Chocolates, waffles, pommes frites, beer – why wouldn’t you want to pop over to Belgium for a weekend getaway?

Despite the proximity and appeal, I only made it to Belgium this December. This compact multilingual country is both historic and hip. There are countless castles, innovative museums, and cosy beer bars that dot the entire nation. At the same time, the Belgian people are still reeling from the terrorists attacks this year. Tourism in Belgium dropped 13% this year. Even in the picturesque city of Bruges, which usually attracts a lot of visitors.

On the bright (and frothy) side, Belgian beer was added to Unesco’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List (I rambled a lot about it during my Viennese coffee houses post last year).

Bruges Ghent Bruges BrugesSo if you are anywhere near Belgium – go! And go on an empty stomach.

We hopped through Brussels, Ghent and Bruges on our speedy three-day getaway to Belgium. I haven’t included any photos or tips from Brussels because I feel I didn’t spend enough time there to have a definitive verdict.

My favourite, however, was Ghent. I fell in love with Belgium’s third most populous city. Whether you are after a Michelin star restaurant or canal-side frites, this alternative city delivers. It’s a medieval masterpiece on the surface with dramatic facades and romantic canals, but it’s youthful and urban at heart.

Ghent Ghent Ghent Ghent Ghent GhentWhile in Ghent, you must eat at De Suprette, have coffee at Labath or OR, and drink at Jigger’s.

In contrast, Bruges is a fairy-tale town crushing under the weight of tourists. It’s Belgium’s worst kept secret. Picturesque cobbled lanes, soaring towers, historic churches and lively market squares attract everyone (including us!) to this pretty little destination. If you don’t mind the crowds, you too can reap the benefits of this beauty.

Bruges Bruges Bruges Bruges BrugesThis being the last post of the year, I can confidently say Belgium was one of my favourite trips of 2016, along with Milan and Marrakech.

What’s the best place you went to in 2016? Spread the travel love in the comments below.

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