Researching the cities in Belgium? Following the Belgian Revolution of 1830, Belgium seceded from the Netherlands and became its own country in Western Europe with three national languages: Dutch, French, and German. Now known for their chocolate, beer, and fries, the fifteen cities of Belgium can show you the best of Europe.
Accessible by international airlines and trains, Belgium is the ideal holiday destination to spend with your family. In this post, you will learn about the most beautiful cities in Belgium.
How Many Cities Does Belgium Have?
There are 15 primary cities in Belgium which make up most of the country’s population of 11.59 million.
List of Cities in Belgium by Population
This is a list of cities in Belgium from most to least populous. You can find more details on each below.
Why You Should Explore the Cities in Belgium with Kids
Thinking of a memorable family getaway? Belgium could be your next best destination! Here’s why exploring with your kids is a great idea:
- Chocolates That Kids Will Adore: Who can resist delicious chocolates? Your kids will love tasting and perhaps even watching them being made. Belgium’s chocolate shops are a treat for both the eyes and the taste buds.
- Fairytale Architecture: The buildings in cities like Bruges or Ghent will remind your little ones of fairy tales. Imagine their wide-eyed wonder as they explore these medieval treasures!
- Interactive History Lessons: Instead of reading from books, let your kids walk on historic grounds. Places like Ypres offer a hands-on history experience, turning learning into an adventure.
- Diverse Cultures in One Place: Teach your kids the beauty of diversity. In cities like Brussels, they’ll get to hear multiple languages and see a blend of cultures, broadening their horizons.
- Easy to Navigate: Worried about long travel hours with kids? Fear not! Belgium’s compact size means shorter travel times between cities, and the efficient train system makes the journey comfortable.
A Closer Look at the Cities in Belgium
Belgium is home to rich history, cultures, and traditions for you to experience. Take a closer look at the best places in Belgium to learn about the different cities and what they each have to offer so you can plan your perfect holiday!
Brussels – The Capital City of Belgium
Bruxelles-Brussels, the capital of Belgium, is the most populated city in the country. It is home to the European Union Headquarters, which visitors can access for a tour through the European Economic and Social Committee.
You can embark on tour bus rides to see other Brussels attractions, including Atomium and the Grand Palace, or sit down for a traditional waffle breakfast at an English and French-speaking cafe. Make sure you also visit the amazing gardens and parks in Brussels.
Alongside Ostend, Brussels is one of the best Halloween destinations in Europe if you’re travelling in the fall!
Although best known for its winter Christmas markets, Liège is another Belgian city to visit all year round. La Boverie is the finest art museum in the country, built from the remains of the Palais des beaux-arts de Liège, and hosts special exhibitions throughout the year.
A green city nestled in an industrial zone, Liège is situated on the Meuse River and is perfect for river cruises and other water activities.
One of the top cities in Belgium, Antwerp is the second largest port in Europe and is known for its international diamond trade. Home to the beautiful Cathedral of Our Lady and the Red Star Line Museum, Antwerp is a must-see for your Belgian vacation.
Antwerp is a hub for traditional, delicious Dutch food. You can find waffles, fries, croquettes, and beer at almost any restaurant in the city.
Despite its large population and abundance of activities for visitors, Ghent is a compact, walkable city northwest of the Brussels capital in Flanders. Within Ghent, you can explore the Graslei and Korenlei medieval Cathedrals by canal cruise.
The region of Flanders as a whole is accessible by train. Important historical sites to visit include the Flanders Field American Cemetery and the Basilica of the Holy Blood.
The perfect holiday activity for children and parents alike is Charleroi’s Escape Game, a search across the city for Charleroi’s best attractions. The self-guided tour can make for a full day of fun for a group of six people at minimal cost.
From the Museum of Industry to a show at La Ruche Theatre, your visit to Charleroi will be packed with culturally rich experiences.
The highlights of Schaerbeek for families are cultural museums, including Train World and the Chocolate Museum Experience.
Once you have eaten as much chocolate as possible, you can stop at the Belgian Beer Museum for a taste of Belgian history and beer!
One of the Brussels capital municipalities, Anderlecht, is a prime destination for short visits and day trips. You can see a monument to Don Quixote and Sancho Panza or take a well-earned tour of the Cantillon Brewery.
In terms of dedicated tourist attractions, Bruges is one of the next best places in Belgium for visitors.
Learn about the country’s history from the underground Torture Museum or take a VR tour of the city at Bruges Hall. You can also visit the chocolate museum for bottomless chocolate or the “pomme frites” museum for live demonstrations.
Dubbed the most photogenic city in the world, Bruges is one of the best cities to visit in Belgium.
The Citadel of Namur is one of the most impressive landmarks in Europe. This city was home to the Counts of Namur in the Middle Ages and has since been regenerated into an educational site. You can take guided tours and visit museums to learn about the history of the greater Wallonia region in Belgium.
