This weekend, a few friends from work and I crossed the Channel for a quick trip to Belgium. It was a bit of a flying visit; we arrived Friday evening, spent Saturday in Bruges, and were back in London Sunday night, ready for work Monday morning. We did somehow manage to fit quite a lot of sightseeing in, despite the fact the majority of our time seemed to be passed sitting in pubs drinking beer and eating waffles.
This was actually my fourth time visiting Brussels (I lived just across the French border in Lille during my year abroad) so I feel like I’ve got a pretty good idea now on the best things to do, see, and of course, eat. Here are my tips for enjoying an ideal 24 hours in Brussels.
10am: After getting yourself a nice croissant and coffee in a bakery somewhere, I recommend starting the day in the very centre of Brussels. The Grand Place is definitely the sight with the biggest wow-factor in the whole city, with the most incredibly gorgeous and interesting architecture. I swear the more you stop and look at it, the more amazing details you’ll see. From here, it’s also really easy to walk up to Brussel’s main cathedral, St. Michael and St. Gudula, which is another beautiful gothic building and to stop and see the Manneken Pis (yes this is very overrated but it’s something you just have to see).
11:3am: Next, it’s time to do a little window-shopping. The Les Galeries Royales Saint Hubert shopping centre was the first of its kind, and still retains that glamorous, old-world feel. Have a peruse around the little shops, sample some handmade chocolates, and maybe even buy a designer handbag.
12:30pm: There are lots of lovely little pubs and cafes around the centre of Brussels to stop for some lunch. The only thing I would warn is to stay away from any restaurants right on any of the main squares. Chances are you’ll end up paying a lot more for very average food. Aim to try a few streets back where you’ll get better value for money.
2pm: One of my favourite experiences in Brussels was on my very first visit, and it was to take a free walking tour. It was 3 hours, with a half hour break in the middle, and it took you all around the main sights. Even though it was pretty chilly, it was great to get a proper historical insight into the city from people who actually know what they’re talking about. It gave me a much better understanding of the city and history of everything I was seeing. If a walking tour isn’t your thing, hop on a metro over to the Atomium for views of Brussels and the Mini Europe Exhibition.
5pm: Before you head back to change for dinner, you obviously have to stop for a little afternoon snack (especially if you’ve been good and done a 3 hour walking tour). There’s nothing better after a day’s sight-seeing than a delicious, warm Belgium waffle. Try a classic square Bruxelles waffle (I like mine with dusted sugar, strawberries and cream) or a more sticky Liege version (I’ll go all out on this one with banana, ice cream and caramel sauce).
8pm: Dinner obviously has to be moules-frites right? You can’t not have mussels in Brussels, even if it’s just to use that phrase. Have your fries the classic Belgian way with mayonnaise instead of ketchup. Trust me, the mayonnaise tastes so much better here. I don’t know what they put in it, but it just does. My favourite mussels restaurants is Le Zinneke.
10pm: Once you’ve lined your stomach, it’s time to fill up on all that delicious Belgian beer and experience the Brussels nightlife. I recommend looking for a beer tour which will do all the work for you and take you to the best bars in town. We also went to a great little cocktail bar this weekend just off the Grand Place called Bonnefooi, if you’re not so keen on beer! There’s often live music and the Cuba Libre was seriously good.
Hope you enjoyed this post! Let me know if you’ve been to Brussels and have any recommendations for what to do/see/eat if I ever get to go again. See you on Thursday with my next post 🙂
Thanks for reading! Joanna xxxxx