Belgium’s Geography and Landscape: From Coastal Plains to Forested Ardennes

High Fens

Belgium is often thought of as quite flat and boring, which is why a post on its geography and landscape might seem a little odd.

However, there is a lot to learn and discover about the variety and diversity of Belgium’s landscapes. From the long coastal plains in the north all the way to the hilly and forested Ardennes in the south.

Let’s take a brief look at Belgium’s geography…

Location and Borders

Belgium is a small country located in Western Europe. It covers an area of 30,688 square kilometers (11,848 square miles) and it shares borders with four countries:

  • the Netherlands to the north
  • Germany to the east
  • Luxembourg to the southeast
  • France to the south and southwest.

Belgium also has a long sandy coastline along the North Sea to the northwest with major water inlets leading to cities like Antwerp.

Belgium’s Physical Geography

Let’s break down the geography and landscapes of Belgium in a little more detail.

Coastal Plain

Beach at Ostende
Beach at Ostende

The coastal plain is located in the northwest along Belgium’s coastline. Stretching from the French border in the west to the Dutch border in the east, this North Sea coastline is often overlooked by visitors to Belgium.

Sure, the landscape here is mostly flat, but it is lined with sandy beaches, dunes, and polders. In case you did not know, Polders are reclaimed lands protected by dikes. This is usually done for agriculture or land for housing.

The coastal plain is also home to the Port of Antwerp, Belgium’s largest and Europe’s second-largest port.

Central Plateau

Moving inland (southeast) from the coastal plain is the central plateau of Belgium. It is a slightly higher region that contains a mixture of forest, heath and farming land.

Some of the more specific areas on this plateau include:

  • the Campine region (northeast)
  • the Hesbaye region (central-east)
  • the Pajottenland (central-west)

The plateau is filled with gentle, rolling hills as well as a large series of rivers and streams including some of the most well-known in Belgium: the Schedlt and Meuse rivers.


Forest trail in the Ardennes
Forest trail in the Ardennes

The Ardennes, in the southeast of Belgium, is a heavily forested and quite hilly region that is popular with outdoor enthusiasts. The region technically extends across the border into Luxembourg and France.

This region of Belgium is far less populated than the north and the majority of people here are French-speaking.

High Fens

Moorland in the High Fens
Moorland in the High Fens

The High Fens, also known as Hautes Fagnes, is a part of the Ardennes known for its moorlands and peat bogs. This region is close to the German border and contains the highest point in Belgium: Signal de Botrange (694m / 2,277 ft). It is also the largest nature reserve in Belgium, and home to several endemic plant and animal species.

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