WanderingTrader

Meet Belgium: The Most Underrated Country In Western Europe

Belgium has always sparked my curiosity and it was never because of things to see or the many tourist attractions that the country has to offer. Everywhere that I have traveled, including places like Ethiopia and the Guyana’s, I have met amazing Belgian people.

When the representatives from the Flanders Tourism Board invited me to come to Belgium I was ecstatic because I was finally going to get to know the country where all of these amazing people are from.

I find Belgium to be extremely underrated based on just perceptions and what I see and hear as a world traveler. Belgium is a tiny country that is often overshadowed by its neighbors, France and Germany. Just to put this into perspective, Belgium isn’t even in the top 15 most visited countries in Europe.

Ghent Belgium

What lunch in Ghent, Belgium looks like

It is about the same size as the Netherlands and also has roughly the same amount of people (they are neighbors and both speak Dutch). Belgium happens to be the 16th most visited country in Europe while the Netherlands is number nine on the list. All data is based on numbers from the World Tourism Organization.

The People

I haven’t traveled through much of Western Europe but based on my experiences so far visiting Italy, London, and even Spain, I have found Belgians to be some of the most interesting people in all of Europe.

It isn’t just that they are open and friendly, due to their circumstances they practically speak every language in Europe and are extremely curious people.

There has to be a reason why Europe decided to make Brussels, the capital of Belgium, its political capital.  There are small wonders within Belgium to find that most people don’t even know about and it all starts with the amazing people.

The Tourist Attractions in Belgium

I always consider the people of any country to be a top tourist attraction, if you travel to a country and never get to truly know its culture, have you really experience that country at all?

On my arrival I immediately visited the city of Ghent. I was amazed to see how the city has fused its historical past with its contemporary present and future. It’s so hard to describe the city but there is such a feeling of something different when it comes to everything; culture, fashion, and even music.

Sunset in Belgium

Sunset in Ghent, Belgium

This is one of the reasons why the music side of the Flanders Festival is held in Ghent. The only way that I can describe it is by comparing it to Austin, Texas in the United States, Addis Ababa in Africa, or even the Medellin in Colombia.

The city is just completely unique from anything I have experienced

Ghent is a city that thinks so differently it doesn’t just host the Flanders Festival in one location or venue like another city would, it hosts the Flanders Festival throughout the entire city.  This allows everyone visiting the festival to walk from venue to venue to enjoy the city. It is a completely different way to think and is one of the reasons why the music side of the Flanders Festival has flourished with eclectic music from around the world.

The food, comprised of waffles & beer, will definitely move any foodie in the world.  They definitely have more than just delicious waffles and millions of different types of beers, the chocolate from Belgium is world renown.

Move over Switzerland.

Their typical dishes are excellent and it’s such a diverse country that you can find almost anything when it comes to food.  I was going crazy over Turkish Durum (basically a Shawarma) when I first arrived in Ghent.

Brugge Belgium

Grote Market in Brugge Belgium

One thing that I find to be extremely funny is if anyone mentions French fries, any Belgian will promptly tell you that they were invented in Belgium, not France. I call them Belgian fries out of respect when I am in Belgium and will call them Belgian fries when I’m in France too piss off the French.

The History

If you didn’t know, Europe holds a certain historical charm and Belgium is no different; you can visit Antwerp which boasts impressive 16th and 17th century architecture, the striking UNESCO world heritage site in Bruges, the lively university town of Leuven that hosts some of the oldest universities in Europe, and of course many other fantastic cities like Ghent and Brussels.

The country has a fascinating past due to being ruled by many different empires which is one of the reasons why Belgians are so open.  It’s just part of the way they are & one of the reasons I love them.

They have three official languages and were even part of the Napoleon Empire.  Don’t want to go into too many details about the history of the country, just know that there are fascinating aspects of Belgian history to get to know.

Even though Belgium is often overlooked I don’t see why it is so underrated.

It has anything that you can ask for when it comes to a tourism destination; great people, amazing food, history that goes back centuries, great tourist attractions, and with beer being so popular you can imagine what the parties are like.

If you are already traveling to Europe I would highly recommend a visit the Belgium.

Being in between some of the most visited countries in Europe its extremely easy to get to and it really has some of the greatest people that I have met on the road. Don’t forget to also look up the Flanders Festival in Ghent, a great festival is never to be missed.

12 Comments

  1. I haven’t been to Belgium, but this is definitely a place to go to. Though did you have the chance to talk with many people? I am wondering where you draw the conclusion that Belgians speak almost all the European languages? 🙂

    1. It was sarcasm. They have three official languages in Belgium; German, French, and Dutch. On top of that most people speak English in addition to other languages as well. With those four alone you could speak to the majority of Europe.

  2. Just a small correction: our three official languages are German, French and Dutch 🙂
    The Walloon (southern) south of Belgium is focused on France and watches a lot of French television. Shows and movies in other languages are being dubt. The Flemish (northern) part is more facing The Netherlands, although the relationship has always been difficult and as far as culture (television, music, literature) is concerned, there has been a somewhat growing distance. I remember watching a lot of Dutch (as in from The Netherlands) television when I was a kid, but never do so anymore.
    The Flemish part also doesn’t dub television shows and movies, but subtitles. I think that might be one of the main reasons English is generally better known in Flanders than it is in the southern part of the country.

    By the way, I myself speak Dutch, English, French and Spanish and I love it. It doesn’t only help me get around in Europe, as Marcello says, but in the rest of the world as well.

  3. I’d love to see Belgium! My husband and I are traveling the US and plan to see all 50 states before traveling abroad. There have been so many things so far just within our own country we’ve been shocked are so underrated!

  4. I have been in Belgium many times, it is one lovely country. And the three official languages of Belgium are Dutch, French and German 🙂 There in unofficial Flemish, but only to annoy Dutch a bit ha ha ha 🙂 And about seven or eight other dialects like Walloon and even Yiddish in Antwerp!
    I really visit Belgium a lot, ha ha ha, too often actually, couple of my best friends are leaving there!

  5. Well as a Belgian i must say i love my country.
    Most of us don’t realize how good it actually is…
    Only thing we are lacking imho is the good weather

    Anyway if you want to truly enjoy Belgium i would recommend visiting the middle sized cities:
    So consider going to:
    – Mechelen
    – Lier
    – Leuven
    – Ieper
    – Sint-Niklaas
    – Kortrijk
    – Diest
    – Dinant
    – Namur
    Your best transport options are train or bike.
    Its also a good start point to visit the rest of Europe.
    1-2 Day trips to London (2h), Paris (1h45) and Amsterdam (1h30) are among your options.

    Greetz from Belgium

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