Welcome to the region of Northwestern Europe known as Benelux, named for the union of three neighboring states; Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg. This area of world is known for its landscapes, Dutch culture, medieval towns and, of course, tulips in the spring! The areas prime languages are Dutch in the Netherlands and French in Belgium and Luxembourg. In Benelux you will find famous towns and cities that have a history that is centuries older than that of the United States. History buffs, travel junkies and thrill seekers alike will love this part of Europe thanks to its diversity in culture, foods and activities. We have complied the can’t miss cities, towns and foods of Benelux for your next trip to the area!
10. Grand Place, Brussels
We will get to the city where the Grand Place is located later in the list, but we wanted to highlight one of the spots that you cannot miss while traveling to Brussels, Belgium. The Grand Place or Grote Markt is the picturesque, ornately decorated central square in Brussels. The square is made up of guildhalls, the Town Hall, and the King’ House that contains the Museum of the City of Brussels. This square is truly unforgettable and will be one of your favorite spots to photograph on your whole trip. We suggest going at night, in addition to daylight, to see it all lit up and with people strolling around the square.
Bruges is a fairy-tale town in Belgium that borders the North Sea. Bruges is a must visit with beautiful canals, medieval architecture and cobbled streets. Things to do while in the city include the Markt, or town center, the Belfry of Bruges, which provides you with an excellent view of the city, and Chocolate Shops, you will find some great chocolate in this town so buy some here! This town is very walk-able and is excellent for a stroll at nighttime after dinner. You will see all these beautiful medieval buildings lit up while the safe cobbled streets of Bruges line your way.
8. Vollendam – Cheese and Clogs
Vollendam is a small town just outside of Amsterdam that has great things for tourists and taste buds alike! This fishing village is your gateway to many of the things that you think of when you hear the word “Dutch”. Cheese, windmills, bonnets and clogs can all be bought here and you may even see some locals that still wear this attire everyday. If you are a cheese lover this is the perfect place to sample some of the countries most famous cheeses and even try something different. You might also want to purchase cheese here either to eat the rest of the tour or to bring home. If you are bringing the cheese home, be sure to put it in your checked luggage.
Chocolates are something the entire world enjoys and there is no better place to buy some then in the Benelux region. The best places to buy chocolate on your trip are in Brussels and Bruges. In Brussels you will find four delicious shops right in its main square, the Grand Place, on its north side. Godiva, Neuhaus, Galler and Leonidas can all be found here. If you aren’t sure what to buy here, purchase a six-piece 100-gram mix of these delicious delights to get your taste buds going. Bruges also has an array of places to buy tasty Chocolates; Dumon, The Chocolate Line, BbyB and Confiserie de Clerck, to name a few. Enjoy your treats on your tour and make sure to bring some home to your friends.
6. Bastogne – Battle of the Bulge
Welcome to one of the most important battlefields of WWII; Bastogne, Belgium, where the Battle of the Bulge took place. This battle is where U.S. forces fought against retreating Germans and was the bloodiest fought by the U.S. in all of WWII. In Bastogne you will find the War Museum which covers WWII in its entirety and the somber resting place of hundreds of thousands of soldiers from both the Allied and German sides. Make sure to view the Mardasson Memorial, a memorial honoring the American soldiers wounded or killed during this battle.
5. Anne Frank House
The Anne Frank House is located in a city further down on our list, but it is worth its own spot because of its historical importance and message. The museum is in the actual house that the Franks lived in while their family was forced to go into hiding from the Nazis. The home still has the bookcase through which the annex where they hid is located. Throughout the house are excerpts from Anne’s diary, information about the war and the details of the persecution the Jewish people went through leading up to and during World War II. The museum is a harrowing experience to say the least but it is so well-done that every tourist and local should make the visit.
Welcome to the “Grand Duchy” of Luxembourg, meaning that the territory is ruled by a grand duke or duchess, the last of its kind in the entire world! This country is one of the smallest in the world but don’t let the size fool you, it is the richest country in all of Europe. Stop in this tiny little country and visit the U.S. Military Cemetery from WWII and pay your respects to those who died for our country in the bloodiest war ever fought.
3. French Fries
French Fries are always a good idea and people from Belgium will let you know that they are in fact a Belgian dish! Some of the best french fries you will find will be in Brussels. This city is known for this delicious fare and it is the perfect excuse to make a meal out of this snack. Some of the best places to find fries in Belgium include Fritland, Frit Flagey, Maison Antoine, Friterie du Miroir and many others. Have your fries with the perfect sauce and a cold Belgian beer and you will be in culinary heaven.
Brussels is a primarily French-speaking city loaded with history, architecture, art and culture. While here it is very important to enjoy some local delights that you may already know that you enjoy; chocolates, french fries, waffles, beers and mussels. While in Brussels, make sure to visit some of the famous landmarks and sites including the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Grand Place, Manneken Pis Statue, the Atomium and Mini-Europe. Discover one of the most underrated cities in the world and enjoy all Brussels has to offer.
Amsterdam is one of the most exciting cities in the world. It has everything; culture, food, beer, shopping, art, friendly people and even picturesque canals around the city. The city has great transportation and you can travel freely around the city using buses, trams and metros. Some of the best things to do in Amsterdam include a canal cruise, Rijksmuseum, Anne Frank House, Van Gogh Museum, Red Light District and the Flower Market. One of the best parts of travel is food, so while in Amsterdam you must try street waffles, bitterballen, beer, raw herring, Dutch licorice and Indonesian Rijstaffel, which is an array of small Indonesian dishes that were first invented to let colonials sample traditional dishes. Most importantly, have a great time in one of my personal favorite cities in the world!