Let's be honest, for the seasoned British traveller heading for central Europe, the Alps, Italy and points east, Belgium is a bit of a nuisance. You've always got to get across it somehow, and with a few exceptions in the Ardennes in the south of the country, Belgian motorways rank amongst the most tedious in Europe. Thanks to the inactivity of the Belgian Government, they remain free to use, but apart from that they are often heavily trafficked, sometimes not in the best of condition, and prone to pretty awful blockages - and have expensive service areas to boot.

But Belgium still has much appeal: away from Brussels, it has some attractive, bustling cities and towns (particularly in Flanders in the north), and quite a few places where it's definitely worth stopping off - if you want to make sure that getting through Belgium isn't just a chore.


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Charming stopovers in Belgium - a random selection:
1: Veurne,
just inland from the Flanders coast resorts; has an impressive Grote Markt town square (more info)
2: Tongeren,
the oldest town in Belgium with Roman remains and a beautfiul main church (more info)
3: Marche-en-Famenne,
well-presented gateway to the central Ardennes (more info)
4: Dinant,
picturesque setting on the Meuse river, if a little touristy (more info)

... and just over the border in France is
5: Cassel,
a delightful small hill-top town with the novelty, in these parts, of views (more info)

Think about high-quality accommodation for an overnight stop at Verviers and at Zepperen, near Tongeren - see suggested itinerary.