Want to get away for a winter adventure this year? It is hard to find a place with non-freezing weather and delicious food. However, we have an idea for you: Belgium in Winter! Luckily, Belgium checks both of those boxes. With mild winters and historic architecture, this stunning country has it all.
We have broken down the best Christmas Markets and activities for you to explore this Winter in Belgium. Keep reading to find out how to explore this winter wonderland!
Winter Weather in Belgium
It is surprisingly mild compared to other European countries. Snow does happen occasionally, but heavy snowfall is not common. Rain is more common than snow during a Belgium winter. December is the rainiest month of the year, so ditch your snow coat for a raincoat if you visit during the holiday season.
The average temperature ranges from 3-6 degrees celsius. While the temperature can still be relatively cold, it is not frigid. Making it a fantastic winter destination! Winter typically starts in December and ends in March.
What to Visit in Belgium in Winter?
The Grand Place
The Grand Place, also known as the Grote Markt, is a must-see for visitors exploring Belgium. This famous square is known for its wealth and stunning architecture. This is why it is no surprise that Grand Place is one of the most beautiful places in the world.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site hosts festivals and shows throughout the year. The Winter brings the most sought-after festival, the Winter Wonders Festival. Which is home to a Christmas Market and a gigantic Christmas Tree.
Lace-up your Ice Skates and hit the Ice RInk before watching the festive sound and light show. Afterwards, marvel at the guild houses, the Maison du Rio, and the City Hall.
The Famous Landmark of Manneken Pis
Visit the famous landmark of Manneken Pis when visiting Brussels in Winter. This 61 centimeters bronze fountain sculpture is located in the central part of the city. It dates all the way back to the 15th century and has since been drinking water distribution.
What makes this statue so fun? It changes outfits and gets dressed at least four times a year. It has become a fun staple in Brussels, and the outfit changes draw visitors from all over. So stop by and see the style this statue is showing off.
Bruges can easily be reached through the airports of Brussels. It is an hour and a half drive from Brussels or a 1 hour 15-minute train ride from Brussels.
Visit The “Venice of The North”
Get ready to explore the “Venice of the North,” also known as Bruges. This Belgian town dates back to the 12th century and is one of Europe’s most gorgeous cities. Start by exploring the market square and city center. Here you can shop or attend a seasonal festival.
Winter Glow is their winter festival that has a wine bar, ice skating, and a light experience trail. You can also stop by the Burg Square for a horse-drawn carriage ride around the area. There is plenty to do in Bruges, but walking the streets and taking in the beauty can be more than enough.
Bruges Market Square
Continue your adventure by checking out Market Square. Which sits beneath the Belfry tower is this quaint and fun square. It is known for hosting many medieval festivals, fairs, and even at the time, executions.
There is so much history packed in this little area for you to explore. The history dates back to 958 where weekly markets were held. Today it is used for shopping and dining. Over four million visitors stop by each year to walk these streets. Be sure to stop by the famous buildings in the area, including the Belfry Tower and the Cloth Hall.
Walking Tours in Brussels
Walking tours can be an excellent way for you to explore a new place! So instead of worrying about transportation and taxi costs, take on the city of Brussels in one day on foot. Instead of piecing together an itinerary yourself, have the pros do it for you.
Sign up for the Brussels Mysteries and Legends Tour, hosted by Walking Brussels Tours. This four-hour experience shows the history of Brussels by bringing you to iconic places. Such as the Grand Place, the old city gates, and the lost river of Zenne. Your guides will teach you about the art and sculptures in the area. You even get the best panoramic views of Brussels, a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Hautes Fagnes-Eifel Nature Park
One hour and thirty minutes east of Brussels is a unique nature park. Reached by car or private taxi. The best part is, you can visit Hautes Fagnes-Eifel Nature Park in the Winter. This park is known for crossing the borders between Belgium and Germany.
It is the oldest and largest nature reserve in all of Belgium. Walk around the lush forest and enjoy the views of the cascading hills. There are meadows filled with pasture and cattle for you to explore.
Ice Skating in Belgium
Belgium has plenty of ice skating options, especially in the Winter. Most outdoor Christmas markets host ice skating during the holiday season. After the holidays are over, ice skating continues to be a common activity.
Winter Wonder Ice Rinks are among the most popular in the country. They can be found at Grand-Place, Place de la Monnaie, and more. Be sure to check their website to know when and where they will be. Also, ice skating is a great activity to add to your winter wonderland Belgium trip.
