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Let me clarify a bit: how much should I expect to spend on food per day in Belgium if I am eating out nearly every meal? Does it vary by city? If so, how does Brussels compare? How about the French speaking part of the country?

I have done some research on my own, and found that the cost of living is quite high, but this refers to renting an apartment, taxes, etc. There was no mention of the price of restaurants or local food as it compares to, say, a large US city (not NYC), which is my reference point.

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Compared to an average US city, I expect you to find Belgium a very expensive country. Taxi's are extremely expensive, expect to pay >25Euro's for inner city trips. Having said that, public transport like trains and buses is really really cheap. The Belgian Railways have a card called Go Pass (<26) or Rail Pass which makes traveling through Belgium rather cheap.

Since I am local to Belgium, I am not a good reference on cost of accommodation. If you are traveling in a group, you might consider going for self-catering accommodation. Also check booking.com, which is a service that worked for me in many European cities. They often have very interesting offers on the day itself.

On food the choices are huge. "Frieten" or French Fries start just below 2 Euro. Being a local dish Belgians consider part of their local heritage I would recommend to at least once visit a local "Frituur". Other cheap options are going to the restaurants in the shopping malls, especially from the chains, but don't expect anything special there. Another cheap "fastfood" solution can be found in the many kebab places.

Then there are the all you can eat places. Almost every city or bigger village does have a "wokchinees", or a Chinese restaurant where you can eat as much as you can for around 25-30 euro's. A different cuisine, but also all you can eat can be found at the Colmar (Link in French and Dutch only).

In general I would say that a decent restaurant dinner would start at costing you 20 Euros per person. Be aware that in Belgium you pay for the water you order. There are exceptions (I am not affiliated), but in general a glass of water will start at 1-1.5 Euro's. You don't get tapwater, although in Belgium tapwater is of high quality.

Take home dishes (pizza or kebab) will start around 5 euro.

If you are in Belgium in the Summer try to locate a local cultural festival like the one running in Antwerp: "Zomer van Antwerpen" with its zomerbar. Usually these festivals aim at a local audience (hence the Dutch only websites), but sometimes you can find some really nice dishes there for very decent prices and the atmosphere is usually brilliant.

The best advise I can give is to go outside the tourist centers to find a decent dish for a decent price. This also fits Brussels.

  • Thanks, Andra. Maybe I should post a new question about this, but can you recommend any Belgian chains I should try which are cost effective and of decent quality? – unit3000-21 Jul 17 '12 at 18:24
  • Belgium does not have a lot of chains you'll find everywhere. We do have a lot of unique and independant restaurants,shops, ... however. – Sdry Apr 15 '13 at 11:11
  • Inner city trips, in Brussels with an Uber will not be min 25EUR. You can get from the centre to most of the 19 Brussels communes for around half that – stef Mar 1 '17 at 13:26
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    @stef Uber didn't exist back in 2012 when this answer was posted :) – jwenting Jun 18 at 3:36
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I quote from my Lonely Planet book:

Those staying in hostels, doing a museum, filling up with fast fodder like frites (chips or fries) and baguettes and downing a good beer or two can expect to spend from €40 per day. Those opting for hotels with full amenities and midrange restaurants will pay from €120. B&Bs offer excellent value, as do those weekend discounts.

And now my own experience:

For a beer, you can start at 1 € or 1.50 € in remote ares and small cities. Brussels is definitively more expensive. There I would assume to pay around 2.50 € for a beer. In my experience, Bruges is even more expensive then Brussel. There I would expect to pay around 3 € for a beer.

Going out for dinner is comparable to whole Central Europe. You can start at 5 € for a snack or fast food and spend up to 30 € if you go in a nice (but not high-end) restaurant.

  • 3
    one nitpick, Belgium is not part of Central Europe. – vartec Sep 20 '12 at 14:39
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    @vartec Probably best to say Western Europe – Simon Apr 15 '13 at 10:19
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I have just got back from a weekend in Bruges. We paid 83 euros for our hotel which included an all you can eat breakfast, we stayed the Saturday night. The hotel was only 0.11 km from the main square in the old town and was great value for money. We stayed in the Europ Hotel, highly recommend it, we booked through hotels.com.

The only American State I have been to is Florida which was alot cheaper than Bruges in my opinion.

Our dinner for 2 which was in a lovely restaurant next to 1 of the canals came to 60 euros, this was for a coca cola each and a main meal each of rack of lamb, the food was lovely and although quite expensive I think you expect to pay alot for lamb in most countries in Europe.

