The 23 Most Beautiful Towns and Villages in Belgium

Aerial view of Dinant, Belgium and river Meuse
Aerial view of Dinant, Belgium and river Meuse | © Beketoff Photography / Shutterstock
Helen Armitage

Beyond the big cities of Brussels and Bruges, Belgium is home to a scattering of scenic small towns. We take in the country’s most beautiful urban spaces from Durbuy, the smallest town in the world, to Dinant, the fairytale town on the Meuse River.

1. Dinant

Architectural Landmark, Historical Landmark

Dinant, Belgique
Denis-Quentin Simon / Unsplash

Undoubtedly one of the most picturesque towns in Belgium’s Wallonia region, the winding river valley and beautiful buildings of Dinant look like they are straight out of a fairytale. Nestled in a cliff face on the Meuse River, the picture-perfect town dates back to the Middle Ages. Dinant is also known as the hometown of Belgium’s most famous beer, Leffe, and the birthplace of Adolphe Sax, inventor of the saxophone.

2. Durbuy

Architectural Landmark

Durbuy, Belgium - is claimed to be the smallest town in the world. The architectural view from above is charming.
Michael Maga-ao / Unsplash

In the heart of Wallonia lies chocolate-box Durbuy; a Belgian Ardennes town that claims to be the smallest town in the world, and with its charming architecture and winding cobbled streets, one of the most beautiful too. A walk through Durbuy’s streets reveals quaint shops and plenty of opportunities to sample a Belgian beer or two. Look up on banks of the Ourthe River and you’ll see the stately 17th century Durbuy Castle.

3. Leuven

Architectural Landmark

Rector De Somerplein, Leuven, Belgium
Thomas Bormans / Unsplash
Leuven is home to one of the oldest European universities, founded in 1425. Now a vibrant student city, the university and the town are almost synonymous as faculties are spread throughout, functioning as one large campus. At its center is the library, established in 1636 and having been heavily affected by the two world wars, now stands restored to its neo-Renaissance style. A sculpture by controversial artist Jan Fabre of a beetle stuck at the tip of a steel needle stands directly in front of the library posing a juxtaposition between the style of the library and the contemporary artwork. Going hand in hand with student life, Stella Artois beer originated and is still manufactured in Leuven. Recommended by Kristina Camilleri-Grygolec.

4. Ypres

Architectural Landmark

Ypres, Belgium
Callum Eddings / Unsplash

Serving as the setting for some of the worst battles between the Germans and the Allied forces during World War I, Ypres is a rural town with a huge history that can still be seen in its landscape today. While there, you can visit the Flanders Fields museum and a great number of WWI sites and cemeteries on foot or by bike. Historically, Ypres played a major part in the textile industry during the middle ages and even had a market for its textiles in Russia. Its significant Cloth Hall still stands, now functioning as the Flanders Fields museum. Recommended by Kristina Camilleri-Grygolec.

5. Bastogne

Historical Landmark

Located near the Luxembourg border, Bastogne is the place where thousands of soldiers lost their lives during World War II in the Battle of the Bulge, a battle that is often described as the most intense of World War II. The informative Bastogne War Museum offers the opportunity to learn about this famous battle. You can also explore the Wood of Peace, which is made up of 4,000 trees planted for the 50th anniversary of the battle in dedication to American veterans, along with the Mardasson Memorial and a Sherman Tank. Recommended by Nick Cook.

6. Waterloo

Historical Landmark

Waterloo is the perfect place for history lovers, with people flocking to this village to see where the Battle of Waterloo took place. The major sights of interest here are the Lion’s Mound and the Memorial Museum. Besides visiting the battlefield and the surrounding attractions, you can also explore the magnificent 1,000-year-old abbey. Recommended by Nick Cook.

Damme

Located on the outskirts of Bruges, the beautiful medieval port town of Damme rests on the banks of Damse Vaart, a scenic, tree-lined canal that flows through town and continues into the neighboring Netherlands. Quite the ‘literary town’, Damme is home to a monthly book market and a number of bookshops and notable residents include Jacob van Maerlant, a 13th century Flemish poet whose statue is in the town square.

Damse Vaart canal in the village of Damme near Bruges in Belgium

Spa

Nestled amid the rolling hills and verdant forests of the Belgian Ardennes, Spa is the location of warm spring waters whose healing powers have seen people flock to the area since the 1st century. Often called the ‘Pearl of the Ardennes’, Spa became a haven for intellectuals in the 19th century, with literary greats including Victor Hugo and Alexandre Dumas said to have sought sanctuary here earning the town the nickname ‘Café of Europe’.

Bouillon

Sitting on the banks of the Semois River just a few miles from the border with France, Bouillon is famed for its imposing castle located on a rocky bend in the river overlooking the town. Parts of the castle date back as far as the 8th century. Beyond Château de Bouillon, miles of footpaths allow visitors to explore the lush forests of the Semois Valley.

De Haan

Voted one of Flanders’ most beautiful villages, the town of De Haan is one of the Belgian coastline’s most scenic spots. While parts of De Haan date back to the Middle Ages, much of the town today was formed when King Leopold II commissioned the construction of the resort town in the late 19th century. De Haan’s meandering streets are filled with beautiful Belle Époque buildings and the town was once home to Albert Einstein who lived there for a number of months before emigrating to the USA.

Veurne

Located in rural West Flanders, Veurne is an idyllic market town whose stunning buildings have made it a must-see in Belgium for architecture buffs. Grote Markt, the town square, is the main hub of Veurne and home to many of its signature sights from the town hall. Behind Grote Markt, located in the small and pretty Walburga Park, is the impressive St. Walburga Church, parts of which date back to the late Middle Ages.

