Belgium is a country which is steeped in a rich, varied and fascinating history, and filled with colourful culture, entertainment and a cuisine which is known all around the world. A land of diverse people, Belgium actually has four official languages: Dutch, English, French and German, and it also plays an important role in the European Union as the principal seat of the European Government. Belgium is located between west Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, where it borders the region of Brabant and the Champagne-Ardenne and Nord-Pas-de-Calais regions of France. Many people know of Belgium as being a country famous for its beer and its chocolate, but if you book holiday rentals in Belgium then you will undoubtedly see that it has a lot more to offer (although these two delicacies are most definitely reccommended during your stay)!
See the Canals in Bruges
Bruges is located in the northernmost province of the country, West Flanders, which boasts the lovely North Sea coastline. It is one of the European cities, along with places like Hamburg, Stockholm and Amsterdam, which are often known as the Venice of the North due to the amount of canals running through it. Belgium is well known for its delicious food, and Bruges is home to some excellent restaurants. You will find the charming Park Restaurant in an old mansion, serving traditional Belgian cuisine, or if you want something different, the Olive Tree serves authentic Greek food and plenty of Ouzo! 'T Brugs Beertje (Bruges' Little Bear) is a haven for beer lovers, serving hundreds of different types of the beer that this country is so famous for, as well as beers from elsewhere and if you're lucky, you might go on a day when they are serving a special, unique beer that they haven't served before. Other than the food, there are plenty more reasons to stay in a holiday rental property in Bruges. Bruges is a very pretty location, with its historic centre being a UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to the beautiful old buildings and remarkable architecture, such as the Church of Our Lady, the Rozenhoedkaai (Quay of the Rosary – one of the city's most photographed areas) and the Markt (market square) which houses the 13th century Belfry and its 47 bells that are still played today. This square is also where the Christmas Market is held every year, as well as an ice rink. During the festive season, the buildings around the square are all lit up with sparkling lights, making it a very special atmosphere. Christmas is a perfect time to book Belgium holiday rentals in Bruges! Apart from flying and getting the ferry, you can also travel to the city by train. Plan your Bruges holiday with the Eurostar, which you can get to from most cities in England, as well as other parts of the UK such as Scotland. From most northern cities in England, such as Newcastle, and also those in Scotland, you can get a train to London and then transfer to catch the Eurostar across the channel and into Brussels, from where you can travel on to almost any city in Belgium.
Brussels - the Captivating Capital
As the capital of Belgium, Brussels is the largest city in the country, and also plays a pivotal role within Europe, as the capital of the European Union. The majority of its inhabitants are French speakers, although most of them speak Dutch too, as this was the original official language of Brussels before it became bilingual. The weather in Brussels is usually fairly mild, experiencing temperatures in the low twenties during the hottest summer months of July and August, although there tends to be a higher amount of rainfall than there is in the UK spread evenly throughout the year, and there can be quite strong winds during the winter. Its central location within the country and its good transport systems mean that it will be easy for you to travel safely around the centre and outskirts of town and also throughout the country to see cities in other parts of Belgium during your stay in a private Belgium holiday home if you want to explore further. Trains run to other major cities throughout the day, usually at least once an hour, and it doesn't take very long to get to places like Bruges (55 minutes), Antwerp (1 hour), or even cities in other countries such as Amsterdam and Luxembourg, which would only take 3 hours. The nightlife in Brussels is not particularly well known, but there are nevertheless a number of bars, clubs and pubs to visit if you feel like dancing! Fuse is one of the cities main venues for techno and house music, with well-known Djs often playing here too. Le You is a popular club amongst young people, playing house, funk, RnB and techno, as well as The Wood, which is located in the middle of the Bois de la Cambre park. Belgium is of course famous for its chocolate, so what better way to experience it than by heading off to Zaabäar, or Planète Chocolat, one of the many chocolate factories, where you can watch demonstrations and even take classes led by master chocolatiers, either for adults or for children.
