Never has a holiday lent itself more naturally to the enjoyment of food and drink than this week in Belgium. With entire cities dedicated to the art of making chocolate, with world-famous beer pubs tucked away in every street and corner and with a rich and ancient food heritage kept alive at Michelin starred restaurants,Belgium is every food lover’s dream come true. Go on beer-walks with historians and sample artisanal beers on tap, explore authentic food markets, take private culinary lessons in Flemish cooking, attend chocolate making workshops and wind down the days with unforgettable gourmet meals in 16th century chapels or better still, the sky!
7 Nights / 8 Days
Brussels, Antwerp, Bruges, Ghent
Upon arrival at the Brussels airport, your private driver welcomes you and whisks you away to your hotel. On your way, look out the window and catch your first glimpse of the Atomium, the Royal Palace of Laken, the Parc du Cinquantenaire, the bustling European district and Brussel’s other iconic sights. Check-in at Hotel des Galeries, a boutique hotel perfectly located near the Grand Place, in the stunning GaleriesRoyalesSaint Hubert. Relax & refresh. At 4pm, start a guided walking tour through Brussel’s historic downtown. Explore the Old Market, the MannekenPis, the Gallery Royal Saint Hubert, the Central Station & Gallery andBozar, the celebrated classical musical space and fine arts center of Brussels. End the tour with a pub crawl acrossbars regularly voted among the best beer cafés in the world. Visit the well-known ones with an exciting selection of artisanal beers on tap as well assome hidden gems known as "estaminets"; many date back to the 18th century and have remained unchanged ever since! Return to your hotel by 8pm and spend the rest of the evening at leisure. We recommend a traditional Belgian brasserie near Place Sainte Catherine and some local beers in one of the bars of the lively Halles Saint Gery.
Begin this morning, with a walking tour of the Royal district - Royal square, Royal Palace, Royal Park. You’ll pass by the Cathedral of St. Michael and St.Gudula, Mont des Arts and the beautiful art-deco building of the Music Instrumental Museum as well as the Magritte Museum, dedicated to the work of the surrealist artist René Magritte. Pause for a classic Belgian lunch at Pistolet Original, which offers an astonishingly wide selection of sandwiches filled with typical cold and hot Belgian delights. Enjoy home-made steak tartare, salted pork hash with pickles, grey shrimps, gouda cheese with "witlof" and green salad, grey shrimp croquettes or sausage meat balls with mayonnaise.The list is endless. In the afternoon,visit the Sablon, known for its numerous antique dealers and its famous Belgian chocolate and confectionery stores. Enjoy a one-hour-long private chocolate workshop creatingmendiants in the atelier of a true Belgian chocolatier, followed by a delicious 30-minute, chocolate-tasting. End the tour with a visit to the “Brussels Beer Project”, a collaborative and innovative approach to the sometimes conservative, Belgian craft brewing scene. Tour the brewery and get to know what the project’s all about, then get to the best part – the beer tasting! For dinner, we recommend ‘Dinner in the Sky’ - an unforgettable gastronomic experience rustled up by gourmet chefs, up in the sky.
After breakfast, check-out of the hotel and transfer to Antwerp. (1h). Upon arrival, meet your private guide at the Market Square and soak in its medieval majesty. Spend the morning gazing at the beautiful Baroque facades of the Cathedral of Our Lady and marveling at the outstanding architecture of the Antwerp railway station. For lunch, we recommend “Frites Atelier”. This snack bar called “frietkot” is not the same as the others you can find in Belgium. Here, the recipes were invented by Sergio Herman, renowned for his multiple Michelin-starred restaurants. In this Frites Atelier, it is possible to eat perfectly fried frites with a staggering variety of sauces developed by the chef. Another option would be ‘Mercado’, the first real food market in Belgium and a true foodie heaven. After lunch, visit the unique MASmuseum, and once you’ve had your fill of the various interesting exhibitions, head to the rooftop for a stunning 360-degree panoramic view of Antwerp. Later, continue to the nearby Rubens House museum, where the famous painter spent most of his lifetime. Despite its modest size, shopping in Antwerp is an experience befitting the city’s status as an international fashion capital. Enjoy some free time browsing through major fashion houses, cutting-edge boutiques and stylish, pace-setting concept stores. For dinner, we recommend going to ‘Het Eilandje (The Island)’, Antwerp’s oldest port area. Today, the port activity is more concentrated in the north, and this area is filled with trendy bars and hip restaurants. Another option would be “The Jane” a Michelin-starred gem recently voted the world’s most beautiful restaurant.
