Get off the beaten track in Belgium and you never know what you’ll discover. Take the Belgian ghost town of Doel, for example. In this 700-year-old village near the major city of Antwerp, there’s incredible graffiti and paste-ups. It almost looks like a cartoon town. Doel was scheduled for demolition in the ‘70s to make way for the expansion of Antwerp harbour. By the ‘90s, many residents had left Doel but a few still remain in their homes. Artists from all over Europe have now transformed the abandoned town into a massive outdoor canvas with large-scale artworks. It’s definitely an eerie sight so hurry to visit before it disappears. Want to know more about Belgium? Read on.
Thanks to the Schengen Convention, Australian passport holders can holiday in Belgium without a visa and stay for up to 90 days within an 180-day period. Just make sure you have 6 months’ validity on your passport. Be aware that this information is only a guideline. For the latest visa information, contact the Consulate or Embassy of Belgium.
In Belgium, you’ll use the Euro, which is super handy if you plan on travelling to other European Union countries. The exchange rate between the Australian Dollar and the Euro changes constantly so keep an eye on the exchange rate and purchase Euros when the rate is at its best. For safe spending while overseas, consider using a credit or debit card.
It doesn’t start and end with beer and chocolate, the food all over this land is simply incredible. Influenced by both Dutch and French cooking, the national Belgian cuisine is to die for. There is so much deliciousness, but here are some favourites you must try - Belgian waffles (goes without saying really), la carbonade flamande (dried, boiled beef with garlic, onion and spices), and frieten (so much more than fries, they’re made from a special potato, the bintje). Fries are especially delicious with mussels - try the national dish of moule-frites (steamed mussels and fries), which is just perfect with a glass of white wine on a summer’s day. There are wonderful places where you can dine on traditional delights all over the country. Most places embrace the outdoors too – alfresco eating is a way of life in Belgium.
The Belgian folk know how to party. The party capital is Brussels, but you’ll find fun nightclubs, bars, festivals, live music, restaurants with entertainment and casinos all over the country. In fact, in the Wallonia town of Spa you can go to the world’s oldest casino, first built in 1763. Not too far from Brussels, Namur has hip nightlife and seriously cool festivals. If you time it right, you can check out the summer event of Verdur Rock Festival held in Namur in June. In Brussels, you can take your pick from over 80 bars and 400 types of beer. Grand Place is lined with places where you can enjoy a tipple or two. If you want to dance, dance, dance, you can do that too – there’s over 50 places where you can get your groove on with everything from banging beats at Fuse to old-time classics at the aptly named Nostalgia Club. If you’d like a break from the booze though, there’s also the theatre, cinemas and the opera.