Do you want to escape the crowds and discover some of the lesser-known tourist destinations in Belgium? We’ve come up with a list of fun places for a relaxing day out.
Whether you’ve visited these places before or heard of them and never got around to going, you’ll be amazed at the hidden gems Belgium has to offer.
The enchanting Sahara Lommel
A tranquil nature reserve in Lommel, where you’ll find miles of stunning scenery and few tourists. Here white sand and greenery slope down to the waters of a crystal blue lake. Extended sandy plains resemble the expanse of the Sahara desert, where this spectacular destination takes its name from. There are plenty of walking and cycle trails for you to follow and if you’re brave enough, you can even take a dip in the refreshing waters of the lake!
The Japanese Garden of Hasselt – a tranquil oasis
Do you feel you need to get away from it all and spend some time quietly reflecting ? The Japanese Garden of Hasselt will bring you a sense of calm and peace. An hour and a half from Liege you’ll find the town of Hasselt, home to the largest Japanese Garden in Europe. Stunning colours, dramatic plants, and soothing waterfalls all combine to create a genuine peaceful Japanese garden for you to relax in.
The beauty of the Ardennes
An unspoilt area set in south-east Belgium, if you want to explore the history of Belgium and spend time outdoors then this is the place. This enchanting region is full of things to do. You can take the kids walking in the dense forests, go cross-country skiing in winter, sample the famous Ardennes paté with a Belgian beer in the company of friends and explore the historic monasteries and castles dotted throughout the hills and valleys.
The university city of Leuven
Just outside Brussels lies Leuven, which is filled with attractions and not too many tourists. This university city is ideal if you want to get to know the ‘real’ Belgium with friends. The extensive beer culture (anything to do with the number of students that live here?) comes from the fact that the world-famous Stella Artois brand is brewed in Leuven. Why not save the brewery tour until last and start with a spot of sightseeing? Some of the landmarks you can enjoy include the magnificent university library, the bizarre Totem – a jewelled beetle impaled on a needle, the Grote Markt (main square) and the gothic St Pieters Church.
Quaint and picturesque – Damme
Damme is a hidden treasure of a town, only 6km from Bruges, yet undiscovered by tourists. If you want a slow-paced day, Damme is a place to potter. A stroll along the tree-lined canal (built to protect the town) or a root around in one of the many book shops will help you work up an appetite for a Belgian lunch in one of the many restaurants. Or why not sit at an outdoor café and watch the world go by in the company of a Belgian hot chocolate?
Keep your kids entertained with tales of torture and mystery at the magical Gravensteen Castle in Ghent (1 hour from Brussels). If you like tales of the macabre this fairy-tale castle has plenty. With its torture chambers, dark dungeons and imposing towers, Gravensteen has an eery air that will give you a glimpse of the horrors of the past that took place here.
The Fascinating Caves of Remouchamps
Do your kids love mystery and adventure ? Then an underground boat trip in the Remouchamps Caves, in Liege is a perfect day out. You start with a 1 km walk through the caves to the grand ‘cathedral’, descending into the depths of the earth which 1,000 years ago were inhabited. Use your imagination to picture how hunters were able to live in this cold and damp environment. The final part of the journey takes you along the world’s longest underground river, the 700 metre Rubicon, and offers a breath-taking landscape that includes a natural water fountain.
Experience the surreal at Klankenbos Sound Forest
Are you looking for a completely different experience for the kids ? The Klankenbos Sound Forest will keep them entertained for hours. The open-air museum contains a series of unique works of art that produce light and sound. This fascinating attraction offers plenty of other sound-based things to do for all ages, including a musical treasure hunt, forest games, a twig to forest concert, and family tours.