Ring In The New Year!
Celebrate the New Year in one of the most beautiful countries in Europe! That’s right, Belgium is a perfect New Year’s Eve destination. When the clock strikes midnight, locals and visitors ring in the new year with kisses and wishes of good luck.
Bars and restaurants are packed, filled with those looking to leave behind the past year and look forward to even better times.
The tradition in Belgium for New Years Day is very unique. On New Year’s Day, children write letters to their parents on unique stationery that they saved up for. A beautiful way to appreciate a New Year.
The European Parliament has three places of work. Luxembourg, Brussels, and Strasbourg and are all open to visitors. So for those that love politics, visiting the European Parliament is right up your alley!
This legislative branch of the European Union is one of seven institutions. It is directly made up of 705 members. They all represent European countries. Guided tours of the parliament are available in Belgium. You may even have the opportunity to meet members of the parliament.
Musical Instruments Museum
Located in Bussel’s is a museum that will get all of you music lovers excited! The musical instrument museum is part of the Royal Museums of Art and History. It is known for its collection of 1,000 plus instruments.
The museum’s collection started in the 1800s. Now it is home to a vast collection of instruments, music, and art. You Can even stop by for one of their live concerts.
The complex has recently been restored, making the architecture as beautiful as the instruments inside. End your day at the museum at their rooftop restaurants!
Best Christmas Markets In Belgium
Speaking of Christmas Markets, Belgium is home to many. Festive travelers visit from all over the world to experience the gorgeous markets. So let’s break down some of the most famous ones to see.
Christmas Village of Liège
In Belgium, the Christmas Village of Liege has been ongoing for more than thirty years. Over two million people visit the market each year! The thirty-foot lit-up Ferris wheel and Toboggan Run are some of the main attractions here.
Folk Dance Groups perform during the festival for those who want to get a taste of the Belgium culture. However, the main event is the two hundred shops around the Saint Paul Cathedral. Shop until you drop before trying the Liege Waffle. A delicious must-eat when visiting the festival.
Winter and Christmas in Antwerp
Stop by the Winter in Antwerp for all of the Music Lovers out there. A famous market that has over one hundred shops from Groenplaats to the Grote Markt. This market is home to dozens of choirs and even gospel groups.
It is known for its classical music that fills the market streets. Listen while enjoying the twinkling Christmas lights at the Groenplaats! There is even miniature golf available for families and friends.
Grottes de Wonck: Christmas Market in a Cave!
Have you ever wanted to go to a Christmas Market in a cave? If the answer is yes, then Belgium has a market for you! Head over to the Grottes de Wonck, a market that sits inside a 2,000-year-old limestone cave. The cave is located in the center of Bassenge and has over eighty shops for you to visit.
There is a large underground restaurant located in the cave. They are known for growing their own mushrooms and showcasing that in their dishes. A unique once and a lifetime experience, right in the heart of Belgium.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites In Belgium
Exploring the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Belgium is a great way to appreciate the structures and history.
One of the most famous sites is Hotel Tassel. A building that has work from Art Nouveau and was designed in 1893. The area is known for its large glass windows that draw beautiful natural light.
The Famous Hotel Solvay
Hotel Solvay is another famous spot to add to your explore list. This building was designed in the 1890s for industrialist Armand Solvay. It is known to be one of Horta’s most successful jobs due to the feedback from his client. The structure includes pillars, metal beams, columns, and so much more.
The Sonian Forest
Did you know that a forest can be a part of the UNESCO Heritage Site list? Check out the Sonian Forest, a 4,421-hectare forest in southeast Brussels. It is the only forest located in Brussels and is known for its two-hundred-year-old beech trees. It is a fun way to get out in nature while soaking up all of its history.
Town Hall of Brussels
The last remaining medieval building of the Grand Place is the Town Hall of Brussels. This building has become a landmark due to its gothic and medieval architecture. Stop by this UNESCO World Heritage Site while learning all about the history of the building. It was first built in stages during the 1400s on the south side of Grand Place.
Today, you can sign up for a guided tour of the building. During the tour, you will get to see the paintings, sculptures, and artwork inside the hall. But, of course, if you want to roam freely, you are more than welcome to! The Town Hall is open to the general public on Wednesdays and Sundays.
