Budget Travel In Belgium
Belgium is often left off many traveller’s itinerary on their European tour, but it shouldn’t be. This small country has something to offer everyone; diverse culture, historical importance, great food, and so many types of wonderful beer. It is also a great destination for the budget traveler.
Getting to Belgium is just too easy. There is a Ryan Air airport in “Brussels”, (it is actually quite far from Brussels), and there is an international airport much closer to the city. It is easy to get cheap flights to Belgium from other parts of Europe. Another option is to fly into London and take the Eurolines bus or the Eurostar train. Travelling by train from London to Brussels takes only two hours, and if you book ahead, you can often get a very good fare. The most budget option however, is to take the Eurolines bus. If booked ahead, this bus journey can be as cheap as 10 euros. Getting around Belgium on a budget is just as easy. A fantastic train and bus network connects the towns and cities, making it easy to get around by public transport. Both trains and buses are very comfortable, and I never once experienced overcrowding on either. One budget travel in Belgium hint, when it comes to taking the train, is the rail pass. This pass, available from ticket sellers or even the automatic machines, is a 10 journey pass where you fill in your own departure and arrival information. If you are under 26, this pass will cost you only 50 euros, making a train journey from anywhere, to anywhere, in the country cost only 5 euro. If you are over 26, you can still get a good deal, but the ticket costs slightly more at 76 euro. Buses are just as cheap, and you can buy an 8 euro pay as you go card, which allows for unlimited transfers within 2 or 3 hours of use.
Hostels are common in Belgium, with every town having at least one, no matter how small the town. However, of all the places in lived in, Belgium has the most active and vibrant couch surfing community I have ever seen. If staying with a local sounds like something you might like, you shouldn’t have trouble finding a host in Belgium.
Food, glorious food. Belgium is full of culinary wonders. With a multitude of mussels, frites, waffles, chocolate and beer, it’s a wonder how the population maintain their waistlines! Food is one of the joys of travelling in Belgium, and the budget traveler should make sure they don’t miss out. In the main cities, there is always one street which is crowded by restaurants. Hosts stand outside, trying to obtain business for their proprietors Although, these are not usually the best budget option, the savvy traveler can often obtain a good deal just due to the amount of competition in the area.However, for a more authentic experience, just walk a few blocks away from this crowded area and you should be able to find something great without much trouble. In Belgium, the fast food is just as good as the restaurants. No Belgium experience would be complete without sampling some frites. The best fritieries are the one’s with the longest queues, so go where the crowds go. For something a little healthier, pop into one of the many little sandwich and juice bars.
Beer is the countries national pride, and with good reason too. With over 700 varieties to sample, you could spend quite a long time in Belgium. Most beer café’s, even the most touristy ones, are consistent with their price. I wouldn’t expect to pay more than 3.50 euro for a specialty beer, and no more than 1.50 euro for a house variety. Which I expect is music to the ears of you budget travelers in Belgium.
Activities and Attractions
Don’t forget your student/ ISIC card when you come to Belgium! Most attractions have a generous student discount, which even students of foreign institutions are usually entitled to0. Also, make sure to check if there is an under 26 price. Many attractions in Belgium cost only 1 euro for patrons under 26, a pretty sweet deal when regular price can be up to 10, 12 euros!
As far as connectivity goes, most hostels in Belgium offer free computer usage or wifi. Due to this, I never had to actually frequent an internet café during my entire year in Belgium! Mobile phone rates are also very reasonable, and I found the most budget friendly carrier to be Base. The only thing which is definitely NOT budget friendly in Belgium is books…. Especially English books. Bring your reading material with you from the much cheaper UK, to avoid some of the ridiculous book prices you will find in Belgium.