A land whose specialties include ubiquitous beers and delicate chocolates, Belgium is often perceived to be dull. The image that it's simply a staid haunt for business executives and Eurocrats, or the gateway to the rest of Europe, reinforces the idea. But Belgium is a prime destination if you're interested in countryside, culture, and history, served up alongside a huge proportion of highly acclaimed restaurants serving everything from haute cuisine to moules-frites or Belgian waffles.
Easy to travel around, this pocket-sized country is divided by the Flemish north (Flemish-speaking) and the Walloon south (French-speaking).Brussels, the capital, is the heart of the country and the European Union. Expanding outwards from the brilliant Gothic architecture of the Grand-Place, this cosmopolitan city contains numerous interesting museums and many fine eateries. The Manneken Pis statue is the place to pose for a photograph and laugh incredulously at others doing likewise.
Ostend, in the north, is a popular seaside resort with a long sandy beach, bustling harbor and shops to explore. With its canals and cobbles, thirteenth-century Bruges is one of Europe's finest examples of a medieval town and home to some impressive art collections. Antwerp is renowned for diamonds and throughout all these towns it's difficult to escape the bars and pavement cafés. The south holds great appeal for outdoorsy types - the forested Ardennes is a nature lover's paradise cut by rivers and gorges where walking opportunities abound.
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