais,” a traditional stew, and “Tarte au Sucre,” a sweet pastry that’s a regional favorite.
The surrounding Gaume region is known for its vineyards and is often referred to as the “Provence of Belgium.” Torgny is no exception. Explore the local wineries, where you can taste excellent wines, including Pinot Noir and Auxerrois.
11. Durbuy – The smallest town in the world
With its medieval charm, winding cobblestone streets, and colorful houses that line the banks of the picturesque Ourthe River, Durbuy is often affectionately called the “smallest town in the world.” However, don’t let its size fool you; this enchanting destination offers a wealth of experiences for travelers seeking a fairytale escape.
Durbuy’s history dates back to the Middle Ages, and the town’s architecture preserves that ancient charm. The town square, Place aux Foires, is a prime example, boasting beautiful cobblestone streets and historic stone buildings adorned with flowers in the warmer months.
Durbuy is renowned for its markets, which draw visitors from all around. The Christmas market, held in the historic center, transforms the town into a winter wonderland with twinkling lights, festive decorations, and an array of seasonal treats.
The Sunday market is a year-round delight, offering local crafts, artisanal foods, and more.
The most beautiful towns on the Belgian coast
12. Knokke – Belgium’s Beachside Oasis of Elegance
Nestled along the pristine Belgian coastline, Knokke is a seaside gem that embodies sophistication, luxury, and natural beauty. Known as the “Monaco of the North,” this chic coastal town offers travelers an enchanting blend of elegant beachfront living, picturesque scenery, and a vibrant cultural scene that sets it apart as one of Belgium’s most exclusive destinations.
Knokke’s miles of sandy beaches are the star attraction. Whether you’re seeking a peaceful sunbathing spot or craving a refreshing dip in the North Sea, Knokke’s coastline is a haven for beach lovers. Elegant beach clubs offer stylish lounging options, while water sports enthusiasts can partake in activities like kite surfing and sailing.
The grand seaside promenade, Zeedijk-Albertstrand, exudes opulence with its upscale boutiques, cafés, and fine dining establishments.
Beyond the glitz and glamour, Knokke offers serene natural beauty. The Zwin Nature Park, a tidal salt marsh, is a haven for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts. Explore its trails and bird observatories to connect with the region’s biodiversity.
13. De Haan – A Tranquil Coastal Haven in Belgium
Known for its Belle Époque architecture, pristine beaches, and serene atmosphere, this coastal town offers travelers a delightful escape from the hustle and bustle of modern life.
De Haan is often referred to as the “Belle Époque Queen” because of its well-preserved architectural heritage from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Stroll along the town’s tree-lined avenues and admire the elegant villas with their ornate facades, turrets, and art nouveau details.
De Haan’s long, sandy beach is a highlight of any visit. Stretching for miles along the North Sea, it offers a serene and unspoiled setting for sunbathing, leisurely walks, and beachcombing. The absence of high-rise buildings along the shoreline ensures that the natural beauty takes center stage.
Despite its small size, De Haan has a rich cultural scene. Visit the town’s museums and art galleries, including the Belle Époque Museum, to learn more about its history and artistic heritage.
Middelkerke’s coastline is a primary draw for visitors. Miles of golden sandy beaches stretch as far as the eye can see, inviting sunbathers, beachcombers, and water sports enthusiasts alike. Relax on a beach towel with a good book, build sandcastles with the family, or take a refreshing dip in the North Sea. Middelkerke’s wide beaches ensure there’s plenty of space for everyone.
Middelkerke is renowned for its family-friendly atmosphere. The town offers numerous activities for all ages, including mini-golf, playgrounds, and amusement parks.
Belgium’s coastal towns are famous for their seafood, and Middelkerke is no exception. Sample freshly caught shrimp, mussels, and other seafood delicacies at the local restaurants, paired with Belgian beer or a glass of crisp white wine.
If you’re feeling lucky, Middelkerke boasts a casino where you can try your hand at the tables and slot machines. In the evenings, the town offers a selection of bars and lounges for those seeking some nightlife.
Oostende’s main attraction is undoubtedly its beautiful stretch of sandy beaches that span for kilometers along the North Sea.
