A Belgian friend once said, “Good thing this country is tiny”. Like Singapore, it doesn’t take long to get to places.

At an hour’s drive from the capital city, you could find yourself on cobblestone streets surrounded by medieval buildings. In 1.5 hours by train, you could be in Amsterdam or Paris. But before you think of your next adventure from this iconic European city, here’s a quick guide to Belgium and how you can soak in the bustling vibes of Brussels — your first stop in Europe.

Heading to Europe? Check out our Europe guides and itineraries.

How to get to Belgium from Singapore

a guide to Belgium - via Singapore Airlines

Brussels is now a direct flight from Singapore via Singapore Airlines.

Flight time: 13.5hrs
Flight departing from Singapore: Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays
Flight departing from Brussels: Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays

Fun fact: The last time Singapore Airlines flew directly to Brussels was between 1979 – 2003!

Must-tries in Brussels

An aerial view of Grote Markt in Brussels - Guide to Belgium

Photo credit: Simon Schmitt

Brussels is a fairly small city. Public transport works well, but you can walk to most attractions. 

1) Soak in Magritte’s Surrealist influence

René Magritte

René Magritte’s surrealist art can be felt throughout Brussels, where he lived and worked for much of his life. What’s interesting about his artwork is how he uses ordinary objects in unusual contexts or juxtaposes them with unrelated elements, similar to the randomness in a dream.

Rene Magritte Museum in Brussels - Guide to Belgium

Of course, one of the more prominent places to experience Magritte’s legacy is the Magritte Museum — it houses over 200 of his most famous artworks.

*Pro-tip: Grab an audio guide from the entrance for more insights about his artworks.

Hotel Amigo - Bar Magritte

Extend your Magritte experience with drinks at the Bar Magritte — apart from the artworks, its menu consists of 20 bespoke cocktails inspired by some of his most famous works.

2) Try Belgian Fries

La Frites - Guide to Belgium

In Belgium, don’t ask for french fries; ask for La Frites. These are thicker fries but incredibly crispy at the edges, thanks to their double cook technique that makes them crispier. You could get a takeaway box from the famous chain La Friterie, or better, as a side with Mussels. Best eaten dipped in mayonnaise — many restaurants make them fresh! 

3) Visit Belgium Beer World

Belgian Beer World

A fun interactive museum where you’ll journey through Belgium’s rich brewing heritage. Learn everything about beer from the beer styles — crisp lagers to complex ales — to interesting stories about how monks in centuries-old abbey breweries brewed beers.

Fun fact: Beer is 90% water, and in the past, water wasn’t clean, so it was actually safer to drink beer 🙃

Entrance fee: €17/pax (~S$29) (incl. A half-pint beer of choice at the end)
Opening hours: 10AM – 5:30PM
How to get there: 2min walk from Grand-Place (Google Maps)

4) Join a chocolate workshop at Laurent Gerbaud

Laurent Gerbaud Chocolate making workshop - Guide to Belgium

Chocolate is serious business in Belgium. And one of the best chocolate experiences we had here was at a Laurent Gerbaud chocolate workshop.

Laurent Gerbaud Chocolate workshop

Held by the charming Laurent Gerbaud himself, the workshop has two parts. First, you get to make your own chocolate squares — learn how to fill up the moulds with the house-mixed dark chocolate (very tasty), then top it with any mix you like from candied fruits to nuts, and other interesting toppings.

Laurent Gerbaud Chocolate tasting workshop

Then, while waiting for the chocolates to cool and set, Laurent will bring you through a tasting palette of 12 different chocolates. You can walk away from this session calling yourself a chocolate connoisseur — jk, not really. Still, you’ll really gain an appreciation for the distinct chocolate flavours and how they pair with savoury nuts or candied/sour fruits — a must-experience in Brussels, I’d say.


Cost: €35/pax (~S$59)
Workshop timing: Every Saturday, 11:30AM – 1PM (book via [email protected])
How to get there: 3min walk from Magritte Museum (Google Maps)

5) Explore charming neighbourhoods outside the city

Face of Maison Hanon - Brussels

One such neighbourhood is Saint Gilles — an architectural feast for the eyes, essentially, where the rich live. Spot colourful townhouses, lively cafes, and trendy boutiques. 

Maison hannon Art Nouveu style house in Brussels - c-photo-gregory-de-leuuw-16

A highlight here is Maison Hannon, a restored Art Nouveau-style home designed by a renowned architect in the late 19th century. Look out for the intricate ironwork, curved lines, and floral motifs characteristic of the Art Nouveau style. You could imagine what it might have been like for the family during the peak of its time.

Maison Hanon
Entrance fee: From €12/pax
Opening hours: 10AM – 6PM, closed on Mon – Thu
How to get there: 8min walk from Horta Museum (Google Maps)

Side trips from Brussels


Belgium Guide - Bruges - Guide to Belgium

Photo credit: Pieter D

Just a short train ride or drive from Brussels is the medieval city of Bruges, often called the Venice of the North. Just a fair warning, the main street is very touristy, but with reason — and there are lesser-known gems to escape from the crowds.

Wander through the cobblestone streets along the canals, flanked by historic buildings. Walk along the main street if you love soaking in medieval vibes. If you’re looking for quieter spaces, check out this walking route:

Bruges Railway station - Guide to Belgium

From the Railway station, take a 10-minute stroll to Minnewater, also known as the Lake of Love.

