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Belgium Itinerary: How to See the Best of Belgium in 3 or 4 Days

Belgium Itinerary: How to See the Best of Belgium in 3 or 4 Days

Visiting Belgium for the first time and are not sure where to start with planning your trip? Then this post is for you. In this article, we feature a suggested Belgium itinerary that brings you to the most beautiful places in Belgium in three or four days. Read on!

Our tiny country is squeezed in between the top-tourist destinations like London, Amsterdam, or Paris and is therefore often overlooked. But Belgium has a lot to offer to any type of traveler!

Since I know that many people don’t have a lot of time to explore Belgium deeper, here are my very best recommendations for a short first trip to Belgium.

Even if you are visiting Belgium for just one or two days, you will be able to plan your trip using our tips below. But if you have the time, I recommend spending at least 3 or 4 days in Belgium.

My recommended three day Belgium itinerary includes the capital city Brussels and the most beautiful towns of Flanders – Antwerp, Ghent, and Bruges.

If you have four days in Belgium I also strongly recommend visiting one of the historic war sites in Belgium – either Ypres and WWI battlefields or Bastogne and its WWII museums and monuments.

TIP: The distances in Belgium are not big and there are good railway connections between all major towns. Therefore you can base yourself in any city and make day trips from there – that way you don’t have to pack/unpack all the time. But you can, of course, stay in a different town every day as well. Find out!

Good to know: Since most of the main highlights of Belgium are towns, you can visit Belgium in any season. 

Best Belgium itinerary for 3 or 4 days - tips by a local #Belgium

Recommended Belgium itinerary:

Day 1: Brussels

Brussels is the capital of Belgium and a city every tourist has to see at least once. In my opinion, one day is plenty of time in order to see the main highlights of Brussels. If you want to visit museums (Musical Instruments Museum is my favorite and there are so many more) and less centrally located areas you will, of course, need more time.

Here is my suggested itinerary for Brussels in one day:

In the morning, take a walk in the town center and don’t miss the following places:

  • Grand Place and the Town Hall. The central square of Brussels is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most beautiful town squares in the world. Surrounded by the decorative 17the century guild houses, the impressive City Hall and the Maison du Roi (now the Brussels City Museum) it’s a place not to be missed. My favorite time to go is in the evening when the crowds are smaller and the buildings are nicely lit.
  • Manneken Pis. According to one of the legends, the little peeing boy saved the city from the fire and is the ultimate symbol of Brussels. The iconic bronze statue will surprise you with its small size. Depending on the day you visit, you might see him naked or dressed. Manneken Pis has over 1000 costumes for all kinds of different occasions. Here you can read the real story of Manneken-Pis and how he became so popular.
  • Les Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert. The 19th-century pedestrian gallery with numerous boutiques and restaurants is not to be missed.
  • St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral. Finished at the beginning of the 16th century, the impressive Gothic cathedral took over 300 years to build. It is here that all significant Belgian monarchy’s celebrations take place: coronations, weddings, and state funerals.
  • Royal Palace of Brussels. The official palace of the Belgian King in the center of Brussels is used for all kinds of official events and can be visited from the end of July till the beginning of September. The Royal family itself lives in the Castle of Laeken, on the outskirts of Brussels.
  • Mont des Arts. This ‘hill of the arts’ is a nice garden overlooking the Sablon area and the City Hall of Brussels.
  • Brussels Stock Exchange. Impressive architecture.
Royal Palace in Brussels Belgium
Royal Palace in Brussels

In the afternoon take a metro to the Heysel area and visit Atomium. If you have an hour to spare, you may want to visit Mini Europe as well. It’s one of the nicest family-friendly attractions in Brussels. Combination tickets are available for both attractions.

In the evening head back to the city center of Brussels, see the nicely lit Grand Place, and check out the famous dining area – Rue des Bouchers. I don’t advise dining here as the restaurants are real tourist traps, but this street has such a unique atmosphere that no visit to Brussels would be complete without passing by here.

A bit hidden out of sight, the ‘sister’ of the Manneken Pis – Jeanneke Pis can be found in a small alley next to the Rue des Bouchers.

LEARN MORE: Best Things to Do in Brussels

Atomium is not to be missed in Brussels

Some practical tips for visiting Brussels:

  • Brussels is a good base for exploring Belgium. There are direct train connections to all the major towns.
  • Where to eat. Like in many cities, there are many good restaurants in Brussels, but there are real tourist traps as well. One of our favorites for traditional Belgian food in the center of Brussels is ‘t Kelderke located right on Grand Place. Despite its central location, this restaurant managed to maintain high-quality standards for many years. Recently we discovered a really nice Italian restaurant – Spago that I would also recommend.
  • Safety. Brussels is a rather safe city, but – as in any other big city – there are some areas to avoid and simple safety tips to follow. For more information, please check our guide – is Brussels safe?

