Best of Brussels
I had heard so many varying accounts from fellow travellers about Brussels. Some enjoyed it while others found it lacking. But I had to go and discover it for myself. And I was pleasantly surprised. Brussels is a beautiful city full of amazing architecture, fantastic food and a ton of things to do and see in its compact core. I feel like I discovered the best of Brussels.
Best Things to Do & See in Brussels
Victor Hugo once wrote, “This is the most beautiful square in the world.” And I must say, it is certainly one of my favourites. The Grand Place is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a must to see by day and by night while all lit up. Home to the outstanding old town hall, restaurants, museums and even a hotel. The Grand Place also boasts many of Brussels’ festivals. The buildings were also once guild houses and each is unique in its details. Nowhere in the city will you see a better example of Brussels’ diverse architecture than here.
Brussels is home to over 80 museums. That’s an outstanding amount! Museums include everything from Belgian art to comic book art and musical instruments to Art Nouveau. But where do you start? Two of my favourites are the Museum of the City of Brussels and Museum of Musical Instruments. The Museum of the City of Brussels is locate in one of the grand buildings in Grand Place. Here you’ll find everything about the history and folklore of Brussels, including the original Manneken-Pis statue.
The Museum of Musical Instruments is in a fine Art Nouveau building that was once a department store. This museum is home to over 9000 pieces and you can even hear recordings of what each sounded like. Another highlight of the museum is the top floor restaurant with one of the best views of Brussels.
Brussels is home to some fabulous street art. There’s everything from modern art to videogame-like space invaders. But the main draw is the comic book murals. There’s even a self-guided tour you can take, the Brussels’ Comic Book Route, that will bring you passed over 50 of these murals that are locate in the city centre. What more? Check out the Belgian Comic Strip Center.
Royal Galleries of Saint-Hubert
Built in 1847, the Royal Galleries of Saint-Hubert was the first shopping arcade in Europe. With stunning architecture in and out. Its home to over 50 fabulous shops, charming cafes, grand theatres and even a spectacular bookshop, Tropismes, which made its way into my Top Bookshops of Europe. Saint-Hubert is also where you’ll find my favourite chocolate shop in Brussels, Mary.
Related Post: Best Bookstores in Europe
Best Food in Brussels
I must confess, I am no foodie. But that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy eating and trying new things. With that said, I was totally in love with everything I ate while in Brussels. There are a bunch of must-try foods while in the city, Belgian frites, Belgian waffles, Flemish stew and Belgian chocolate.
Belgian frites and waffles
Cheap and quick to grab for lunch or dinner on the go, both Belgian frites and waffles can be purchased for less than a few Euros. Belgian frites are delicious fries that are deep fried in quality oil, twice. Crispy and golden brown, frites are often served with a dollop of mayonnaise for your dipping pleasure. Belgian waffles are available nearly everywhere and are super cheap. The real thing are crispy, rectangular and sprinkled with icing sugar. They’re good for a snack or quick meal.
For dinner consider trying Flemish stew. This affordable beef stew is cooked in Belgian beer. It’s rich, sweet and mouth-watering good. Flemish stew is often served with frites which are great when dipped in the gravy of the stew.
Belgium’s chocolate is some of the finest in the world. They’ve had a long history with chocolate, from being among the first to bring the cocoa bean to Europe to pioneering how to make it. You’ll find many chocolatiers in Brussels, but to me the best is Mary. Mary is a family run shop from 1919, now under new owners, and located in Royal Galleries of Saint-Hubert. I suggest you indulge in a few different kinds, from pralines to truffles, you won’t be disappointed.
While some of the top tourist sights did nothing for me, like Manneken-Pis – maybe if I saw him donning one of his many costumes – I was pleased by how much I enjoyed Brussels. Strangely this big city had a small town energy that was pleasant. Maybe it was the old men who gathered in the square outside my hotel to play jazz that struck an endearing chord in my heart. Maybe it was because when I first arrived it was at night and after checking into my hotel I hit the city for a bit to eat and ended up being swept away by its brilliant beauty all a glow. Whatever the reasons I enjoyed Brussels I hope you’ll give the city a chance.
Have you been to Brussels? What were your favourites?
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