Belgium, on the western seaboard of Europe, is known for its flat coastal plains in the Northeast and the Ardennes Forest in the southeast. With Belgium, a somewhat small country, being situated next to The Netherlands, Germany, and France, it celebrates Dutch, French, and German as its official languages as well as the language indigenous to Belgium known as Flemish. As well as influences in language, Belgium also takes on many cultural influences of surrounding countries as well. The weather is fairly warm and sunny April to September, but often rainy and gray in other months. If a visit is planned during the rainy months, it is advised to bring along a raincoat and an umbrella.
Many Belgians speak English, as it is required learning in school, and will make an attempt to speak English (with great pride, I might add) to those tourists who also speak English. Belgians are very English friendly and do not prefer visitors speaking one language over another. For those visiting a Belgian in their home, it is considered polite to bring a small gift or flowers. What to wear in such an event is often marked on the invitation. Although smoking in public is acceptable in Belgium, always ask before lighting up in the home of your host.
Brussels, Antwerp, Bruges, Ostend, Namur, Mons, Liège, Ghent and Mechelen are areas all known for their great shopping. Belgium is known for their ceramics and copperware which comes from Dinant, their handmade lace from Bruges, beautifully crafted crystal from Val Saint Lambert, woodcarvings and chocolate come from Spa. Belgian fare generally consist of horse or rabbit dishes as well as mitraillette which is a large bun filled with fries, donair meat, and garlic sauce.. Tourists can find a wide range of ethnic food, if they would like something from home. Tipping at restaurants is customary as well as at cinemas and public toilets.
The Brussels Zayentem airport is twelve kilometers from the city and it generally takes 35 minutes to reach the city. While travelers wait for transportation from the airport there are duty free shops, banks, post offices, and restaurants to keep busy at. There are also places to hire a car, purchase train tickets, and also round the clock medical help for those who need it. Trains run every 15 minutes from the airport to the city. Taxis service the airport 24 hours a day although they can be pricey and generally expect a tip. Taxis are almost always waiting right outside the airport to pick up their next customer. There are also car hires for those interested in renting a car for their stay in Belgium. The facilities provided here are bus and train services, cafe, car hire, and duty free shops. There are also airports outside of Charleroi, Ostend, Antwerp, and Liege. Buses service these airports as well. For those interested in taking the train, there are many high speed trains operated by Thalys which connect Brussels with other large European cities such as Bordeaux, Chambéry, Cannes, Marseille, Lyon, Nice, Valence, Perpignan, and Rennes. The national railway is another option. There are trains leaving every few minutes to places like Andorra, Austria, France, Czech, Germany, Italy, Poland, Luxembourg, Switzerland, the UK and the Netherlands.
Items such as alcohol, tobacco, cigarettes, coffee and tea can be carried across the border without getting customs duty levied on them (aka duty free,) but the amounts are limited as they are in many countries. It’s important to check these limits with authorities before carrying these items across the borders.