drive alive holidays
Driving holidays in Europe - Plan your self-drive motoring holiday

Tourist information for Western Belgium

Belgium, easily accessible from the UK and perfect for a short break, is a land of contrasts. The bustling cosmopolitan city of Brussels, the great port of Antwerp, the medieval gem that is Bruges, are perhaps best known, but Mons, Tournai, Ghent, Liege and Ieper all have something to offer. The flat lands of the north give way to rolling hills and woods which in turn rise to the lovely and unspoilt Ardennes region, perfect for walking cycling and canoeing amongst deep valleys and wooded hilltops. In the far south east is the lovely Duchy of Luxembourg, where the hills of the Ardennes extend to the outskirts of the city, which is well worth visiting in itself.

Map of Western Belgium:

Towns and places of interest in western Belgium
Click the place names to book hotels at great prices

Brussels boasts some of Europe's finest museums and galleries, like the Musee Royaux de Beaux Arts and the Musee d'Art Moderne as well as the impressive twin-towered Gothic cathedral. See the Lower Town with its wealth of exquisite guildhouses and the Upper Town whose wide avenues and grand architecture attest to its role as the residential area of the aristocracy. Visit the Hotel de Ville on the superb Grand Place. Enjoy the fine parks.Stroll along the wide boulevards with their excellent shops. Fine restaurants offering superb French style cuisine as well as ethnic food from all over. Brussells serves Belgium's famous beers in a huge variety of attractive bars, many with live music to complement serious venues such as the Palais des Beaux Arts and Theatre Royal de la Monnaie. 18 kms south of the centre is the historic site of the battle of Waterloo.

Bruges is the most visited place in Belgium. Perhaps the most perfectly preserved medieval city in western Europe, with a number of museums containing many superb Flemish masterpieces, its compact centre makes it easy to see on foot. Don't miss the Helig Bloed Basiliek or the neighbouring Stadhuis. Picturesque houses and buildings line the banks of the waterways and the city is full of good bars and restaurants. The surrounding countryside is perfect for cycling and bikes can be hired in Bruges. Take a boat or cycle to the pretty village of Damme. Visit the official tourist information website for Bruges

The town of Ieper (Ypres) is best known for its role as a strategic centre in World War One and the town is a central point for pilgrimages to the many war cemeteries in the area. Visit the seaside towns of Oostende, Zeebrugge and Knokke and the neat inland town of Veurne with its lovely market square. Oudenaarde is the centre of the Flemish tapestry industry, still thriving today. In the market square is the elegant and flamboyant Stadhuis. The countryside between here and Kortrijk (Courtrai) comprises pleasant low hills.

Ghent (Gand) has a lively centre with some superb buildings, narrow attractive streets, a network of canals, a cathedral and some good museums. Good for eating, with a mixture of French and Flemish cuisine and plenty of bars. Antwerp is well worth visiting, a big industrial city and port but with superbly preserved medieval churches and guildhouses and some of the best art collections in the country. Like Brussells, buy a good guide book to get the best of Antwerp. From the banks of the Scheldt river many boat trips explore the waterways of the area. Other towns to visit in this corner of Belgium are Diest, Leuven, Mechelen, Lier and the open air folk museum at Bokrijk.

Tournai is worth a visit with its medieval buildings along the river, its Romanesque cathedral, ancient belfry, lively bars and restaurants. Mons' museums record the significant part it played in both World Wars, and around Mons are some worthwhile sights - the castles of Beloeil and Attre and the magical ruins of Villers-la-Ville abbey. The most southerly part of this region is known as the Botte de Hainaut and is a lovely countryside of rolling wooded hills and farmland with a scattering of small towns.

map of western belgium