Close to Namur along the Meuse is Dinant, a small town with just as much to offer as larger cities. Namur is a central hub for accessing other regions of Belgium.
One of the next largest cities in Belgium, Leuven is home to Garden Kruidtuin, luscious botanical gardens open to visitors interested in plant conservation or, simply, an escape to nature in an otherwise bustling city.
The M Leuven is another famous attraction in the heart of the city. This modern art museum with exhibits on art history in Belgium and across Europe has been described as a perfect outing for families with young children!
To explore local history, you can enter Mons City Hall, the Saint Wiltrude Collegiate Church, or stop by the Mons Memorial Museum, all unmissable destinations in Mons, the capital of the Hainaut province.
Soon after Easter, Mons celebrates a unique eight-day festival called Lumeçon which originated in the 14th Century. If you visit during the right time of year, Mons could give you a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Located between Brussels, Antwerp, and Ghent, Mechelen is an easy city to access for a day trip. The vast fields surrounding Mechelen, which produce some of Europe’s best vegetables, can be seen from a hike to the top of St Rumbold’s Tower.
You can visit Mechelen Muurt, a street close to the city centre known for wall art, or stop at the numerous market stalls selling small, locally-made trinkets and fresh produce.
Similar to Leuven’s main attraction, Hasselt’s Japanese Gardens are an exquisite outing for families to engage in worldly history.
Alongside this, you can visit the Herkenrode Abbey and monastery or the Cathedral St Quintinus to get a taste of religious traditions in Europe.
Particularly for families with young children, Tournai is the best city to visit in Belgium. With numerous unique experiences, including the Folklore Museum, Ecopark Adventures, and Jungle City Amusement Park, there are endless opportunities to make fun memories together.
Tournai is also home to some of the best theme parks in Europe! It is well worth your visit.
Ninove’s Chocolate Museum Experience is unlike any other in Belgium. You’ll enter the museum’s exhibition and demonstration rooms for minimal costs to watch a professional chocolate maker mix, pour, and mould the best chocolate in Europe.
Especially for kids, this is the epitome of a Belgian vacation!
Cities in Belgium Summary
|Brussels||2,110,000||Capital of Belgium and home to EU HQ. Attractions include Atomium, Grand Palace, and notable for its waffles and parks.|
|Liège||682,000||Renowned for its Christmas markets, houses the art museum La Boverie, and offers river cruises on the Meuse.|
|Antwerp||506,900||Europe’s second-largest port and famous for its international diamond trade, also home to delicious Dutch food.|
|Ghent||472,000||A compact, walkable city in Flanders with historical sites like Graslei and Korenlei medieval Cathedrals.|
|Charleroi||416,000||Popular for the Museum of Industry, La Ruche Theatre, and Charleroi’s Escape Game.|
|Schaerbeek||132,800||Houses museums like Train World and the Chocolate Museum Experience, and the Belgian Beer Museum.|
|Anderlecht||120,900||A part of the Brussels region with attractions like the Don Quixote monument and Cantillon Brewery.|
|Bruges||118,500||Offers tourist attractions like the Torture Museum, VR tour at Bruges Hall, and is dubbed as the most photogenic city.|
|Namur||110,900||Known for the Citadel of Namur and its rich history of the Counts of Namur, also close to the town of Dinant.|
|Leuven||101,000||Boasts the Garden Kruidtuin and the M Leuven modern art museum.|
|Mons||95,300||Landmarks include Mons City Hall, Saint Wiltrude Collegiate Church, and celebrates the Lumeçon festival.|
|Mechelen||86,900||Located between major cities, known for St Rumbold’s Tower, and street art at Mechelen Muurt.|
|Hasselt||78,000||Features the Japanese Gardens and attractions like Herkenrode Abbey, Cathedral St Quintinus.|
|Tournai||69,500||Ideal for families with the Folklore Museum, Jungle City Amusement Park, among others.|
|Ninove||39,600||Home to a unique Chocolate Museum Experience, a highlight for kids on a Belgian vacation.|
The richest city in Belgium is Antwerp, with a nominal gross domestic product of over 92 billion euros. Brussels is second with a GDP of 87 billion euros.
The most visited city in Belgium is Brussels. Businesses and government officials frequent the city for work, and tourists visit for its nightlife and shopping districts.
The three major cities in Belgium are Brussels, Antwerp, and Liège.
Plan Your Trip to Belgium
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Sylvie Simpson is the founder of European Cities with Kids. For the past 6 years, she has been travelling all over Europe whenever she has the chance, both solo, for work and with her daughter. Sylvie is on a mission to help people make the most of city breaks in Europe with kids and helps over 50,000 readers per month plan and make the most of their trips in Europe with kids.