What The equally ace, easy-to-get-to and unsung alternative to tourist-cluttered Bruges.
Where 30 minutes by train from Brussels Central.
Go for Medieval architecture, pretty canals, decent drinking and booming food scene.
Don’t forget The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, the restored Van Eyck masterpiece in St Bavo’s Cathedral.
What about eats? Michelin-starred Vrijmoed is one of several restaurants giving the city serious cooking cred.
What With 92 hectares of walkable gardens and 18,000 plant species, this is one of the world’s largest – and probably quietest – botanic gardens.
Where Just north of the capital, around 40 minutes by bus (No. 251 from Brussels North Station).
Go for The genuinely stunning gardens.
Don’t forget The view from the top of Bouchout Castle.
What about eats? Reliable Belgian classics can be had at Oranjerie Resto by the garden’s east lake.
What The war-famed city in West Flanders has some of Belgium’s most striking buildings.
Where Two hours by train from Brussels Midi.
Go for One of the New York Times Places to Go in 2018, the city is, next month, marking the 100 years since the end of World War I with a poppy parade on 11 November.
Don’t forget A Wipers Times beer at Brouwerij de Kazematten named after the satirical British Tommies’ war-era “trench gazette”.
What about eats? The Belgian frites at In ‘t Klein Stadhuis are tops.
What Belgium has decent beaches?! Yep, and they start here.
Where Just over an hour by train from Brussels Central.
Go for Faded-in-a-good-way seaside glam. Take a stroll through the Royal Galleries – the neo-classical beach-side arcade, charms year round.
Don’t forget A coffee at architect Gaston Eysselinck’s De Grote Post, now a Brutalist culture centre.
What about eats? Costal Belgium means mussels: try gallery-cafe Galerie BeauSite.
What Sleek, Christian de Portzamparc-designed museum dedicated to the Belgian cartoonist behind Tintin, George Remi.
Where Louvain-la-Neuve, 40 minutes by train from Brussels Midi.
Go for Tintin-ology at its geekiest.
Don’t forget To look out for the more than 40 Tintin cartoon murals dotted around Brussels.
What about eats? Finish with a dame blanche (ice cream, cream and molten chocolate) at museum cafe Le Petit Vingtième.