Belgium is a federal monarchy in Western Europe and a founding member of the European Union. The country hosts several headquarters including major international organizations such as NATO, and the European Union. Covering an area of 30,528 square kilometres, and with a population of 11 million people, Belgium is one of the densely populated nations in Europe and in the World.
When it comes to tourism, the country's self-deprecating sense of humour has gotten the better of it, setting Belgium behind the European countries of Switzerland, the Netherlands, France, Germany, United Kingdom, Italy, Greece, and many others. But the truth is, the country has more UNESCO World Heritage sites than others, has an astonishing art history, and has bizarre carnivals that make Rio de Janeiro's Carnaval an afterthought.
Where to go
Brussels – the fascinating capital of Belgium and Europe is historic, hip, bureaucratic, and representative of all things European. A mix of self-confidence and some self-depreciation, the city is a living irony – calling itself ugly amidst all the beauty. The cityscape swings from majestic to quirky and to everything in between, art nouveau kicks just enough, and regal 19th century mansions contrast the brutal and modern glass of the European Union's Gotham. Visit the opulent palaces and the world's most beautiful squares here.
Antwerp – the second city and biggest port of Belgium, Antwerp is the country's capital of chill and cool – a magnet made for moguls, club queens, art lovers, and diamond dealers. In the mid-16th century, the city had been one of Europe's most important cities and home to baroque artist Pieter Paul Rubens. Check out the hole-in-the-wall bars, baroque architecture, and of course, sample the beer offerings.
Spa – Spa is the original spa, from which the English word is derived. The city is Europe's oldest health resort, and its warm spring waters were recognized as far back as the first century AD. Even monarchs such as Henry VIII of England, in need of a relaxing 16th century bath after occupying Tournai, praised the waters' curative powers. Check on the Thermes complex on a hilltop directly above town and go for a dip.
Go on a European escapade and delve into the art and the beauty of the union up North. Enjoy Italy, Spain, France, Germany, Austria, parts of Turkey and Russia, Latvia, and more. See the picturesque palaces and sceneries, enjoy the nightlife (nights are quite longer here!) and savour the cuisine that is world-renowned.
Fly to the beautiful and exotic West and experience what the Latin American countries have to offer. Uniquely European and American at the same time, the countries of Peru, Brazil, Venezuela, Paraguay, Chile, Mexico, and many others provide the perfect spunk to make you go back. Delve into the festivals, defy the Amazon, see creatures that are only found in the region, enjoy the sunny climes, and of course, go for a salty dip out in the sea.
How to get out
To get out of Belgium and enjoy other destinations outside Europe, Brussels Airport is the best way to go. The Brussels Airport is an international airport located 11 kilometres northeast of the city centre, in the capital of Belgium. Flights going to various destinations and key cities such as Dublin, Venice, Buchares, Warsaw, Milan, Lyon, Montreal, Bristol, Hamburg, Sofia, Zagreb, Beirut, Zurich, Porto, Bangkok, Philadelphia, and many others are covered here, as well as local destinations. Airlines that travel between Belgium and these cities include Thomas Cook Airlines, Thai Airways, Transavia, Turkish Airlines, US Airways, United Airlines, Vueling, TAP Portugal, Swiss International Airlines, and many others. Cheap flights can be booked using Skyscanner. Skyscanner is an online resource of the cheapest flights from over 600 airlines from all over the world. Book flights directly on site, www.skyscanner.com, or download the Skyscanner app available free for mobile devices.
Images by Flickr/jurvetson
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