Welcome to the one-stop shop for all you need to know before embarking on solo travel in Belgium. I say that knowing that some of you reading this are already in Belgium and are here only because boredom has kicked you up down center. Whatever stage you are, pre-travel, travel, or post-travel, welcome still!
Starting with a little history class, Belgium is a country in Western Europe with one of the most complex, exciting, and significant histories in the whole Low Countries region. The country is bordered by a couple of big names, including Germany to the east and France to the northwest.
The area is pretty old and has been inhabited long before any type of civilization —since prehistoric times. It was even part of the Holy Roman Empire at a point, just to tell you how much of a rich history the Kingdom of Belgium bleeds.
From the Spanish to the Austrians to the French to the Dutch, Belgium has been under the control of quite a number of nations, but happily, all these spices blended well together to produce the culturally rich Belgium you see today.
Of course, Belgium has been an independent country since 1830, but still, you can see the hints of the various civilizations that plaster its history present in its modern culture. Belgium has culminated into a fascinating country with vibrant and diverse landscapes that mirror its vivid and distinct cultures.
But Belgium is not just a place where fascinating history comes alive. It is one of the most perfect places to embark on solo travel, and I’m here to tell you why.
So if you have questions like, “Is Belgium safe to travel alone” or “Is Belgium good for solo travel?” not only can I tell you yes, and yes. I will be telling you all you need to know to have the best solo travel time in Belgium.
As I said earlier, this is your one-stop shop for everything Belgium. So strap on and get ready to ride the solo train through the fascinating Kingdom of Belgium.
Solo Travel In Belgium: Everything You Need to Know
When planning your solo travel in Belgium —or anywhere for that matter— transportation is mighty important. Sure, you might initially think it is not a big deal, but it is. First off, Belgium drives on the right, so if you are coming from a country that doesn’t, you might want to rethink driving down there.
But whether you’re driving or not, you don’t need to worry too much. Belgium offers a well-developed transportation system that makes exploring the country a breeze. It has very well-developed and sophisticated rail, air, road, and waterworks.
Belgium has a very impressive rail network, with domestic connections and international rail links. You can check out the SNCB website to see how best to move around the places you plan to explore, with timetables and routes neatly detailed for you.
Exciting as the train is, the most common form of transportation still remains the bus. They are relatively cheap and very efficient, so you can get pretty much anywhere with a bus. It would pay you to get a seasonal MoBib card; that way, you can smoothly ride the bus anywhere in the whole country.
Is Belgium good for solo travel? You have no idea! As I said earlier, if you must solo travel somewhere, it has to be Belgium; quote me anywhere.
If I’m to pick the best cities in the country, it will have to be a three-way tie between Bruges, Ghent, and Antwerp. And so with that, I’ll leave you with 5 activities that give you the best of all three cities. I don’t want to go overboard and call them the best activities in Belgium, but I will.
1. Tour Bruges and Grent
Of course, I’m not the only one who thinks Bruges and Ghent are some of the most beautiful cities in the world. It is so known that there are actual tours that take you through both cities. What better way to begin your solo travel in Belgium than to immerse yourself in the fascinating heritage that Ghent and Bruges have to offer?
You’ve got legendary landmarks like the Castle of the Counts and the architectural beauty and winding waterways.
2. Discover Brussels’ Grand Place
If something is literally called “Grand Place”, I don’t think you need much convincing to visit it. Brussel’s Grand Place is considered, by many, one of the most beautiful medieval squares in Europe.
3. Visit Ghent’s Historic Center
One of the most beautiful things about Belgium is its history, and standing tall as one of the most historic collections in the country is the Ghent Historic Center.
You’ve got the Gothic masterpiece of Saint Bavo’s Cathedral, then the sensational Graslei and Korenlei waterfront, and even the medieval Gravensteen Castle, not to mention my personal favorite, Gravensteen Castle. Think Camelot (from the Merlin series), but 5 times more fantastic! You’ve got all you need for a magical adventure.
4. Take a Trip to the Battlefields of Ypres
I have just two words to say here. Thrilling!
Okay, that was one word, but still, delve into Belgium’s poignant World War I history by visiting the battlefields of Ypres. Explore the In Flanders Fields Museum, which provides a comprehensive insight into the war and its impact on the region.
Yes, I know that chocolate is not an activity, but I really can’t pick one place.
If you’re not on the Brussels chocolate walking tour and workshop, then you have to visit the Maison Pierre Marcolini, for the best chocolate in the country; and visit Passion Chocolat, for also the best chocolate in the country; and have the amazing combination of white chocolate and pistachio at Galler Chocolatier which is also the best chocolate in the country.
Did I forget to mention Frederic Blondeel? Their dark chocolate almost brings tears to my eyes —tears of chocolate joy. And as you’ve guessed correctly, it is also the best chocolate in the country.
Now you know why the activity is called chocolate. There are no words to describe it.
Belgium has quite a range of accommodation options to suit your different budgets, preferences, and travel styles —including the solo traveling style. Consequently, the cost of accommodation in Belgium varies depending on location and type of accommodation.
Major cities like Brussels, Antwerp, and Ghent have an array of international chain hotels, boutique accommodations, and serviced apartments.
From Hotel Amigo and Hotel Metropole in Brussels to Hotel Julien in Antwerp to Hotel de Tuilerieën in Bruges and Hotel Sandton Grand in Ghent, you’ve got more than enough high-end and luxurious options to choose from.
If you’re traveling on a tighter budget, hostels are a popular choice, especially among solo travelers. You can try out Camping de L’Eau Rouge, or Snuffel Hostel, which costs less than 100 dollars for three nights and offers an intimate housing experience.
Though the official languages in Belgium are Dutch, French, and German, there is no visible language barrier for English speakers visiting Belgium. English is widely spoken, especially in major cities, tourist areas, and among the younger population.
If you’re in Brussels, the capital, you’ll find that English is commonly used in business and daily interactions. Tourist attractions, hotels, and restaurants oftentimes have English-speaking staff who will assist you, so your monolingualism won’t inhibit your adventurous solo travel in Belgium.
However, it’s always polite to learn a few basic phrases in French or Dutch, or German, as locals can appreciate it. A simple “Danke” might be the reason you get a free meal; who knows!
If you’re reserved about your solo travel because you are concerned about what to do alone in Belgium, then let me ask you this: who says you’re actually going to be alone? Belgium’s inclusive culture will leave you far from feeling alone.
The Belgian people are generally warm, friendly, and open-minded, making it easy to connect and engage with locals. They also love their beer, so if you’re a beer person, you’ve met your people. Without trying to overgeneralize, Belgians value privacy and protect their safe and comfortable life.
Since family is very important in Belgian culture, they can be reserved around new people but once they get to know you, don’t be surprised if you get invited to share meals with them.
Belgian’s culture is a captivating blend of influences from its neighboring countries and its rich history, as we have seen earlier. You’ll easily find yourself in a culture that embraces diversity and multiculturalism, with most of its people being bilingual.
Also, its culture tells on its art and food, with numerous art galleries, museums, and music festivals, and culinary delights to explore.
Is Belgium safe to travel alone? Yes, it is. There’s no need to beat around the bush with this one; it is perfectly safe. It has adequate health facilities, and you’ll be fine as long as you have your travel insurance.
Be sure to keep an eye peeled for regular updates from its authorities before or during your visit.
Visiting Belgium is a change of pace, and if you travel a lot, you can probably tell already. But whether it is for the chocolate or to practice your Dutch, visiting this historical place is always a delight. Be sure to check out a few solo traveling tips.
And if you are looking for other places to explore, check out some of the best places to visit in Europe,