Are you tired of always visiting the same places and you’re ready to discover some true hidden gems in Belgium? I am here to help you! When the lockdown in Belgium started to ease up and we were allowed to go out and explore I made it my mission to discover my own country. And damn… I found some truly amazing places that completely blew me away.
From majestic castles, to secluded cabins and beautiful architecture, this post will cover all of the hidden gems and most unique places in Belgium that I discovered during those weeks.
Belgium might be a pretty small country but it has so much more to offer than most people think. It’s more than the canals in Bruges and eating waffles in Brussels. And while those cities are world famous for a good reason I also want you to get to know a different side of my country!
26 Hidden Gems and Unique Places In Belgium You Have To See To Believe
Zimmer Tower – Lier
The Zimmer Tower in Lier, also known as the Cornelius tower, is a beautiful piece of architecture in the heart of this fantastic city. It used to be a part of the city’s fortifications and in 1930 the astronomer and clockmaker Louis Zimmer built the Jubilee clock, which consists of 12 clocks all circling a central one. Every dial on the clock has a different function such as showing the following: the phases of the moon, the zodiacs, the seasons, the tides, etc…
And you want to know the best part? You can admire this beautiful piece of architecture while sipping on a cocktail on one of the many terraces in front of it!
Right next to the Zimmer Tower you’ll find the Zimmer Museum which you can visit every day from 10am to 5pm, except on Mondays. You can combine your visit to the museum with a drink and a bite at ‘De Zimmer’, which is located inside the complex. The price for a visit to the Zimmer Tower and Museum ranges from €2 to €5.
La Maison de Hary Cot – Wéris
La Maison de Hary Cot is a restaurant close to Durbuy that will make you feel like you stepped onto a movie set by Tim Burton. You can enjoy a cocktail in the bar which is located underneath the pond and have dinner in an interior that will have you look around in wonder the entire time.
The designer of this restaurant didn’t just leave it there. He also created the quirky hotel La Balade des Gnomes which consists of 11 different magical worlds. Go to sleep in a Trojan horse or wake up in a magical forest. Anything you can imagine is possible!
Graefswinning – Nieuwerkerken
Graefswinning is one of the most beautiful peony farms in Belgium! Every year during Spring you can visit their peony fields. Make sure to keep an eye out on their website to check the official visiting times for 2021! It is not allowed to just drop by whenever so please respect that!
Reading Between the Lines – Borgloon
This see through church is a stunning piece of architecture and is actually really close to the peony farm mentioned above! The art installation was created by Belgian architects Pieterjan Gijs and Arnout Van Vaerenbergh and consists of 100 steel sheets stacked on top of each other in the shape of a church. Due to it’s construction the landscape behind the church is always visible and according to the British newspaper The Guardian this is the most beautiful place in Belgium.
I don’t know about that but I do know that it’s the perfect place to watch the sunset on a clear day. The art installation is free to visit and a popular place for families and couples to enjoy the end of a sunny day.
Villa Fridhem – Maasmechelen
Well it’s not actually the villa itself that you’ll be visiting cause that one is private property. But it’s the fairytale cabin that you’ll find at the entrance of it and a true hidden gem in Belgium. I haven’t shared this location before because I wanted to be able to give you all the information needed so you won’t be disappointed. Cause this little cabin is actually a small police guard house, police sign on the door included. And usually the gate in front of it is closed.
If you’re a landscape photographer you can still take stunning photos with the gate closed cause your camera will fit through the bars. Otherwise you might be in a bit of a pickle. We were lucky enough that when we arrived the gate was open and that the guard was there. We politely asked him if it was possible to quickly take a few photos and he agreed. So always be mindful of this when visiting. Do not attempt to climb the fence cause there is a security camera present and well that’s simply not done and could ruin it for people that want to take a photo here in the future.
Walzin Castle, my favourite hidden gem in Belgium – Dinant
The Walzin Castle has to be one of my favourite castles in Belgium and it is located near Dinant and overlooks the river Lesse. It’s one of the most beautiful places in Belgium and so far I had the pleasure of visiting this area twice!
The castle itself is private domain and it’s not possible to visit it. However, this should not hold you back from taking a day trip to this area! It’s the perfect place to take some stunning photos but I have to be honest you’ll have to do some crawling…
The first viewpoint can be easily reached if you park your car at the parking lot next to the river Lesse next to the castle grounds. After that you follow the small road next to the water, cross the bridge and you’ll see the castle appear on the left. To get on the meadow you do have to go underneath some barbed wire. But the only reason that it’s there is so the cows won’t escape. So just make sure you don’t disturb them and watch out for the poop ;).
The second viewpoint is a little trickier cause you have to go onto a private road so if you do this it’s at your very own risk. You’ll find it after driving up the hill next to the castle and it’s the first road on the right that you’ll encounter. It will involve some crawling through the bushes and climbing over a fence but you’ll be greeted by one of the most spectacular viewpoints in Belgium! Do not attempt to go here if you’re scared of heights or if you are not sure footed. Cause if you fall, you don’t just break a leg, you fall, you die.
