Travel guide to Belgium

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Squeezed between the Netherlands, Germany and France, densely populated Belgium is wide open to internationalist tendencies, both industrially and culturally. In terms of tourism the country tends to be neglected when compared to the other European nations, yet Belgium is actually an interesting and multifaceted tourist destination.

Facts

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Local name
Royaume de Belgique, Koninkrijk België.
Capital
Brussels (950,000 inhabitants)
Size
30,500 square kilometres
Principal Languages
Flemish, French and German.
Principal Religion
Roman-catholic
Inhabitants
10,020,000 (1992)
Government
Monarchy
Geography
Even though Belgium is a small country it presents extraordinarily wide geographical variations. It ranges from flat Flanders in the North with beaches and heaths - to vigorous Wallonia in the South with the beautiful Ardennes .

Travel preparation

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Local conditions

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Net cafes

In Belgium, you will find well-equipped Internet-cafés in the country's larger cities.

In case of emergency

In case of emergency, please call one of the following numbers when in Belgium: Ambulance (100) Fire department (100) Police (101)

Tipping

When you receive the bill at a hotel or in a restaurant a tip is usually included in the price. They are also usually included in taxi-fares, however you should expect an additional luggage charge on Sundays and during the night.

Timezone

Belgium is on Central European Time, i.e. GMT plus one hour.

Weight and Measures

In Belgium, the metric system is used.

Photography

Common politeness should always be borne in mind - and always ask before taking a picture!

Drinking water

The drinking water in Belgium is safe to drink.

Electricity

Electric current operates on 220 volts AC, 50 cycles. Some parts of the country may use 110 volts AC.

Behaviour

As in most other Roman-Catholic countries - be respectful when visiting churches, convents and other religious places. So avoid wearing shorts, short skirts and showing bare shoulders. Using common politeness and paying respect to the locals will get you far.

Business Hours

Banks are open from 9.00 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. Please expect that some banks will be closed for siesta. Shops are open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, yet in the larger cities, opening hours are usually from 9.00 a.m. to 8.00 p.m. Small family-owned shops often have longer opening hours, and it is very common to have them open at least one night a week.

Food and drink

Belgium is world-famous for beer and chocolate, but actually Belgian cuisine is very good. Brussels' restaurants are well-known as some of the best in the world, and not only the luxury ones. Regional specialities include seafood dishes in those cities near the coast.

Holidays

New Year's Day, 1 January Labour Day, 1 May National Day, 21 July Assumption Day, 15 August All Saints Day, 1 November Armistice Day, 11 November Christmas Day, 25 December

Accommodation / Hotel

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Camping

You will find a wide range of excellent campsites in Belgium.

Hotels

In Belgium you can find everything from luxury hotels to small inns, all categorised with one to five stars.

Hostels

Belgium has two hostel unions: Vlaamse Jeugherbergcentrale (VJHC) and Centrale Wallonne (CWAJ).

Other Accommodation

Many farms offer the option to stay and participation in their day to day life for a reasonable price - especially near the Ardennes.

Local transport

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Planes

Belgium has no domestic flights.

Bus

Besides city buses, Belgium has several cross-national buses with shuttle services between the larger cities. But other than SABENA's non-stop network between Brussels and Antwerp Belgium has no specific express buses.

Trains

Belgium has a dense rail network with many hourly departures. In the busiest part of the network trains leave more often. Children from 6 to 11 years are discounted at 50%.

Taxi

Taxi is a very common means of transportation in Belgium, and it is always very easy to get a taxi. Tips are included in the bill.

Car rental

Several car rental companies are represented in Belgium, offering cars for rent with or without driver.

Special conditions

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During the spring Belgium arranges the two classic cycling races of the Tour de Flanders and the Liège-Bastogne-Liège, as well as celebrating Shrovetide with a range of spectacular carnivals.

Find your travel arrangement to Belgium here

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