‘Are you from Brussels?’ is a question I get asked a lot living in Australia. And sadly, my ‘No, but I am from Belgium’– answer almost always gets followed by a ‘Belgium… where is that?’ Yep, Brussels is more known for its strawberry & whipped cream waffles than for being the capital in Belgium. I do however get why that is… Here’s a few reasons why Brussels stands out.
Brussels sprouts, the beers, Belgian chocolate, the frites and the waffles. Pick whatever you like, but I’m sure there’s always something to satisfy your culinary needs when it comes to Belgian specialties. The main queues that you’ll see in Brussels are in fact for the little waffle stores. Once you get to taste them, you know exactly what I mean. The sweet smell penetrating the streets of Brussels just never gets old. You can score the finest chocolate (and a bunch of all the other sweets) at the glazed Royal Gallery. Godiva, Leonidas, Côte d’Or and Neuhaus are literally the best. If you get a chance to spot a Leonidas store, I advise you to try the Manon, a white chocolate filled with moca whipped cream and one hazel nut’. Sooooo good! If you are interested in tasting the most popular Belgian dishes, you might wanna try: The Fries with Beef stew or the so called ‘Friet Stoofvlees‘. Originally the recipe is made with Belgian beer. Besides that Belgians love to indulge in Vol-au-vent or Koninginnehapje in Dutch. It’s a puff-pastry dish filled with a combination of chicken, mushrooms, and small meatballs, served with either mashed potatoes or fries.
The Goods & The Views
There are a few bits that make Belgians stand out: Crochet, diamonds, art & purses. If you’re into luxury goods you must visit the Delveaux purse store. That one can also be found at the gallery mentioned above. The brand was founded in Brussels in 1829 and is considered the oldest luxury leather brand in the world. Just keep in mind, that these purses are custom made and getting them can take a few months (and thousands of bucks). Just one single glance at the Grand Place with its cobblestone paths and its opulent Town Hall, will melt your heart, I promise. Moreover, it belongs to UNESCO World Heritage Site. Every year, in August, the square gets decorated with a massive number of flowers. One year you will see Flowertime, a decorative mix of flowers and veggies covering the streets. And the year after the whole place will be covered in flower patterns. This event goes hand in hand with the yearly music and fireworks show. The little wee man, also known als Manneken Pis (and his sister Jeanneke Pis) is also a must-see. It’s a small figurine that gets dressed up on every single occasion. During Christmas, he gets a Santa suit while on Easter he’ll probably wear a bunny costume. It’s a cute and well-loved gimmick. The most famous Belgian monument is the Brussels Atomium. You can it in Bruparck, about 15 minutes by car from the centre of Brussels.
If you got some time to spare, you can make a trip to the Royal Gardens of Laeken, but make sure you check the website first, it’s only open for 3 weeks. A walk through Mini-Europe is also a laid back way to spend an extra few hours in the capital. You get to experience all the greatest monuments of Europe in miniature, plus it’s situated walking distance from the Atomium.
- If you want to travel cheap, get the train or the bus. You can find all the info on the app or the website: De Lijn (bus) or NMBS (train).
- Some little shops in Brussels (for example the waffle shops) don’t have a card machine to pay, so always make sure you carry a bit of cash with you.
- Finding public restrooms in Brussels can be tricky, but many cafés will let you use them without consumption if you just ask the waiter or pay them 0,50 cents.
- There is great street entertainment in Brussels, but make sure you keep an eye on your bag. Pickpocketing happens quite often during these gigs.