Must-Try Things in Belgium in Winter!
If you traveled to Belgium without trying Belgian chocolate, did you actually go? Unfortunately, the answer is no, so finding the best Belgian chocolate shop is a must. There are chocolate shops on every corner in Brussels, so which one do you choose?
The most famous shop is Godiva, which is from Brussels itself. Godiva has locations all over Brussels, including an outlet store for those who want to stock up. Other popular brands are Neuhaus, Pierre Marcolini, and Patrick Roger.
All of these brands are located in the Place du Sablon square. So take yourself on your own chocolate tour by trying one from each spot.
Delicious Belgian Food
Belgium is known for its waffles, fries, and chocolate. A delicious combination that will have your mouth watering. The best way to make sure you hit all of these yummy spots is to take a food tour.
Take the All-in Discovery Tour, which brings you to Brussels culinary delights. You can take this tour during the winter months, warming at your stops during the walk.
You will try mussels, frites, beef stew, waffles, chocolate, waterzooi, and even beer. Taste the most famous Belgium dishes while learning why they are a part of the culture. If a tour is not your style, then don’t miss trying the infamous Belgian waffle. You will not be disappointed in the Belgian food scene!
Best Easy & Scenic Train Rides in Belgium
Trains are an excellent option for transportation in Belgium. You can buy an open ticket the day that you travel. One of the most popular tours is from Brussels to Bruges. The ride is only 55 minutes long and costs 20 euros for a round trip.
Brussels to Ghent
You can also visit Ghent from Brussels by train. It is only a 40 minutes ride that costs 10 euros each way. The train leaves right from the city center. A quick and famous train ride.
Brussels to Antwerp
Hop over to the second-largest city in Belgium, Antwerp. The fastest route is by train, taking only 45 minutes. The fares are cheap, ranging from 4-11 Euros, each way.
The opportunities are endless by train in Belgium. Explore different cities for dinner or shopping while still making a home base in a city center.
Live Music In Belgium
Live music is a great way to experience the culture of a country you’re visiting. Belgium has a lot of fantastic live music options, all stationed in Brussels.
Bonnefooi is a popular music venue for electronic music located in Bruxelles. It is a well-known spot among tourists as well. However, electronic is not the only music type they offer. Some nights they even have acoustic sessions. Bonnefooi has something for every music lover. A fun way to end your evening in Belgium.
Ancienne Belgique is another option in Bruxelles. This music venue is over one hundred years old! Commonly known as AB to locals, this hot spot draws huge crowds from all over. There is not one type of music offered here either. Global, pop, jazz, and rock are just a few genres to name. An exciting night out can be spent at AB during your trip.
Best Theme Parks In Belgium
Believe it or not, Belgium has plenty of theme park options for you. So let’s talk through the best ones to visit.
Walibi is one of the biggest theme parks in Belgium, located in Wavre. Which is a short 29-minute drive from Brussels. The park has forty rides, a cinema with 4D, and even a water park. Actually, it is great for all pages. However, Walibi is especially known for its thrill rides. Perfect for those adventure seekers.
Bellewaerde is the oldest theme park in the West Flemish countryside at Zonnebeke near Ypres. It is a great option because it is a theme park and an animal park in one! You can visit the monkeys during the day then take the thrill of a coaster by night. Be sure to watch one of their stunt shows too!
Visit the region of extensive forests and hills, the Ardennes. Located one and half hours from Brussels., this region stretches all the way into Germany and even France. This area is known for its adorable village and cascading mountains.
You can hike, cycle and even canoe along the flowing river. But in the winter months, the region turns from spending your time out in the river to on the slopes. The Ardennes region is known for its downhill skiing and snowboarding. So it can make an enjoyable weekend away from the city when visiting Belgium in Winter.
How to Get to Belgium and Around
Flights to Belgium average anywhere from $500 to $1000 from major US airports, round trip. Going off-season in the Winter is a great way to get discounted tickets.
Luckily, there are a lot of major airlines that fly to and from Belgium. United, Lufthansa, Brussels Airlines, Air Canada, Swiss and Australian Airlines are just a few major airlines that fly nonstop.
How to get from Brussels Airport to the City Center
Once you land in Brussels, Belgium’s best international airport, take advantage of one of the more accessible transportation options. A direct train runs from the airport to Sazventem station every 10 minutes, 24/7. The ticket cost is just 12.70 Euros one way, and it only takes 17 minutes.
