Belgium - Abbey Travel, Ireland



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Welcome to Belgium


It may be a little country, but it is a lovely one, so it is sad that Belgium is often overlooked when travellers plan a trip to Europe. Tucked between the desirable and obvious destinations of London, Paris and Amsterdam, Belgium is usually treated as a stepping stone to the English Channel, or, at most, a quick stop-over for a look-see in the capital, Brussels.

Beyond the city of Brussels with its historic Gothic buildings and tall European Union office blocks, is a treasure-trove of undiscovered lazy seaside towns, and the inland wooded gorges of the splendid Ardennes, sprinkled with medieval castles and steeped in folklore. The medieval city of Bruges has character and charm galore with a rich architectural heritage, graceful canals, winding waterways and cobbled streets, and is a favourite with visitors. Belgium is a country that has inspired many artists and writers with the charm of its Gothic cathedrals, town halls, gabled guildhouses and rich museums.

After a busy day exploring it all, evenings are best spent experiencing Belgium's fantastic cuisine and delighting in the country's variety of 300-odd brews of beer. Belgians have a reputation for their gracious hospitality, no doubt due in part to the country's location, which has created an international crossroads for commerce and culture. Despite this, Belgium and its distinct regions of Flemish Flanders (north) and French Wallonia (south) has proudly preserved its traditions and identity.

Information & Facts

Attraction Overview

When it comes to world-class attractions and exciting sightseeing options Belgium packs a mighty punch for a country of such modest proportions. Take your pick from the heavyweight attractions and cosmopolitan thrills of the capital city Brussels, to the medieval charms of Bruges, and the lesser known historical treasures of Ghent. In between, you'll find welcoming people, great food and Europe's finest beer and chocolates to keep you energised.

Belgium is a year round destination too, although the countryside does look its best during the summer months of April to October. The transport infrastructure is excellent, and that makes getting around a true pleasure.

This is not a country to see from the confines of a tour bus, however. You need to get out on foot and explore the cobbled streets framed by medieval buildings; spend an afternoon on Grand Place watching the world go by; rent a bicycle and ride into the countryside alongside a burbling canal. However you choose to explore the pleasures of Belgium, spend some time here and you'll be rewarded with one of Europe's most underrated and overachieving destinations!


Belgians are very formal in business, enjoy a great deal of personal space, and are generally reserved and extremely private. Dress should be conservative; dark suits are acceptable, with a high importance placed on quality and neatness of clothing. Punctuality is extremely important at meetings, which will begin and end with a quick, light handshake with all involved, and exchanging business cards is standard practice; it is recommended that cards are printed in English with the other side translated in either French or Dutch depending on the main language of the region where business is to take place. it is a good idea to research beforehand whether a business is French or Dutch-speaking. Compromise is very important in Belgian business culture, and may be required as a show of friendship. Business hours are generally 9am to 5pm.


The Belgium climate is temperate, with warm weather in summer (May to September) and cool to cold weather in winter. Winter snow is very likely in Belgium.


The international access code for Belgium is +32. The outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the United Kingdom). City codes are required for all calls within Belgium; the area code for Brussels is (0)2. Mobile phones operate on GSM networks. Public phones take coins or phone cards. Internet cafes are widely available.


Belgium law requires everyone to carry some form of official identification at all times.

Duty Free

Travellers to Belgium arriving from non-EU countries are allowed to enter the country with the following items without incurring customs duty: 200 cigarettes, 100 cigarillos, 50 cigars or 250g tobacco; 1 litre spirits over 22% in alcohol or 2 litres of dessert wine 22% in alcohol and sparkling wine, and 2 litres wine; 50g perfume and 250ml eau de toilette; and other goods such as souvenirs to the value of EUR175. Prohibited items include unpreserved meat products.

Electrical current in Belgium is 230 volts, 50Hz. European-style two-pin plugs with receptacle and male grounding pin can be used.

No vaccinations are required for travel to Belgium. Medical facilities and care in Belgium is excellent but expensive so travellers are advised to take out medical insurance. UK citizens receive emergency medical care for a reduced cost, but should have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to qualify.

The Flemish, in the north, speak Dutch (60% of the population); the Walloons in the south speak French (40%). Brussels is bilingual, the majority of citizens speaking French. In the east there is a small German-speaking community. English is also spoken.

Euro (EUR) divided into 100 cents. Most credit cards are accepted (Visa, American Express, Diners Club and Eurcard) as are travellers cheques (though it is best to carry them in Euros, US dollars or Pounds Sterling to avoid additional charges when exchanging). ATMs are available in all major cities. Banks are open Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm, and are closed on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. Some banks close for an hour during lunch. There are however some foreign exchange offices that trade on Sundays.

Passport Visa

The borderless region known as the Schengen area includes the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden. All these countries issue a standard Schengen visa that has a multiple entry option that allows the holder to travel freely within the borders of all. Nationals of non-EU countries are recommended to hold return or onward tickets, sufficient funds and documents for their next destination.


Most visits to Belgium are trouble-free, but travellers should be wary of street crime in the cities, such as mugging and pickpocketing, particularly in Brussels at major railway stations and on public transport. Brussels is home to a number of international organisations, including EU and NATO, which could become the target of indiscriminate terrorist attacks.

Local time in Belgium is GMT +1 (GMT +2 from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October).

Service charges are included in bills in Belgium and tipping is not necessary, unless for exceptional service. Porters, coatroom and bathroom attendants are generally tipped.

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