Though January is midwinter in Belgium, it's a great time to visit if you want to enjoy the arts and culture of the northern European country without the crowds—or the high prices. Brussels is brimming with excellent art galleries, while the historic port city of Antwerp is a must-visit for foodies. Still want to get outside and do something active? Look for ice-skating opportunities in the cities and countryside. Learn more about traveling to Belgium in January.


January is midwinter in Belgium and, statistically, the coldest month of the year. Although it's a small country, Belgium's climate varies slightly between coastal, inland, and highland areas.

Coastal Flanders (the Flemish-speaking northern region of Belgium) tends to be the warmest/mildest region, with a maritime climate that tempers extremes of cold or heat. On the other hand, the southern and inland Ardennes are the coldest, with more snow and fog in winter. Brussels is inland, so it has more of a continental climate than coastal cities like Bruges or Antwerp, but it still doesn't experience freezing temperatures in January. Brussels sees an average high temperature of 43°F (6°C) and a low of 34°F (1°C).

Crowds & Costs

January is the offseason for travel to Belgium. It's a great time to come if you're on a budget because accommodation prices will be more affordable. You may find a good deal on hotels in popular places (such as Ghent, Bruges, or Antwerp) that would be expensive in the summer or booked out months in advance. And although it's low season, you can still expect most cultural facilities in the cities to be operating.

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Where to Go

With the typically cold, dark weather, January is an excellent time to seek out indoor attractions. In a country famous for its chocolate, waffles, fries, and seafood (sometimes even together—hello moules frites) taking a self-guided or organized food walking tour won't disappoint. A great place to do so is attractive Antwerp as the walk between venues will be lovely, whatever the weather. Antwerp is a port city on a river, the local cuisine combines Belgian and international influences, and foodies won't be disappointed.

January is also an ideal month to hit up Brussels' art galleries. Shelter from grim weather in the six museums of the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium: the Oldmasters Museum, the Magritte Museum, the Fin-de-Siècle Museum, the Modern Museum, the Antoine Wiertz Museum, and the Constantin Meunier Museum. The long-running and highly regarded BRAFA Art Fair is also held in late January. See impressive art and design exhibits as well as talks and lectures.

What to Do

Traveling to Belgium in January doesn't mean you have to spend all your time indoors. Ice skating is a popular pastime, whether on constructed rinks (like Brussels' Plaisirs d'Hiver) or frozen lakes and canals inland. Skating rinks typically rent out skates.

If you missed the Christmas markets in the run-up to Christmas in December, it's not too late: unlike in most other European countries, Belgium's Christmas markets don't all shutter by the end of December. If you're traveling to Belgium in January, especially earlier in the month, you will still find some festive markets open for business. Those in Brussels and Antwerp are the most popular, but you can also get your mulled wine and Belgian chocolate fix in other places.

Events in January

BRAFA Art Fair, Brussels. Explore the art scene in January and February, celebrating fine arts, antiques, and design during this eight-day festival. 

Brussels Jazz Festival, Brussels. This 10-day event is a platform for local and international musicians and adds warmth to the winter arts season.

More Helpful Information

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Belgium in February
Best Time of Year to Visit Belgium
How Many Days to Spend in Belgium