Now, Brussels was never on my “Top 10 Places To Visit” list. But, when me and my sister got sent there through a competition I’d won with a company called Surprise Trips – which is no longer around, ALL THE CRIES – I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it.
I mean, before I walked around Brussels, I had the wrong impression that it was going to be all stuffy and boring, home of the EU Parliament and fancy, schmancy architecture. Oh how I was wrong.
In reality, it’s full of cobbled streets, chocolate shops, bars selling incredible beer – and that’s coming from a non-beer fan -, pretty cool museums, great food and that fancy, schmancy architectiure? Well, it’s actually pretty cool.
With that in mind, and if you’re visiting the Belgian capital any time soon, here’s a guide to what’s best in Brussels…
Now, this one’s a pretty difficult one. Let me tell you, I sampled a LOT of chocolate shops. A LOT. All just so I could let you know which one is the best of course…
After much testing and tasting, the one which both me and my sister were the fondest of were those from Corne Port-Royal. Yes, they’re some of the more traditional looking chocolates you’ll discover in Brussels but they’re downright delicious. One particular favourite was the gold cone filled full of soft chocolate praline that just melted in your mouth. Oh man, it’s divine…
Galerie de la Reine 5, 1000 Bruxelles
Who cares whether the weather is hot or cold when you visit Brussels, you have to try a hot chocolate from Neuhaus. Made with either milk or dark chocolate drops which are then combined with what looks like a load of melted chocolate, this hot chocolate will make you wonder how you ever drank regular hot chocolate before. It’s creamy, delicious, oh-so-chocolatey and served in a cute red cup which would be super festive if only I hadn’t had this drink in June.
Galerie de la Reine 29 (Galeries St Hubert), 1000 Bruxelles
Now, frites are a big thing in Brussels. I’m not entirely sure why, they just are. If you’re visiting Brussels on a budget, frites are a perfect cheap midday snack to keep you going through the afternoon. There’s nowhere else to get your cone of frites, other than Fritland. Crowds queue for days to get their hands on these fried potatoes – and by days, I mean about 10 minutes, but still. – and it’s SO worth it. Part of me thinks they were just like chip shop chips you get in the UK, but they’re pretty awesome aren’t they when you get a good batch. So for a bit of cheap grub, and a good makeshift meal between brekkie and dinner, I’d say queue for the frites and get your paws on a Brussels favourite.
If you want something healthy for breakfast, or just to balance out all the fries and chocolate, may I recommend Samahuma? This place serves up superjuices and healthy food, one dish of which is the Acai Bowl. It’s topped with natural granola, banana, strawberries and, I THINK, coconut flakes. And it was yum. A perfect contrast and refresher compared to all the other food that might be devoured in Brussels. Top it off with one of their fresh juices too which are tailored to how you’re feeling, or how you want to feel, that day.
Rue du Midi 5, 1000 Bruxelles
I couldn’t pick for this one, so there’s two museums here for you to check out.
Firstly the Museum of Cocoa and Chocolate is a must if you’re a chocolate lover. Not only do you get to learn about the origins of cocoa and how it’s made into chocolate, but you get to observe a chocolate making demonstration too. And then, they even let you taste the creation which was made right on front of you.
Rue de la Tete d’Or, 9-11, 1000 Bruxelles
The Belgian Comic Strip Centre is the second museums you should check out. For art fans, it’s a great insight into how comic strips are made, how they’ve evolved over the years and the importance they’ve played in depicting current stories in the media. You see how famous comic strips such as Tin Tin and Asterix have developed and there’s also a giant Smurf house which you can sit in. If that’s not a good enough reason to visit this place, I don’t know what is.
Rue des Sables 20, 1000 Bruxelles
One of the best places for people watching in Brussels is Grand Place. This gorgeous square is surrounded by ornate buildings that are decked out in the most delicate gold decoration. I mean, go here and you’ll soon find out why it’s called Grand Place but it’s also perfect for kicking back with a spot of food from the supermarket or a coffee while watching people take selfies, chase after their kids or just staring in awe at the buildings around them.
Mont des Arts – Mount of the Arts – is the place to go if you want a good view point of Brussels. It’s high up, the skyline is clear and it also looks over some of the most beautiful gardens which were created to connect the working class part of the city to the aristocratic district.
I’m not the biggest fan of beer so I’m not the best qualified person to say what the best beer in Brussels is. However, I’m guessing if you go to Delirium, you’ll manage to find one you like out of the 3000 varieties they serve. Delirium is up what would be an unassuming alley if it weren’t for people pouring out into the streets, but it also spilts out into different levels with an amazing atmosphere that may have you going back for more than one night on your stay in Brussels.
Impasse de la Fidélité 4, 1000 Bruxelles
You might not think Brussels and think eclairs but that might change when you try out the ones from Piere Marcolini. This shop does some of the most modern designed chocolates that are in Brussels but their eclairs are on another level. They cost a pretty penny but when you’re on holiday, does that matter? I can recommend the éclair chocolat noir – complete with little gold flakes! – and the tiramisu is divine too.
Galerie de la Reine 21, 1000 Bruxelles
So there, you have it. A guide to the best of Brussels. Have you been to the Belgian capital before? Would you recommend anything else?