Let's kick-start this new conversation space! What's your favorite destination in Belgium and why?
Definitely Brugge, but also loved Brussels. Great food, comfy hotels, great people - Belgium is one of the most visitor-friendly countries I've ever been to. Cherry beer. And what's not to love about a country that smells of chocolate?
The Sunday morning antiques market in Tongeren!
Hasselt (for personal reasons) and De Haan, on the coast. I grew up enjoying the wide, sandy beaches of the south Jersey shore every summer, and De Haan is the closest analog I have found in Europe to the same kind of ambiance.
The Citadele in Namur.
The Grand Place in Brussels may be my favorite site in Europe. It really blew me away - it's so beautiful and interesting. I'm a big fan of Brussels in general (love the old alleys, the store windows, and architecture), and everywhere else I've been in Belgium - Bruges, Ghent, Bastogne. The food and beer are amazing.
I'm very fond of Bruges. I could spend an entire week and never feel bored. Sure its crowded in the afternoon with those visiting just for a day, but I find it best at night when the city is empty. Taking a stroll along the lit up canals is extremely peaceful, definitely a highlight. Like Zoe mentioned, who doesn't love a city full of frits, chocolate and Lambic beer!
Please no one judge me, but I preferred Ghent over Bruges. I just love walking down the alleys and walking by the water. This city took my breath away. Our B&B hosts were so friendly and the husband would even park out car at night. Brussels was so-so, I loved the Grand Place. I was very disappointed in the Mannekin Pis. Waterloo was nice and so was Knokke.
I spent 2 nights in Antwerp on a river cruise and loved it - I definitely want to go back. Very handsome churches, nice old streets, the Rubens House, and for me the highlight was the Museum Plantin-Moretus, an old house that has some restored and furnished rooms and others devoted to early printing and books. And of course fries and chocolate, and beer...
Spent 3 weeks in Ghent on a business trip. Not much to see museum-wise, but a fantastic place to kick around. Great friendly people, people watching/eating/beer drinking in the squares, and that marvelous architecture that rivals Bruges, but without the crowds. Brussels is OK, Bruges is, of course, a must-see even if only for a day. If you're a beer geek, Belgium is where it's at. Touring the breweries, where allowed, required a car when I was there (didn't do it), but I'll bet nowadays some enterprising persons have created guided tours.
Stayed at the Ghent River Hotel. Tremendous space, quiet, close to everything. Great buffet breakfast although it was pricey (client paid for it...).
Antwerp. There's enough for two weeks here, once the important KMSKA Art Museum reopens after years of renovation, in 2017. It's also easy to daytrip to Brussels, Gent, and Bruges. Among many ideal Antwerp walks: From the simultaneously fat-cat and local shops on Lobardienvest to the little garden around the old folks home at Elzenveld, with stops at Desire de Lille for a waffel or smoutebollen, the fabulous Museum Mayer van den Bergh, and the homier local foundling-mothers home, Maagdenhuismuseum. Other superbly "local" stops, which do not require beer-drinking, include the huge riverside park Rivierenhof with a Silver Museum, a pleasant food street Hoogstraat, leading to the pedestrian river tunnel and the UNESCO WHS Plantin-Moretus Museum, the outstanding Continental/Nouveau/Deco townhouse district "Cogels - Osy lei", the old harbor district, with the MAS and Red Star Museums, and the more distant but huge outdoor sculpture park, Middleheim Museum. Only steps from the noisy and affordable restaurants, at Oude Koornmarkt 16 is a secluded medieval alley, easy to miss, De Vlaeykensgang.