Belgium is a European country bordered by the Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg, and France. If you’re a US citizen and you want to travel to Belgium we are going to give you some Belgium travel tips! Keep reading, and you’ll know everything about the Kingdom of Belgium!
General information about Belgium
The official name of the country is the Kingdom of Belgium and the current monarch is King Philippe of Belgium. Belgium is part of the Schengen area. The area of Belgium is 30528 km2. The country is divided into three regions, the two largest are Dutch-speaking communities and the last one is a French-speaking community. Besides, Belgium is part of the six founding countries of the European Union and hosts the official seats of the European Commission in the capital of the country, Brussels. Finally, Belgium is also one of the founders of the Eurozone.
Facts about Belgium
Here are some of the many funny and interesting facts about the country of waffles, chocolate, and beer.
- Belgium is the country with most castles per square kilometer in the world. There are even more castles and châteaux per kilometer in Belgium than in France. Some of the most famous Belgian castles are: Gravesteen Van Gent, Kasteel Van Gaasbeek, Groot-Bijgaarden and the Château de Modave.
- There are more than 1000 different types of beer in the country and each type of beer has its own special glass! Indeed, Belgium is known for its variety of beers all over the world.
- More than 30 different types of waffles exist in Belgium! The two most popular are: Brussels Waffles and Liege Waffles.
- Belgium has the densest rail network in the world (4,078 kilometers of track). The country is also a member of the International Union of Railways (UIC).
- New-York City was founded by a Belgian man named Pierre Minuit. This man bought the island of Manhattan in 1626.
- The country produces 220,000 tonnes of chocolate per year and of course, Belgian people consider that they make the best chocolate in the world!
- The design for the Euro symbol as well as the name of the currency were proposed by Belgium.
Is it safe to travel to Belgium?
When you’re planning a trip to a new country, it is important to know the country’s emergency numbers. In Belgium, those numbers are:
- 112 pan-European emergency number (always free to call)
- 100 Medical emergency and fire brigade
- 101 Police
- 02 648 40 14 Community Help Service Helpline 24h crisis and information service in English
- 108 crisis helpline
- 105 Red cross
- 1307 Emergency doctor
To travel safely to Belgium it is also necessary to be aware of the COVID-19 restrictions and the conditions of your arrival and departure (self-isolation and PCR test). For example, when travelling to Belgium, every passenger has to complete a locator form. Nowadays, testing and self-isolation during this pandemic period are obligatory, but it can depend on the risk of the zone you’re coming from.
Another thing that may be very useful when you’re abroad is to take travel insurance. You can find many different types of travel insurance: trip cancellation, medical insurance, baggage, or personal items loss and life insurance. Travel insurance can be found on the internet or in travel agencies.
Belgian visa requirements
All US citizens aged 18 and more, need an ETIAS Visa if they want to travel to a European country. An ETIAS Visa is a European Travel Information and Authorization System. Your ETIAS Visa will allow you to stay in a European country for 90 days, and be valid for 3 years once it has been delivered. This type of visa has been made by the European Union to ensure the security of Belgium and the rest of the Union’s members. There are some requirements that you need to fulfill in order to apply for an ETIAS Visa:
- You need to have a valid passport with a recent passport photo
- A valid email address will be needed
- You will have to complete the online application
- Some personal information such as your current employment and your date of birth will be asked
- You will need to pay the fees
Besides, other types of visas exist like the Belgium Tourist Visa, the Visitor Visa, the Business Visa, or the Visa for Study Purposes.
Belgian Visa photo
In order to apply for a Belgian Visa, you absolutely have to submit a photo that respects the government requirements.To help you take this perfect photo, we give you the official criteria for your photo:
- 35×45 mm photo size
- The photo must have been taken last than 6 months ago
- Your face and shoulders must cover 70 to 80% of the photo
- No alterations must be seen on the photo
- The light must be even
- You must be positioned in front of the camera and look directly at the lens
- Your eyes must be clearly visible and wide open
- The background must be clear and uniform with no patterns or other people visible
- No shadows on your photo
Places to visit in Belgium
We’ve made some research to find the best places to visit in Belgium so that your trip will be absolutely amazing. The best places to visit in Belgium are listed below:
- Mons – Mons is a French-speaking city, the capital of the Hainaut Province in Wallonia. In this city, you can observe ruins dating back to the ancient Romans. The Belfry of Mons is a World Heritage UNESCO site.
- Dinant – The charming and picturesque city of Dinant is located in the Province of Namur, in the French-speaking part of Belgium. You can make beautiful marches along the riverside and visit the Maison de Monsieur Sax in Dinant.
- Leuven – It’s the capital of the Province of Flemish Brabant. In Leuven, you will appreciate gastronomic meals and architectural treasures such as the Gothic Town Hall. The famous university of KU Leuven is situated in Leuven.
- Tournai – The city is located near the French border, on the West side of Belgium. The city is famous for its big cathedral and its beautiful belfry.
- Mechelen – The city of Mechelen was a center of artistic production during the Northern Renaissance. There you can admire the St. Rumbold’s Cathedral, considered as a UNESCO World Heritage.
- Antwerp – Antwerp is the capital of the Flemish Region, formerly it was a fortified city. Nowadays, Antwerp is one of the world’s major seaports and the international center of the diamond industry.
- Ghent – In Ghent, you can discover medieval life in the Castle of Gravensteen, the beauty of St Bavo’s Cathedral, and the famous Ghent Belfry!
- Brussels – Of course, if you’re going to Belgium, you need to visit Brussels! In the capital of the country, you’ll see Grand Place’s city hall, Brussel’s Notre Dame du Sablon, and the Palais Royal.
- Bruges – There are many places to visit in Bruges: the Belfry Tower which is a UNESCO heritage site, the Brugge Markt, and the well-known Lovers’ Bridge and Lake of Love, and the Torture Museum which is one of the oldest prisons in Europe.
- Durbuy – Durbuy is one of the smallest villages in the world. This pretty village is the home of castles and Neolithic monuments. You can visit everything on foot and admire the beautiful monument and landscapes in one day!
- The Sonian Forest – Next to Brussels, you will find the Sonian Forest. This beautiful forest with 5,000 hectares of old trees also has 3 big fishing lakes, picnic tables, and playgrounds.
Michal Jonca is a travel, food, and trail running passionate who visited 40+ countries on four continents. He is a Travel Leader for the adventurous travel company Solisci and the Community Manager at Students Guide.
Only this year, he enjoyed his workation in Thailand, Turkey, and the Caucasus mountains.