Crepes cost us about 8 euros each. French fries about 3 euros each.

A pint was generally about 3 euros, give or take 50 cents.

However lunch was a right tourist trap, my partner ordered mussels and I ordered lamb chops again (I love lamb haha). I asked what came with the meals to be told you can pick 2 sides, I ordered gratin potatoes and vegetables and my partner ordered french fries and mushrooms. We both had a coca cola. When the bill came it was 80 euros. He had charged us individually for each side dish 6 euros. I said to him you said it comes with 2 sides and he corrected me and said no I said you can pick to sides. So I said surely you can't charge 23 euros just for a plate of lamb chops they must come with sides and he said yes but it is 6 euros to substitute them. He will be getting a bad review on trip advisor and I gave him a 1 cent tip just to hopefully wind him up. What a rip off!

All in all other than the bad experience in the restaurant at lunch, the Belgians are very friendly and very helpful. Its a beautiful place to visit and Bruges is definitely worth a visit. I have never been to Brussels but plan to go next month for another weekend trip away. I have heard it is cheaper in Brussels that Bruges but I have no experience so couldn't really say.

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    So as to judge if the 60 EUR for two lamb racks are okay, one has to see the quality of the meat and the restaurant. Difficult to tell. – Maître Peseur Apr 15 '13 at 18:22
  • Same for the beer. For a 25cl Belgian Pils it's a lot. But for a trappist it's a very fair price. – Maître Peseur Apr 15 '13 at 18:25
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    Well in Belgium it is not a custom to give a tip, so (unfortunately) that won't make much of a difference. – Willem Van Onsem Jun 9 '15 at 0:42
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Belgium is a nice and interesting country, but not a budget destination. It is not Switzerland either.

I go quite often to Brussels for business and I find that accommodation during the week is really expensive. To be more precise, it is quite poor value for money, especially if you compare to some German cities. However, it is still not as bad as Jerusalem or other places in Israel ...

Accommodation gets much cheaper (half the price or even less) if you stay over the weekend. The same is true for other cities, especially in Flanders. I cannot comment on the Walloon cities. I have never stayed there overnight. You can subscribe on booking.com for the "secret deals". There you may even find real bargains for Brussels! (Just a suggestion. I'm not affiliated with them!)

Food isn't cheap either. But it is very nice, and I think that it is good value for money. If you are on a tight budget, you can go to one of the legendary "friteries". If you are really hungry, try a "Mitraillette" for a maximal satiation at a decent price. Food from a "friterie" is neither elaborate nor healthy, but delicious ;-)

Train travel is not expensive. You can have lots of discounts: rail passes, weekend discounts, youth and senior discounts and so on. And the network is good. You can have a look at the website of the Belgian railways.

  • how about some Euro figures, since he asked? :) – Mark Mayo Nov 4 '12 at 21:56
  • That's difficult. For accommodation, you can check prices at booking.com. It depends on when, where, what ... For train tickets, I have add a hyperlink ;-) – Maître Peseur Nov 4 '12 at 22:06
  • The Mitraillette link is now broken. – Peter Taylor Jan 3 '16 at 18:20
  • But now you can enjoy it again. – Maître Peseur Jan 3 '16 at 19:15
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If you're eating out every meal, you'll spend a lot of money (and often overpaid your meal in the touristic places).

It depends a lot of what you'll eat. If you'll go to standard restaurants, the average coast for a meal with drink and dessert is between 15 and 30 euros.

But if you'll go a lot to the foreign restaurants (and there are a lot of them in Brussels), you'll eat less healthy, but will spend a lot less money. For example, a kebab with frenchfries in it and a drink will cost you between 4 and 6 euros. Same if you go to frituur (local), Greek fast-food, or big enterprises like McDonald,Quick or Panos.

If you like to order food, use Pizza.be, which is a website/app referencing a lot of restaurants which delivers food. It's useful for comparing the prices and the quality, thanks to the evaluations of previous customers.

So, it's up to you to choose between more expensive but healthier, or cheap and fat.

If you're looking for a good supermarket to buy cheaper food, go to Colruyt (best value for money in Belgium for my opinion) and avoid the little ones like Carrefour Express or Deli Traiteur in the center of the town. Aldi and Liddle are cheap too, but the quality is lower. Use Google Maps for finding the nearest one.

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In Belgium you can expect to eat quite cheap. I never pay over 20 EUR for a 3-course lunch or a decent dinner. Just walk the extra 250m from the city center, and be assured to pay less and get less touristy options. I can give you lots of good ideas if you have further questions, for I am a 54 year old "Brugger".

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