What to do in between the raindrops in Flanders
Is Belgium a rainy country? Not really. It only rains here 7% of the time, as proved by research from Flanders’ most respected weatherman Frank Deboosere. So most of the time you can enjoy the open air to the full. Even if it should start to rain, there are plenty of other things to do and stay dry.
Climb up 514 steps
St Rumbold's Tower, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is an icon of the city of Mechelen. The cathedral, dating back over 500 years, is the perfect excursion for a rainy day. If it starts to drizzle then follow the 514 steps to the top of the tower, 97 metres above the ground. Along the way you can learn about how this magnificent structure came to be, and your efforts will be rewarded with stunning views, extending as far as Antwerp and Brussels.
The house of the master
Those using the words ‘Brussels’ and ‘architect’ in the same sentence will soon start talking about Victor Horta. He is one of the founders of Art Nouveau. His magnificent work can still be admired in many parts of Ghent and Brussels. The old townhouse Hotel Tassel and The Palace of Fine Arts, often referred to as 'Bozar', are among the many examples. The Horta Museum, where this master once lived, is another jewel in Brussels' architectural crown. Pretty much the entire interior has remained in its original state, ranging from mosaics and furnishings right down to stained glass. Escape the dark clouds and dive into the wonderful world of Horta.
Chocolate fit for a king
A second option in Brussels: the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert is found in the heart of the city, not far from the Grand Place. This historic arcade is one of the oldest shopping malls in Europe and it’s also where you’ll find some of the very best chocolate makers in the country. Pop in and take home a taste of their moreish chocolate. Before, during or after a tasting you can also enjoy a stroll alongside the arcade’s luxury boutiques, watchmakers and the Vaudeville Theatre. Whatever the weather: you will be safe here under the glass roof.
Pop to the pub
One thing you’ll certainly find here in Flanders is a unique beer culture. Belgian beers simply cannot be beaten, either in terms of quality or quantity. There are more than 1,500 different, original beers. Belgians are proud to exploit their beer culture: our streets are lined with pubs of all shapes and sizes. So, if the sky turns a threatening shade of grey there is nowhere better to hide out. Pick a cosy, warm café, order a glass of liquid gold and wait until the raindrops have dried up.
For mini Einsteins
Possibly the toughest challenge on a rainy day: keeping the children happy and entertained. So, let them sleep on a bed of nails, cycle on a cable five metres above the ground or test their strength by lifting up a car. Everything is possible in Technopolis, a hands-on centre science and technology museum located in Mechelen. Ideal for everyone, from one to 100.
On your bike
It's quite simple: just go cycling. After all, Flanders is the birthplace of the so-called Flandrien, the undaunted cyclist who is not afraid of anything. Rain, wind, freezing cold, nasty cobbled slopes like the Bosberg, the Muur van Geraardsbergen or the Oude Kwaremont: just the stuff for a Flandrien. So, if the heavens open, lift your head up high, jump on your bike and unleash your inner Belgian.
Kids to cyclists, chocolate lovers and beer aficionados, architecture fans and admirers of our Flemish heritage: everyone will find plenty to do, visit and experience in Flanders. Even if it does rain a little.
Story created on October 24, 2017