I like the Grand Place. It is a central market square in Brussels, full of tourist traps, but surrounded by typical European guildhalls. It’s beautiful (even in the rain and in the dark). Sit in one of the beer gardens in the summer or come for the Christmas Market in December. Try both seasons and it may feel like you are experiencing two different cities.
You can’t miss the most important sight in Brussels: Manneken Pis (or Little Man Pee), which is a statue of a boy peeing into a fountain. Now, you may think this is a bit crude. But this is Europe and the sculpture dates back to 1618, so it’s definitely culture and art!
#3 Chocolate – actually the Tiffany’s of chocolate
This may not sit well with some people, but on my last visit to Brussels I discovered the chocolate of Patrick Roger, who is actually French. The shop looks more like an art gallery and they are heavily leaning towards Tiffany’s colors. And, yes, the price tag is high end. And, yes, there is awesome Belgium chocolate to be had elsewhere in Brussels.
The awesome chocolate to be had in Brussels, that is actually Belgian in origin is the chocolate of Pierre Marcolini. Pierre Marcolini’s philosophy is to create a chocolate from “bean-to-bar” by selecting the beans himself and carefully working on every step of the finest chocolate creation until he created the final product.
#4 Galeries Royales St-Hubert (or Koninklijke Sint-Hubertusgalerijen)
The Galeries Royales St-Hubert are worth at least a visit to window shop. The royal galleries were opened in 1847 and are in fact connecting three galleries: Galerie du Roi, Galerie de la Reine and Galerie des Princes. When the galleries first opened they were the first shopping galleries in the world to span the size of a street. For the past 150 years and more they have become a space connecting culture, luxury shopping, work and living where past and present meets.
Well, I am assuming you know that the Belgians know how to make good beer. My recommendation is to go into any bar and ask for a local micro-brew. Most bars in Brussels will have a huge variety of beer to taste, like Moeder Lambic Fontainas or the Delirium Cafe. You can also check out the Museum of Belgian Brewers at the Grand Place.
I’d like to add some notable mentions as 5 Things To Do in Brussels is just not enough.
- Belgian fries with mayonnaise – check out Fritland
- Belgian waffles topped with chocolate
- The Atomium
- The Parlametarium – experience European politics close-up
- The Royal Museum of Fine Arts
- Jeu de Balle Flea Market
- Antiques Market in Place du Grand Sablo
If you have a chance go and get a panoramic view of the city of Brussels: take the glass elevator from Rue de L’Epée in the Lower Town to the base of the Palace of Justice in the Upper Town, or the rooftop restaurant of the Musical Instruments Museum housed inside the Art Nouveau Old England department store, take the elevator to the roof of Parking 58 on Rue de l’Eveque, or take the lift up to a top floor in one of the hotels.