READ ALSO: Brussels Christmas Market & Brussels Flower Carpet

Brussels Grand Place lit during Christmas period
Grand Place during the winter holiday season

Day 2: Antwerp

Antwerp is my personal favorite Belgian town. It’s not as big as Brussels, not as touristic as Bruges or Ghent, and therefore has a more authentic feeling. I strongly suggest that you spend the whole day in Antwerp.

Since we live nearby, I have quite a few more detailed blog posts highlighting the best things to do in Antwerp with kidsexploring Antwerp by bike, etc.

Below are my suggestions for the main places you have to see in Antwerp. Below, you can find a link to our more detailed guide to the best things to do in Antwerp, including a suggested city walk with the map.

  • Central Station
  • Antwerp Zoo
  • Rubens House
  • Groenplaats
  • Cathedral of Our Lady
  • Grote Markt
  • Steen Castle
  • Vleeshuis
  • MAS rooftop terrace
  • The New Port House
  • Starline Museum

LEARN MORE: Best Things to Do in Antwerp & Antwerp Hidden Gems

Some practical tips for visiting Antwerp:

  • Antwerp is very well located and has excellent connections to Brussels Airport and Brussels city center (35-40 min), but also to Ghent (50 min) and Bruges (1h30).
  • In my view, Antwerp is as good a place to base yourself for exploring Belgium as Brussels. Depending on when you visit, it’s likely that it will be somewhat cheaper to stay in Antwerp than in Brussels. Here you can find accommodation in Antwerp.
Grote Markt in Antwerp Belgium is not to be missed
Grote Markt town square in Antwerp

Day 3: Ghent and Bruges

While some people choose to spend the whole day in each Ghent and Bruges, you can see the very best these cities have to offer in just half a day as well. So if you are short on time, you can visit Ghent and Bruges on the same day. The train between the two towns only takes 35 minutes.

Alternatively, you can take an organized day trip from Brussels – they will take you to the most beautiful spots of these two must-see Flemish towns.

I suggest that you go to Ghent first (you’ll see why later). The Dampoort Railway Station is the one closest to the old historic town center.

Here are the main places not to be missed in Ghent:

  • Gravensteen. The 10th-century castle is worth a short visit.
  • Leie river. Take a walk along Graslei and Korenlei and past St Michael’s Bridge. A great way to explore Ghent is by taking a short boat trip.
  • Saint-Bavo’s Cathedral. Inside you can opt to visit the famous Ghent Altarpiece, aka the Mystic Lamb painting.
  • Belfry and Cloth Hall and St. Nicholas Church are also worth a short visit.
Ghent is one of the most beautiful towns of Belgium

Have lunch in Ghent, then head back to the Dampoort Railway Station and take a train to Bruges.

I always advise visiting Bruges toward the evening because it’s crowded with tourists during the day. Bruges is a fairytale-like place, but it’s difficult to truly appreciate it if you have to squeeze your way through the crowds.

However, only a very small percentage of tourists actually stay in Bruges, so in the evening the city is completely deserted, and you can have the whole place to yourselves. 

If you come by train, plan to stay late in the evening and explore the beautiful canals after all the day tourists have left. It’s my very best tip for anyone visiting Bruges for the first time.

Here are the main things to do in Bruges for first-time visitors:

  • Lake of Love – Minnewater.
  • The old beguinage Ten Wijngaerde.
  • Belfort of Bruges – you can climb this medieval tower for beautiful views.
  • Market Place – the central town square of Bruges.
  • Burg Square is really beautiful too. Take a narrow passageway left from the City Hall towards the Vismarkt (Fish Market), then go right (South) and follow the canals in the direction of the Church of Our Lady.
  • A real must-do in Bruges is a boat ride on the canals.
  • If you have some time left, you could visit one of the breweries – De Halve Maan Brewery or Bourgogne des Flanders Brewery.

Have dinner in one of the many restaurants in Bruges and head back to the canals. As I said, it’s a very different atmosphere in the evening.

LEARN MORE: Best Things to Do in Bruges

TIP: if you are planning to visit the WWI battlefields (see below), then it’s best to stay in Bruges to avoid driving up and down too much.

