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Belgium

Belgium

Tourism

Belgium fires one's imagination. Tourists from all over the world are attracted to Belgium and its cosmopolitan capital, Brussels. It is no surprise then, that Belgium has a lot to offer the foreign tourist. Belgium means holidays in many forms. You will be able to briefly escape the daily grind, with a weekend in a Belgian city, but you can also plan a true voyage of discovery throughout Belgium.

Two of the big tourist attractions in Belgium are the Ardennes and the coast. Do you like hiking, cycling, sport, nature and tranquillity? Then you will undoubtedly want to go to the Ardennes, Belgium's lungs. Are you more likely to be tempted by sun, sea, sport and enjoyable bustle? Then there is the lure of the Coast.

Those with a craving for art and culture or architectural beauty, will be pampered in our cities of art. Those who would like a taste of our gastronomy, cultural events and nightlife, will have their every wish satisfied. As a result, the many cities of art - with Brussels at the top - are able to depend on an ever-increasing interest from tourists.

Belgium plays an important role in the gastronomic life of Western Europe. The Belgians are well known for their exuberant lifestyle and they take pleasure in their guests enjoying themselves. The restaurants are outstanding, and what is more agreeable to finish a beautiful day, than the enjoyment of a Flemish meat casserole with a Trappist beer from the Ardennes?

The Belgian coast

The coast's 65 kilometre long stretch of sandy coastline has 15 resorts, each with its own character and unique atmosphere. The sandy beaches are ideal for children. The beaches shelve gently out to sea, and life guards ensure everyone's safety. Sunbathers have found that they acquire a healthier tan here than in southern Europe, thanks to the iodine and salt in the air.

The Belgian coast offers a wide range of sport and recreation facilities : here you can hire a bicycle or a buggy, or go sailing or fishing. The wide beach is ideal for ball games, horse riding and beach surfing.

The summer months are the busiest period for the coast. However, other seasons have their own charm, even if sunbathing is not part of it. There are plenty of alternatives on the coast. Close by, there is Bruges, one of Belgium's finest cities of art. A visit to this historic city is a must.

The Ardennes

The Ardennes, situated in the south-east of Belgium, are one of nature's unspoilt areas, rich in fauna and flora, with vast forests of broadleaf and fir, hills and fast flowing rivers. Visitors can wander through the many picturesque villages nestling in the valleys where traditions and folklore still live on, and where the region's arts and crafts can be enjoyed.

Springtime in the Ardennes is the season for walking, cycling, fishing, canoeing and kayaking. Horse riding, climbing and mountain biking are other examples of popular sports in the Ardennes. The keen mountaineer has an exciting choice of challenges. In Winter, the Ardennes are a fun paradise for downhill and cross country skiers, or perhaps you prefer tobogganing and snow scooter racing. There is action, even underground. Some of the caves are certainly worth a visit.

Amongst the greenery lie the silent witnesses of the past of the Ardennes, such as castles, forts and citadels. They come to life again during special events and displays where knights and their shield bearers turn the neighbourhood into a battlefield.

There are accommodation facilities to fit every budget. There is a choice of holiday cottages, shared accommodation, chalets and 'bed-and-breakfast' accommodation. Alternatively, why not spend the night in a beautifully stored castle?

Cities of Art

For a small country, Belgium has a remarkable number of cities of art: Bruges, Brussels, Antwerp, Bergen, Liege, Ghent … Each of these cities has a lot in store for you, and is a choice destination for a city trip.

Do you like the idea of coming face to face with the paintings of Rubens, Ensor or Van Eyck in the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp, or do you want to go straight to the Rubens House Museum? Alternatively, does a visit to the house of the Art Nouveau architect Victor Horta, in Brussels, have greater appeal? Perhaps you prefer to simply stroll through the picturesque little streets of Bruges. 

All cities of art in Belgium have sufficient diversity and quality 'in house', to provide you with an agreeable stay. What's more, this not only applies to museums and monuments. After a visit to the museum, the enjoyment of a delicious meal with a glass of wine or Belgian beer in one of the many restaurants, is a must. When in Antwerp, you can afterwards take a trip in a horse-drawn carriage through the old city centre. In Bruges, a boat trip along the Bruges canals will undoubtedly go down well. In the evening, you will then be ready for a dazzling cultural program or for a night out in the convivial surroundings of our pubs.

