Belgium is one of Europe’s most popular holiday destinations; a small country known for its picturesque historic streets and exceptional chocolate and beer. With a range of towns and cities offering spectacular architecture, numerous museums and galleries and brilliant restaurants and bars, there’s more than enough to fill even an extended trip, whether you’re looking for cosmopolitan culture or charming, rural countryside.
Many people visit Belgium in December in order to visit the numerous Christmas markets that spring up across the country, but a trip at this time of year can be incredibly expensive and you may find yourself fighting for space with other travellers wherever you go. In January you can still enjoy the magical winter ambience, but will also benefit from a more peaceful atmosphere and much lower prices.
Reasons to visit Belgium in January
- January is part of the low season for tourism in Belgium, so you will save a lot of money on travel and accommodation if you visit during the month
- The lack of crowds in January means that you can enjoy popular cities like Bruges and Brussels without the usual hoards of tourists
- The chilly weather in January offers the perfect excuse to enjoy one of Belgian’s speciality drinks: a steaming mug of delicious hot chocolate
Weather in the Belgium in January
The weather in Belgium in January is the same across the whole country; low temperatures, frequent rain showers, and a fair bit of ice and frost. These conditions can make the country feel and look particularly magical on days when it is clear and crisp, but you’ll need to wrap up very warm in order to enjoy the cold weather!
The average high temperature in Belgium in January is a very chilly 6°C, with the average low hovering around 1°C. You will need to pack suitable, warm clothing to wear the whole time you are visiting the country, as it can sometimes drop below freezing when it gets dark.
Clouds and Rainfall
Chances of rain in Belgium in January decrease as the month goes on, but there is still an average of around 14 days of rain in the country. Bruges is the driest part of the country to be visiting in January, but you’ll still find around 10 days of rain there.
There are only around 8 hours of daylight in Belgium in January, with 5 hours of sunshine appearing each day. The average sunrise time is 8.40 am, getting earlier as the month progresses, and sunset is usually around 5 pm.
Where to go in the Belgium in January
Bruges is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, and by visiting in January you’ll get to enjoy it all to yourself. If you’re looking for an opportunity to photograph the numerous historic streets, bridges and buildings that Brugues is famous for without the usual crowds of tourists, then this is the best time to visit the city.
As well as sightseeing and exploring the UNESCO World Heritage Site city centre, Bruges has a host of other options for tourists including museums, shops and restaurants along with the famous Belfry of Bruges. The city is also famous for its chocolate, so a visit to a bespoke chocolatier is a must during your trip.
Antwerp offers a much more modern experience of Belgium than Bruges and is ideal if you want to spend some time in a more cosmopolitan location and enjoy a variety of shops and markets. After all, January is one of the best times of the year to snap up a bargain in the sales, so remember to leave room in your suitcase!
If shopping isn’t really your thing, never fear. Antwerp is home to a brilliant selection of museums and art galleries, offering a respite from the cold weather and a fantastic range of ancient and contemporary art and artefacts. If you’re visiting on a dry and sunny day you could also take a trip to the city’s public gardens, or explore the Het Steen fortress and admire the views from the top of this historic castle.
Things to do in Belgium in January
Try a Belgian Beer
Belgium is famous for its beer, and there’s no better way to spend a cosy evening than enjoying a pint or two in a bar or restaurant. The brewing techniques used in the country have been the same for hundreds of years, and you can’t leave without trying at least one speciality beer alongside a meal.
Visit a Museum
In January’s cold weather, finding indoor attractions in which to keep warm is high on many traveller’s lists of priorities. Belgium is a country that is full of history, and there are museums in every city dedicated to topics ranging from chocolate to architecture to World War One.
Warm Up with Chocolat Chaud
Whether you’re out and about or settling in for the night, the ultimate way to get warm is to enjoy a traditional mug of Belgian hot chocolate, or ‘chocolat chaud’. Chocolate in Belgium is raved about across the world, and their hot chocolate is the ultimate experience in rich, sweet and sugary luxury.
Crowds and Cost
Belgium can be very cold and wet in January, which makes the month part of the low season for tourism in the country. However, this is great news if you’re looking for a much cheaper time to visit Belgium as flights and accommodation will be a lot less expensive than in the summer.
As long as you’re prepared to brave the elements on occasion, you’ll be able to enjoy Belgium in January without having to share it with heaps of other travellers. Bear in mind that large cities like Brussels might be busy around the New Year, but this will quickly settle down as the month progresses.
January festivals and events
Bommelsfeesten, or Bomells Festival, takes place in Belgium over the first weekend that occurs after 6th January. Held in the town of Ronse, the traditions date right back to the Middle Ages, and involve “Bommel lopen” which means walking around with a mask on.
As well as a lot of partying and dressing up, the highlight of the festival is a huge parade that usually takes place on a Saturday night. People in masks, giants and other performers snake through the streets of the town and the celebrations culminate in a fantastic fireworks display.
Frequently asked questions about Belgium in January
How cold is Belgium in winter?
Belgium does not get exceptionally cold in the winter, as the country has a relatively mild climate all year round. It is unlikely that the temperature will drop below freezing when you are visiting in January.
Is English spoken in Belgium?
The two main languages spoken in Belgium are Dutch and Flemish, and whilst some of the population can speak English, you will fare much better if you learn some basic French phrases before you travel.
Christmas might have been and gone, but visiting Belgium in January can still offer you the winter wonderland experience of your dreams in this beautiful country. Wrap up warm to go out and enjoy seeing the sights in cities like Brussels or Leuven, or cosy up in your holiday accommodation and enjoy the fine food and drink that Belgium is famous for.