Besides Brussels, Bruges and Ghent, it can be hard to know just what to include as part a 5 to 7 days in Belgium itinerary. Often said to be where the north and south of the continent meet, the ‘Heart of Europe’ is incredibly diverse with so many different sides.
As it is quite a small country, Belgium is usually very quick and convenient to get around. This means you can see and experience a lot in just a short space of time when you visit Belgium. Everywhere you go, you’ll find hidden gems, gorgeous architecture and some great food to fuel all your exciting adventures!
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How Many Days in Belgium?
Most tourists unfortunately only spend a couple of days in Brussels or Bruges before heading onto either Paris, London or Amsterdam. This obviously isn’t enough time to get a good feel for the country’s complex communities, their different languages, landscapes and identities.
5 days in Belgium is a great start as you can already fit in its vibrant capital and several of the major Flemish cities. As the distances and times involved aren’t too long, you won’t feel rushed despite seeing so many new places.
If you have 7 days in Belgium, that’s even better as you can also explore the country’s coastline and more of its bustling cities. This is a good amount of time to be able to get a really good feel for Belgium without feeling too rushed.
Getting To & Around Belgium
Due to its location at the crossroads of Western Europe, Belgium is very well connected to the neighbouring countries around it. The small nation’s efficient public transport system also makes travelling very easy and affordable.
One of the main places visitors arrive from abroad is Brussels Airport. Also known as Zaventem, it lies on the outskirts of the capital with flights departing to Africa, Asia and the USA all the time.
Located just outside of Charleroi in Wallonia is ‘Brussels South’; the country’s main cheap flight hub. Cunningly named to entice tourists, it is actually about an hour’s bus or taxi ride from BXL. You can organise airport transfers here.
Otherwise, most travellers arrive in Antwerp, Brussels, Bruges and Ghent by bus or train at one of their numerous stations. There are connections to these stations from neighbouring countries such as Lille in France, Amsterdam in the Netherlands or Luxembourg. You can view schedules here.
As the major Flemish cities lie roughly along the same line and are quite compact cities, taking the train and walking are the best ways to get around both Flanders and Brussels.
You definitely don’t need a car for your one week in Belgium as all of the stops are well-connected by the extensive public transit network.
If you have more than 7 days, you may find a hire car necessary to visit some of the smaller villages and forests in Wallonia. There is more information in the “Have More Time” section below.
5 to 7-Day Belgium Itinerary
This itinerary covers some of the country’s must-see sights in its three main regions of Brussels and Flanders. Whether you have 5 days or a full week, you’re going to see much more than most visitors do.
Day 1 – Brussels
After arriving in Brussels, most people head straight to the Grand Place to see the spectacular square and all its grand guild houses. One of the capital’s most iconic attractions, it lies right next to Manneken Pis – the city’s famous statue of a small peeing boy. You can also organise a walking tour to learn more about the city when you arrive.
Afterwards, you can stroll about cute neighbourhoods like Les Marolles or the chic Sablon. Both are home to interesting antique shops and some amazing old churches. Expensive chocolatiers such as Pierre Marcolini and Neuhaus can also be found here.
Not all too far away is the impressive Royal Palace of Brussels and several top-class museums focusing on music, Magritte and the fine arts. After taking some pics or perusing their extensive collections, head to Mont des Arts for one of the best views over Brussels.
Back down next to the Grand Place is the world-famous Delirium which has over 2,000 different beers for you to try. The busy bar is also conveniently located near happening nightlife spots like Saint-Gery and Place Sainte-Catherine.
On the way back to your hotel or hostel, grab a packet of andalouse sauce-coated frites and eat them in the Grand Place gloriously illuminated at night – a quintessential Brussels experience.
Where to Stay in Brussels
Motel One Brussels -This centrally-located hotel is perfect for mid-range travellers to Brussels. There are a range of rooms to choose from, an excellent location for exploring the Belgian capital, a great buffet breakfast on offer each morning and an on-site bar to enjoy.
Pillows City Hotel Brussels Centre – This is an excellent hotel for luxury visitors looking for a plush stay while visiting Brussels. They have a range of modern and comfortable rooms on offer, a fabulous breakfast available and plenty of amenities to ensure you have an amazing stay.
Appart’City Confort – Those who’d like to have their own flat while basing themselves in the Belgian capital will love this aparthotel. Offering a range of different apartments, they combine the comfort and amenities of a hotel with the convenience of a furnished flat.
MEININGER Bruxelles City Center – This hostel is a good option for those looking to save a bit of cash when visiting Brussels. Offering both dorms and private rooms, they have a great location and good self-catering facilities, as well.
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Brussels hotels!
