Belgium may not be Europe’s largest country (or even close), but it is full of colorful cities, historical landmarks, and natural beauty.
We know how hard it is to plan a holiday when you only get limited time off, that’s why we’ve put together this ultimate 3-5 day Belgium itinerary, so you can see all of the country’s best spots in just a few short days!
Day 1: Brussels
For this itinerary, we’re going to assume you flew into Brussels the previous day/evening, ready to start a full day the next morning.
Start your day by heading to the Jeu de Balle Flea Market in the Marolles district. It’s the city’s most famous flea market, and its origins can be traced back to the 17th century. The stalls are a treasure trove of weird and wonderful items, but if you’re not in the mood to shop, just peruse around the stalls, do some people-watching, and take in the beauty of the historic market square.
Once you’re finished, grab some breakfast at one of the many cafes surrounding the square. We suggest heading to Chaff, but if you’re on a budget, then pop into La Clef d’Or. Next up, it’s time to make your way to the Palais de Justice, a seven-minute walk away. The Palais de Justice dates back to 1883, and during that time, it was the largest building in the world (at 279,862 ft² it’s still pretty big today!). During the approach, you won’t be able to miss it, thanks to its huge dome towering over the Brussels skyline. Inside, it’s just as grand, so we recommend heading in to admire the architecture. It’s free to enter too!
Once you’re finished, make your way to the Eglise Notre Dame du Sablon, a gorgeous Gothic-style cathedral only five minutes on foot from the Palais de Justice. The cathedral was founded in the 15th century and is considered to be one of the most beautiful in the country. Take time to admire the cathedral’s 11 ornate stained glass windows, all of which are around 49 ft tall.
It’s time for lunch, and we recommend walking the 18 minutes to Wolf, a modern covered food court with 17 restaurants and two bars. You’ll find everything from sushi to fresh pasta, to Lebanese cuisine. Make sure to order a Flow Beer with your food, which is brewed on-site.
From Wolf, it’s a short stroll to Grand Place (or Grote Markt), Brussels central square and a UNESCO World Heritage Centre. This picturesque square is home to the City of Brussels Town Hall, Brussels City Museum, and countless Baroque buildings. Take your time snapping pictures, then wander into the Brussels City Museum to learn about the city’s history and admire the museum’s collection of over 7,000 artefacts.
For dinner, it’s time to taste Belgium’s answer to a burger and fries… Moules Frites (or mussels and fries!). Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it as this local dish is delicious, and you can find it all over the city. Our favourite spot is Le Pecheur, a three-minute walk from Grand Place. After dinner, head out on a self-guided “beer tour” of Brussels, hitting up spots like GIST, Poechenellekelder, and Delirium Cafe, all of which are a short walk from one another and Grand Place.
Day 2: Ghent
Grab breakfast from your accommodation in Brussels then hop on the train to Ghent. Once you’ve arrived at Gent Sint-Pieters Station, look up and admire the colourful murals of Belgium’s 13 cities, then take the metro over to Saint Bavo’s Cathedral (a 13-minute journey).
Saint Bavo’s Cathedral is a Gothic-style cathedral that dates back to the 13th century (although construction continued into the 16th century). The cathedral’s tower stands 292 ft high, dominating the city skyline. It’s full of artefacts and religious art, the most notable being the Ghent Altarpiece, considered by many as one of the most important early Northern Renaissance works.
From the cathedral, head over on foot to Grevenstreen Castle making a stop to check out Ghent’s graffiti alley. The narrow street is a place where graffiti artists can legally make their mark on the city, so as you’d expect, it’s an explosion of colour that’s worth the detour. Continue on to Gravensteen Castle, a 12th-century medieval Castle perched on the river’s edge, that gives us some serious Disney vibes!
Wander over to Patershol, said to be the culinary heart of Ghent, for a bite to eat. This corner of the city is extremely picturesque with hip bars, intimate restaurants, and traditional pubs hidden away down its streets and alleyways. After lunch, walk four minutes to the House of Alijin museum, an interesting spot that tells the story of what life was like in 20th-century Ghent.
Next up, is the Belfry of Ghent, a short eight-minute stroll away. The Belfry is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of three Medieval towers that look over the city. We highly recommend climbing the stairs to the top for some fantastic views.
By now, you’ve probably worked up an appetite, so make your way over to Passion nearby for an early dinner (they usually close at 6 pm, but you can double-check their opening times here). Passion is one of the best spots in the city to try classical Flemish dishes like Ghent beef stew or Ghent chicken casserole. After food, head out for post-dinner drinks. We like The Cobbler for killer cocktails or ‘t Dreupelkot for beers and a large selection of jenevers (Dutch gin).
Day 3: Bruges
Grab a light breakfast at your accommodation (or skip it) and head over to Bruges on the train. Go to That’s Toast for brunch, and choose between their sweet and savoury toast. Once you’re all “brunched out”, it’s time to work off that meal by climbing yet another belfry (The Belfry of Bruges), a six-minute walk away.
The Belfry of Bruges is an iconic landmark in the city, standing 272 ft high and dating back to the 13th century. All in all, there are 366 steps to the top, but your hard work will be rewarded with stunning views of the city. On your way to the top, make a short stop at the treasury to see historical seals, city charters, and coffers.
