Things to do


Amy's favourite cities:

GHENT

This is where Amy lived and studied for 3 years. 

Things to do:

- visit Grasleie and Korenlei (pictured)

- from Grasleie rent a kayak or boat and enjoy a trip on the canals

- visit 'castle of the counts' (Gravensteen), a 12th century castle in the middle of the city.

- participate in a beer walk: 3hr walk to breweries and authentic Belgian pubs

Click here for more information.


BRUSSELS

Capital of Belgium and EU

Things to do:

- visit 'Grand Place' (picture) and the royal galleries

- Go to the vismarkt for nice fresh fish, definitely try a prawn croquette

- Go to Mont des arts, for a nice view of the city.

- Visit Mappa Mundo or Delirium cafe for excellent drinks and beers

- Do yourself a favour and dine at Nona

More information can be found by clicking here


Some of Sam's Favourites:

ORVAL BREWERY

If you are going to the Ardennes, definitely visit this historical Abbey and Brewery. Orval beer is authentic Trappist beer.

It's the only brewery in Belgium where the beer is still brewed by monks. Beautiful buildings and lots of history.

The official website can be found by clicking here.


If you are in the Ardennes, click here for information on more places to visit and things to do



FORT BREENDONK

For anyone interested in WWII history, this is a very well preserved and haunting museum.

The National Memorial of Fort Breendonk is one of the best-preserved testimonials of the Second World War Nazi atrocities committed in Belgium. Definitly worth a visit if you're into that.

The official Fort Breendonk website can be found by clicking here

WATERLOO

Visit the town famous for the battle named after it.  If you're interested in Napoleon or the Battle of Waterloo, it's definitely worth checking out.

More information can be found by clicking here

YPRES

Known for the battles during WWI, Ypres is a beautiful place to visit.  If you visit, be sure to check out the Menin Gate and listen to the Last Post Ceremony.

Click here for more information.


Local Destinations (although all of Belgium is local by Australian standards):


DEN HAAS

Den Haas ('The Hare' in English) is a proper lambic cafe and eatery on the backroads of Gooik, near a dairy farm and some great hiking paths. The rustic farmhouse, with an outdoor garden patio, has a jaw dropping view of the pastoral landscape and serves some 60 beers and dates back to 1871.

Den Haas is open on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays.  More information can be found here



CECILE RESTAURANT

If fine dining is your thing, Amy's friends, Astrid and Judith have recently opened their restaurant, Cécile.

Already mentioned in the Michelin guide, Cécile is housed in a pretty brick building in the heart of Pajottenland;  this picturesque image of Flanders sports a trendy interior filled with natural light. Sisters Judith and Astrid expertly manage the front of house, while chef Tom crafts fine cuisine, such as pheasant cooked whole with a fine champagne sauce. He enjoys jazzing up steak tartare with Asian notes, but is equally at home championing comforting family favourites.

Cécile is extremely popular, so bookings are essential.  Open Thursday - Monday, Astrid recommends that you book 2 weeks in advance for lunch or 3 weeks in advance for dinner to guarantee a table. Their website can be found here.



'T PARLEMENT

Fancy having your way with a huge selection of Belgian beers or international whiskeys?  't Parliament (The Parliament) is the place to visit.  Located in the shadow of the Sint-Martinusbasiliek (Saint Martin’s Basilica), ‘t Parlement, a two-story bar is focused on serving a selection of some of the best Belgian beers, as well as whiskeys from all over the world.
Open Wednesday - Saturday,  Throughout the year 't Parlement occasionally does tastings on a Tuesday.  Let Sam know if you are interested in doing a tasting and we will contact the owners to see if we can arrange something.
Here is a write up about 't Parlement.



GAASBEEK CASTLE

If you don't like beer, whiskey or fine dining, then why not visit this 19th century recreated castle and stroll along the gardens?  Gaasbeek castle, the latest in a line of castles which have stood on this spot since the 1500's, pays homage to the original medieval castles from centuries past.  2024 marks the 100th year of the castle existing as a museum.

For more information, click here


NEIGEMBOS

If you don't like beer, whiskey, fine dining or castles, then why not visit this walking paradise? Covering around 70 hectares, the sunken paths are a result of the same routes being used since the Middle Ages.

There are four marked trails:

  •  The Dikke Beuken Walk (1.5km)
  • The Bevingen Walk (2.2km)
  • The Groeben Walk (3.7km)
  • Neigembos Loop (5km)

This is one of Sam's favourite places to go for a wandelen (walk).


