Nestled along the Flemish coastline near Antwerp lies the centuries-old village of Doel. Though the Flemish village is far from a bustling place, it’s quickly gained a reputation as an unusual place for visitors seeking a dystopian attraction. As residents left the village to make way for new port facilities, a surprising new life has slowly crept back in through the influx of street artists. Starting with murals to display their displeasure with the impending death of their town, over time the village has hosted more artists coming in to use the buildings as massive canvases showcasing beautifully unusual artwork.
Got an extra bathtub laying around? Put it to good use at this highly unusual festival held along the river Meuse in Dinant. Held annually in August, the International Bathtub Regatta, attracts thousands of visitors to the area seeking to participate in the race or simply enjoy the spectacle of watching off-the-wall designed bathroom fixtures float along the river.
Being in the heart of Europe, Belgium was certainly no stranger to the Cold War paranoia of the 20th century. Fearing an attack by the Soviet Union in the 1950s, the Belgian government decided to build a clandestine bunker deep in the countryside to serve as the nerve center to counter any threats to the country. Cloaked in secrecy and mystery for decades, the sight was fortunately never used for its intended purpose. Now, it offers visitors the chance to travel back in time to experience the paranoia first hand.
While not a mountain in the traditional sense, Bueren Mountain will seem real when standing before the 374 steps and 30-degree slope looking up at the task before you. Constructed in Liège in the late 1800s as a means of discouraging sailors from visiting the city’s red light district, Bueren Mountain should be on your list of unusual attractions to visit due to the breathtaking views to be enjoyed at the top.
It’s not often that an abandoned mine makes it on a ‘must-see’ list, but C-Mine is one of those places. This former industrial haven has transformed into a more alternative place for visitors to experience Belgian culture. Combing old world industrial architecture with modern conveniences, the facilities offer guests a variety of musical performances, film screenings, theater, lectures on various topics, food festivals, and interior design shows and fairs. C-Mine has something for everyone seeking to enjoy cultural activities in a more unusual setting.
With a history dating back 8,000 years, the Caves of Remouchamps are an appealing attraction for those looking for something a little more unusual. Serving as a shelter for ancient hunters thousands of years ago, the hunters enjoyed the same wonderful variety of geological formations and colors visitors of today will enjoy. Starting with a short walk through these formations, visitors descend down to the Rubicon River before casting off on a silent, 90-minute ride through more phenomenal rock formations. With luck, visitors will be treated to a bit of sighting or the chance to see the luminous shrimp, which ply the waters along with the visitors.
Lucifernum serves as a distinctively spooky place to enjoy an evening beverage. Founded by a self-proclaimed vampire in a former Masonic temple, guests are treated a wonderful candle-lit ambiance and unusual artwork lining the walls. After ordering your beverage of choice, sit back and prepare to enjoy a wider variety of entertainment ranging from poetry readings, live music, and whatever off-the-wall show the operators can dream up. Following the show, be sure to visit the on-site Freemason’s cemetery for a creepy end to a spectacular evening.
Lucifernum, Twijnstraat 6, Brugge, Belgium, +32 476 35 06 51
Situated near the town of Charleroi, the abandoned cooling tower at Power Plant IM is a perfect place for urban explorers. Starting life in the 1920s, the plant soon become of the largest coal burning power plants in the country until environmental studies determined the plant was responsible for 10% of the total Belgian CO2 emissions. This shocking finding led to the plant’s owners closing operations in 2006. While slated for destruction sometime in the future, mother nature has started to reclaim the facilities with plant life creeping throughout the tower and surrounding buildings, making for an eerily enjoyable exploration experience.
True culture experts know that art is all around us. Even in spaces where more traditional art forms exist, examples of amazing art are cropping up. While some people can view graffiti as an unsightly eyesore, this form of art can sometimes rival masterpieces of the more traditional variety. Starting life as a simple alleyway in Ghent, Werregarenstraat has become an ever-changing open museum for street artists to display their works. The dynamic nature of the exhibits means visitors can expect amazing new things to see with almost every trip.
Why not head underground to experience something most people only read about at this UNESCO World Heritage site? After donning safety gear, visitors descend 60 meters down into a mining cage. With each passing meter, the miner inside each starts to emerge until you’re almost ready to start digging.