Minnewater Lake of Love - Guide to Belgium

Photo credit: Jan Darthet

From there, Koningin Astridpark is about 15 minutes on foot. Grab a little picnic to enjoy lunch at the Gazebo or around the lake.

Astridpark in Bruges - Guide to Belgium

Photo credit: Jan Darthet

then, follow the path to Coupure, a historic canal that served as a defensive waterway during the Middle Ages.

How to get to Bruges From Brussels
Train: €21/pax (~S$36) (~1hr)
Drive: ~1hr


Ghent - a Pictureque town North West of Brussels - Guide to Belgium

Ghent turned out to be my favourite stop. It’s as picturesque as Bruges (IMO, more than), but has a much chiller vibe and fewer tourists.

Boat Tours in Ghent - Guide to Belgium

A novel (albeit touristy) way to experience Ghent is via a boat ride from Korenlei. Find Vernie the boatman if you can. It’s not just “look at this, and look at that”, but he has a way of weaving in stories of himself, the city, and what you’re about to see. This turned out to be one of our highlights!

Saint Bavo Cathedral interior - Guide to Belgium

Another unexpected experience was our visit to Saint Bavo’s Cathedral. I’m not normally drawn to religious buildings, but our guide was so enthusiastic about the Mystic Lamb painting that we had to see it.

Mystic Lamb Painting in Saint Bavo Cathedral (belgium) - Guide to Belgium

It starts with an immersive VR tour down in the Crypt, where you’re introduced to holographic scenes of the past before learning about each segment of the famed painting in detail. I promise it looks a lot more impressive in real life.

How to get to Ghent From Brussels
Train: From €10.20/pax (~S$17) (36mins)
Drive: ~1hr

Recommended accommodation in Belgium

Belgium has no shortage of unique accommodation options, including centuries-old palaces and even an old jail. Here’s where we stayed, what we loved about them and what you can find within walking distance of the property.

Brussels: Hotel Amigo

Where to stay in Brussels - Hotel Amigo

Photo credit: RFH Hotel Amigo

What we loved: Located strategically within walking distance of most Brussels attractions like the Grot Markt, Belgian Beer World, and the iconic Zennike Pis. It’s also surrounded by famous bars and restaurants like the Delirium Cafe (houses over 2,000 beers), Aux Armes de Bruxelles (Brussels Cuisine), La Table de Mus (fine dining), and Chez Léon (casual place for mussels and La Frites).

Room at Hotel Amigo Brussels, decorated with Rene Magritte's famous artworks

Photo credit: RFH Hotel Amigo

The interiors are modern and cosy, filled with character. Rooms are decorated with art pieces by surrealist artist René Magritte. There are even themed rooms like a Tintin Suite, a Diane von Fürstenberg Suite (Belgian-American fashion icon), and a presidential Suite that (hearsay) housed Barack Obama during his visit to Belgium.

Tintin Suite at Hotel Amigo in Brussels

Photo credit: RFH Hotel Amigo

Fun fact: Back in the day, the spot where the hotel stands was a prison. Legend has it that Spanish soldiers, who weren’t so good with Dutch, mistook “vrunt” (which means prison) for “vriend” (friend) and started calling it “amigo.” Fast forward to today, and the hotel’s official address is “Vruntstraat” in Dutch, or “rue de l’Amigo” in French. Lost-in-translation?

Bruges: Hotel Dukes’ Palace

Hotel Dukes Palace in Bruges

Photo credit: Hotel Dukes’ Palace Bruges

What we loved: The only five-star hotel in Bruges, housed in a 15th-century Palace. It’s located in the heart of Bruges’ UNESCO World Heritage-listed city centre, which makes it a perfect base for exploring the medieval city. Major attractions like the Belfry of Bruges and the Markt Square are a short walk away.

Ghent: Pillows Grand Boutique Hotel Reylof

Lobby of Pillows Grand Boutique Hotel Reylof in Ghent

Photo credit: Pillows Grand Boutique Hotel Reylof

What we loved: Rooms are as luxurious as the other two, but this one had an indoor heated pool and sauna (unfortunately, we didn’t have time to enjoy). The breakfast here was also one of the most indulgent, and of course, it was located close to Ghent’s historic city centre. It’s within walking distance of the city’s top attractions, including the Gravensteen Castle, Saint Bavo’s Cathedral, and the charming canal where you can take boat rides. Guests can also explore Ghent’s cultural treasures and culinary delights, all a short walk from the hotel.

Indoor swimming pool at Pillows Grand Boutique Hotel Reylof

Photo credit: Pillows Grand Boutique Hotel Reylof

What’s surprising about being in Belgium

weekend market in Brussels

While there aren’t any bucket list experiences in this Belgium itinerary, it surprised me how drawn to the country I was at the end of the trip. Walking through its cobblestoned streets, taking in the atmosphere, and hearing locals speak proudly about their country does draw you into the charms of Belgium — especially the latter 🙃

If you ever find yourself itching for a European getaway, bookmark this quintessential guide to Belgium so you can add it to the start of your adventure!

One of Magritte’s famous sayings is, “It is not a question of surprising people with something, but of being surprised that one is surprised.

it's often the people that make a place count

We hope you found this first-timer’s guide to Belgium helpful! What’s your favourite part about exploring new European cities? Share them with us in the comments!

This post was brought to you by Singapore Airlines and visit.brussels as part of a media familiarisation trip.

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