Alex, our travel reporter, tells you about the best places to eat out, cultural spots and other Brussels experiences that you shouldn’t miss!
The capital of Belgium and of the European Union is a cosmopolitan city on a human scale, full of amazing things to discover. Follow our guide to all the best deals and hidden secrets of Brussels....
Local Celebrity: Manneken-Pis
Begin your tour of Brussels at the not-to-be-missed Grand Place square. A little further away, where the rue de l’Étuve and the rue du Chêne meet, you will find the local star: Manneken-Pis! Less famous, but just as amusing, is Jeanneken-Pis, the female counterpart to Manneken-Pis, on impasse de la fidélité.
From the Marolles Quarter to the Sablons Quarter
Head to the Marolles Quarter, it’s the kind of place we love as it’s full of antique and quirky home deco shops. Its main attraction however is its flea market, which takes place every day in place du Jeu de Balles from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.. There you could maybe pick up some rarities, if you’re a real bargain-hunter!
You could have lunch in the Sablon Quarter with architecture in the local style, and for a little chocolate, head to the chocolatier Pierre Marcolini (39, Place du Grand Sablon, 1000 Brussels). Marcolini is the last artisan chocolatier in Belgium to work starting from the cocoa bean, straight out of the pod.
A cultural melting pot in Koningsplein Square
If you’re a culture fan, head to place Koningsplein square. It brings together the Palace of Charles Quint, the renowned Museum of Musical Instruments and that of the artist Rene Magritte. For a coffee break or snack between tours, take the rue de Namur (the little road which goes up from the corner of the square), and stop at the charming, colourful cafe named “JAT”.
Another far less well-known but very unusual place is the site of the musées d'Extrême Orient (Museums of the Far East) which bring together the Japanese Tower, the Chinese Pavilion and the Museum of Japanese Art. From here, take a detour to the Atomium which is just next door! If you are accompanied by little ones, take a tour of Mini-Europe, an outdoor park where one can find, in miniature, all the most famous European landmarks!
Have some chips or drink a beer
For a lunch break, go to Maison Antoine (place Jourdan 11040 Brussels), the best chip shop in the country. It is said that Jacques Chirac would eat a portion of chips there whenever he was on an official visit to Belgium! What’s handy is that Jourdan Square is a few yards from the European Union. So take the opportunity to walk through parc Leopold, passing by the funny little traditional Brussels house surrounded by steel high-rises.
After that you could go to Les Halles St Géry (1, Place Saint Géry, 1000 Brussels), the old covered market which has been converted into a complex of restaurants and bars, with chess sets and free magazines available and temporary exhibitions running.
For the evening, we recommend La Mort Subite (7, rue Montagne aux herbes potagères, 1000 Brussels), a very friendly traditional restaurant. Other authentic Brussels eateries include: A la Bécasse, a bar with a low-key entrance in rue Tabora, and the famous impasse de la Fidelité (yes, the same one where you’ll find the Jeanneken-Pis monument). All the bars on this cul-de-sac bear the colours of the famous beer Delirium.
To round up, here are our best experiences in Brussels:
• Go to see Manneken-Pis
• Take a walk in the Marolles Quarter and the Sablons Quarter
• Have some chips or drink a beer