I went on a trip to Brussels at the end of March with my partner; I wanted to share some photos and things I’d recommend doing if you visit!
The city is beautiful, especially in the sunshine. If you want a lovely view of the city, head to Mont des Arts. There’s usually a waffle van there so it’s perfect to sit and eat waffles and admire the view.
I always say this in travel posts – go on a ‘free’ walking tour. I’d highly recommend Sandeman’s tour for Brussels. Our tour guide was great, really engaging and knowledgeable. The engaging part is important, sometimes they can be super dull. It was a good overview of the history of the city and we got food/drink recommendations as well as where to avoid!
Although we hadn’t planned on it, we signed up for the beer your with the same company because we loved the walking tour (and really love beer.) It wasn’t a typical pub crawl thing, it was really educational. We tried 4 very different, all wonderful, Belgian beers. We were told about the process of making beer and its history in Belgium.
Our final stop on that tour was Delirium Café. I can honestly say this quickly became one of my favourite bars I have ever visited. The selection of beer is astounding – they have a very large menu. The people we met on the beer tour were literally flicking through to random pages to select a beer, it was too much choice! The staff are helpful and happy to make recommendations so providing you know what you like/don’t like in a beer then they can help you to decide. Delirium Tremens has been one of my favourite beers for a long time so it was a perfect place for me. Be warned, if you’re not a big drinker, that Belgian beers are much stronger than most… I don’t think I had a single beer that was less than 8% so keep an eye out for that!
My best friend grew up in Brussels so warned me about how underwhelming the famous ‘Mannequin Pis’ statue is. The history is interesting, as are stories about the statue itself. But, don’t be too concerned with making sure you see it. The ‘Jannequin Pis’ is worth seeing though; it’s the female version of the statue and can be found just outside of Delirium Café. It’s quite bizarre how the city loves the boy but the girl is hidden down a side street, I sense some internalised misogyny.
If you’re interested in artsy stuff then I recommend visiting the Comic Strip Centre. It’s fairly small but taught me a lot about all aspects of comics from writing to methods of printing. There’s obviously stuff about the Smurfs and Tin Tin as the most famous comics to originate in Belgium. It would be a good activity for a rainy day. We didn’t visit any other museums or galleries, we wanted to be outside more!
We spent 4 days in Belgium so had the time to take a day trip to Bruges. It’s definitely a city that I have always wanted to see but was never sure about staying there because it’s so small. It takes just over an hour to get to Bruges from Brussels city centre so definitely go if you have the time. We went on a walking tour that was… well, dull as fuck. The information was interesting but the guide was so incredibly boring that it kind of ruined it. But, it was a chance to see all the best parts of Bruges. It is probably the most beautiful city that I’ve ever visited. If I were to visit again, I’d never go for more than 2 days unless you are the type of person who likes to switch off and enjoys peaceful holidays (I like being busy.) Everything also seemed a little more expensive in Bruges.
I love visiting parks on holidays and just sitting on the grass with a book. Parc de Bruxelles was nice enough but I suspect it is much better during late spring/summer with trees and flowers blooming. It’s located near the royal palace which is quite impressive. The other park we visited was a bit outside of the centre, Parc du Cinquantenaire, we took the metro there and I’m glad we made the effort. I mean, just look at it:
In terms of food, there’s some obvious things that you should try: waffles, chocolate, fries, beer. Waffles are way better from food vans, more fresh because they don’t have the capacity for storage. You’ll get given a plastic fork to eat your waffle with – throw it away, get extra napkins and go for it. Honestly, trying to eat waffles with a plastic fork is not worth the effort. ‘French’ fries (they’re not French, they came from Belgium) are served everywhere. You can ask for extra sauces – their ‘ketchup’ isn’t the Heinz stuff we have, it has this slight curry flavour to it and is delicious.
The city is full of chocolate shops but don’t go into the first one you see. Prices vary hugely so depending on your budget, look around. All of the chocolate is wonderful so don’t worry too much where you buy it from. I’d suggest ‘Leonidas’ if you don’t want to spend too much, you can get 500 grams for about 14 euros. ‘Nehaus’ is amazing, too but a little more pricey. Staff in the shops are really helpful and will make up ‘selection’ boxes for you based on your tastes.
Of course, I wrote more about food than anything else! My body was craving vegetables by the end, I’m sure you can get them in Belgium but I chose everything without them. Overall, I fell in love with Brussels. I was in awe of how pretty Bruges is. Belgian beer and chocolate are the best in the world, it’s true. So if you’re wondering where to go for a long weekend then put Brussels on the list, you won’t regret it!
My next trip is to Prague in May – if you have any suggestions for what to do/see/eat when there, leave them in the comments!