BELGIUM SOLO TRAVEL
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO! BELGIUM TRAVEL GUIDE 2023
PLAN AND BOOK YOUR BELGIUM SOLO TRAVEL
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BIENVENUE EN BELGIQUE
WELCOM IN BELGIË
WILLKIMMEN IN BELGIEN!
Hi! I’m Gwen, and my passion is using my 28 years of solo global travel and sustainability knowledge and experience to help the solo over 50’s be and stay adventurous through solo travel with their eco-friendly, responsible travel foot forward. Here is my guide to traveling in Belgium from my solo travel in Belgium so you can book and realize your Belgium solo travel. What are you waiting for?
BELGIUM: DID YOU KNOW?
Belgium – the capital of Europe – is home to EU headquarters and EU Parliament in Brussels. It is also home to 15 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including La Grand Place of Brussels, and chocolate, waffles, fries, jenever, the Battlefields of Flanders, the Bruges canals, Ghent and its Gravensteen Castle and St. Bavo’s Cathedral (which houses the Flemish masterpiece The Ghent Altarpiece), Michelangelo’s Madonna and Child, art nouveau architecture, Waterloo, Antwerp, the Meuse Valley, and, of course, the over 800 varieties of beer! Did I mention chocolate?
Languages in Belgium
Belgium has three official languages. Dutch is the official language of the Flemish Region, French is the official language of the Brussels-Capital Region, and German, which is spoken by less than 1% of the population.
Even through Belgians have more than one official language they share a common culture in addition to their communal cultures. Located in western Europe, Belgium is bordered by France, Germany, Luxembourg and Netherlands, adding to its diversity.
The majority of Belgians are Roman Catholic, and all reside under a federal parliamentary democracy, like the U.K., under a constitutional monarch. Belgium is an egalitarian society so it is not uncommon for a woman to not change her name when married.
Belgians are well-educated and all official languages are taught in schools. Belgians place high importance on the family. Belgians enjoy socializing at restaurants, but the home is mostly reserved for family or close friends.
Popular Activities in Belgium
Belgians enjoy a number of sports, the most popular being football, cycling, and tennis.
Surrounded by many countries the Belgians are fortunate to enjoy a variety of international cuisines of neighboring countries, but it is best known for its chocolate, waffles, fries and beer, the national beverage. One of Belgium’s national dishes is mussels and fries (moules and frites) – very yummy.
There is a rich history of art and architecture and depending on where and when you are in Belgium you can experience a festival that may focus on the season or their history. For a country that can fit into the southwest region of Virginia, it has a lot cultural diversity to offer.
Best Belgian Beer Tours & Activities
BELGIUM TRAVEL PLANNING
Belgium uses the Euro (€). Exchange rates are usually favorable for Europeans but could fluctuate in the other direction. Check throughout your travel planning phase on any exchange rate changes.
Tipping in Belgium
Traveling in a new country is easier when you know the country’s tipping etiquette in advance as each country has its own rules. That said, country rules and norms can shift, so here is an international tipping resource for over 70 countries to use as a general guideline that I have found is constantly updated.
What’s not on there is how to tip a concierge, beauty salons or spas, travel or tour guides, etc. For these extras, it is acceptable to tip 10% at minimum. Remember, tipping is for good service only.
Additionally, you should always tip in the local currency (if tipping in cash), and do not be offended if your tip is refused as it may not be the norm. I feel it’s always better to offer a tip for good service than not, unless I know it will be considered offensive, like in Japan.
It’s a complete bummer to spend time and money on the holiday of a lifetime only to show up at a key attraction, or try to access travel or banking resources, only to find them closed due to a national or local holiday.
Therefore, a key activity to do in your early Belgium vacation planning stage is to know the local and national holidays in Belgium.
BELGIUM TRAVEL REQUIREMENTS
Travel Documents for Belgium
From the U.S., you will need a valid passport with an expiration date greater than 6 months from your return date to the U.S. It is advised to always check the U.S. State Department in advance of traveling to Belgium for pertinent, up-to-date Belgium travel advisories and information. If you are not from the U.S., please check your government’s website.
At this time (January 2023), a travel visa is not required for U.S. citizens who travel in Belgium 90 days or less and within a 180-day period. However, in November 2023 it is expected that the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETAIS) will go into effect that is designed to strengthen European borders and streamline entry. At that time, a printed ETAIS visa waiver (the “ETAIS”) will be required to enter the Schengen Area for tourist, business or transit purposes of 90 days or less. You will be able to apply online for the ETAIS visa waiver, which will also require a fee (amount unknown). Requirements for an ETAIS are available now. Watch for ETAIS updates if you are planning to solo travel to Belgium in late 2023.
Choose from Top Travel Document Holders
Vaccinations for Belgium
There are normally no vaccinations required for Belgium travel. The U.S. State Department provides up-to-date required vaccination information for traveling to Belgium. It is advised to always check for any Belgium travel restrictions and required vaccinations during your planning stage and again before you leave.
If you are not from the U.S., please check your government’s website.
