Despite its abundance of UE institutions and annoying business flair, Brussels is an incredibly beautiful city; a place full of culture, romance, and plenty of character. Unfortunately, it is one of the most misunderstood of Europe’s capitals.
The headquarters of NATO and the European Union has certainly much more to offer than just a wealthy playground for Eurocrats. An excellent café culture, beautiful Art Nouveau architecture, a superb restaurant scene, and an incredible collection of museums, churches, and parks add to Brussels’ main lures – chocolate and beer, shaping one of the most appealing cities in Europe.
What to do
Whether you’re looking to discover the secret of Belgian beer, indulge in art and culture, to relish in a stylish shopping break topped off with exquisite culinary delights, prepare to be spoilt for choice in the handsome Belgian capital.
Brussels’ main attraction remains the Grand Place (Grote Markt), where ancient buildings and charming cafes recreate the bohemian atmosphere of the 13th century. Take a stroll along the Old Town and its surrounding cobblestone streets, admire the impressive architecture, and indulge in some quality shopping in the marvelous Saint-Hubert Royal Galleries.
No visit to the capital of Belgium is complete without sampling the city’s legendary beer or its world-famous chocolate. Lovely chocolate shops and historic breweries are sprinkled all over the city, so finding them will not be such a difficult task. Some of the places you should not miss though are the Chocolate Museum (Musee du Cacao et du Chocolate, or simply Choco-Story Brussels), the exquisite La Maison Wittamer, the Brewing Museum (Musée de la Brasserie), and the traditional Cantillon Brewery.
If you find yourself in Brussels between July and September, pay a visit to the Royal Palace. The spectacular Neo-Classical building is located in front of Brussels Park and offers a glimpse of the city’s protuberant royal character.
What to see
Brussels has an abundance of wonderful sights, from world-class museums and magnificent churches to lovely squares, monuments, and amazing parks. Highlights include the Atomium, the Cathedral of Saints Michel and Gudule, the outstanding Mini-Europe, Brussels Park, the atmospheric Rue de Bouchers, and the city’s delightful flea markets.
Every two years (in August) Brussels’ Grand Place becomes home to the largest Flower Carpet in the world. The square is covered with almost one millions begonias, creating an amazing display.
Throughout December, the same lovely square is transformed into a winter wonderland. The entire city is beautifully decorated with glittering lights and delightful Christmas markets.
Other notable festivals in Brussels include the Belgian Beer Weekend (September), Brussels Jazz Marathon (May), Brussels Summer Festival (August), the Comic Strip Festival (September – October), Brussels Beach (July – August) and the Ommegang (June).