Belgium is pretty affordable, especially when you know how to get around and get all the discounts. We’ve got tips for a slow travel budget for you, plus the top free activities across the country. You can also find all of these and more on our map.
1. Free stuff to do
Belgium has tons of free things to do all over the country. From museums to hiking trails to urban street art galleries, you’re spoiled for choice!
Did you know that many museums are free in Antwerp and Brussels for one day of the month? On the last Wednesday or the first Sunday, museums open their doors totally for free. Even if you can’t make it to the museums on that day, you can still get a City Card for massive savings if you’re planning on visiting at least a few museums.
Search for hiking, cycling, and parks for a guaranteed free day out in nature. Whether you’re a group of friends trekking the great outdoors or a family searching for a day out, nature can’t let you down. Belgium has tons of hiking trails and nature reserves to explore in every region.
Be on the lookout for free walking tours. Sometimes run by locals, the walking tours are free upfront but accept tips. As you’ll be walking around for at least an hour, maybe more, tips are polite.
Many activities offer special discount rates for young adults and students. Bring your ID to get those sweet, sweet discounts.
Don’t forget your City Card! These cards are around 29€ for 24 hour benefits. You can pick a 48 or 72 hour option instead if you’ll be around in the city for longer. You can get access to literally tons of museums (49€ in Brussels!) for free, meaning massive savings and even more discounts on other activities, tours, shops, and restaurants. Most City Cards have an “Unlimited Public Transport” option too to make getting around the city even easier.
Where can you get City Cards? You can usually pick one up at the city tourist office or buy one ahead of time by looking on their website.
Check the city card of where you’re going to see how much you’ll save! We recommend not buying a city card for a child as they already get big discounts or free entry for most attractions. But for adults, solo travellers, and travellers into cultural experiences, a City Card is usually a good deal.
3. Transport on a budget
Stick to public transport! Taxis get super expensive. Under 26? Get the GoPass Train Pass. Get second-class tickets.
You can also get a City Card and pick the added Unlimited Travel option. If it’s worth or not depends on how long you plan to be in the city and what you’ll be using the card for other than travel. If you’re not hitting up the museums, then the card isn’t as useful.
Coming by car? In the cities, you’ll often have to pay for parking unless you go further out. Park & Ride into the cities to save on parking.
4. How to avoid touristy charges
Shop outside the tourist centre. The centre of the city is usually a tourist hotspot, so things are more expensive. Wander downtown and the suburbs to find better deals and authentic experiences
Known the tourist season. July to August is the busiest time of the year for Belgium. Avoid the crowds by travelling in April to June and September to October. Christmas is also a fun time to visit thanks to the cute Christmas markets.
5. Eating out
Like most European countries, tipping isn’t the norm in Belgium. The service charge is already added on to your bill.
What about waffles?
In many tourist spots you’ll see waffle stalls. The waffles themselves are cheap. But all the toppings cost extra and will add up. Plus, that’s not how Belgian waffles really are. Get waffles with just powdered sugar like the locals eat it for a more authentic feel.
6. Where to stay?
You’ll get the best savings when you use a hostel or find a budget AirBnB. There are good budget hotel options too, but you’ll have to browse to find the best deal.
7. A quick guide to travel costs in Belgium
Looking for the best budget option hotels in Belgium? You've got plenty to pick from, but it's best to do some digging to find the best deals.
What you need to know:
- Budget hotels start at 50€ (plus WiFi)
- Hostel room (plus ensuite bathroom) around 50€
- Airbnbs are a popular option. Shared rooms will cost you around 17€. If you want a whole apartment for yourself and friends, prices start at 50€ but will depend on size and location.
Where to eat
- Most main meals at a cafe: 15€
- Couple’s 3 course dinner at a €€ restaurant: 60€
- Frites: 4€
- One week budget food shop: 60€. Aldi, Lidl, and Colruyt are best for those on a super tight budget.
- If you can cook your own meals in Belgium, you’ll end up saving money and get to explore all the local food markets.
8. Things to do
There’s a whole range of activities in Belgium for any budget. Museums and most attractions cost around 5-15€, but there are discount and free options too. Check out our Top 10 free things to do in Belgium for your best budget option. Plus, find even more free things to do right here.