Day 2 – Brussels
On the second day, take the time to dig a bit deeper in Brussels and enjoy more of the sites of this vibrant and diverse European city.
Spend your morning exploring the Atomium which lies a bit north of the city centre. This structure was built for the 1958 World’s Fair and it is a top attraction when visiting the Belgian capital. It takes about 40 minutes to reach her via metro from the city centre, so make sure to factor that into your daily plans. You can pre-book tickets here.
In the afternoon, spend some time strolling through the lovely Parc du Cinquantenaire and enjoy the vibes in this central green space. And then, as the day is beginning to draw to a close, spend some time exploring the diverse European Quarter where there are a number of interesting sites to see.
You also could take some time to enjoy some of the city’s vibrant street art and just simply enjoy the vibes of this bustling capital.
Day 3 – Ghent
Located very close to Brussels along the same train line as the town of Bruges further afield is the absolutely gorgeous Ghent. Although it is often overlooked in favour of Bruges, its small but scenic centre is certainly a must-visit if you have five days in Belgium.
Dominating its historic heart are three centuries-old towers that make for some fantastic photos and viewing from St. Michael’s Bridge.
Aside from entering St. Nicholas’ Church and seeing all its artworks, you can venture up to the top of the Belfry of Ghent and St. Bavo’s Cathedral. Both offer phenomenal panoramas of the city below and other towers beside them.
Strolling along the Graslei and Korenlei quays next to its winding canals is also lovely, especially when all their old buildings are majestically lit up at night. Here you can sit on their steps or at a cafe’s patio for a drink and take relaxing boat trips along the river.
After checking out the gigantic Gravensteen Castle nearby, make your way to the Dulle Griet for more strong Belgian beers in a traditional setting. You can also organise a bike tour to learn more about the city.
As Ghent is a larger, livelier university city, you could always stay a night here if you fancy experiencing more of its vibrant ambience or alternatively head back to Brussels or onwards to Bruges.
Day 4 – Bruges
If you have 5 days in which to explore Belgium, then you’re definitely going to visit the beautiful city of Bruges at some point. Very walkable, the fairytale Flemish town lies only an hour’s train journey northwest of Brussels. The historic centre of Bruges is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it is absolutely charming.
Once you arrive, just slowly meander your way to the tall spire you see rising in the distance. One of its main landmarks, the Belfry of Bruges towers 83 metres in height and boasts sublime views from up high. You can also organise a walking tour and canal cruise of the historic centre to learn more about the history of the city.
At the foot of the thirteenth-century bell tower is the Grote Markt. Lined by attractive townhouses and lively restaurants, the ‘Venice of the North’s’ main square is always packed with people. The nearby Basilica of the Holy Blood in Burg Square also rightfully attracts lots of attention.
Of course, you can’t miss the Gothic Church of Our Lady and the imposing and beautiful town hall in Beuge, as well.
Other than visiting the Groenige Museum, most visitors spend their time ambling about its pretty cobbled streets and picture-perfect canals.
As Bruges empties at night, it is nice to stay if you want to see the atmospheric city in a different light. You can also take a dark side of Bruges tour in the evening.
Where to Stay in Bruges
Hotel Fevery – If you’re travelling on a mid-range budget, then this 3-star hotel located in city centre is a great choice. Situated in the heart of Bruges, they have a range of lovely rooms on offer and plenty of amenities to ensure your stay is a great one.
Boutique Hotel Die Swaene – This luxury hotel is a great choice for those who’d like a sophisticated and opulent stay while visiting beautiful Bruges. There are a number of fantastic rooms to choose from along with plenty of great amenities. They also have an unbeatable location for exploring the city.
Snuffel Hostel – Those travelling solo or on a tight budget (or looking for a great social atmosphere) will love this central hostel. There are a number of both dorm beds and private rooms to choose from, they have a fantastic location for exploring the best of Bruges and great common areas.
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Bruges hotels!
Day 5 – Bruges
Though Bruges is a relatively small town, it can be worth spending more than a day here to really get a good feel for this lovely little city. There is a surprising amount to do in Bruges so it’s an excellent place to spend your final day in Belgium (if you only have five days to spare).
You have the option of either spending this day seeing some of the sites in Bruges that you didn’t before or you could opt to go on a day trip – the town of Ostend on the coast is a great option.
The latter choice is a good idea for those who only are planning a 5-day itinerary as it allows you to see more of the country in your limited time. If you’re spending 7 days, then spending this entire day in Bruges is the best choice for you.
If you opt to stay in Bruges, then you can spend your day doing activities such as visiting the Choco-Story Museum or the Frietmuseum or even wandering around trying to source the best Belgian waffle in the city (not a bad task, if you ask me!).
