Belgium is an amazing small country, somewhere in Europe. Don’t struggle with that, it’s not a geography lesson. I just want to talk about the top 5 famous things from Belgium. Or in other words, what is Belgium known for producing?
Probably most of you know about these famous things from Belgium already, but there could be some surprises.
What is Belgium known for?
Here is my straightforward 5 item list for which I consider Belgium to be famous for.
Belgium is famous for:
1. Potato Chips or Fries (Belgium Fries)
Chips are commonly referred to as “french fries”, but guess what? The fries are not really French, but Belgian.
One of the most famous food all over the world is from Belgium: fries.
Fries can be found everywhere. On every street corner and in every cafe. They are sold in a cone, small or big. But the chips are not made (anymore) from freshly peeled potatoes. Most of them are bought from the freezer section from the supermarket.
The price is around 3 euro (on average). If you want to add any ketchup or mayo, that will cost you an extra 50 cents to 1 euro. I would say all fries looked, smelled and tasted the same, no matter the place.
Next time someone asks you “What is Belgium known for?” you will know to answer “Fries!”.
Tip: A real Belgian will always eat chips with mayo. The combo chips with ketchup is an American thing. Well, I guess the ketchup is American because the Italians also don’t put ketchup on their pizzas.
In Europe, we consider beer to be a kind of food. Therefore, beer is another famous food from Belgium.
When I was in Belgium, each time I’ve entered a supermarket I ended up staring at the beer shelves for minutes.
It’s hard not to stop and admire the showcases of beer. Each supermarket has an impressive collection. I was mesmerized, although I was not a beer drinker back then. (I’m not stating that I am now).
The first beer I ever finished by myself was in Belgium.
After examining the many different brands of Belgian beer, I spotted some which had 11% alcohol. I was shocked. Usually, it’s the wine that has that much alcohol.
The cheapest beer you can buy in Belgium is supermarket beer. Buy your beer from the supermarket (Delhaize). You can find the same beers in the souvenirs shops, which can be opened until late, but it’s more expensive there. Also, you can have a big beer at any of the many bars, but the price is over 4 euros.
Still, the Pakistani market/souvenir shops are a better option to buy beer after the closing hours of the supermarket. Don’t feel embarrassed to aks the guy at the counter to open your beer. It’s a very common request. (It’s funny how in Germany they have a similar habit of beer take-away).
Already in Belgium? If you haven’t already, get out and head over to a local supermarket or beer shop and ask “What is Belgium known for?”. They will know what to suggest.
TIP: Lots of people are getting out of the shop with a beer in their hand. Find a nice place to sit, and it’s an outside bar.
3. Belgium Chocolate
What is Belgium most known for? It’s hand-crafted chocolate!
Who has not heard of Belgian chocolate? Go strolling on the small, cosy streets of Bruges (a town which you have to visit while in Belgium), and you will find it. In Bruges, you will find many hidden family business chocolate shops.
Most streets are full of very famous, big chocolate brands like Leonidas and Godiva. But these shops are in a lot of countries all over the world. While in Belgium, try something not so famous, like authentic handmade chocolate.
Brands like Leonidas label themselves handmade, although they are not. But it’s good advertising to put in a shop’s window when in the country of chocolate.
Personally, I don’t believe that a brand that big still manufactures its goods by hand. They mush have many chocolate factorie, because they sell it all over the world.
Take your pick. Personally, I love to try local shops when travelling.
There is a tiny part of the population, which is allergic to chocolate. For them, it may be a problem. I don’t usually develop an allergic reaction to chocolate, but it happened when I was in Belgium. For the first time in my life, I got a really bad allergy, which decided to burst out on my face. I was stressed out about it, imagining how people will believe I have something contagious. One of the guys I’ve met in a hostel asked me if I got bitten by bed bugs. Now it sounds like a funny story, but back then it was a tragedy for my face. The body reacts in weird ways sometimes. Looking back (5 years later), I’m still not sure if my allergic reaction was due to the consumption of Belgium Chocolate or the bed bugs.
TIP: Wander on those small, narrow, cosy streets and discover some traditional handmade chocolate. Buy traditional Belgium chocolate from a family business shop. While in Belgium, have a taste of that expensive chocolate. Or buy it as a souvenir.
4. Belgium Waffles (there are two kinds)
I think you saw this one coming. Waffles are famous in Belgium. And all around the world.
Who doesn’t love waffles?
But first, let’s explain the two different kinds of waffles. Waffles come from Belgium and there are two kinds of waffles: Brussels waffle and Liège waffle.
The Brussels waffle is larger and has a rectangular shape. Brussels waffle is lighter. Because the dough is not sweet, the Brussels waffle can be served with fruits, cream, chocolate or ice cream on top. Or any combination of those things.
The Liége waffle is smaller, oval shape and crunchy. The dough has little clumps of sugar inside, which caramelizes when it’s baked. That is already a sweet enough waffle and it’s pretty common to eat it simple. But it’s up to you to decide how you want it. Only you can say what is too sweet for you.
So these are the two kinds of Belgium waffles, so take your pick and get creative with the toppings.
Waffles are probably one of the most famous things from Belgium and are also one of Belgium’s most famous foods.
5. Speculaas or Speculoos
Speculoos is a type of biscuit, made from white wheat flour, brown sugar, butter and spices. Once more, one of the things Belgium is known for is also a famous food from Belgium.
Traditionally, the biscuits were baked to be consumed on the 6th of December, for St. Nicholas feast. Nowadays, there are all kinds of variations of these biscuits. There is also a spread, which consists of 60% crushed speculoos cookies.
The Speculoos spread is available worldwide and could be a good alternative for the good old peanut butter.
Now, if you really want to surprise someone with an answer to “What is Belgium known for?”, then your answer should be Speculoos! A Belgian would be delighted to discover your interest in his home country, Belgium.
TIP: Most places where they make waffles have Speculoos spread. If you decide to go with a Brussels waffle (the non-sweet one), you can ask for this on top. Like a real Belgian.
What else is Belgium famous for?
Besides the typical Belgian things I’ve listed above, such as beer and chocolate, there’s an impressive list of Belgium’s most famous tourist attractions.
Here’re the most famous Belgium famous attractions.
- Grand Place, Brussels.
- The Canals and Belfry of Bruges.
- The Battlefields of Flanders.
- Ghent’s Gravensteen and Old Town
- Horta Museum and Town Houses, Brussels
- Cathedral of Saint Bavo, Ghent.
- Basilica of the Holy Blood, Bruges.
- Grand Place (Grote Markt), Antwerp.
Other tips if you want to visit Belgium (which are not so famous):
Before heading anywhere, check before the closing hours. You may be used to early closing hours, but Belgium can surprise you. As a tourist, you should bear in mind the closing hours of supermarkets and museums.
Museums close at 5 pm.
- Delhaize (the famous Belgian supermarket) closes at 6 or 7 pm (depends on the location). If you are in Bruxelles, there is one near the main square, Grand Place, which was opened till 8 pm. This is the best place to buy chocolate or beer.
- Everything is written in French, Flemish, English and German. West Europe is not always that open to English speaking tourists, but there is no need to worry about that in Belgium.
Most souvenir shops sell the same stuff which can be found in the normal supermarket, but they have touristic prices. Buy the chocolate souvenir from the supermarket. When in doubt, try Cote d’Or.
Accommodation in Belgium
And since you are in Europe, or you are considering visiting around, I recommend you also check out other cool countries. Germany has the capital of love, Berlin and you can seek adventure for yourself there, with the Before and After the Wall self-guided walking tours.