Is it the beer, the fries or the chocolate? Either way, Brussels is a city that’s hard to resist. Buzzing and cosmopolitan, the centre of EU bureaucracy is undoubtedly one of Europe’s must see cities. If Brussels’ superb restaurants and lively nightlife aren’t the highlight attractions, it’s only because the galleries and museums are just as celebrated. Make sure you have plenty of time on your itinerary to take in everything Brussels has to offer.
Brussels is relatively easily to explore with most key attractions crowded into a city centre jam-packed full of Art Nouveau architecture. The best place to begin any tour is at the Grand-Palace, which sits at the heart of the Lower Town. Next take in The Royal Greenhouses, while visitors lucky enough to be in Brussels at the right time can’t miss a glimpse at the flower carpet design which features more than 700,000 cut begonias. From there head to Upper Town and take your pick from The Royal Museum of Fine Art or the Magritte Museum, which is entirely dedicated to the work of Rene Magritte.
Belgium’s capital is a wonderful place to eat and these days its gastronomic scene is sometimes described as ‘Paris without the pretense’ - having a national dish consisting of mussels and fries very much proves that point! The wood-paneled Art Deco brasseries that fill the lanes around Grand Palace make a good starting point for your Belgian culinary journey, while those wanting to mingle with fashionable Bruxellois should head to Antoine-Dansaert for a beverage of the alcoholic kind. Ixelles is located further from the city centre but is another interesting dining area to explore with a diverse café and restaurant.
Where to Stay
Accommodation in Brussels is never limited and the city has a vast network of hotels to choose from. If you’re visiting only briefly, the ideal place to stay is around the Grand Palace. 12-room Hotel Pacific and the ever-friendly Brussels Welcome Hotel are two boutique hotels right in the heart of the action while the Dominican is a more elegant option and perfect for business travelers or those looking to treat themselves. Visitors seeking a quieter stay away from the hustle and bustle should consider Ste-Catherine as a lodging location.
Brussels’ history as a distinctly multicultural city means that in any five minutes you can be browsing between an exclusive boutique, an African bazaar or a Middle-Eastern sweet-shop. Of-course everyone knows that Belgians are famous for chocolate and you’d be fool to leave without buying some. Jean Galler, Passion Chocolat and Pierre Marcolini are three good places to purchase a few calories, but don’t limit your options – taste your way around town! Luxury brand lovers, head to Boulevard de Waterloo and Rue Antoine Dansaert, while shopping at Rue Neuve will leave you more money to spend on chocolate. Galeries St Hubert is the first shopping arcade in Europe and is also worth a visit, if only for a photo.
Brussels Like a Local
Indulge guilt free! A healthy balance of beer, fries and chocolate is an essential parts of the Brussels diet. Just how much is healthy? Well there are over seven hundred local brews to choose from so maybe don’t try them all but do make a start at traditional Belgian bars A La Mort or A La Becasse. When it’s fries time, Frit Flagey are said to make some of the tastiest in Belgium and have a long list of condiments to add to your fried potatoes. The long lines are proof of the quality and the product is certainly well worth the wait.