Oostende has a rich artistic heritage, notably as the home of the renowned Belgian painter James Ensor. Visit the James Ensor House and Museum to delve into his life and works. The city’s love for the arts extends to various galleries and exhibitions that celebrate contemporary and classic art.
Oostende is a family-friendly destination with attractions like the Earth Explorer, a science and adventure center, and Fort Napoleon, a historic fortress with interactive exhibits.
The Theater aan Zee (Theatre by the Sea) festival is a highlight for performing arts enthusiasts.
The most beautiful towns in Wallonia
16. Rochefort – A Picturesque Belgian Retreat
The beautiful Belgian town’s cobblestone streets, medieval buildings, and charming squares transport visitors back in time.
Explore the Saint-Rémy Church, with its elegant Gothic architecture, or wander through the narrow alleyways to discover hidden courtyards and cozy cafes.
Perched dramatically above the town, the ruins of the Château de Rochefort are a testament to the town’s history. While the castle itself may be in ruins, the panoramic views from this vantage point are absolutely breathtaking.
Rochefort is surrounded by an intricate network of limestone caves that hide beneath its surface. The Grottes de Han, located just a short drive away, is one of the most famous cave systems in Europe. Embark on an underground adventure to discover awe-inspiring stalactites and subterranean wonders.
Perched on a bend of the meandering River Ourthe and crowned by the ruins of a medieval castle, this picturesque town in Belgium offers a journey back in time and a taste of Belgium’s enchanting natural beauty.
La-Roche-en-Ardenne’s centerpiece is its imposing medieval castle, Château de La-Roche-en-Ardenne. Explore the castle grounds, climb its stone towers, and be rewarded with panoramic views of the river valley and the surrounding woodlands.
During World War II, La-Roche-en-Ardenne played a significant role in the Battle of the Bulge. The town’s war museum, the Musée de la Bataille des Ardennes, gives you a glimpse into this dark period of history.
Throughout the year, La-Roche-en-Ardenne hosts a variety of festivals and events that celebrate its culture and traditions. From medieval reenactments to food festivals, there’s always something happening to enrich your experience.
With its medieval castle, winding river, and lush forests, Bouillon offers travelers a unique blend of culture, nature, and excitement in one of Belgium’s most beautiful places.
The town of Bouillon is dominated by its crown jewel, the Château de Bouillon. This medieval fortress, perched majestically above the Semois River, is a sight to behold. Explore its ancient halls, climb its towers, and imagine the battles and legends that have unfolded within these walls.
For families and wildlife lovers, the Bouillon Animal Park is a must-visit. This nature reserve features indigenous European animals in a natural habitat setting. It’s an excellent opportunity to observe deer, boar, and other animals up close.
Visit the stunning Malmedy Cathedral, a Gothic masterpiece with intricate stained glass windows and ancient relics. Explore the town’s quaint squares, where charming cafes and boutiques invite you to linger.
Just a short drive from Malmedy, you’ll find the Abbey of Stavelot, a historical gem that houses museums, art exhibitions, and a racetrack museum dedicated to the famous Spa-Francorchamps circuit.
The nearby Hautes Fagnes Nature Reserve offers hiking and cycling trails that wind through serene landscapes.
If your visit coincides with the annual Malmedy Carnival, you’re in for a lively treat. This vibrant celebration includes colorful parades, traditional costumes, and lively music, offering a unique glimpse into local culture and folklore.
Spa is a place where relaxation, rejuvenation, and rich history come together. With its thermal springs, charming streets, and cultural heritage, it offers travelers a perfect blend of wellness and exploration in an idyllic setting.
Spa’s name itself is synonymous with wellness. It’s the place where the term “spa” was coined, and its healing thermal springs have attracted visitors for centuries. Immerse yourself in the town’s history at the Thermes de Spa, where you can still enjoy the soothing effects of the natural mineral-rich waters.
While Spa is famous for its wellness offerings, it also boasts a charming town center. Stroll through cobbled streets, lined with historic buildings, boutiques, and cafes. The Place Royale is a lovely square to savor a meal or coffee while enjoying the ambiance.
21. Thuin – a UNESCO World Heritage site
One of the town’s most exceptional features is its UNESCO World Heritage-listed Hanging Gardens, a breathtaking architectural wonder that has stood the test of time.
