Despite the lack of a government and the chilly days of the past week, there’s a lot to love about being in Belgium during the summer. Recent visits from travel blogging friends have reminded me of these things and I thought they were worth sharing. The following is my list of favorite things about Belgium in the summer.
Sure there are terraces the world over, but when the sun comes out in Belgium, the whole country seems to move outdoors. Like a bunch of lemurs warming their bellies in the sun, people in the city congregate on the terraces of cafés and pubs, chatting and people watching. If you’re in Brussels, in the summer, I recommend getting away from Grand Place and check out St. Gery or the shady square at Place St. Catherine.
2. Less Traffic
With most of the country on vacation, traffic in Belgium becomes manageable in the summer, (except where there is construction). It’s a good time to rent a car and drive to places like the Abbaye des Villiers or visit the locks at Ronquières. Less traffic also makes the roads more bike-friendly. Rent a bike and visit the forests in the Ardennes or follow the Brussels-Charleroi canal.
3. Fresh Food
The fields around the country are now being harvested and fresh produce is readily available. Asparagus in the spring, new potatoes and carrots in the early summer, and just about everything else in late summer, means eating well and with wonderful variety. Seasonal menus at restaurants around the country now have chalkboards full of local ingredients. For inspiration, check out some of our favorite restaurants.
We’re not big on standing in fields, with crowds of people, but Belgium is renowned for music festivals. Kicking off with Rock Werchter in early July, the summer continues with music festivals like Pukkelpop, Marktrock, and Jazz Middelheim. If you’re not interested in music festivals, there are loads of other options. Check out http://www.festivals.be to see what is coming up. You can see a full listing of music festivals in Belgium on Wiki.
July in Belgium is the month of sales! For anyone interested in stocking their wardrobe, even DOD is on sale. Belgium only has 2 months a year when shops can discount their wares, so it is a great time to find a good deal. If you’re employed in Belgium, this time of year also coincides with your summer bonus payment, so it’s as if the stars have aligned! To avoid the worst of the crowds, try to avoid shopping on Saturdays, if you can.
I’m sure there are lots of other things to love about Belgium in the summer. What do you enjoy?