One of the most popular Summer activities in the area is to go down the Lesse with a kayak. This way you will float past the Walzin castle and you can make a quick stop here!
Hallerbos Forest – Halle
Hallerbos Forest is one of the most beautiful and magical forests that we have in Belgium. Every year around the 13th of April the bluebells start to bloom and cover the entire forest in a purple carpet haze.
The forest is free to visit but please be respectful! It is not allowed to go off the designated pathways cause if you step on the bluebells they will never grow back in that spot!
St Anna’s Tunnel – Antwerp
The St Anna’s Tunnel in Antwerp is a pedestrian tunnel which connects the left and right bank of the city of Antwerp. It goes underneath the river Scheldt and is the fastest way to go from one side to the other! It was built in 1931 and still has the original wooden escalators from that time.
The Wizard’s Cabin, a secret hidden gem in Belgium – Namur
The moment I saw a photo of this cabin on Instagram I knew I had to find it. And never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined to find a hidden gem like this in Belgium! But it does exist and it’s actually pretty easy to get to, if you walk in the right direction that is :p. I got a little lost in the woods on my way over there and discovered afterwards that there is a paved road leading to it. It’s not allowed to drive on this road so you can only reach the cabin on foot.
You can’t stay at this cabin and it is private property so for that reason I will not share it’s exact location. I know most of you would be respectful but we all know there would be a bunch of idiots who would ruin it for the others. There are however a ton of other cosy cabins in Belgium where you can stay at!
I get daily emails requesting the location of this place since the magazine Flair pretty much copy pasted this blog post of mine. And while in the beginning my location was way more specific I decided to take down the information cause too many people were being disrespectful.
The Villers Abbey – Villers La Ville
The Villers Abbey is located in the small town of Villers La Ville, about 30 minutes driving from Brussels. The Villers Abbey was built in 1146 and is a beautiful witness to how the Cistercian monks lived. This site is considered to be one of the most complete ones in entire Europe!
Daily opening hours are from 10am – 5pm, in the summer months they stay open until 6pm. Prices for visiting range from €4 to €9.
Hidden Trolls – De Schorre in Boom
The seven trolls of Thomas Dambo, one of my favourite hidden gems in Belgium!
Some of you might already be familiar with this place but under different circumstances. This is the exact same place where you’ll find the world famous festival Tomorrowland! And it’s thanks to their organisation that you can now go searching for these trolls on the domain.
There are seven wooden trolls hidden in total and I was able to find to find all of them!
It’s a really fun and free experience and there’s a large parking lot at the entrance of the domain!
Rocher du Hat – Chiny
This beautiful place in Belgium is hidden deep in the Ardennes in Belgium but it is actually pretty easy to reach and involves only 15 minutes of hiking! It’s one of my favourite places in Wallonia so if you’re ever in the area make sure to pay it a visit!
If you’re in the area you should also pay a visit to the Abbey of Orval where you’re able to buy some delicious beers!
The Royal Greenhouses of Laeken – Brussels
Every year during Spring the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken open its doors to the public. It’s one of the most beautiful and unique places to visit in Brussels. During this time most flowers are in full bloom and you get to witness what hundreds of gardeners work tirelessly on during an entire year.
This event only lasts for 3 weeks so make sure to arrive very, very early!. When I visited 2 years ago I made sure to be there at 8.30am, even that it only opens at 9.30am. And, it’s safe to say that I was very happy that I did cause not long after people started cueing up and a ton of tour busses started to arrive. There was a small rope on the other side of the street in front of the entrance which was pointed out as the designated waiting point. As soon as it opens make sure to go to one of the ticket booths (2,5€, free under 18) and head inside.
Plan your visit to Brussels accordingly cause they are only open for 3 weeks every year.
This year this should be from 17th of April until the 3th of May 2021. If you’re planning on visiting during this time you might want to combine it with a visit to Floraliën 2021, a floral festival that happens every 4 years in Ghent!
Vlaeykensgang – Antwerp
A beautiful place right in the centre of Antwerp is the Vlaeykensgang. It’s a unique location hidden between two streets close to the Antwerp cathedral and dates back since 1591.
You can find this little alley by going through the gate at Oude Koornmarkt 16. Enter and step into a different era. It used to be the shoemakers area but these days you’ll find little galleries, antique shops and a famous restaurant.
The Borrekens Castle is also known as the castle of Vorselaar and has to be one of the most beautiful castles in the province of Antwerp in Belgium!
This Belgian castle is located in a beautiful park which is free to enter at any time. It is privately owned and completely surrounded by a moat and every single time I visited the main gates were closed. As far as I know it is not possible to visit the castle itself.