Families with children will find enough variety in between all these cultural activities, to make a party of it for them too. After all, there will always be an event somewhere, like a festival or a colourful brass band passing by.

Geography

Belgium is situated in the west of Europe, bordered to the north by the Netherlands, to the east by Germany and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and to the south and the west by France. Although its surface area of 30,528 km2 makes it a small country, its location has made it the economic and urban nerve centre of Europe.

Belgium spans 2 degrees in latitude, from 51 degrees 30 minutes N at Meerle (northernmost point) to 49 degrees 30 minutes N at Torgny (southernmost point). In longitude, it spans less than 4 degrees, from 2 degrees 33 minutes E to 6 degrees 24 minutes E.

The geography of Belgium shows it to have three major areas: lower Belgium (up to 100m above sea level), central Belgium (between 100 and 200m above sea level) and upper Belgium (from 200 to over 500m above sea level).

Lower Belgium

Lower Belgium begins in the west at the coast, with beaches and dunes which extends in a straight line for 65 km. Inland from the coast lie the 'polders'. This flat and fertile land used to suffer from flooding by the sea in the past but is now totally dry, thanks to the sluices which protect it from tidal erosion. Between the western polders, the Leie and the Scheldt, are the Flemish lowlands, a sandy region which is hilly in places such as the Kemmelberg and the Kluisberg. The Kempen lie in the east of the country. The soil in the Kempen is poor and the landscape comprises conifer woods, heathlands, ponds, marshes, pastures and corn fields.

Central Belgium

Behind the Flemish lowlands and the Kempen, gradually rising to the Sambre and Meuse valleys, lies central Belgium, with its low and very fertile clay plateaus. The heavily urbanised Brabant has its own lush green carpet, the forest of Soignes, a forest area and a remnant of the earlier Forest of Cologne, which covered a large part of the country in Roman times. Furthermore, central Belgium boasts Hainaut in the west and Hesbaye in the east, both fertile areas with large farms and extensive fields and pastures.

Upper Belgium

Landscape ArdennesUpper Belgium, the most sparsely populated and densely wooded part of the country, begins south of the Sambre and the Meuse at the Condroz plateau, a fertile area which is regarded primarily as a tourist attraction on account of the beautiful valleys of the Meuse and the Ourthe and its numerous historical monuments. Between the Vesder and the Meuse lies the Country of Herve which due to its rich clay soil is suitable for grazing and cattle rearing. To the south of the Condroz lies the area of Fagnes and Famenne, which, although a poor agricultural region, is well known for its many mysterious caves, the most interesting examples being those at Han-sur-Lesse and Remouchamps.

Further to the south are the Ardennes, a region alternating between a magnificent, wooded area with natural beech forests and specially grown fir trees, and plateaus and deep valleys. The Ardennes are a natural tourist attraction, and its southernmost part, Belgian Lorraine, has a milder climate than the rest of the country.

Belgium Internationally

Belgium is a small country but it holds a special place. 
Belgium is situated at the heart of Europe. This is a basic observation but the importance of its central geographical location between the most important countries in Western Europe needs to be highlighted. At the risk of seeming paradoxical, Belgium was in a way already playing a "European" role even before it became "Belgian". Just look at the past roles of Bruges and Antwerp in international trade, Leuven's role as a university town and the part Liège played during the industrial revolution.

This tradition of openness continues today. Belgium is still a hub for international contacts. More than 1,000 public and private international organisations (international institutions, diplomatic missions, lobby groups, think tanks, multinationals,...)  have set up headquarters or have a permanent secretariat in Belgium. Of particular note is the presence in Belgium, in addition to the institutions of the European Union, of Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), the headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), and the General Secretariat of the Benelux.

However, in addition to the foreign presence within Belgium, Belgium is also represented abroad. Belgium is an exporting country today, but it has always had an active foreign policy. Our country has 132 diplomatic and consular posts abroad, as well as a number of offices representing Communities and Regions.

Article Courtesy Of Belgium Tourism

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