When I think of Belgium, I immediately think of beer and chocolate. And while it’s best not to let your dog indulge in either, you should think of taking your dog along on your trip to Belgium. With lots of dog-friendly options to choose from in, it’s an easy European country to travel in with your dog. Here’s everything you need to know for a happy time travelling in Belgium with a dog…
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Dining Out in Belgium with a Dog
In our experience, many restaurants in Belgium will allow your well-behaved dog to join you inside, although it’s always best to confirm first before entering. However, the majority of time in Belgium we ate (or just enjoyed a beer) at outside tables, along with our dog, as it was the middle of summer. There’s plenty of restaurants and cafes with huge outdoor terraces all around Belgium. When you have the option, it’s easier and the done thing just to dine outdoors with your dog at one of these.
When the weather turned inclement on us, a couple of times we turned to EXKi, a healthy fast-food chain with multiple outlets around Belgium. Both times our dog was allowed inside, although there’s the rule to keep them on the floor, away from the food options on counters higher up. For a less healthy option, there’s plenty of take-away fries and waffles on offer!
Taking a Dog on Public Transport in Belgium
It’s easy to get around Belgium on the train system, as the country is quite small and well serviced by trains. On Belgian Rail, small pets in a basket, cage or box travel for free. The maximum dimensions of the container should be 30 x 55 x 30cm. Larger dogs require a pet ticket which costs a small €3 per single trip. Muzzles are recommended but not mandatory, although it is also possible a conductor may insist on your dog being muzzled.
Within the cities, the rules can vary. De Lijn operates many of the local public transport services in Belgium, including the trams in Antwerp and Ghent. On their buses and trams, dogs can travel for free. A leash is required, plus you may be requested to put on a muzzle. Additionally, the driver may not let pets travel during peak times or if they are a nuisance to other passengers.
In Brussels, public transport is run by STIB. While smaller dogs that can be held on a lap can travel for free, a ticket is needed for other dogs. Additionally, a muzzle is required for bigger dogs.
Dog-Friendly Accommodation in Belgium
Looking for somewhere pet-friendly to stay in Belgium? Check out these options in Brussels, Bruges and Antwerp.
pentahotel Brussels City Centre
A stylish 4-star hotel, this pentahotel is just a short stroll from an upmarket quarter of Brussels. There’s also trams passing right by the door to connect to the main train station and the Grand Place. We enjoyed relaxing with our pup in the large lounge area downstairs, which includes a restaurant and bar. Pets are allowed on request, for an additional charge. Look for great value rates available on many weekends and over the summer holiday period.
A Luxury Apartment on a Canal in Bruges
Bruges is a beautiful destination that deserves more than a day trip, ideally by staying within the town and enjoying the ambience during the quieter mornings and evenings. This gorgeous apartment is situated just far enough from the town centre so that it’s quiet and relaxing, but only a short walk to restaurants and attractions. A one-bedroom apartment, it sleeps up to 2 adults and 2 children. Pets are allowed by prior arrangement with an additional pet fee per stay. It’s also possible to add on a car space in a nearby garage if you’re driving to Bruges.
Hilton Antwerp Old Town
Located in a gorgeous old building in the heart of the Old Town, the Hilton is perfect for a luxurious weekend in Antwerp. Small pets up to 11kg (25 lbs) are allowed on request for an extra charge. There’s a range of rooms available, including executive rooms and suites that include complimentary breakfast plus free drinks and snacks at the Executive Lounge, which includes a private rooftop terrace overlooking the historic cathedral.
Dog-Friendly Sightseeing in Belgium
Belgium offers you many options for your dog to join you sightseeing. In particular, I recommend adding the following to your must-do list.
1. Explore the Old Town of Bruges
Bruges (or Brugge in Dutch) is a delightful historic city in western Belgium. A major centre during the medieval period, much of its historic charm has been retained due to the river silting out and commerce moving elsewhere. While many visitors arrive on a day-trip from Brussels, I recommend spending a least a couple of days here, as the town is at its best during the early morning and during the evening, when it is quieter. (It’s also less than a 90 minute drive from the ferry terminal in Calais, perfect for a quick trip from the UK.) We spent our time wandering through the streets, enjoying a drink at various cafes (don’t miss the cafe right on the small lake) and looking at the cute shops.
2. Visit the Grand Place in Brussels
Squares don’t come much grander than the UNESCO World-Heritage listed Grand Place in Brussels. It’s lined with impressive multi-story buildings built by the various guilds and merchants, plus the town hall and King’s House or Breadhouse. Take your time circling the square and taking it all in. I regret not also returning after dark, when the buildings are prettily lit up. While your pup won’t be as impressed as you are, they’re welcome to join you in this open-air museum.
3. Relax with a Belgium Beer
They take their beer seriously in Belgium! The country is particular renown for the Trappist beers brewed by monks. And there’s nothing more Belgian than taking a seat at one of the many outdoor cafes and bars and enjoying a beer or two. It’s the perfect way to while away an afternoon, your dog at your feet, with some Belgian fries dunked in mayonnaise. Just be warned that the beers are often quite strong, so make sure you’re walking back to your hotel or taking public transport afterwards.
4. Visit a Beguinage in Leuven or Bruges
While you’ve probably heard of monasteries and convents, in Belgium and some surrounding countries you will also find beguinages. These complexes were built to house beguines, religious women who choose to live together in a community, but without taking vows or retiring from the world, as in the case of nuns. Many of these beguinages still exist, usually with beautiful preserved historic buildings. Sometimes they still house beguines or else they have been converted to other purposes, such as university housing.
If visiting Bruges, don’t miss spending some time in the beguinage at the southern end of the city. It’s a pocket of calm, despite the many visitors, amongst the busy streets. Or else consider taking a day trip to the lovely city of Leuven, close to Brussels, and visiting its larger beguinage. Well-behaved dogs are welcome to join you at either beguinage, except for inside any museum buildings open to the public.
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