BELGIUM TRAVEL ESSENTIALS
Electronics for Belgium
Want to use your 110V electronics while traveling around Belgium? Belgium’s voltage is 230V, and the standard frequency is 50 Hz. If you do not already have electronics (hair dryer, clippers, curling iron, etc.) made for Belgium’s voltage, you will need to bring a voltage converter to use your electronics. Below are top-rated power converters for you to compare and buy.
Choose the Converter That’s Right For You
Most smartphones, tablets, laptops, cameras and similar electronics don’t require a converter (double-check your device(s) before you leave home), but you will still need a plug adapter.
Traveling to Belgium, Type C and E adapters will fit Belgium’s electronic outlets. I recommend bringing at least one of each adapter type accepted. I do not recommend using those single adapters for 100+ countries. They have been known to break and/or cause a power short.
Be prepared before you visit Belgium. Bring a solid, reliable, and grounded power adapter to safely charge your electronics in Belgium. Below are top-rated U.S. (Type A and B) to Belgium power adapter options, from the only brand I travel with, for you to compare and buy.
Choose the Belgium Adapter That’s Right for You
Type C Adapters
Type E/F Adapters
If you are going to another country in addition to your trip to Belgium, check this international travel adapter guide to make sure you’re prepared.
Cyber Security While Traveling
Having a virtual private network (VPN) service and portable WiFi is always a good idea to not just stay connected, but stay connected securely in your hotel and all public spaces, like airports, train stations, and restaurants.
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CITY GUIDES & ITINERARIES
Use my solo travel guides, itineraries, travel tips, day trip ideas, and recommended things to do in these top Belgium destinations, all from my travel in Belgium, to plan your best Belgium solo trip.
The more I travel in Belgium, the more that gets added to this Belgium Travel Guide. Keep checking back.
FREE Brussels Itinerary Download
Download the Brussels 3 to 5 Day Itinerary PDF WITH clickable links for your devices.
Best Things to Do in Brussels
Best Things to Do in Bruges
Best Things to Do in Ghent
HOW TO BOOK BELGIUM TRAVEL
It’s important to book the top three travel necessities early: flights, accommodations and ground transportation.
Cheap Flights to Belgium
With the ever-growing demand for airline tickets to Belgium, flights book quicker these days. Find cheap flights to Belgium now.
Don’t Wait to Book Your Flight to Belgium
Places to Stay in Belgium
Second in importance to buying airline tickets to Belgium is finding the best place to stay in Belgium for your solo travel to Belgium. Develop your Belgium travel itinerary now and find the best accommodations in Belgium to knock one more item off your Belgium travel planning list.
Find the Best Solo Travel Accommodations in Belgium
Getting Around Belgium
There are also taxis, of course, and you can easily find a rental car if that better suits your Belgium solo travel itinerary.
Find the Best Deals on Belgium Rental Cars
Things to Do in Belgium
Here are some more of the top things to do in Belgium to book for your solo Belgium trip.
Popular Belgian Food Tours & Activities
BELGIUM ECO-TRAVEL IDEAS
There are ways to reduce your eco and carbon footprint through air travel, accommodations, tours, and activities in Belgium. To help avoid greenwashing businesses, here are some eco-friendly or sustainable travel (also called responsible travel) tips and resources, you can use to book your travel.
Air Travel Tips
Skyscanner provides a ‘Greener flights’ filter highlighting flights that emit less CO2.
Purchase carbon offsets through your airline or through a third party, like MyClimate.org, Carbonfund.org, or terrapass. Carbon offsetting allows you to buy a certificate to reduce carbon emissions, a major contributor to climate change, which in turn contribute community projects across countries to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
The best eco-friendly forms of ground transportation in Belgium are public transportation, walking, or renting a bicycle or electric scooter. They are also apt to cost less than other ground transportation.
Explore Belgium Bike and Electric Scooter Rentals
When booking a rideshare in Belgium, select the Bolt Green or Uber Green options instead of a traditional rideshare, or use Carpoolworld, to support the use of electric cars and carpooling for cleaner transportation in Belgium.
Look for accommodations with the following self and third-party assessed certifications when you book:
Green Globe – Green Globe certifies hotels, resorts, conference centers, transportation, attractions, tour operators, and other tourism businesses globally on sustainable operations and management. Look for Belgium and other European Green Global members.
Green Key Global is an internationally recognized environmental certification for the lodging and meetings industries, including hotels and hostels, campsites and holiday parks, restaurants and attractions in 65 countries. Search for Green Key awarded sites.
Living Building Challenge – if you want to stay in a true, sustainable building, find one certified by the Living Building Challenge. LBC’s certification directory shows all project types globally. Hopefully they will put in a filter soon to allow searching by hotels or hospitality type.
LEED Certified – the USGBC’s LEED Certified label on buildings, like many of the Marriott’s hotels, are those that have verifiably employed multiple and varying green building strategies to improve human and environmental health. Search the LEED directory for Belgium certifications.
