On this page you’ll find all practical information you need to know before you travel to Belgium.
- Climate & Weather
- Passport and Visa requirements
- Travel insurance and healthcare
- Money and banks
- Prices, taxing and tipping
- Public holidays
- Public Transport
Where is Belgium located in Europe?
As you can see on the map below, the Kingdom of Belgium is situated in northern west Europe. The country is bordered by the Netherlands on the nord, Germany to the east, Luxembourg to the south-east and France the the south and the nord-sea coastline to the nord-west.
Flanders and Wallonia are subdivided into 5 provinces each, giving Belgium a total count of 10 provinces. Some of the provinces share their name with it’s capital city. For example, Antwerpen, Liège and Namur are both provinces as well as they are cities. The province of Luxembourg should not be confused with the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.
Climate & Weather
Belgium has a temperate maritime climate, meaning we have mild winters and cool summers. Springtime and summer bring longer and warmer days with daytime temperatures in the 20°C and even over 30°C in summer. During the longest days the sun sets around 22h30, whilst during the winter sunset can be around 17h00. Short rainy days are common during winter, with the possibility of snow in Januari an Februari. Temperatures can get below -5°C on the coldest days.
What’s the best time to visit Belgium?
Honestly, Belgium has it’s charm all year round. Even on rainy days you wont be bored in cities like Brussels, Ghent, Bruges, Antwerp and Liège. However depending on your travel style and planned activities some seasons might be favorable over others.
Winter in Belgium can be rainy and cold, but that doesn’t mean you should avoid Belgium during winter. In December, many cities organise Christmas markets where you can go iceskating and enjoy some traditional hot drinks or food. If you want to catch some snow, then keep an eye on the weather forecast for the High-Fens region (hautes fagnes).
Passport / Visa Requirements
Belgium is part of the Schengen Area. If you have a valid European or US passport, you don’t need a visa for visiting Belgium if you plan to stay under 90 days.
Travel Insurance / Healthcare
Citizens of the European Union have access to the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) that provides access to the Belgian healthcare at reduced cost or even for free. All citizens from other countries should find out if there is a reciprocal arrangement for free medical care between their country and Belgium. If not, a good travel insurance is recommended, but not obligated.
Money / Banks
Belgium uses the Euro as currency. Don’t worry if you don’t have any euro’s on you, ATM’s or Cash Machines are widely available. For cash withdrawals it’s recommended to use a Debit Card since Credit Cards might charge extra fees for withdrawing money. Cash exchange services will probably cost you extra fees compared over cash withdrawals.
Belgians prefer the use of debit cards over credit cards. Debit cards will be accepted at most places, whilst credit cards may be refused at smaller shops or retailers. Often an extra fee of 5% is charged for paying with your credit card. Make sure you have a card with the Visa, Mastercard , Maestro or Cirrus logo.
In Belgium the standard voltage is 230V with a frequency of 50 Hz. The power sockets are of type E. You can use a European Travel Plug Adapter for most of your electronics, but always check the maximum input voltage of your device first. If your device doesn’t support volt rates up to 230V it will most likely get damaged and might even cause a fire hazard. Most high-end electronics have a build in voltage convertor allowing voltages between 100-240V.
Prices and Taxes
The advertised prices in Belgian stores and restaurants, are always inclusive taxes.
- The 6% rate applies on food & drinks and on public transport
- The 12% rate applies on foods & drinks you consume in restaurants
- The 21% rate applies on luxury goods and services.
Compared to other countries, Belgium has quite a lot of public holidays. Aside from New Year there are 5 religious holidays, a day to remember the death, workers day, independence day and a day to remember the end of WWI. The date of some religious holidays however might vary from year to year.
Whenever one of these variable holiday falls on a Thursday, then most workers will take Friday off as well, so they’ll have a long weekend. In Flanders we cal it “de brug maken” which translates as “making the bridge.. to the week-end”. Expect most regular companies to be closed or delivering minimal service during these periods. Hotels, cafe’s and restaurants will of course be open, as well as major touristic sights.
List of Belgian Holidays
- New Years: 1 January
- Easter: Date varies
- Easter Monday: first Monday after Easter
- Workers’ day: 1 May
- Ascension: sixth Thursday after Easter
- Whitsun: seventh Sunday after Easter
- National Belgian holiday: 21 July
- Assumption: 15 August
- All Saint’s Day: 1 November
- Armistice Day: 11 November (End of World War I)
- Christmas Day: 25 December