Travel Tips to Enjoy Belgium in Winter
- The best winter travel tips for Belgium range from staying cozy to enjoying hot chocolate Bundle up with heavy scarfs and warm jackets while walking the historic streets. Sip rich hot chocolate while staring at the extensive holiday lights.
- If visiting a popular museum or indoor activity, try to make a reservation on their website in advance. On colder days, these activities will be trendy. But, most importantly, get cozy while enjoying the city.
- Brussels has great cozy cafés and coffee shops almost everywhere. Sitting somewhere warm and watching the daily winter life of the city is an experience in itself.
- Renting a car is not worth it in Belgium as the country is not huge. Public transportation is also very convenient and affordable.
- Book train tickets online. They tend to be cheaper sometimes. Moreover, it will save you precious time.
Day Trips From Brussels
Day trips from Belgium are very accessible by either car or train. Most of them leave from Brussels, a great central location for exploring. Let’s break down three options to extend your adventure.
Brussels to Ypres
Go from Brussels to Ypres in only one and half hours via car. You can also take a train which takes an hour and a half. Ypres is a historical place known for the three Battles of Ypres.
These battles took place during the First World War from 1914-1919. The city was destroyed during that time. Today it draws history buffs from all over the world. You can take the train to Ypres from Brussels for 20 Euros, each way. The ride is only two hours.
Brussels to Tournai
Get ready to visit the Notre Dame Cathedral on your trip to Tournai. Take the quick 1.15-hour car drive from Brussels to this stunning city. You can also take the 1 hour 20-minute train ride from Brussels station. Tournai is known for its rich areas and breathtaking cathedrals.
You can visit Grand Place, which has many delicious restaurants for dinner. By the way, Brussels has also a good variety of vegan restaurants. Next stop by the Beffrio, the oldest belfry tower in all of Belgium. It is a fun day trip that only costs 13 euros, each way.
Brussels to Cologne
Hop countries by heading over to Cologne in Germany. This city is only two hours east of Brussels and is a must-see. The train is also two hours and leaves from the Brussel train station. Cologne is actually located near the Rhine River. This German town is known for its twin cathedrals accompanied by medieval structures.
Visit the art shops and museums. You can even visit a Chocolate Museum, the Imhoff-Schokoladenmuseum, which opened in 1993.
Where to Try the Best Belgian Hot Chocolate?
The best part of traveling to Belgium in the Winter is the excuse to try all of their hot chocolate.
Your first stop will be in Brussels at Neuhaus. There are numerous locations located throughout the city, including Grand Place. You can order hot chocolate right at the counter.
The Old Chocolate House
Next, head over to Bruges back to the Old Chocolate House. This stunning building has its own chocolate shop downstairs. There is a tea room in the shop where you can order a piping hot chocolate. They also have other sweets you can pair with your beverage, including gingerbread and truffles.
Events and Festivals in Belgium in Winter
Ice Sculpture Festival
Join the Bruges Ice Sculpture Festival! A yearly event that takes place from November 22nd until January 5th. Artists visit this festival from all over the world, sharing their statues with us.
All statues are made from ice and snow and inspired by Disney movies. This unique festival is a must-see when visiting during the winter in Belgium.
Brussels Film Festival
Every year in February, film lovers flock to Brussels when the Independent Film Festival takes place. It highlights the new talent, from directors to actors. The films that are showcased are from all over the globe. The event is typically in the first week of February, making it a great event during the winter months. Cozy up indoors while enjoying unique films in the heart of Brussels.
The Ghent Light Festival in Belgium is a beautiful festival that shines all over the city of Ghent. The lights are brought to the town by both national and international light artists. The festival includes insalltons, performances, and events.
As soon as the sun sets, get ready for this unique festival. Held every November, this event is the perfect way to kick off the winter season. Grab your tickets at their website here to get your Belgium festivities started!
Final Thoughts about Visiting Belgium in Winter
Belgium, a country known for its delicious chocolate and twinkling Christmas Markets. This European country is one of the most beautiful in the whole world. Typically destinations are sought after during the summer months, but Belgium is particular during the Winter.
Grab your raincoat and walk these medieval European streets. This quaint country has something for everyone! Explore the vast forests or historical buildings. Belgium is a gorgeous winter destination for every adventurer!