For more information, click here


  Some beers to try....

When you just want a beer that tastes like real beer - Jupiler

The Holden Commodore of Belgian beer.  A 'Belgian light' at 5.2%.  Can be ordered by simply saying Pintje Alsjeblieft (where the 'pint' bit rhymes with 'tint', followed by the noise 'je' and als-je-bleeft), or by simply making eye contact with a waiter and raising your pinky finger (presumably indicating that your mouth is so dry from dehydration that you can't order a beer verbally).

Gouden Carolus Whisky Infused

For when you're not here to, uhh, fool around with spiders. 11.7%.  Not for the faint of heart, they go down dangerously easy.

Duvel

A Belgian mid strength at 8.5%, it is a blonde ale, and the go-to beer of many Belgians.  Founded in 1871, Duvel is an all natural beer with a subtle bitterness, a refined flavour and a distinctive hop character.

 

La Chouffe

Brewed in the French-speaking region of Belgium. This golden beer starts at 8% and is a personal favourite of Amy's. Pair it with cheesy croquettes or Belgian frietjes (more information below), just like a real Belgian.

Kasteelbier Rouge

For all the ladies out there that like a sweeter, more fruity beer; I present to you Kasteelbier Rouge. This beer is a mix between a dark ale and cherry liquor. The flavour of the sweet cherries dominates the malt of the dark beer, though the malt still provides hints of chocolate, and a little soft hop bitterness. Kasteelbier drinker beware, however; even though it's only (righto Belgium) an 8%'er, you don't taste any alcohol until it's too late.

Westmalle Tripel

Westmalle Tripel is a crisp, golden Trappist beer containing a leisurely 9.5% alcohol, pushing it up towards a Belgian full strength. 

Interestingly, when Westmalle Brewery was opened in 1934, it was celebrated with the launch of this (at the time) brand new 'Super Beer', widely regarded as the first tripel in the world.  I guess this meant that the Westmalle Tripel redefined what it means to be a Belgian full strength beer.  This is an authentic Trappist product, which means the beer must be brewed within the walls of the Trappist abbey and production and business policy are supervised by Trappist monks.


Classic Belgian Food....

Belgian hot chips (frietjes) from a Frietkot

Every self-respecting Belgian regularly goes to eat a portion of frieten at the snack kiosk (frituur), or buys them to take home. Many a household has a ‘frietjes day’, a fixed – almost ritual – day of the week on which they go to the frituur. 

This is the first stop for Amy after  she lands in Belgium.

Often (and offensively) referred to around the world as French Fries, frietjes are actually thoroughly Belgian, and have existed from as early as the 1600's.  Legend has it that they became know as French Fries when some yank soldiers in WWII had frietjes and, incorrectly thinking they were in France, gave them the English name that has haunted Belgium ever since.

baked puff pastry 

Vol-Au-Vent

This dish contains baked puff pastry filled with chicken meatballs and mushroom sauce, usually accompanied by delicious frietjes.

You can think of vol-au-vent as a Belgian chicken and mushroom pie in a puff pastry with a side serving of chips and mayo, but better (Amy's scientific opinion).

Brussels Waffles

This dish is perfection. Not the waffle everyone thinks of when you say Belgian waffles, but better (Amy's scientific opinion). Brussels waffles are so light and airy, you could eat 10 of them (Amy's scientific opinion). This delicacy will be given at the wedding as a dessert option.

 

Belgian Chocolate

Belgian chocolate needs no introduction.  Smooth, rich and delicious.  Go on, treat yourself.... it'd be rude not to.



Strawberries

Surprisingly, ask Sam what his favourite food is in Belgium is and he will always bring up how good the strawberries are.... Apparently they are a LOT better than the ones in Australia. 

Summer is strawberry season, so you are in for a treat. In the countryside, you can find vending machines packed with fresh strawberries.

Witloof

Witloof (wit meaning white, loof meaning foliage) is an iconic Belgian vegetable nicknamed 'White Gold'.

You will either love it or hate it.  It is grown twice, once to extract the root from the seed, and a second time (in complete darkness) to produce the  densely packed, elegantly curved white-gold leaves.

When raw, they are crisp and bitter, making them a great addition to salads. When cooked, the sharper flavours of witloof soften into a mellow, nutty sweetness.