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Belgium - Holidays, Flights and Hotels

Belgium

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Belgium, with an area of 30,528 square kilometres (11,787 sq. mi), has three main geographical regions: the coastal plain in the north-west, the central plateau, and the Ardennes uplands in the south-east. The coastal plain consists mainly of sand dunes and polders. Polders are areas of land, close to or below sea level that have been reclaimed from the sea, from which they are protected by dikes or, further inland, by fields that have been drained with canals. The second geographical region, the central plateau, lies further inland. This is a smooth, slowly rising area that has many fertile valleys and is irrigated by many waterways. Here one can also find rougher land, including caves and small gorges.

The third geographical region, called the Ardennes, is more rugged than the first two. It is a thickly forested plateau, very rocky and not very good for farming, which extends into northern France. This is where much of Belgium's wildlife can be found. Belgium's highest point, the Signal de Botrange is located in this region at only 694 metres (2,277 ft).

The climate is maritime temperate, with significant precipitation in all seasons (Kppen climate classification: Cfb; the average temperature is 3 C (37F) in January, and 18 C (64 F) in July; the average precipitation is 65 millimetres (2.6 in) in January, and 78 millimetres (3.1 in) in July).

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Being such a small country (300 km as its maximum distance), you can get anywhere in a couple of hours. Public transport is fast and comfortable, and not too expensive. Between larger cities, there are frequent train connections, with buses covering smaller distances. A useful site is InfoTEC, which has a door-to-door routeplanner for the whole country, covering all forms of public transport (including train, bus, subway and tram).

A look on the map may suggest that Brussels is a good starting point to explore Antwerp, Gent, Brugge and Leuven on day trips. However, each of these four cities are cheaper, safer, cleaner and especially, infinitely more interesting (and welcoming) to tourists. It may be a better idea to spend your nights in Brugge, Gent, Leuven and Antwerp, visiting Brussels on a day trip, than the other way around. Most tourists looking for authentic medieval neighbourhoods make Brugge their base, while those who want a lively student athmosphere go to Leuven (except in summer). Antwerp is popular among those who want to be in a cosmopolitan place, and Gent is tops with those who like a tad more provincialism. Lige is beautiful, but too close to Germany to be a good base for day trips. Mechelen is considered boring by tourists, but has a very good brand new youth hostel next to a train station with trains to everywhere else every 30 mins.

To do some local sightseeing, especially in Flanders, a lot of infrastructure is prepared for bikes. Bikes can also be rented virtually everywhere. In the country side of Wallonia, mountainbikes are available, and rafting is popular along the border with Luxembourg.