Belgium - Tourism, travel, and recreation

Belgium has three major tourist regions: the seacoast, the old Flemish cities, and the Ardennes Forest in the southeast. Ostend is the largest North Sea resort; others are Blankenberge and Knokke. Among Flemish cities, Bruges, Gent, and Ypres stand out, while Antwerp also has many sightseeing attractions, including the busy port, exhibitions of the diamond industry, and the Antwerp Zoo, an oasis of green in the city center. Brussels, home of the European Community headquarters, is a modern city whose most famous landmark is the Grand Place. The capital is the site of the Palais des Beaux-Arts, with its varied concert and dance programs, and of the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie, home of the internationally famous Ballet of the 20th Century. St. Michael's Cathedral and Notre Dame du Sablon are the city's best-known churches. The Erasmus House in the suburb of Anderlecht and the Royal Palace and Gardens at nearby Laeken are popular tourist centers. Louvain possesses an architecturally splendid city hall and a renowned university. Malines, seat of the Belgian primate, has a handsome cathedral. Liège, in the eastern industrial heartland, boasts one of the finest Renaissance buildings, the palace of its prince-bishops. Tournai is famous for its Romanesque cathedral. Spa, in the Ardennes, is one of Europe's oldest resorts and gave its name to mineral spring resorts in general. Namur, Dinant, and Huy have impressive fortresses overlooking one of the most important strategic crossroads in Western Europe, the Meuse Valley.

For temporary visits, not exceeding three consecutive months each season, travelers should be in possession of a valid passport. No visa is required for citizens of the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, or most countries of Western Europe or Latin America.

There were 6.4 million visitor arrivals in 2000, when receipts from tourism amounted to US $7.4 billion. In that year, Belgium had 61,890 hotel rooms.

In 2001 the US government estimated the daily cost of staying in Belgium as between $80 and $259.

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