Bruges - the fairytale-like town in Belgium
Bruges is magical at night

Day 4: World War I Battlefields near Ypres

To some people, WWI battlefields are the main reason to visit Belgium. But the majority of tourists never even consider it…

I have to admit that it took us many years to get there (and we live in Belgium), but it was so worth it! There is so much history in those war cemeteries, fields, and trenches! 

We now visited Ypres and the WWI battlefields several times, with our kids, and it’s an experience I would recommend to everyone. Below, you can find a link to a detailed guide for your visit.

Here are the main places not to miss when visiting the WWI battlefields:

  • Ypres: In Flanders Fields Museum and the Menin Gate
  • Tyne Cot Cemetery and Memorial
  • Langemark German War Cemetery
  • Yser Tower – IJzertoren Diksmuide
  • Trench of Death, Diksmuide
  • Essex Farm Cemetery
  • Vladslo German War Cemetery

LEARN MORE: Ypres and the WWI Battlefields

Some practical tips for visiting the WWI battlefields:

TIP: If you are interested in the history of the Second World War, you may want to visit Bastogne town in the French-speaking part of Belgium.

LEARN MORE: Bastogne War Museum & Mardasson Memorial

Day trip to Ypres and the World War I Battlefields in Belgium - Tyne Cot
Tyne Cot war cemetery

If you only have three or four days in Belgium, then this itinerary is all you need. If you have more time and are looking for ideas on what else to see, check our other blog posts about Belgium for more inspiration.

You could also consider visiting the French-speaking part of Belgium with beautiful places like Namur, Dinant, Durbuy, etc. Luxembourg is also just a 2,5 hours drive from Brussels and there are lots of beautiful places to visit near Luxembourg.

Winter TIP: If you are visiting Belgium in winter, don’t miss our Christmas markets. Here you can find our selection of the best Christmas markets in Belgium.

Summer TIP for families: If you are visiting Belgium with kids, take them to a theme park. Here you can read about our recommended Belgian theme parks.


Belgium FAQ

Here are some frequently asked questions that our readers ask about visiting Belgium:

How many days do you need in Belgium?

As a minimum, we recommend 3-4 days in Belgium. With 3 days, you can briefly visit the most beautiful cities such as Brussels, Antwerp, Ghent, and Bruges. If you have 4 days, you can also visit some of the famous Belgian war sites.

What is the best time to go to Belgium?

Belgium is a year round destination and because most landmarks are located in the cities, you can visit at any time of the year. For the best weather, come between April and September. In summer, Belgium hosts lots of festivals and events. From mid-November until January, you can visit Belgian Christmas markets.

Where should I stay in Belgium?

Belgium is a small country and it’s possible to stay in one place and see everything. For that, Brussels is probably the best place to stay. Alternatively, Antwerp or Ghent are also well located for exploring the main cities in Belgium. If you decide to stay in Brussels, we recommend staying close to the Central Station. That way, you can easily make day trips to other destinations in Belgium.

Is Belgium worth visiting?

Yes, Belgium is absolutely worth visiting! There is so much history, stunning architecture, and arts. Also Belgian food is worth a trip in itself.

What are the best places to see in Belgium?

The main highlights of Belgium are its cities. Don’t miss Brussels, the canals of Bruges, Antwerp city center, and charming Ghent. If you are interested in war history, Belgium has some interesting war sites, especially around Ypres and Bastogne.

Does it rain a lot in Belgium?

Belgium has a reputation for being a rainy country. However, in recent years, we often have very long periods with no rain at all. While there is always a chance that it will rain in Belgium, you can also have the most beautiful sunny weather during the entire trip. In principle, the driest months in Belgium are between April and September.

READ ALSO: Fun & Interesting Facts About Belgium


More tips for visiting Benelux:

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Belgium itinerary
Photo by Rudy Balasko/
Plan a perfect trip to Belgium with this itinerary for 3 or 4 days
Photo by Catarina Belova/
Suggested itinerary for Belgium in three or four days

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Joan Williams

Saturday 27th of April 2024

I saved your article for years (due to Covid). We were finally in Belgium this past week. I found your suggestions extremely helpful. We had dinner at Spago and it was very good. We toured Brussels and went to Bruges and Ghent in one day. We skipped Antwerp and went to Leuven instead. A local we met on the train suggested it. The people are very friendly and helpful. Thanks for a very helpful article.


Monday 29th of April 2024

Glad to hear that you enjoyed the trip, Joan, but it's a pity you missed Antwerp. Next time ;).