After breakfast, check-out of the hotel and transfer to Bruges (1.5h). Upon arrival in Bruges, you’ll be directed to the home of a Belgian interior designer where a private chef will teach you how to prepare a typical Flemish dish, the CarbonadeFlamande, a sweet-sour beef and onion stew made with beer, and seasoned with thyme, bay leaves and mustard. Enjoy it with some local beers in the beautiful garden. Later at about 2:00pm, depart on the famous Horse Tram, for a 30-minute ride through the city. It’s going to be your first encounter with medieval Bruges, enjoy the sights. You’ll be dropped at Hotel Heritage. Check-in, relax and refresh. Later that afternoon, enjoy a delightfulwalking tour of beautiful Bruges. It is the best-preserved example of medieval Flanders and much like Amsterdam, the heart of Bruges is surrounded by an almost continuous ring of canals. Walk through cobblestoned streets, past nice green parks and picturesque little houses and admire the city’s many iconic sights. Return to your hotel by 6:30pm and spend the rest of the evening at leisure.
After a light breakfast today, meet your guide in the lobby of the hotel and start your chocolate tour! With more than 46 specialty stores selling chocolate, it is easy to understand why Bruges is known as the ‘chocolate town’. Don’t forget to visit the rock ‘n’ roll chocolatier,Dominique Persoone, who became famous for creating the ‘snuff machine’ for a party organized by Mick Jagger. Thanks to the chocolate shooter, you can get a few milligrams of his cocoa spice catapulted directly into both nasal cavities! At the end of the tour, enjoy a 30-min boat ride through the waterways. Lunch is at leisure. Bruges is only 15km from the sea and offers a wide variety of fresh seafood. We recommend having some mussels & fries at Breydel De Coninc, probably the most famous restaurant of Bruges. It’s a touristy place but a local must-see. After lunch, head out for a behind-the-scenes visit of the De Halve Maanbrewery. For centuries, the Maes family has been brewing beer in Bruges. During the 1.5hr visit, learn its history and enjoy tasting their delicious world famous beers: Brugse Zot or Straffe Hendrik. End the day with a short bicycle ride to the beautiful village of Damme. Cycle through the open countryside along canals and through polders. Return to your hotel and spend the rest of the evening at leisure.
After breakfast, enjoy some free time in Bruges on your own. At 11am, check-out of the hotel and transfer to Ghent (1h). Upon arrival, check-in at 1898 The Post, a splendid new boutique hotel in a historical building located in the heart of Ghent. Enjoy lunch at leisure. We recommend the Great Butchers’ Hall. The medieval building where local East Flemish products are promoted. You can also enjoy the East Flanders’ cuisine such as ‘GentseWatezooi’ , the chicken based stew is one of the famous Belgian dishes from Ghent. Post lunchjoin your guide for a delightful little walking tour. Ghent is one of the most vibrant cities of Belgium. Admire the Castle of the Counts, the Beguinage,St Peter’s Cathedral, the Cityhall, the Patershol, St. Bavo’s Cathedral with its unique altarpiece ‘the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb’ and the city’s other iconic sights. At 6pm, enjoy the end of the day with a beer-walk guided by a beer historian with tastings at original beer cafes, including the brewery producing the famousGentseGruut.Wind the day down with dinner at a nice brasserie. We recommend one of the eateries run by the acclaimed chef Kobe Desramaults, who he received his first Michelin star at the age of 25 years and became the youngest star chef in Belgium.
