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Experiencing Belgium

A customer considers purchasing delicious chocolates
A customer considers purchasing delicious chocolates
Photo by Mark Renders/Getty Images

Although a small country, Belgium has much to offer travelers of all ages and from all walks of life. The country is situated among other desirable locations such as London, Amsterdam and Paris. Historic Gothic buildings, museums, tranquil seaside towns, graceful canals and wooded gorges can all be found in this inspiring area of the world.

Referred to by local residents as the Grand Place, the impressive central square of Brussels boasts a large selection of attractions, including museums, sidewalk cafes, stores, romantic cellar restaurants and Belgium chocolate shops. Hidden within the oldest section of the city, visitors must enter the square from one of four narrow alleys that are somewhat obscure to those who are unfamiliar with the area. The discreet positioning of the attraction only adds to its allure.

Not far from the city of Brussels is the scenic town of Brugge. Grote Square, located in the middle of the town, offers a literal feast of architectural wonders such as the Huis Bouchotte, the castle-like manor home where King Charles II of England lived during his years in exile following the English Civil War. An impressive statue of several guardsmen who led the 1302 French Rebellion also stands in the center of the Square. Anyone who has the slightest interest in architecture should not miss a visit to this spectacular attraction.

No Belgium vacation is complete without a trip to the Brugge Chocolate Museum. Guided tours are available throughout the year, during which patrons can observe the production of this tasty confection. Guests are given small samples of fresh chocolate to taste during their tour and a shop is located on the museum's second floor, where chocolates and souvenirs can be purchased.

Housed in a modern convent, the Priory of Oignies–a collection of Gothic religious treasures–is a sight to behold. The collection boasts a colorful history, which the Sisters of Our lady explain during guided tours that are available daily. During the French Revolution, this storehouse of treasure was kept safe by monks who lived at that time and hid the collection in an underground labyrinth.

Those who enjoy outdoor activities such as camping, bicycling or hiking should head to Ardennes, where deep forests, massive cliffs and mysterious caves await the adventurous soul. The city of Namur is an ideal home base from where all the aforementioned activities can be easily accessed.

One can anticipate warm, pleasant weather in Belgium from May through September and even during winter, temperatures are not extreme. Rainfall is essentially even throughout the year and the country's sunniest month is October. Similar to other European destinations, major Belgium attractions draw their highest number of tourists during summer. Therefore, those planning trips during peak season should make reservations far in advance. Those who choose this intriguing destination can anticipate the vacation of a lifetime.