You’ll find stunning architecture, rich culture and tasty food in Belgium’s cities.
The political centre of the European Union, Belgium contains huge diversity within its regions. Belgium's cities display the best of this diversity, where ancient and modern architecture sit side by side and you'll find a food scene packed with tantalising specialties such as waffles, mussels, chocolate and fruity beers. Read on to discover where you can find all this and more with the Eurotunnel Le Shuttle guide to Belgian cities.
A good place to start when exploring Brussels is the bustling area around the Grand Palace. With seven streets running into the market place it is a focal point where Belgians and visitors gather, wander and scatter through the city. Remember to pop back here in the evening to see the Grand Palace and gothic town hall lit up. If you're peckish, why not tuck into a portion of Belgium's famous moules frites? The nation was the first to pair steaming mussels with fried potatoes and it's been a popular meal ever since.
Head to the European Parliament building, where you can take a tour behind its striking glass facade to the place where proposals become law. Interactive displays at the Parlamentarium visitor centre allow you to dip into Europe's inner workings and learn the impact government decisions have on our everyday lives. Best of all, admission and the use of the guides are free.
Brussels is 2 hours' drive along the A16 and E40 from Eurotunnel Le Shuttle's Calais Terminal.
In contrast to Belgium's vibrant capital, Bruges is a sleepy city and the perfect choice for a relaxing break. Wander around the narrow streets and along pretty canals or take a boat tour to see it all from a different perspective.
There's a romantic air in the old part of the city with architecture preserved from the middle ages and the city's famous Christmas markets create a magical atmosphere in winter. The medieval Belfry overlooking the market square is a must see. You can squeeze up the narrow staircase to the top of the tower and watch city life move below you.
A trip to Bruges wouldn't be complete without sampling some chocolate and beer. You can tour the Half Moon Brewery, the last remaining in Bruges. Or, if you have a sweet tooth, challenge yourself to a chocolate crawl. Feast your eyes on intricate chocolate designs, buy presents for your loved ones or taste some exciting new flavours for yourself. The Chocolate Line shop is a good place to start and you can peek through the window into the workshop to see the chocolates being lovingly crafted. Chocoholics should head to the Choco-Story museum where you'll learn about the transformation of cocoa to chocolate and can stock up on treats on your way out.
From Eurotunnel Le Shuttle's Calais Terminal, drive for 1 hour 20 minutes, following the A16 and E40 to Bruges.
Bruges Tourist Information
From fashion to art and food, Antwerp does it all in style. Here, the frite is more gourmet treat than fast food junk. You'll find several upmarket cafes serving these crispy chips as well as lots of Michelin-starred restaurants for food lovers. The City has been an admired fashion hub since a group of designers known as the 'Antwerp six' rose to fame in the 1980s.
Revive your wardrobe while here by splashing some cash at the Stadsfeestzaal shopping centre. Glide down the marble staircase of this former city festival hall and gaze up at the glass-domed roof in between shops. Or, pop into the Diamond Pavilion to hanker after glistening jewels at the Museum aan de Stroom (MAS). Now that you're fully immersed in Antwerp's stylish scene, why not take a trip to the Fashion Museum (MoMu) to find out how it all began?
Antwerp is just over 2 hours' drive from Eurotunnel Le Shuttle's Calais Terminal (A16 and E40) and 1 hour 20 minutes from Bruges.
Antwerp Tourist Information
Namur is the capital of the French-speaking Walloon region, an area over half the total size of Belgium. History buffs should visit the citadel overlooking the Meuse Valley which has seen and been victim to many attacks, battles and reconstructions. You can drive up the winding road to the fortress or take the cable car to the top of the rock and wander the escarpment.
Namur is a 2 hour 45 minute drive from Eurotunnel's Calais Terminal along the E40.
Namur Tourist Information
Liège is the place to come for culture. Sitting at the crossroads of main routes linking Paris, Amsterdam and Cologne, Liège is the ideal stop to see thriving artistic life.
Wander through the region's past with a visit to the Museum of Walloon Life. Discover traditional Walloon arts, crafts and trades such as metalwork, glass-blowing and weaving through the reconstructed workshops and an impressive wooden puppet collection. Across the river is the island of Outre-meuse where you'll find a bohemian atmosphere and lots of museums, taverns and cafes. Folk festivals are a big part of Liege life and thousands cram into Outre-meuse's tiny streets during 15th August annual festival. Join in the fun and watch the procession, puppet shows, dancing, live music and games.
If you're feeling energetic you can climb 400 steps of the Montagne de Bueren to the citadel. After catching your breath, you'll be rewarded with panoramic views of the city and Meuse River. Looking for lively nightlife? Head to Le Carré where you'll find rows of pubs and bars open until the early hours. For some retail therapy, pop to the Mediacite shopping centre. Remember to look up at the impressive structure and roof added by Ron Arad architects and during the festive season make your way to the ice rink at the mall centre for some winter fun.
Liège is an easy 3-hour drive from Calais following the E40.
Liege Tourist Information