Afterward, spend some time admiring Bruges’ market square (or Grote Markt), where the belfry is located. The square is surrounded by beautiful buildings and at its centre you’ll find the Pieter de Coninck en Jan Breydel statue. If you’re feeling a little hungry, skip the touristy restaurants in the market and walk nearby to Soup (for… you guessed it soup!), then stop by Chez Albert for some waffles.
Kick off the afternoon at the Bruges Beer Experience just off the market square. Since Belgium is known for its beer, we couldn’t not include a visit to a beer museum! It’s an interactive experience, so you’ll smell, touch, and taste the ingredients and learn about the process of brewing. Then, head to the onsite bar to taste a selection of beers, while taking in the view of the square.
Next on the agenda is a relaxing tour of Bruges’ famous canals – by boat! There are several spots in the city where you can embark on a scenic tour. These tours typically run between early March and mid-November (get more info here). You’ll get to glide along the city’s beautiful waterways and learn from the crew the history and background of what you’re seeing. Feel free to swap the above activities around.
For dinner, treat yourself to De Bottelier, an intimate restaurant with a quirky interior. It has a relaxing atmosphere with some tables overlooking the canal. The duck breast is fantastic, but you also couldn’t go wrong with the tagine.
Got more time?
Why not head over to Antwerp, or take a day trip to Dinant from Brussels to extend your three days to five days. More details below!
Day 4: Antwerp
Grab a light breakfast at your accommodation then hop on the train from Bruges to Antwerp. The Antwerp Central Station is an attraction in itself and worth a few minutes of looking around. Dating back to 1950, the station is an eclectic mixture of steel, glass, and stone. It’s been voted as one of the most beautiful train stations in the world, and we can definitely see why!
Your next official stop is the Cathedral of Our Lady (a 20-minute walk away), but along the way, you’ll be passing through some of Antwerp’s best shopping districts, so take your time to window shop or treat yourself. Another way to lengthen the journey is to grab some waffles from The Smallest Waffle Shop In The World (yes, that’s what it’s called). This literal hole-in-the-wall serves up the best waffles in the city with lots of different flavour to choose from.
Once you’re at the cathedral, take some pictures and admire its gothic-style architecture up close, then head inside. The cathedral is home to works by artists Peter Paul Reubans, Otto van Veen, and Marten de Vos, to name a few. It also has three magnificent stained-glass windows.
Antwerp’s main market square, or Grote Markt, is just a stone’s throw away from the cathedral. There are several highly rated restaurants in the area, so take your pick of one of those for lunch, then walk the four minutes to Het Steen. Het Steen is a fairytale-esque fortress by the water, and one of the city’s most popular attractions! The castle dates back to the 1200s, although it was given a huge makeover around 1520 by Charles V.
Head back the way you came to Grote Markt to have a look at the Brabo Fountain. The fountain, built in 1887, is in front of the Hôtel de Ville. It was built in tribute to Silvius Brabo, a mythical Roman soldier who defeated a giant living on the banks of the Scheldt River. Look closely and you’ll see the statue is throwing a severed hand! A fate that used to befall those who encountered the giant and refused to pay his toll for passing the river.
Less than 165 ft from the statue is our dinner recommendation for Antwerp, Estro Armonico. This place is a little hidden as it’s down in a 16th-century cellar, making it a true hidden gem in the city. The meals are prepared on an open fire inside the restaurant, with everything from lamb saddle to baked potatoes, to salmon being cooked in the fireplace. After the delicious meal, end the evening with a ride on the Antwerp Ferris Wheel (open until 11 pm) for a unique view of the city at night.
Day 5: Dinant day trip from Brussels
If you have five days in Belgium, why not add an extra day in Brussels to take a day trip to Dinant, the Belgian equivalent of Austria’s Hallstatt. For this, we recommend hiring a car as the round trip will only take three hours, versus six hours on the train. Several Dinant attractions are also outside of the town, so you’ll need to drive to them or take a taxi.
Your first stop is the Dinant Citadel which sits on top of Dinant Rock, overlooking the town and the River Meuse. We suggest parking behind the citadel, leaving the car, and riding the cable car down into Dinant for lunch later. The views from the citadel terraces are wonderful, and you’ll also have the chance to learn about the citadel’s and town’s history.
Take the cable car down and use the opportunity to cross the Charles de Gaulle bridge and look back at the town from across the water. By now, it’s almost lunchtime, but skip the so-so restaurants near the bridge and walk 20 minutes along the water to Le Confessionelle, which serves classical French cuisine.
After lunch walk back into the town centre and take a quick ride on the cable car to fetch the car. From there, drive the roughly 15-minute jouney to Veves Castle, a breathtaking chateau with pointed towers. Drive another 12 minutes to see Walzin Castle, another stunning caslte perched on a rocky cliff over the River Lesse. Walzin Castle is best when viewed across the water, so park here, cross the pedestrian bridge and walk to the viewpoint.
Finally, drive back to Brussels.
We’re simply blown away by Belgium, its beautiful buildings, fairytale castles, and amazing food. Although it would be easy to spend two weeks to a year exploring this relatively small country, we think we’ve managed to squeeze its best highlights into this ultimate 3-5 day itinerary! Let us know what you think in the comments below.
If you’ve got more time, check out our top 14 things to do in Brussels, or extend your trip by heading into Germany.