Brussels, Antwerp, Mechelen, and Ghent – they all hold a particular appeal to young graduates who are building their careers but still crave a healthy dose of city fun. Whether an established urban oasis or a former ugly duckling, these diverse Belgian neighborhoods are more than worth looking into when searching for a new place to call home. Did you know – Culture Trip now does bookable, small-group trips? Pick from authentic, immersive Epic Trips, compact and action-packed Mini Trips and sparkling, expansive Sailing Trips.
Filled with recent graduates who’ve developed an affinity for the lively neighborhood they partied in during their student days, Ixelles signals loud and clear that the capital’s young professionals crave diversity. With its African Matongé Quarter, upscale streets boasting Art Nouveau architecture, college campuses, café-dotted squares, cinemas, and ample eateries, this area packs everything needed for an urban life lived to the fullest. You’ll find a lot of people in their 20s and early 30s who are sharing and renting the townhouses and apartments across the ponds from cultural center Flagey.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Authenticity is the word you’ll hear most often to describe Brussels’ Marolles, and despite incoming influences from its well-to-do southern neighbor, Sablon, it has remained a largely blue-collar and poorer area. As for house prices, this translates into affordable places in a center district of Brussels, devoid of most luxuries (though vintage boutiques and trendy brunch spots like Pin Pon have started to take their place on Rue Haute, the Marolles’ principal artery). For a fine sample of the couleur locale its locals – also known as Marolliens – are intent on preserving, visit the Place du Jeu de Balle flea market. The charm of this century-old bric-a-brac heaven at the heart of the neighborhood radiates throughout.
Schaerbeek often gets a bad reputation for the scruffy look of the area behind the North Station, but it’s an especially large commune, and those who take a look at the rest of it will discover a densely populated melting pot alive with cultural and foodie pleasures. Parts like Josaphat Parc and Plasky with their residential avenues contrast with its bustling streets lined with Turkish and Moroccan shops, the places to be for democratically priced household products. Saturdays are well spent at Les Ecuries van de tram – old stables converted into an indoor farmer’s market that hosts the occasional art exhibit. With the European Quarter just below, a lot of young eurocrats find a reasonably priced and stimulating home in Schaerbeek’s southern part.
Mention gentrification to an Antwerpenaar and they’ll point you to Het Eilandje, the dockside neighborhood that recently went from zero to hero overnight. Now cited as the hippest place in Belgium’s entire capital of cool, ancient hangars have become artist headquarters and a gaggle of coffee bars has landed. Residential housing units are popping up fast, and young professionals with deep pockets might be able to afford an apartment with a view of the red sandstone giant that gave the impulse to it all in 2009: the MAS, a museum exploring Antwerp’s history as a hugely important European port.
Den Dam and Park Spoor Noord
Always a bit of an outsider (and at one point the home to a leper colony), Den Dam, situated right next to Het Eilandje, has traditionally been an overlooked neighborhood of dock workers. A game changer popped up in 2009, though, when the old railway yard that bordered it was transformed into the 24-hectare Park Spoor Noord, now an unmissable green lung to the whole city in the summer months. The summer terrace bar, playful fountains, and outdoor barbecues have brought a fresh impulse for young families and couples to settle down at Den Dam, and slowly but surely, a bright, multicultural neighborhood is starting to take shape.
If money isn’t really an issue, laid-back Zurenborg on the southeast side of the historic core should be a strong contender for any young professional or family. One of Antwerp’s loveliest neighborhoods, this Belle Epoque quarter offers a delightful combo of quirky mansions, vibrant squares, and a diverse crowd. Despite the touristic appeal of its jaw-dropping Cogels-Osylei, its charming avenues are peaceful at night as locals gather at the Draakplaats’ cozy restaurants or on the Dageraadplaats’ plentiful terraces.
Zurenborg, Antwerp, Belgium
Not a neighborhood but a smaller city in the Antwerp province, Mechelen is going against the Belgian trend by actually having its population get younger instead of older. The influx of burgeoning professionals and young families has been picking up steam for years, bolstered not just by its central location and great railway connection to both Brussels and Antwerp but also by the low crime rate and welcome policies of the popular mayor, Bart Somers. Holding onto his seat for over 15 years now, Somers has earned international praise for turning what he has called the “Chicago by the Dijle” of the 90s into a growing hub that has learned to thrive on its diversity rather than cringe away from it.
Environmentally conscious people are bound to fall in love with Ghent’s “bicycle first” policy, and the city’s commitment is all the more tangible at Visserij. The tranquil canalside neighborhood is known for having one of Flanders’ very first bicycle streets, where the steel stag always takes precedence and can never be overtaken by a car. Its tree-lined quays and old townhouses make for a pleasant residential nook not too far from the historic center.
Visserij, Ghent, Belgium
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meet our Local Insider
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WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
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I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
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Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.