My boyfriend and I spent a weekend in Brussels last weekend (first weekend of October, 2016) after a whole month apart! I was super excited! However, I did very little research about the city before I left -all I looked up was where and when the free tour started and how to get to the hotel from the airport. So I didn’t know what to expect.
My first impressions of Brussels was not good. The district our hotel was in was not a friendly district. The streets smelt of piss and there was rubbish EVERYWHERE! I was thinking: ‘What kind of place is this?!?’ However, as soon as you left that district, everything completely changed- for the better! Brussels has the most beautiful square – Grand Place (in french)/ Grote Market (in dutch) – which includes the city hall, the the old bread market (which was later used as the King’s ‘office’), houses lined with gold, restaurants, a beer museum and of course a Hard Rock cafe- none of the pictures do it justice! The square is so spectacular that it is a UNESCO World Heritage site!
What to do:
- Free walking tour
This is always a must when I visit a new city. The tours are always brilliant and you can tip them whatever you feel like they deserve -perfect! This Free tour was ran by Viva and it’s #2 best tour in Brussels according to TripAdvisor. During the tour we got to see the main attractions, museums, the best place to buy chocolate, waffles and hear about the weird legends and interesting history Brussels has to offer.
- Visit the tiny statue – Manneken Pis.
This statue is HUGE attraction in Brussels! The famous statue is one of the most famous landmarks in Brussels which is only 61 cm tall. The statue has been repeatedly stolen and is dressed in different costumes based on schedule posted on the railings around the fountain. And the weirdest part is… the statue is of a little boy peeing. Legend has it that this boy was a hero! When Brussels was under attack, the besiegers lit some dynamite to blow up the city’s walls. Thankfully, this small boy saw the burning wick and did the only thing he could think of -wee on it.
- Brussels is the home to the European Parliament however you can’t get inside the buildings without permission. But from the Parliament buildings you can see my favourite part of Brussels –Parc du Cinquantenaire! The Neo Classical arch is the centerpiece and it houses three museums (including the only free museum in the city – Army museum). The arch reminded me of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.
- Visit Grand Place on a Saturday morning
Every Saturday at City Hall there is a wedding! The square is buzzing when the bride waves from the balcony after signing her marriage certificate. It’s like a fairy tale!
- Binche Carnival
Planning to go to Brussels on Shrove Tuesday/Ash Wednesday? Lucky you! You will be able to experience one of the largest carnivals in Europe – Binche Carnival. Read more about it here.
What to eat:
Belgium is famous for chocolate, waffles and chips with mayo.
The chocolate is amazing but sooooo expensive! We saw a box of chocolates that was worth €75 – how mad is that? So during the free tour, we made sure to ask where the best place to buy chocolate. The tour guide brought us to her favourite chocolate shop. The shop is just all one of the small streets leading to the Grand Place so its really easy to find. It is called The Belgique Gourmande. The reason why its her favourite because it’s reasonably priced AND it offers a ‘pick and mix’ options where you can buy the chocolate you want rather than buy a box of chocolates and only eat half of them. Also, if you ask reeallly nicely, you can sample the chocolate before you it.
I have to be honest with you guys, I was disappointed. They look better than they taste. I tried a waffle covered in chocolate and strawberries and it was ew-y. I couldn’t eat half of it. The tour guide warned us that the best way to eat waffles, is without all the toppings and she was right! So pplleaasseee, when you are in Brussels, resist the temptation to buy the fancy looking waffles, and buy the cheap plain one. You will thank me! The best place to buy the waffles, is the street leading to the Manneken Pis statue. The waffles are €1 plus the price of toppings.
- Fries with mayo
Again, I was disappointed. The only chip shop in Brussels that did proper homemade chips (not frozen bought chips) was called Fritland. There was aalllwaayyss a queue for the chips but they are 100% nicer than any other fries in the city. The are a tad expensive but you get A LOT of chips, trust me.
- THE BEST SALAD IN THE WORLD
I know, i know, who comes to Brussels to eat salads? But listen to me, this salad had nachos in it. NACHOS! It is the best salad I have ever tasted! I bought it from a restaurant called the Old Wild West and is located beside Fritland (behind Grand Place) on Rue Henri Maus.
Where we stayed:
I really don’t recommend the place where we stayed. The hotel itself was nice and it was only a 15 minute walk to city center, but the district smelt of piss in a lot of places and there was rubbish everywhere – not a great first impression! So I suggest staying in a Hotel like Ibis Hotel which is right in the city center or research the district of the hotel before booking it to make sure you won’t feel sick walking down the streets! Look at booking.com for the perfect accommodation for you.
How to get there:
There are two airports in Brussels so please don’t get mixed up! Brussels National Airport is only a 20/30min train ride away. You can get to this airport via the Midi Station or Central Station (Central station is easier to find and buy tickets at). The other airport is called Brussels South Charleroi airport. This airport is about one hour away from Brussels city center. I didn’t arrive into Brussels until 10pm so the only option I had was to get a bus. The bus went to Brussels and Bruges which is good to know!
Where to drink:
Belgium LOVES their beer. The best beer in the world (apparently) is Delirium Tremens which is brewed in Belgium. In the middle of the ‘restaurant’ street (which is located two streets behind the Old Bread Market in Grand place), there is a small alley. In this alley lies a bar called Delirium Cafe- Beer tap house, Floris bar and The Tequileria Delirante. The Delirium cafe houses over 3,000 types of beer, the Floris bar offers a WIDE range of absinthe and the Tequileria Delirante tempts you with over 500 types of tequila!! So if you want to party, I suggest you find this street!
Also, there is a bar called The Big Game on the same street at Fritland and The Old Wild West that does ‘Happy Hour’ until 12am so you can buy super duper cheap beer. So I suggest to pre-drink there before you you go to the crazy drinking street!
If you have any other question about Brussels, don’t hesitate to ask me!!
For more picture of Brussels, click here.
Thanks for reading!
Peace out my wanderers!