Eat a light breakfast this morning, for today is the day you sample some local delights. Begin your tour by tasting the delectable ‘Cuberdon’, a traditional raspberry-filled sweet, also called the the Nose from Ghen for its unique cone shape! Continue to the Etablissement Max, established in 1839, it served the very first Apple Beignets and Brussels Waffles in Ghent. Which makes the traditional recipes used there almost 200 years old! Now, is a good time to feel thirsty. In Belgium, the genever, the traditional juniper-flavoured gin, was once so massively popular it threatened industrial production. As a consequence, in 1880, the ruling Catholic Party passed a law forbidding its sale in cafés. The law was not repealed until the 1980s, which was perhaps better for the health of the nation, but it had a disastrous effect on the Flemish gin industry. Where once Flanders had been home to hundreds of distilleries, by the 1990s only one remained. All that has now changed with many micro-distilleries offering a wide variety of options served in the bars of the city. Lunch at leisure. We recommend new Holy Food Market. The 16th century Baudelo Chapel – previously a church, cloister, library and arts campus – is now a temple to gastronomy with its own bar! Rest of the day is at leisure.
After breakfast, transfer to the Brussels airport for your flight back home. Included: Private guide (4h) / Entry fee in mentioned places / Overnight at Hotel 1898 The Post, The Letter Room DBL, Breakfasts & Taxes.
Bruges / Ghent
Ghent / Departure
A preview of the wonder that awaits you.
Head – Products, Contracting & Operations
Hello there, I am Sunita. I have over 23 years of experience in Travel and Tourism, spanning across Marketing, Tour Planning and Operations, having worked at major travel brands like SOTC, Kesari Tours, Cox & Kings and Thomas Cook. I also happen to be a multi-country expert personally having traveled to almost every continent on the map. With rich know-how on travel and tourism, I am the best-placed expert you could possibly find in this part of the country. I love traveling and talking about it, making me a good friend, guide and the go-to person if you want to design an outstanding experience. At Awakeful we operate on a philosophy that travel today is not just about covering every possible place on the map or keeping your Instagram popping with images, but about going to places that enthrall you, give you an experience that will touch every sense of yours, engaging with the locals, dining with them, seeing what they love and how they celebrate, to fill you up with an Awakeful experience. This, I promise will bring you back as an enlightened person and not just a tired, home-longing tourist. It’s an honest promise that we want to make and live by. One, that will want you to see places from the lens of an Awakeful Experience. I bring honesty, delight and country expertise to the Awakeful table and it will surely brighten your day. Cheers, Sunita.
What travellers have to say about Awakeful Experiences.
Dear Sunita and Dudley, we got back from our Alaska/LA trip last week. We had a memorable holiday and this note is to thank you for the same! The itinerary was well thought through and captured most of the 'must-do' bits of Alaska. I must mention that you took care in ensuring we include the stuff that we like - flying, dogs, nature treks, river rafting et al Your choice of hotels was thoughtful, convenient and provided the local experience. This was our first holiday plan with your travel company. My family insists that we do the next ones with you too! have appended a couple of our Alaska pics. Thank you once again!
CEO & MD Fullerton India Credit Co. Ltd
Ms. Laiju Lawrence of Fountainhead had been organising all my holidays for the past many years. She is meticulous, detail oriented and make sure the whole holiday experience is pleasant and without any hiccups. Even the planning of the trip is very detailed to suit the taste of me and my family on locations and activities to do. Overall, I had experienced one of the best service from Ms. Laiju and her firm.
Founder - Exfinity Ventures
I would like to thank you for making our Australian trip wonderful. We thoroughly enjoyed the trip and we were happy with all the bookings and arrangements. Looking forward for more such trips in the future.
Director : Team vertex
Thank you for organizing our trip to Norway, Copenhagen and Amsterdam. This trip was memorable for my wife Padmaja and Me in more than one way. You were able to understand our requirements and tailor our trip according to our needs. You were constantly in touch with us and that gave us so much of confidence and energy to move around. We wish to do many more trips with your support and extensive knowledge of the various locations worldwide.
Founder & Consultant - Mithras Retail Service
I was pampered by The World Bank, travel services in Washington D.C. as it’s executive. I must say that the arrangements by you on our recent trip to South Korea and Japan were as professional. All the arrangements were very comfortable, punctual and enjoyable. I want to thank you for your personal care and sincerity. Diya also joins me in thanking you.
Founder & Chairman-KENSRI SCHOOL