Priyank Malhotra

Friday 25th of August 2023

Hi, we are planning to come in end of February next year to Belgium for 3 days, can you advise if it rains a lot in February so that we can pack our clothes accordingly, we will be traveling with our 2 years old kid. And is it advisable to travel in February. Loved your blog but didn't see lot of festival and activities in February. Also in the cities, from one place to another do you advise to walk or use public transport. Planning to stay in Brussels and doing day trips to Antwerp, Bruges, Ghent, hoping that won't be too tiring with the kid. Thank you!


Friday 25th of August 2023

Hi Priyank, if there is one thing you can't predict is the weather in Belgium (in any season). February is usually quite cold and rainy (can snow too), but we have had some amazing warm weather in February too. You really never know, but you can check the weather forecast a few days before you travel and you'll get a better idea of what to expect. As for whether it's advisable to travel to Belgium in February, it all depends on your expectations and what you want to see and do. February is the Carnival season, so there will be a lot going on. Google "Aalst Carnival" for example, and there are many other places where you can see carnival celebrations. Do some research and see if anything interests you. Most city centers are walkable, but there are lots of cobblestones. We also have good public transport if you need to cover bigger distances (trams, metros, buses, etc.). For intercity travel, take a train. With a child that age, be sure to pack a stroller (ideally with big wheels and a rain cover)! Also, you may want to plan some time visiting museums. Keep in mind that the days are rather short at that time of the year, so it gets dark early (around 6pm depending on when exactly you travel). You may also want to read this article to get a better idea of what it's like to visit Belgium in winter.

Diane Falconer

Friday 10th of March 2023

Can you suggest how we can create an itinerary that takes us from the Dinant/Durbuy area to Bruges/Ghent and on to the Netherlands (Delft, Hoorn, Giethoorn, Amsterdam)? How long should we plan on for Belgian portion? And the Dutch? We are driving. No children.


Friday 10th of March 2023

Hi Diane, unfortunately, I really have no time to help our readers with individual itinerary suggestions. There are just too many options and everything depends on your interests and the time that you have. You can spend just a few hours in most of these places, or a few days in each. You can find quite a few detailed guides for Belgian and Dutch destinations on our blog. So try to figure out what you really want to see, how much time you want to spend, and how you will travel/where you'll stay and park your car in the cities (or just outside), and then it will be easier to make an itinerary. Good luck!

Tess Lawler

Thursday 8th of December 2022

We've scheduled an upcoming Viking cruise which will end in Antwerp on 04/04/23 and I was considering your comments & like the itinerary on the 4-day Belgium tour. Maybe stay in Antwerp 2 nights; Bruges 1 night & 1 night Brussels and travel by train to see Ghent & battlefields?? Need to get to Brussels airport for exit. Any thoughts/suggestions for hotels, etc??


Monday 12th of December 2022

Hi Tess, sure, all this is doable if you want to change hotels and move around. You could also easily stay at any of these towns and visit others by train without having to take all your luggage with you. Trains go from early morning until late at night. If you want to visit the WWI battlefields, it's a bit difficult without a car, so it's best to take a tour. The best ones run from Bruges and start in the morning at the station, so it could indeed be somewhat easier if you are in Bruges already that day. Also, on your last day, depending on the flight time, you may want to stay closer to the airport or closer to the train station with a direct train to the airport. It's no big deal if your flight is later in the day, but if it's in the morning, be sure to check the train schedules so that you can easily get there on time. As for hotels, we have some suggestions under each city guide (Brussels, Antwerp, Bruges). For Brussels, we also have this guide to the best areas to stay. Hope this helps. Have a great trip!

Lori Maccarone

Monday 5th of December 2022

Hello! We are flying into AMS (Netherlands). Can we easily book and catch a train ticket to Brussels from the airport? If so, where? I plan to get a hotel in central station as you recommend. Should we buy a train pass so we can travel throughout Belgium over the three days on your suggested itinerary or should we just buy single ticket train rides as needed?


Monday 5th of December 2022

Hi Lori, if you don't mind taking the regular (=slower) train, then yes, you can just get the tickets on the spot and take the next train. If you prefer the faster one, book your tickets on the Thalys website in advance. I find that it's often not worth the price difference to go for the faster one (and you keep flexibility because the regular trains don't have assigned seating so it doesn't matter which one you take). But if you are in a hurry, Thalys can be worth it. In Belgium, you can just get your train tickets on the day itself or buy them on the website or via the app of Belgian Railways. Normally yes, we just get single or return tickets, but they also have all kinds of passes, seasonal tickets, passes for young people, etc. See the 'Tickets & Railcards' section on their website for more info (for some reason, I can't link directly to it). Here is a link to the ticket options for young people under 26. Hope this helps. Enjoy your trip!

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