Thuin is situated in the province of Hainaut, in the southwestern part of Wallonia. It’s easily accessible by car, approximately a 90-minute drive from Brussels, making it a perfect day trip destination from the Belgian capital.
Visitors can explore the Hanging Gardens through a network of well-maintained paths and walkways. As you ascend through the gardens, you’ll encounter a diverse range of plants, flowers, and trees, making it a horticultural paradise.
Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the impressive Belfry of Thuin, another UNESCO World Heritage site, which offers panoramic views of the surrounding area.
The most beautiful towns and cities in Flanders
Nestled in the heart of Flanders, Belgium, Ypres is a city that wears its history proudly, while also offering visitors a glimpse of its charming, beautifully reconstructed medieval center.
Ypres is located in the province of West Flanders, making it easily accessible from major Belgian cities like Brussels and Bruges. The city is well-connected by public transport with regular train services making it a convenient day trip or weekend getaway destination.
One of the most significant landmarks in Ypres, the Menin Gate is inscribed with the names of nearly 55,000 Commonwealth soldiers who went missing in action during World War I. The Last Post ceremony, held daily at 8 PM, is a moving tribute to the fallen.
The iconic Cloth Hall, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is an architectural masterpiece that has been meticulously restored. It now houses museums, shops, and cafes. Don’t miss the chance to climb its belfry for breathtaking city views and make sure to visit the In Flanders Fields Museum.
Nestled in the picturesque Flemish countryside of Belgium, the charming town of Damme is a hidden gem that’s often overshadowed by its more famous neighbor, Bruges.
Damme is conveniently located just a few kilometers from Bruges, making it an easy day trip or a pleasant bike ride from the bustling city center. The town is also accessible by car, and there’s ample parking available near the historic center.
Renting a bike in Damme is a popular choice, allowing you to explore the surrounding countryside and even cycle along the picturesque Damse Vaart canal.
24. Oudenaarde – A Flemish Gem of History and Culture
Nestled in the heart of the Flemish Ardennes, the charming town of Oudenaarde is a hidden treasure that invites travelers to step back in time and immerse themselves in Belgium’s rich history and culture.
The town hall is a masterpiece of late-Gothic architecture and is often considered one of the most beautiful in Belgium.
For a deeper dive into the town’s history, a visit to the MOU is a must. This museum provides a comprehensive look at Oudenaarde’s past, showcasing artifacts, paintings, and interactive exhibits that bring the town’s heritage to life.
Oudenaarde is the gateway to the stunning Flemish Ardennes, a hilly and forested region that’s a paradise for cyclists, hikers, and nature lovers. The picturesque landscape is dotted with charming villages and offers numerous scenic routes for outdoor enthusiasts.
Oudenaarde is known for its vibrant cultural traditions, including the annual “Ronde van Vlaanderen” (Tour of Flanders) cycling race, which passes through the town.
25. Tongeren – The oldest city in Belgium
Tongeren proudly wears its title as the “Oldest City in Belgium,” with a history dating back to Roman times.
Immerse yourself in Tongeren’s ancient past at the Gallic-Roman Museum, which showcases archaeological finds from the region. The star attraction is the beautifully preserved Roman sarcophagus of a married couple.
Tongeren is famous for hosting one of the largest antique markets in Europe. Held every Sunday, the Tongeren Antique Market attracts collectors, treasure hunters, and visitors seeking unique finds.
Tongeren’s Grote Markt (Grand Market Square) is surrounded by beautiful historic buildings and is a perfect place for a leisurely stroll. Be sure to explore the charming streets and squares of the old town, where you’ll encounter quaint cafes and shops.
In conclusion, Belgium boasts an array of stunning cities, each with its own unique charm and character. Whether you’re captivated by centuries-old cathedrals, picturesque canals, or contemporary art scenes, Belgium’s cities have something to enchant every visitor.
Charlotte Lint is the founder of Charlies Wanderings.
Charlotte has traveled all over the world and is based in Belgium where she also owns her very own dental practice.
She is an expert on writing efficient travel guides and finding unique places to stay.
Every month she helps over 134.000 people discover the most beautiful places in the world through her detailed travel guides.