Man reading near cat on table at Jenever cafe De Vagant on Reyndersstraat.

Northeast Belgium

Design and diamonds, Rubens and techno, art nouveau and high fashion: in all its thrilling contradictions, the dynamic port city of Antwerp dominates northeastern Belgium. But it is by no means the only historic townscape that demands attention here. Were there no Bruges, Belgium might be celebrating Lier as one of its loveliest towns. Or maybe Mechelen, with its fascinating Brabantine history, remarkable churches and glorious central square. Like Lier, Diest and shamefully underappreciated Turnhout have some of Belgium’s most romantically delightful begijnhoven. South of prosperous 'gin town' Hasselt lies lovable Tongeren, which claims to be Belgium’s oldest settlement. Between here and buzzing university city Leuven is a charming region of undulating orchard-covered hills. This area is further dotted with easily accessible historic gems: the fairy-tale towers of Sint-Truiden, the unique church at Zoutleeuw and Tienen's trio of Roman tumuli (grave mounds).


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Award-winning Belgian bike trail propels cyclists above an adventure forest

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