Or, if you fancy something with a bit more punch, then consider heading out on a beer tour to sample some famous Belgian beers! If you’re not a beer drinker, then this food tour with a local is a good alternative.
Day 6 – Ostend & Belgium’s Coast
Travellers with a bit more time may want to visit the coast which is where Belgians go to relax, unwind and enjoy the refreshing sea breeze. As Ostend, its largest city, is located not far from Bruges, you can always combine the two rather than take a ninety-minute train from Brussels.
Rather ugly to look at, its wall of huge high-rises overlooks a long, wide beach that stretches the entirety of the country’s coastline. Aside from lounging on its sands in summer, you can walk or cycle along its broad boardwalk before stopping off for some superb seafood.
Ostend’s bustling centre is also packed with plenty of local shops, several museums and the stupendous St. Peter and St. Paul Church which dates to 1907. If you fancy your luck, there is a large casino that also puts on some top-class shows and entertainment acts.
A wonderful way to actually see all the country’s North Sea coastline is to hop on the Kusstram. Stretching 67 kilometres in total, it is remarkably the longest tram line in all the world. Along the way, you can always get off and explore the beautiful dunes around Bredene or enjoy some fine dining at the chic seaside resort of Knokke.
At the end of the day, you can take the train to Antwerp to give you a full day to explore there or either stay in Ostend or Bruges if you want to spend longer in the area.
Where to Stay in Antwerp
Citybox Antwerp – This 3-star hotel in the centre of Antwerp is perfect for those looking for a mid-range place to stay in this Belgian city. They have a great, central location along with several twin, double and family rooms on offer.
Hotel Rubens-Grote Markt – Luxury travellers will love this sophisticated hotel located in the centre of Antwerp. There’s a fab breakfast each morning, several clean and modern rooms available, a lovely terrace and private parking.
Yust Antwerp – If you’re looking for a social and budget-friendly place to stay in Antwerp, you’re sure to love this highly-rated hostel. Offering plenty of dorms and private options, there is also an on-site bar and cafe for guests to enjoy.
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Antwerp hotels!
Day 7 – Antwerp
Yet another popular place in Flanders that most people head to is the bustling port city of Antwerp. The undisputed diamond capital of the world, Belgium’s second-largest metropolis has loads of trendy bars, shops and restaurants for you to try out. You can book a walking tour to learn more about the city.
As with Bruges and Ghent, its historic main square is presided over by an enormous Gothic-style spire that towers over 120 metres in total. The tallest church in the Low Countries, the Cathedral of Our Lady displays some exquisite architecture while elaborate altars, artworks and effigies lie within.
If you want to delve more into the country’s rich artistic heritage then the nearby Rubenshuis is the best place to go. The former home and workshop of Peter Paul Rubens contains numerous paintings by the renowned Flemish master.
Also worth a visit is the Red Star Line Museum which presents another side of the city’s history. It instead looks at the lives of the shipping company’s two million or so passengers who passed through Antwerp on their way to the USA.
As it is known for its pounding nightclubs like Ampere and cool, classic bars such as Den Engel, Antwerp certainly has a lot to do once night falls. If you want to wake up early to catch a plane, however, it’s probably easier to head back to Brussels by train.
Have More Time?
If you have even more time left to explore the country (woohoo!), then there are countless other cool towns, cities and historic sites you can add to your Belgium itinerary.
While most travellers tend to stick to Flanders and Brussels, Wallonia also has some awesome cities to stop by. The most popular are Namur, its scenic capital, and Liege, its largest city, which boasts an absolutely incredible modern train station.
The WWI battlefields and cemeteries at Ypres are also interesting to check out as is Waterloo – the site of Napoleon’s final defeat in 1815.
Another option is to take a beautiful tram ride to Tervuren from Brussels and visit the fascinating Royal Museum for Central Africa. After seeing the lush, green park and woods outside, you can then head to the nearby Leuven – a lively university town home to lots of lovely architecture.
While the French-speaking region does have some interesting cities such as Namur, Liege and Mons, you can also visit small towns in the Ardennes like Dinant and Durbuy. As they are harder to reach by public transport, it’s best to rent a car so you can make the most of your time in Belgium.
From Brussels, it is only an hour’s drive to Dinant which lies along the banks of the Meuse River backed by dramatic rocky cliffs. Its stunning setting, soaring church and the colourful houses of its old town all make for some fabulous photos and viewing.
What a way to spend one week in Belgium or even longer! There is so much to see and do in this beautiful country that a week may well not seem long enough.
Are you planning to a trip to Belgium? Have any questions about this itinerary? Let us know in the comments!