Brussels, the capital of Belgium but also the capital of EU, hosting several important EU institutions. But theres so much more to this city. It has many beautiful architecture buildings, nice food and the city is easy to get to know with its (compared to other capital cities) quite small territory. As a tourist you benefit from this and you will discover that it easy to get from A to B in a short time. We had booked a 5 days trip but in my opinion you would have the time to see the most important sights, do some shopping and eat a lot within 3 full days too. To get a quick overview of the city in short time I recommend booking one of the red tour buses. Yes, very touristy I know, but also a smart, time efficient and comfortable way to see the most important sights. And you will have plenty of time to stroll around too as the city centre is not that big. Compared to other european cities I have visited I found Brussels to be a bit pricey. Plan your trip ahead and be ready to use some money on food and sights. I found public transportation to be a efficient and money saving way to get around both within the city and to/from the airport. You will also be able to find great deals on accommodation online. (Budget friendly Hotel tip further down in the article)
Fun Fact: French and Dutch are both widely spoken in Brussels. So be ready for a multilingual city experience
THE SIGHTS (IN PICTURES)
Grand Place in the heart of Brussels is a no.1 must. If only to admire the beautiful architecture for a minute.
// The Atomium is one of the landmark buildings of Brussels and seem to be very popular amongst tourists. Inside this construction you will find a museum and you are actually able to climb the different atoms by stairs and/or lifts.
Photo of "Maneken Pis". While I dont understand the hype, this urinating miniature boy is one of the most known sights of Brussels. Then theres also a more unknown girl version called "Janneke Pis". Why? I have no Idea (lol) If in a hurry, feel free to save the time and skip those two statues. Theres really not much more than what you see in these two pictures. (other than crowds of people wanting to take pictures)
Galeries St. Hubert is a really nice indoor street where you can sit down in a cafe or buy some really decadent confectionaries. Belgian Chocolate is heaven btw.
// Church of Our Lady of Laeken
// There are not really any cool shopping malls in the city centre in my opinion but a 20 minutes tram ride and you will reach the Docks Bruscel which is a quite nice shopping centre. I did not find it to be busy at all. I recommend visiting the "So tasty" lounge cafe for a mouth watering Freakshake.
// Cathedral of St Michael & St Gudule
While I am sure there are plenty of nice hotels in Brussels, I think you should check out the one we were staying at. Motel One Brussels really has a lot to it. A contemporary designed and up to date hotel with a nice backyard where you can chill in daybeds (wifi is included btw) after a long walk in the city. The staff were welcoming and helpful and the rooms were clean and comfortable although not the most spacious but thats ok for shorter stays. Location is also very good with metro and tram very close to the hotel and the city centre is in walking distance. All this to a very affordable room rate where you can choose whether or not to include a nice breakfast buffet.
// The breakfast area at Motel One. Love the lightning
WHERE TO EAT (AND NOT TO EAT)
This is by no means a guide to all the best places to eat and snack in Brussels, but I will share with you some places I liked and also where I think you should avoid spending your money on food. Lets start with some of the mandatory food when visiting Belgium:
You will find Chocolatiers almost on every corner in Brussels. Maybe you already know the big ones like , and . One thing is for sure. It is hard to find bad chocolate in Brussels and it is a must as long as your not one of those crazy people I've never heard of that dislike.
Like with the Chocolatiers it is impossible to not notice a place where you van buy these decadent thick waffles. I tried one with chocolate sauce from Waffle Factory and it was yummy but I did regret the choice of topping as the taste of chocolate became bit overpowering. I think you will be better off just keeping it simple with only a sprinkle of sugar on top.
Another popular food to munch on in Brussels are the thick potato fries. You can order them with different type of sauces or simply plain. I got mine from the hyped Maison Antoine where they actually use beef fat for the deep frying process. I love fries and while this was far from the best I have ever tried, it is a nice and crispy snack and they had a lot of different sauces to choose from. Remember to bring cash as they do not accept credit cards.
Now over to the typical sit-down places. Let me first tell you about a restaurant you should avoid in my opinion. Brussels Grill Grand Place is the one I am thinking about. You will probably notice it as it has a nice central location very close to the Grand Place. What they served us at the table was expensive but mediocre grilled food with regular french fries and some boring side salat. The main reason for me to warn you though, are the rude and arrogant staff which obviously know nothing about customer service. I am not going to tell you in detail my experience but I suggest you spend your money elsewhere.
If you are into burgers and fries this New York inspired burger bar is a good option. You will find two of them in Brussels, one in Avenue Louise and another one in Rue Henri Maus only a 2 minute walk from Grand Place. I recommend ordering their home brewed iced tea together with your burger meal. YUM!
This is a small but very popular café, especially for brunch and breakfast. One of their specialities is belgian waffles topped with poached eggs, a really nice sauce and other goodies like bacon or smokes salmon. I went for the Peck Special and honestly, this might be one of the most delicious breakfast I've ever had out. Prices are a bit high, but still worth it in my opinion. PECK 47 is only a 4 min walk from Grand Place.