At Expat Club we understand that many expats who come and live in this part of Europe feel the urgency to visit especially the bigger cities that can be easily reached from Brussels, such as Amsterdam, London, Paris, Cologne or Luxembourg. No doubt each of these places have a lot to offer in terms of culture, history, architecture, arts, cuisine and more. And of course that is also the reason why we travel to those places regularly.
If you stay here only for a short time, these travel choices are understandable. But if you stay here for a longer time you definitely miss out on what makes Europe unique if you only jump on the intercity trains, namely lies in between. Expat Club designs trips in such a way that we discover also the many little towns and villages dotted all over the map. We have seen many little gems over the past years, and these are our favorites.
Located just a few kilometers from Épernay, this is no doubt the number 1 Champagne village. Home and final resting place to the famous Dom Perignon, Hautvillers is a fixed stop on all of our Champagne trips. With its lovely streets and over a dozen of Champagne houses, this is a great place to spend an afternoon searching for your new favorite bottle of bubbles.
The Opal Coast trip along the coastal route between Dunkirk and Boulogne sur Mer is one of our most popular trips. At just 2,5 hours from Brussels, this day trip is remarkably diverse. From industrial towns to high cliffs and medieval buildings, one of our destination is the resort town of Wimereux. With its boulevard and many beautiful art nouveau houses, it’s one of the most beautiful towns.
With an old castle and its many bars, restaurants, art and antiquity shops, the “smallest city on Earth” is an attractive place to visit when you are in the Belgian Ardennes. Located on the Ourthe river, it is also a magnificent destination for water recreation. There are many kayaking tours possible through the green hills.
Another “Venice of the North”, Giethoorn in the Province of Overijssel in the Netherlands is known for its canals, wooden bridges and exceptional farm houses. We go here every year in combination with a visit to the equally nice small fishers town Urk.
This former island is located at about 10km over water from Holland’s most famous village Volendam. Marken is a colorful place with traditional wooden buildings, and one of our destinations on the popular Markermeer trip.
One of our most popular Christmas destinations, Monschau, lies just over the Belgium-German border at the edge of the Eifel region. Walking around, you immediately notice all buildings have the same slate tiles roofs and that the entire atmosphere just breaths “Christmas”.
In and of itself a nice town, but nothing exceptional until you learn more about the period its most famous citizens lived here. Vincent van Gogh was a resident of Nuenen between 1883 and 1885 and became a Master Painter after finishing his world-famous The Potato Eaters here.
Our final destination on our popular White Cliffs of Dover trip before we head back to the Port of Dover for the evening sailing to Calais. Deal is home to a fort castle, an interesting pier with many fishers on it, as well as several fish & chips restaurants.
The Moselle river meanders through Germany like a happy green snake. Well, maybe not the river itself, but for sure the river banks. With endless vineyards on the steep and tall river banks, it is truly a remarkably area to visit. On our combined Trier-Moselle trip, we taste various Moselle wines in the picturesque village of Bernkastel-Kuess.
Villages along the Alsace Wine Route
It would be unfair to only mention one specific village here, because the famous Alsace Wine Route, which meanders for many dozens of kilometers through vast vineyards, literally connects countless stunning villages. Our favorites? Obernai, Kayserberg, Ribeauvillé, Bergheim, Eguisheim and Riquewihr.
The village that carries the name of the Swiss Kanton Appenzell-Innerhoden (or the other way around?), is situated between lower but scenic Alps. Half-timbered houses mix with little chapels and churches, whereas many tourist shops, bars and restaurants makes this a great place to visit.
This mountain village of just over 5500 inhabitants welcomes a multifold of tourists in the winter and summer seasons. It’s a scenic village in the most amazing region of Switzerland. With several glaciers in the mountains above, a big ski area and of course the Matterhorn, it’s our top destination during our Switzerland tour.
Situated opposite the city Le Havre at the end of the Seine river, Honfleur is often our final destination on our trips to Mont Saint-Michel in Lower Normandy. Its slate-roofed buildings on the old harbor inspire many people to take out their cameras for some lovely pictures.
Main picture Giverny – © deb22 – Shutterstock