Main market square with belfry and church in Veurne, Belgium

Rochefort

A pastoral idyll on the banks of the River Lomme, Rochefort is a medieval town that has retained much of its beauty and charm, despite being the site of frequent conflicts, notably during the French Revolution and Second World War. Rochefort’s Rue de Behogne is the main hive of activity in town and leads up to the ruins of Chateau Comtal, a medieval hilltop castle. Ale fans will delight in Rochefort’s rich brewing history; beer has been brewed in town since as early as 1595 and Rochefort is renowned for its Trappist beer.

Lavaux-Sainte-Anne. Rochefort. Ardennes. Belgium

Malmedy

Not far from the border with Germany lies Malmedy, a lovely town dating back to the early medieval period that has maintained its charm and a number of historic buildings including the beautiful Cathedral of Malmedy, built in the 1770s. Cwarmê; a four-day festival held during Carnival and hosted in town for centuries, is one of Belgium’s best-known festivals and a must-do while in Malmedy.

Torgny

Belgium’s southernmost town Torgny is located in Gaume and thus enjoys a much warmer climate than the country’s northern reaches. The picturesque village is widely considered one of the most beautiful towns in Wallonia, and its location on the banks of the charming Chiers River, as well as its winding streets and pretty houses topped with Roman tiles make it a romantic destination.

Borgloon

In Belgium’s Limburg province, near its eastern border with the Netherlands, is the small city of Borgloon, also known as Looz or just Loon. With its surrounding orchards of apple and pear trees, Borgloon produces the typical thick apple-pear syrup of the region. Among its orchards and surrounding fields Borgloon houses several large-scale installation artworks that have moulded themselves to fit within the rural setting. Recommended by Kristina Camilleri-Grygolec.

Herve

Among Belgium’s eastern countryside, where the low hills are rolling and cows and sheep are grazing, where even a wild deer or two can be spotted, is the town of Herve. The rural landscape is what makes this place remarkably beautiful, and standing at the top of one of the hills you can have an outstanding view of of life far away from the city. Herve is best known for its creamy and pungent yellow soft cheese which is often added to soups to enrich their flavor, or simply placed on a slice of fresh or toasted bread. Recommended by Kristina Camilleri-Grygolec.

La Roche-en-Ardenne

With its charming spires and Medieval castle ruins, it’s no wonder that La Roche-en-Ardenne is one of the most visited towns in the Belgian Ardennes. Settlements from Neolithic times have been found at La Roche, as well as a Celtic archaeological site dating back to between 850-520 BCE. For centuries La Roche has been producing a liqueur made from blackthorn fruit, honey and gin. Just a few kilometers north of the town you can visit the natural caves of Hotton which take you 75 meters underground into the deepest of the Ardennes’ cave systems. Recommended by Kristina Camilleri-Grygolec.

Mons

Mons was the European Capital of Culture for 2015. One of its main exhibitions, Van Gogh in the Borinage featured the early works of the artist at the moment when he decided to change careers from preacher to painter. The works depict scenes from the coal-mining area of the Borinage, near Mons. As its names suggests, Mons is a hilly town and is rather quiet except for its accents of vibrant cultural life. Besides the changing program of exhibitions and events, you can feast your eyes on the recently built convention center designed by the renowned architect Daniel Libeskind. Recommended by Kristina Camilleri-Grygolec.

Ostend

Ostend offers a unique gateway in Belgium to the sight and smell of the North Sea. Its long coast line and sandy beach, despite it being strung with a wall of apartment buildings each fighting to get even the smallest view of the sea, offers a relief from the more common sight of the countryside meadows and forests. Ostend was home to the expressionist painter James Ensor and the city was the object of such works as Baths of Ostend (1890) and Rooftops of Ostend (1898). The former work is still representative of the crowds that rush to the beach even today to enjoy the seaside when the weather permits. Recommended by Kristina Camilleri-Grygolec.

Oud-Rekem

Situated in Flanders, Oud-Rekem is the typical charming Belgian village. It is then no surprise that it was named the Most Beautiful Village in Flanders by Tourism Flanders. The village itself is not very big, but there are many lovely winding streets and picturesque buildings. What makes Oud-Rekem interesting for visitors is the nature that surrounds it. There are bike routes where people of all ages can take in the tranquillity and serenity. Recommended by Nick Cook.

Crupet

Crupet is one of the most picturesque villages in Wallonia, with its central area dominated by the impressive Grotto of Saint Anthony of Padua. Designed by Father Gérard, the local curate, and inaugurated in the summer of 1903, the grotto features 22 religious statues, many of which depict scenes from St Anthony’s life. The village’s 13th-century medieval castle is also a must-see. Recommended by Nick Cook.

Aubechies

Located in Wallonia, Aubechies is one of the most beautiful villages in the area. Aubechies is home to the Archaeosite and Museum of Aubechies, which is dedicated to the historical period ranging from pre-history until Roman times. It’s the biggest archaeological open-air museum in Belgium. Aubechies is also home to a Romanesque church, a village town hall and a school. Recommended by Nick Cook.

Ath

Ath is most known for its Ducasse festivities, which take place every summer. On the fourth weekend in August, gigantic figures representing Samson, Goliath and a couple of other allegoric figures parade through Ath’s streets, and a reenactment of the wedding of Goliath and the fight with David are performed. The town is also home to a beautiful 12th-century tower, a 17th-century town hall and stunning Gothic-style churches. Recommended by Nick Cook.

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