The best place to admire it and to take photos is when you walk around towards the back of it and here you’ll find a beautiful opening in the hedges. It’s exceptionally beautiful to photograph during Spring in Belgium due to all of the rhododendrons.
Boniverlei, a true hidden gem in Belgium – Edegem
If you’re from this area in Antwerp I might hear you thinking… HU???
But during Spring this busy street in Edegem transforms into a true cherry blossom paradise for an entire week! It’s definitely one of the most unique places to visit in Belgium but do know that during the day it can get very busy here.
I drive through this street nearly every single day but it wasn’t until the first lockdown happened that I saw how beautiful it actually was!
The entire street is lined with cherry blossom trees and it’s one of the first places I photographed after the pandemic hit Belgium.
Frijthout – Hove
This is one of my favourite places and in my opinion one of the most beautiful parks in Belgium to take photos.
During Fall you can see the fog rising in the early morning but during Summer all of the wildflowers start to bloom and create a sea of colours.
Fondry des Chiens – Nismes
Nismes is a quaint little town in the South of Belgium in the province of Namur and the start of several beautiful hikes! The most famous attraction here is the Fondry des Chiens, a ravine of 100 meters long and 20 meters deep and unique in its kind in Belgium.
If you don’t have a lot of time you can simply drive up to this small canyon but otherwise I highly recommend you to do one of the many hikes which include a visit to the Fondry des Chiens.
There are several hiking trails that you can follow but my favourite was the one with the yellow rectangle. The hiking trails start at the church of Nismes and is 7,5km. It will lead you through a beautiful forest, alongside a train track and up to the beautiful viewpoint of La Roche aux Faucons.
Castle Ten Berghe – Bruges
This beautiful castle is located right above Bruges and is privately owned.
The castle is not open to visitors but you can book a room here or even rent out the entire castle which is a very unique experience in Belgium!
The castle is available for events, workshops, weddings, etc.
Besides this one there are a ton of other castle hotels in Belgium!
Beervelde Park – Beervelde
Beervelde park truly is one of those hidden gems in Belgium and is fittingly located in the Toverstraat, which basically means Magic Street.
The estate stretches over an area of 25 hectares (62 acres) and has belonged to the same family since 1783. It is maintained throughout the year in function of the internationally renowned Garden Days which take place mid-May and mid-October and is also very popular with young couples with wedding plans, looking for a fairy tale setting.
There is a parking lot in front of the entrance to the park but new regulations require you to leave your name before entering the park.
Royal Gallery of Saint Hubert – Brussels
Welcome to the oldest shopping arcade in Europe and one of the most beautiful hidden places in Brussels! The Royal Gallery of Saint Hubert was even built before the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan and The Passage in St Petersburg.
The gallery is split into two sections and is divided in the middle by the Rue de Boucher. This little street is lined with restaurants and is one of the biggest tourist traps in entire Brussels. The only restaurant you should try here is “Aux armes de Bruxelles” and order the shrimp croquettes.
The Royal Gallery is the perfect place to do some window or real shopping during your day in Brussels. Here you’ll find some of the most beautiful stores such as:
- La Folie des Cadeaux – A magnificent toy store that you simply have to enter.
- Les Ecuadors – If you’re looking for unique jewellery you’ll love this shop.
- Maison Dandoy – Try their home made speculoos, it’s amazing!
- Delvaux – A luxury designer brand from Belgium, known for its beautiful handbags. You might want to check your credit card balance before entering :p
Basilica of the Holy Blood – Bruges
This unique place in Belgium was originally built in the 12th century as the chapel of the residence of the Count of Flanders. You might remember him from the Castle of Wijnendaele right below Bruges!
When you look at the building from the outside and the elaborate decorum of its facade you would never think there’s an actual chapel inside.
The basilica is best known as the repository of a venerated phial said to contain a cloth with blood of Jesus Christ.
Communal Park – Lint
This beautiful park in the small town of Lint has some serious fairytale vibes and it’s tree bridge truly is a unique hidden gem in Belgium! It’s the perfect place to go for an afternoon stroll or to take photos!
The park is free to visit and is easily reached by car or public transport!
The House of the Five Continents – Antwerp
This is one of the most beautiful places in entire Antwerp. It is in true Art Nouveau style and was even rewarded the nickname “The little boat” because of its original architecture. It was built in 1901 and can be found on the corner of the Schilderstraat and Plaatsnijdersstraat.
Patershol – Ghent
This beautiful place in Belgium can be found close to the Friday’s market in Ghent, right at the start of Patershol!
It’s one of my favourite bridges in this charming city and offers a wonderful view over the Leie!
Tulip Fields – Waasland
Yes, you’ve read that right! This is not an article about hidden gems in The Netherland but about hidden gems in Belgium! And yes, we do have tulip fields in Belgium!
You can find them every year from mid April until the start of May around Meerdonk!