City Guide: Brussels, Belgium

This is the first of what I plan to be a series of city guides, in order to give you a bit of an introduction into the city in question: activities, accommodation, transport, restaurants, food and nightlife. It’ll also basically act as a contents page for everything I’ve ever written about the place.

I went to Brussels in October 2014 for a weekend. Not a long weekend, just a normal weekend. Although there was obviously things in the city that I didn’t see or do (or eat, the city has a serious sweet tooth) I don’t feel like I missed out on anything major. Brussels is a great city to visit if you can’t afford to take time off work but need to get out of the country.

Activities

Sandemans New Europe free walking tour:

I’ve done several free walking tours (which work on tips) in various cities with different companies, although often with Sandemans. They are a great way to see a city, particularly if you don’t have a lot or time and/or don’t really know what there is to see. The tour in Brussels took me to the Grand Place, the Town Hall, the Maison du Roi, the Stock Exchange, the Galeries Saint Hubert, the Monnaie Opera, the St Nicolas’ Church, the Royal Square, the Mont des Arts, the Royal Palace, the Manneken Pis, Tintin street and the Royal Park. The guide was personable and knowledgeable so I felt I learned a lot and got a decent amount of exercise on my 3 hour hike around the city.

Shopping on the Rue Neuve:

On a Saturday morning, with plans to go out that night, all my holiday buddy and I wanted to do was shop. This long street was apparently the best place to do that. Many of the shops were recognisable- Zara, H&M, Mango- and although we didn’t finish with any bags, we certainly had an ample selection and spent many an hour in various changing rooms.

What did I miss?

I was only in Brussels for two nights and one whole day. Had I had more time, I would have wanted to go and see where the EU is based in Brussels (because that’s just how I roll) and to explore some of the cities museums and galleries, full of Flemish art.

Nightlife

Delirium Bar

I stumbled across Delirium after dinner. Having heard beforehand that it was one of the best bars in Brussels, I stopped for a cocktail. It was busy so getting a seat wasn’t easy but its buzzy atmosphere was a great place to start my night out.

You Nightclub

I had heard that Brussels was big on electro music, however I personally prefer some cheese. Give me 80s disco and current chart music anyday. Happily, You fell in between, with some electro mixes of popular tunes. My favourite was the mix of the theme tune in Pirates of the Caribbean. Who doesn’t love Hans Zimmer on a night out? The only thing was, at aged 23+, my group seemed to be by far the eldest in the building. Not that that interrupted our groove.

Accommodation

Sheraton Hotel:

In a nutshell, I stayed here after loving my stay at the Sheraton Resort in Luxor. It was well located, being close to tube lines and tourist attractions, my room was nice and comfortable, although a little old-fashioned, and I managed to get a decent deal. It didn’t quite live up to Luxor but I’d go back. Click above for a slightly longer review. 

Transport

The Eurostar: 

Having recently started a full time job, after my studies, taking time off from work isn’t always possible. Therefore, being able to take the Eurostar Friday night onto the continent and coming back Sunday afternoon is the perfect way to make sure I can still travel. I was lucky enough to travel Standard Premier and Business and the service was exemplary. The food was the best I’ve had on public transport and the ride was quick and surprisingly smooth and comfy. Click above for a longer review. 

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Restaurants

Le Brosella: 

Situated near the Place des Martyrs, off the Rue Neuve, this is where I sat at a table in the street and sampled the local delicacy of Carbonades Flamandes (Flemish beef and beer stew) with a Mystic peach beer. It was amazing. You obviously have the sample the local cuisine when you visited a place and this is a pretty good place to do it.

Food

Carbonades Flamandes:

I’m a massive fan of all things stew. When I sat down for lunch at Le Brosella, I knew I wasn’t going to have many opportunities on my whirlwind trip to sample the local cuisine, so when I saw the option of a Flemish beef and beer stew, I knew what my order was going to be. Being such a stew-fan, a bad one would be very disappointing. Thankfully here I was not disappointed at all. It was delicious and came with chips that tasted lovely dipped in the rich gravy.

Macarons:

Somehow, before my trip to Brussels, I had never had a macaron before. As pretty as they are, they just didn’t win out over other sweet things. Having finally arrived in the city, I checked into my hotel at about 11.30pm. By that time, I was tired and hungry and so sought out a 24/7 McDonald’s for a midnight snack. In each country, McDonald’s often have some different speciality and here it was macrons. In the interest of being cultural, I bought one.  It was sweet and chewy and my friend informed it did taste like a macaron should but I can’t that I felt like I had been missing out all these years. That was until the next day where I treated myself to a coconut macaron from  Pierre Ledent. This time it was harder on the outside and soft on the inside with little nuggets of coconut as well. I can’t believe I haven’t spent the last 23 years of my life eating them.

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Escargot:

After my Flemish stew lunch, my holiday buddy decided to get her culture-on at dinner with a plate of snails in garlic sauce and she wasn’t going to let me go snail-free. Whilst I’m probably not going to eat them ever again, I was surprised to find that they weren’t awful. Kind of like a mushroom crossed with a muscle plus some garlic.

Waffles:

Obviously you know that Belgian waffles are a thing. Generally, I’m more of a pancake girl but, being in the country, I was happy to see waffles on my dinner menu. Sadly, on this occasion, they did not taste good but I am aware that this is not the norm for Belgium. I’m sure you will have more luck.

Chocolate:

Belgian chocolate is another thing you will probably know about. On my trip to Brussels, I ate precisely zero, despite seeing several chocolate shops. Several years ago, I went to Bruges and bought a box to bring home to share with the family. I left in on the couch. Next time I go, fingers crossed I will get it right.

Particularly handy blogs

How to see a city quickly in 5 steps

… and the rest

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15 thoughts on “City Guide: Brussels, Belgium

  1. I was in Brussels several years ago, on my way from London to The Netherlands. It was a fun city and I wish now that we’d had more time. If nothing else, I’d love to check out You Nightclub because I love a good PotC soundtrack. Alas, I’m probably way too old now!

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    1. You can’t go wrong with a PotC soundtrack- although I can’t say that I’ve ever been clubbing to it before! I didn’t have long in Brussels either but I’m happy to have the excuse to go again 😛

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