Any time a country or region imposes any sort of visa stipulation - even if it’s a waiver - the travel industry sighs a collective groan, knowing the obstacles and headaches to come.
The canals of Bruges, the masterpieces of Ghent, the castles of Antwerp: why not stray out of the city of Brussels to see what else Belgium has up its sleeve.
Bruges looks like the kind of city that belongs in a fairy tale. Cobblestone streets and winding canals beckon you into its UNESCO-declared medieval city centre populated
with legendary churches, iconic towers and whitewashed almshouses.
Set off on Transat’s Bruges Discovery Tour from Brussels and explore some of its historic city centre’s gems. You’ll discover the 115-metre-high brick tower of the Church of Our Lady, which harbours Michelangelo’s world-famous Madonna and Child, countless paintings,
13th-century painted sepulchres and the tombs of Mary of Burgundy and Charles the Bold. Then climb up (if you dare) the steep 366 steps to the top of the 83-metre-tall Belfry of Bruges, the most prominent of the city’s towers, which houses a carillon with (wait for it) 47 bells.
You’ll then take a stroll through Burg Square, lined with the 14th-century city hall, the old Court of Justice and the Basilica of the Holy Blood, where the relic of the Holy Blood is kept.
And, of course, you can’t visit the city nicknamed the Venice of the North without riding along one of its canals.
It may be one of Belgium’s oldest cities, but Ghent still displays all the hallmarks of
a trendy city with its cool museums, quirky bars and colourful street art. But if it’s
classics you’re into, Ghent is a veritable treasure trove of works of art: don’t leave without seeing the 15th-century masterpiece The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb by Flemish painters the Van Eyck brothers, touted worldwide as one of the most influential paintings in history.
Embark on Transat’s Ghent & Bruges excursion from Brussels to discover Ghent’s ageless beauties from the Middle Ages: cathedrals, triptych art, castles and churches. Then
you’ll continue your time-travel in Bruges and its UNESCO-declared medieval city centre.
Antwerp was home to the most influential baroque artist of all time, Peter Paul Rubens. And you’ll be routinely reminded of this in museums, imposing cathedrals and, of course, the very palazzo in which he lived.
Set off on Transat’s Antwerp excursion from Brussels and follow the cobbled-brick road to Steen, a 13th-century castle along the Scheldt River. Then you’ll take a stroll through Antwerp’s Grote Markt, a popular square dominated by the 450-year-old Renaissance-style Town Hall, old guild houses and the statue of Brabo, who, legend has it, liberated Antwerp from a giant.
A visit to Antwerp wouldn’t be complete without admiring the iconic Cathedral of Our Lady. Dominating the skyline at 123 metres high, it is the highest Gothic building in the Low Countries and houses a disorienting amount of major artworks, including Rubens’s own Elevation of the Cross and his Descent from the Cross.