Belgium is known for its high standard of living, perhaps due to its good food, which should, naturally, be washed down with plenty of quality Belgian beer. Moules-frites, waffles and, of course, fine chocolate are all specialities which hail from Belgium.
The country is made up of three areas: Flanders, the Flemish region in the north, Wallonia, the French-speaking region in the south, and the capital city of Brussels in the centre. Belgium is also the home of the comic book, and many 2-D characters were created there, notably Hergé's Tintin and Peyo's Smurfs.
2014 marks the centenary of the First World War and you'll find many sights and battlefields to explore across Flanders and Wallonia.
Belgium is a great deal more than just the European political hub that is Brussels.
Antwerp is a magpie's paradise: it is the home of gemstones, diamonds in particular, while Bruges, the "Venice of the North", has a well-preserved historic centre which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Whilst it was once the world's richest city, famous for its lacemaking tradition, today its slow pace is a traveller's delight. This compact city is made for boating and wandering around its picturesque canals and cobbled streets.
Belgium's museums contain some excellent collections of art. The Royal Museums of Fine Arts in Brussels, a complex which also has a cinema and concert hall, boasts a large collection of Magritte's works. The Groeningemuseum in Bruges specialises in works by the Flemish Primitives, while the Royal Museum for Fine Arts in Antwerp contains a fine collection of paintings by Rubens.
Architectural highlights include the magnificent Grand Place in Brussels, and the 12th century Notre-Dame cathedral in Tournai.
De gare à gare