So you’re planning to travel to Belgium? This might be for a variety of reasons namely to try its famous beer, waffles, chocolate and fries (or frites as they are known here). I must start by saying there is much more to this country than these things. However, albeit that, these are wonderful things.
Beer Tasting at the Delirium Cafe
The center of the city has a collection of bars and in most bars, you can as for a ‘degustation’ and try 4-5 different types of beer, including chocolate beer or you can go all out and visit the Delirium village. This is a small alleyway with several bars that boast of different specialties of drink such a vodka, whiskey and absinthe and namely, the delirium cafe itself, which well has beer, ALOT of beer. It is a three-floor bar. On the top floor is a more quiet tasting area with an ever-changing menu focused on local brews and then two different floors, usually very animated with music. Ask at the bar for the full menu. It has 2500 beers from all over the world, with a very impressive coverage of Belgian beers. Also, at the end of the alley, there is the female version of the Manneken Pis called ‘Jeanneke-Pis’. Always a great opportunity for a photo with a peeing statue and it’s slightly more of original than one with the Manneken Pis itself. On a side note, on special days such (Celebration day usually the 3 September ), the Manneken Pis pisses free beer and its a full on party. For a more local boutique style beer, you can visit the ‘Belgian Beer project’ which has two bars and their menu is always changing. Favorite beer: Delirium Nocturium (dark beer)
Maison Dandoy Waffles
It is likely that after beers you will want some fries or even a waffle. You can find these on every street corner. For the waffles, the waffles from ‘Maison Dandoy’ are seen as the best. Address: Rue Charles Buls 14, 1000 Bruxelles
Fries at Friterie de la Barrière , Saint-Gilles
For the fries, I recommended heading a bit out of town to Saint Gilles. This ‘quartier’ is the Portuguese quarter. There is a little food truck styled van called ‘Friterie de la Barrière’, which has, in my opinion, the best fries in Brussels but be prepared to wait in line. Address: Avenue du Parc, 1060 Saint-Gilles
Museum of Chocolate
Then on the beautiful topic of chocolate, I highly recommend taking a trip to the Museum of chocolate. You can also go to the one in Brugges, both are fairly similar and yes you get to taste the chocolate. If you really want to buy a lot of chocolate and of course taste a lot of chocolate, you can go to the Godiva outlet store. Address: Godiva Outlet Store, Avenue de Jette 4, 1081 Brussel
Royal Gallery of Saint Hubert
Also, for a beautiful chocolate stroll in the city, you can walk through the gallery ‘Royal Gallery of Saint Hubert’, where big chocolate names will greet you with some chocolate (if you’re lucky) including Pierre Marcolini. My favorite Belgian chocolate house is Galler and luckily at the time of writing this, there is a pop-up store in the city (1000, Rue au Beurre 44, 1000 Bruxelles). If not, you can find chocolate bars of it at any supermarket, like Carrefour. At this point, I feel like you have eaten enough but if not and you have several cities in mind then go have some mussels in Antwerp (pick a pretty restaurant!). Just in case if you’re still on the topic of food, Brussels has a few amazing food trucks and also markets to visit. So if you’re in Brussels for the weekend I would recommend going to the Flagey Market on Sunday as there is a really good coffee truck (Pims coffee run by Pim) and an amazing Taco Mobil! I know it sounds funny to recommend tacos in Belgium but these are superb.
Brussels (somewhere on a walk)
Let me note that Brussels is different in that looking at it from the outside, you can’t really figure out what’s going on. Is there anything going on? However, Brussels is full of events and I can’t highlight this enough. It all depends on what your interests are and what time of the year you are visiting. I would recommend visiting in Spring/summer so between May and August. The city really comes alive after Winter when the first sun comes up after a very very grey winter.
There are many beautiful parks to visit and have a picnic if it’s a nice day, especially at Parc Cinquantenaire. There are always little festivals popping up so I recommend visiting. Close by is Schuman which has some the European Commission offices. You won’t be able to visit this unless it’s EU open day (yearly in May) but these areas sometimes also have festivals such as the Bread festival which boasts of many different European bread and cake stands (also in May). Other festivals to note is the Jazz festival (April/May) and the be Pride festival (May) which is one hell of a party. It’s also good to mention that in Brussels nearly all of these festivals are free. Now you are wondering how do I find out what’s on? For this, I would recommend the ‘Facebook Local’ app. This will show you what events are happening and you can also find some outdoor fitness. For example, you can find Zumba, yoga or HIIT classes.
Finally, I will add that after all, it is Brussels and the capital of Europe, so it might be nice to visit the Parlamentarium (not the planetarium which is also worth a visit) and learn more about the history of the EU and if it’s Thursday, go to the Place Luxembourg right outside the parliament. Here employees and trainees of the parliament and the European commission gather at the square to drink on Thursdays, every Thursday. Remember to bring your own cup as there is a strong anti-single use plastic campaign. And if you’re not really fussed about Europe in general, just go to Planetarium and look at some stars.