GSTC Certified – the Global Sustainable Tourism Council provides global standards for sustainable travel and tourism, as well as international accreditation for sustainable tourism Certification Bodies. Booking sites that offer GSTC certified sustainable are bookdifferent, EcoHotels, and Transat.
Another way to find an establishments implementing eco-friendly or sustainable practices, certified or not, is through Booking.com in which you’ll need to find and review each establishment’s ‘Sustainable Initiatives’ within the booking process. Starting 2022, however, you’ll be able to filter searches for accommodations with the Travel Sustainable badge.
Find Your Travel Sustainable Stay in Belgium
Eco-Friendly Things To Do
Belgium has ecotourism ideas available to explore for your next vacation.
Top Eco-Friendly Things to Do in Belgium
There are more ways to do your part for the planet in your responsible travel, like bringing sustainable and eco-friendly products to protect Belgium’s environment.
BELGIUM TRAVEL SAFETY
Before You Go To Belgium
Always consult your government’s Belgium travel advisory for your Belgium travel destination in the beginning travel planning phase and up to your departure date.
Buy Belgium travel insurance and international medical insurance for your solo travel to Belgium to protect yourself and cover for emergencies.
Safety in Belgium
For the most part, Belgium is considered a safe place to visit. Street crime is unlikely. Beyond any possible theft or pickpocketing, which could happen in most tourist places to be honest, there is nothing I can recall from Belgium making it more of a “safety concern” than traveling in my own home country, so my standard tips for female and solo travelers are:
- always carry photo ID with you; if you don’t want your passport on you at all times, at least carry a copy of it.
- always be “street wise”.
- always be aware of your surroundings, especially if you feel the need to imbibe or feel the need to “let loose” – you’re on vacation so have fun!
- never leave your food or drink unattended.
- keep your belongs on your person, or at least in your view in close proximity, at all times.
- be open to meeting and talking with new people – that is where a lot of the travel experience lies – but be careful on how you divulge personal information.
- research places in advance, if possible, so you know what to expect (i.e., “have a familiar view” – I like to Google the street view of new addresses I’m going to first).
- if something, someone or someplace makes you feel uncomfortable, go with your gut – leave.
BELGIUM BUDGET TRAVEL TIPS
Best Time to Visit Belgium
Like other countries in Europe, Belgium’s high, tourist season, and most expensive time, is the summer (late June to August). Crowds are not as heavy in the Spring (April to early June) and Fall (September and October), and prices in these months are lower than the summer season.
The least expensive time to go to Belgium would be November to March. For overall best weather and prices, try booking well in advance for Spring or Autumn but keep in mind the Spring weather can still be chilly (high 50’s to 60’s F) so, plan on wearing layers.
Staying in hostels could save you a lot of money on accommodations in Belgium, especially if you stay in a dorm-style room. Save more money by booking well in advance.
Many Belgium hostels also offer private rooms, which I choose from time to time. Private rooms in hostels could possibly be cheaper than hotels in Belgium – it depends on where you stay and how far in advance you reserve.
Don’t overlook exploring hostels in Belgium if you’re on a budget.
Reserve Your Belgium Hostel
Best Time to Book Travel
Ready to book your Belgium solo travel? The sooner you book your reservations, the more you’re likely to save money and get the best flight, accommodation, and rental car choices and deals.
Don’t miss out and find the best Belgium flight deals. The best time to book travel is now. Bundling flight, hotel and/or transportation reservations may even save you more money on your trip to Belgium.
Book Belgium Travel Early to Save Money
When I backpacked Europe in ’95, I was supposed to spend my last couple of days in Brussels before my U.S. flight departed. Unfortunately, I was having so much fun in Ireland with my newly-made Aussie friend, I made it back to the Brussels’ airport late at night before my morning flight.
Too late to do anything, I decided to sleep in the airport. Boring, right? It was quiet and uncrowded. Then, in the middle of the night, I caught some activity out of the corner of my eye. People were crowding in a circle around the ticket counter. Pictures were being taken. Then I could see who they were crowding around: Dikembe Mutombo. He was pretty hard to miss considering he is 7’ 2”. He was with his family, all dressed in beautifully colored clothing, heading home. I had to get in on the pictures. I waited my turn and he smiled at me. If you have ever seen Dikembe smile you’ll know it’s big and beautiful. I told him I had just moved from Boulder and knew he was a Denver Nugget. I asked if I could have my picture taken with him. He graciously put his arm around my shoulder while the airline employee took our picture. I came up to his armpit. No Brussels sight-seeing for me, but I still have that picture (see it on my About page).
I finally made it back to Belgium in 2017. So glad I did. Among the must-sees of Brussels, Ghent and Bruges, high on my list were the Madonna and Child – the only piece of Michelangelo’s to leave Italy during his lifetime – and The Ghent Altarpiece by van Eyck. Both pieces I studied in art school. It’s amazing to be able to see art in Europe first-hand that you studied from a book. Once again, Belgium was my last stopping point before going home, and it’s really a good thing because who wants to worry about how they look back at home after all of the beer and chocolate consumption?