Absolutely Essential Tips on How to Plan a Vacation to Belgium
Apr 17, 2019
From astonishing rural landscapes to fascinating urban centers, Belgium has it all. Here are a few things that you need to know while you plan to explore one of Europe's best kept secrets.
When you walk into a chocolate store, suddenly the most difficult decision you will ever have to make in your life, is which chocolates to pick! It is pure torture! Especially when you are in Belgium surrounded by Belgian chocolates! ― C. JoyBell C.
Belgium, the seat of the European Union, is a country where people are known to "live well." It boasts of an impressive art history and numerous UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which leave tourists absolutely astonished. Moreover, the country is divided into two distinct halves, which seem like two different worlds in themselves.
The northern half, the Dutch-speaking Flanders, is a plain, urban landscape; however, the monotony of the terrain is broken by the various interesting historic cities distributed along it in a random fashion.
In stark contrast is the southern half, the French-speaking Wallonia, which is mostly rural with numerous caves, castles, and village inns. With such diversity, widespread use of English and state-of-the-art tourist infrastructure, Belgium is truly a fabulous holiday destination.
Planning a Belgian Vacation
Belgium is a small country with liberal attitude. Known for its vibrant art circle, bewitching carnivals, and absolutely divine Belgian beers, the country is one of the most sought-after European destinations. If you wish to go to Belgium to spend your coming vacation, this We will tell you a few things that you should know while planning for the same.
When to Go
➥ The peak season to visit Belgium is from mid-April to mid-October (many festivals and carnivals are held during this period), with the busiest months being those of July and August.
During these two months, the weather in the country is the most favorable as it is the transitional period between spring and autumn. It always rains in Belgium, but it is less damp and more pleasant during the peak season.
➥ It must be noted that owing to an enormous tourist influx in the peak season, traveling and staying in the country is more expensive. You might have to pay higher airfares, higher accommodation prices, and so on.
➥ November to March is the off-season to visit Belgium. This is winter time that experiences more showers, occasionally with light snow. So, it is really chilly owing to which not many tourists prefer to travel to Belgium during this time.
➥ If you are thinking of a budget trip, the off-season is the best time for you go, provided you are prepared for the dampness and cold. This is the time when most hotels and restaurants lower their rates, more discounts are available on airfares, and there are lesser tourists, thus, enabling you to enjoy the best of Belgium peacefully.
Air Tickets and Visas
➥ Whether you visit during the peak season or off-season, it is always a good idea to book your air tickets well in advance. This not only ensures that you get a confirmed booking, but you can also avail some great discounts and offers.
➥ While you can book your tickets directly from the airline's official website, it is advised that you browse through some other reputed travel websites as well.
Often, these websites have some of the best deals to offer, and you may actually get your tickets at much lower rates than you had estimated. Compare prices on different websites and check for hidden or add-on costs before you go ahead with the booking process.
➥ If you are an EU national, there is some real good news for you. You will not need a travel visa to go to Belgium, which means that if you have a confirmed air ticket and valid passport, you can vacation freely in the country.
➥ Similarly, if you are a citizen of the USA, Canada, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, or Israel, you will not need a visa to travel to Belgium if your stay is restricted to up to three months.
➥ Those belonging to the other countries, however, will need valid visas. The Belgian embassy issues tourist visas for a period of three months, but the processing takes time. So, make sure that you submit all your documents to the consulate well before you intend to travel.
Budgeting Your Trip
➥ People who have traveled to Belgium and its neighboring countries will tell you that the country is cheaper than its neighbor, Luxembourg. However, it still needs to be noted that Belgium is not cheap by normal standards.
➥ Food and accommodation are highly priced in the country; however, there are ways to save on them. Hostels, B&Bs, and self-contained guest houses are cheaper than hotels. Similarly, fast food joints are cheaper than restaurants.
➥ If you are accompanied by children under the age of 12, look for restaurants that offer special discounted meals for kids. In fact, some mid-range restaurants also offer free children's meals. This is a good way of saving some money.
➥ Car rentals and taxis are expensive, but opting for public transport can save you a lot of bucks. Trains are not that cheap, but children under 12 are allowed to travel free of cost. Hiring a bicycle is a cheap and good option to get around the countryside.
➥ While you plan your vacation, keep all these expenses in mind. It is not recommended to carry much cash with you if you are visiting the urban centers. ATMs are widespread there, and you can withdraw cash when required.
➥ If your plan is to have vacation in the Belgian countryside, carry some extra cash, as ATMs may not be easily accessible there.
Immunizations and Insurance
➥ According to the WHO recommendations, all international travelers have to be vaccinated against diphtheria; tetanus; measles, mumps, and rubella; polio; and Hepatitis B, irrespective of where they travel. Make sure that you take your immunization shots at least two weeks in advance.
➥ If the Ardennes region is on your itinerary, it is advisable to get vaccinated against tickborne encephalitis, which is widespread in the area. Visit your general physician, and he/she will guide you regarding the same.
➥ If you are traveling with children, it is a good idea to get vaccinated against rabies.
➥ With regards to insurance, the European Health Insurance Card (formerly known as E111 form) covers for most of the medical care of the EU nationals.
➥ Some countries have a reciprocal arrangement for free medical care with Belgium. Check if your country is one of them. If not, then you will have to get a health insurance. When you do so, ensure that it covers you for the worst possible situation(s).
While You Are There
➥ Buying Belgian beers can make a big hole in your pocket; however, if you are a beer lover, take one of Brussels' beer-tasting tours, wherein you can buy them at a much cheaper price.
➥ If you love chocolates, you cannot but miss the special four-hour guided tour in Brussels that will take you to some of the most famous chocolate shops around the city. You can then enjoy some free samples and chocolate tastings, and also buy some to bring back home.
➥ If you wish to savor the feel of the European countryside, join one of the cycling tours from Brussels to Amsterdam. Each of these tours lasts for a week, and you can not only explore the rural landscape, but also enjoy the culinary specialties en route.
So, if Belgium is on your wish list, don't think too much; just go for it! The country is sure to treat you well. Only make sure that you pack enough warm clothes, rainy gear, and medicines, if you have been recommended any special ones.