* I’d just like to point out that I only spent a long weekend in Brussels and definitely don’t claim to know the city well. There are probably hundreds of great places to visit that aren’t mentioned here. These are just a few of my great experiences while I was out there that I’d totally recommend if you’re only in Brussels for a short stay!
I recently spent a great post-Christmas break in the beautiful city of Brussels. Although it was my very first visit, I knew straight away that I’d definitely make a return trip someday.
Everything about it, from managing to capture the last few days of the Christmas markets to the crazy beer menus and endless chocolate shops, it quickly became one of my favourite European cities.
If you’re thinking of heading to Brussels for a weekend, here are just a few highlights from my trip that I’d definitely recommend squeezing into your stay if you can.
If you’ve ever looked into Brussels, particularly the bar scene, you’ve undoubtedly heard of Delirium Café. It’s probably the most popular watering hole and, yes, okay, it is something of a tourist trap – but with three huge floors and an outdoor smoking area, we easily found our place here. It was no effort at all to settle in and take our pick from over 2,000 different beers, surrounded by bric-a-brac decor and jukebox music. It was the fun, chilled vibe that kept us coming back again.. again.. and again!
Translated as ‘the coffin’, this place was an unexpectedly spooky delight. I’d describe it as a Halloween-themed cocktail bar, with dim, blood-red interior decorated with skeletons, creepy paintings and coffin tables and a menu sporting cocktails such as ‘Devil’s Sperm’ and ‘Corpse Juice’. Sounds horrific, I know, but it actually turned out to be a really friendly, intimate bar that made us all feel instantly comfortable. Let’s call it an alternative drinking experience, shall we?
This is the main square of the city, guarded by magnificent buildings and a bustle of restaurants, shops and bars. We managed to just about catch the last of the Christmas festivities while we were there, which meant we saw the beautiful light show that takes place here. It’s like being at Disneyland (but with less Mickey Mouse ears) as the buildings all around you begin to glow and light up to the music. It’s truly spectacular. On top of that, Grand-Place and the surrounding areas have just about everything you need, so it was the perfect base for our trip.
I didn’t know this until I went there myself, but apparently Brussels is famous for their chips. Not the greasy, newspaper-wrapped, fish-‘n’-chip style chips we’ve got here in the UK, but crisp, crunchy fries doused in sauce. One such place serving just that is Fritland, where you can grab an enormous cone of chips smothered in their popular mayonnaise (another thing I didn’t know Belgium was celebrated for!) on the go for €4. Trust me, they really hit the spot!
Every city has its own nightlife scene, and the clubs you find here in Brussels are definitely something special. We went to some truly awesome places, but the most interesting one making it into this guide is Cabaret Mademoiselle. A free entry – yes, free entry – cabaret club showing the alternative talent Brussels has to offer. Drag, burlesque, comedy, dance, it’s all going on in here! Short bursts of performances come and go every hour or so, giving you time to drink and chat with the locals in between. It’s a true Belgian experience.
Brussels Vintage Market
Every first Sunday of the month you can find the fabulous Brussels Vintage Market. Time it right and you could easily spend hours perusing the endless stalls and their vintage wares. Once you get tired and all the denim jackets start to blur into one, you can take a break at one of the tables smack-bang in the middle of the market and just take in the sights with a coffee and some flaky pastries. It’s a brilliantly unique shopping experience in the city.
Side note: Also indulge in the incredible waffle stands, drool over the delectable chocolatiers and gaze at the gothic architecture dotted around the city if you can.