Come to Antwerp and Learn about its Folklore
The city of Antwerp on the River Scheldt is a place which is filled with folklore, and there are also many different theories as to where its name came from. It is the most populous city in the whole country and has one of the largest ports in the world. If you fancy splashing your cash during your Antwerp holidays, why not head to the Diamond District, one of the most famous areas within the diamond trade, where around 10 billion pounds worth of diamonds pass through annually. Other things to do while you're staying at one of the Belgium holiday rentals in Antwerp are visiting to the zoo, which is in a very central location within the city, see the sights such as the Cathedral, St Paul's Church and the Brabo Fountain in the main square or go to Middelheimpark, an open-air museum covering an impressive 30 hectares of park and sxhibition space. The nightlife in Antwerp is diverse, from a low-key night out in a funky riverside bar or pub testing out some of Belgium's beers, to a wild evening of partying and dancing the night away. Sips is one of the best cocktail bars in the area, where the chief bartender really is an expert in his field and knows hundreds of cocktail (and mocktail) recipes to wow you, or try De Vagant where you'll have lovely views of the Cathedral whilst sipping your drink. Looking for something a bit more lively? Noxx nightclub is one of the biggest in all of Belgium, boasting 4 different rooms and a champagne bar, and Café d'Anvers, located in what used to be a church in the red light district is also one of the locals' favourites. There are all sorts of different styles of clubs and music to suit all tastes in Antwerp, so you're bound to find something that suits you!
The Rolling Hills of the Ardennes
Rent Ardennes self catering holiday accommodation if you want to experience one of the greenest, most unspoilt areas of Belgium, covered in forests, undulating hills, steep valleys and winding rivers. The Ardenne region stretches across Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany and even the region of Champagne-Ardenne in France. This region is sparsely populated, the biggest urban area being Verviers, so there are many small, charming villages to be discovered amongst the forests and valleys, such as Bouillon or Stavelot. During the Sprintime or in the Summer, the Ardennes make for a perfect destination for walking holidays, as this is when the greenery is at its best and there are many beautiful routes to choose from, for example the Ninglinspo, which is also the name of the moutain river that the hike follows alongside. Not only hiking is available here; you could also rent a bike and go cycling through the beautiful nature, go mountain biking or horse riding, as well as doing water activities such as canoeing, kayaking and fishing. Make sure you take the time to stop and appreciate the views of this green paradise. There are also other sites which are worth a visit in the Ardennes; citadels (like the hilltop one at Namur) and old castles and forts bring history to life and are a good excuse to get off your bicycle or take a detour from your hike to view these historic buildings. Don't forget about the world underground either – there is a wealth of caves and grottos waiting to be discovered after thousands of years of erosion has left some very impressive stalactites and stalagmites, which you can explore either on foot or by boat. Find time to relax at the end of a hard day of outdoorbruges activities by snuggling up and getting a good night's sleep in one of the private Belgium holiday homes which are available for booking.
Ostend - the Largest City on the Belgian Coast
Ostend is a seaside city on the north coast of Belgium, about a 15 minute train journey away from Bruges, famous for its pier, beaches and the impressive Royal Galleries of Ostend, an archade which stretches along the coast for over 380 metres. The weather here is fairly humid with warm summers, although there is no dry season and there is usually heavy rain during the winter. The beaches here are not usually filled with tourists; it tends to be the locals and those from inland Belgium who come to soak up the sun on the coast here. Ostend has numerous lively clubs, pubs and bars where you can enjoy the nightlife to its full, or you can even take a trip to the casino if you're feeling lucky! Popular places include nightclubs Krush and Le Dôme, and there are also cocktail bars Brazilla and Poco Loco, as well as many other pubs which specialise in Belgian beer, many of which have live music playing during the weekends. Other things to do include visiting the James Ensor House to view some of the Belgian expressionist and surrealist painters works and learn about his life; watching the kites flying over the beach during the Oostende Kite Festival; viewing the St. Petrus and Paulus Church and taking a trip to the Atlantic Wall Museum, where you can see part of the wall, trenches and bunkers which have been preserved since the war.