This article appears on Elite Daily.
Four years ago, I spent my New Year’s Eve in Brussels, Belgium, and it was the most fun I’ve had in a long time. I was lucky enough to know someone who was staying in Belgium, or else I would have never experienced the beautiful country that most forget exists.
If you want a true European experience, you must visit Belgium. It’s charming, fun and unlike most countries in Europe. You also get the true European experience because it isn’t full of tourists.
That being said, here are five reasons why your next trip should be to Belgium:
1. Cheap Flights
The flights to Belgium are cheaper than other European destinations. Most people are visiting Rome, Berlin, Amsterdam and Paris, so flights to Brussels are so cheap it’s stupid. Of course, the airfare may be a bit more now, but four years ago, I paid $740 for round-trip tickets.
Regardless, a trip to Belgium costs significantly less than England or Italy because it isn’t a popular destination.
2. Close Proximity
Another great aspect of Belgium is it’s so close to other countries. You can hop on a train and take a three-hour trip to Amsterdam and pay significantly less money than if you flew directly into Holland. Then you can go to a hostel and enjoy a day in Amsterdam, and return to Belgium the next day.
Or, you can hop on the train to France, Germany, wherever. Either way, the train tickets are inexpensive and can take you to neighboring countries. Just make sure you spend time in Belgium because it is well worth it.
3. The Culture
Belgians are too much fun. Sure, you probably won’t be able to understand too much since most Belgians either speak French or Dutch, but they know how to party.
Brussels has the Delirium Alley, which has the bar called Delirium Café, and it’s incredible. There are, if I recall correctly, three different bars in this one alley. You have an absinthe bar called Floris Bar, and other specialty bars to try. You can then go to the least populated bar, grab your drink and stay there, or try all the bars in the alley.
Either way, there are a lot of people, and they are all enjoying life. I don’t speak a word of French or Dutch, but I mingled with Belgians, and they were more than fun to be around. They are beyond kind, and they can handle their liquor. Even if you don’t speak their language, they will try their best to help you navigate.
Also, the women have style. If you are looking for some modern style tips, just look at the women in Belgium because they have it down.
4. The Architecture
Belgium is old and has a lot of architecture to prove that. While out there, I made a trip to Brugge. It’s such an alluring historic town that Ralph Fiennes and Colin Farrell starred in a movie about it called “In Bruges.” Granted, it’s about hit men, but they constantly point out the beauty of the historic bell tower, the canals and the churches.
And you don’t need to travel outside of Brussels to see the architecture. It is everywhere throughout Belgium, even in the heart of Brussels. Also, let’s not forget the country is famous for its Manneken Pis, the peeing boy statue, who urinates in the fountains. Only a country this fabulous would have such a statue making appearances throughout its architecture.
5. True European Experience
People speak English in most European countries, so you’re not getting the full European experience. In my opinion, the full experience entails navigating a foreign country with no help.
It’s rare to find fluent English speakers in Belgium, and that’s what makes it fun. You get to learn how to talk to people through body language and common words. You get to navigate a foreign land by putting your interpersonal compass to the test. You won’t find a bunch of tourists in Belgium; you will mainly find Belgians.
It’s one of the few countries in Europe where you will actually feel like you’re in a foreign country.
Belgium is more than waffles and chocolate, although both are fantastic! It’s a country that has stunning landscapes and architecture, and also the kindest people. I know it’s tempting to travel to Italy or France, but give Belgium a chance. You won’t regret it.