The capital of Belgium and also considered the capital of the European Union, Brussels is a walkable town with things to do around every corner. Come for the world famous Belgian beer experience, but fall in love with it’s enchanting streets and small town feel. Brussels is an easy train ride from several locations in Europe and if you have a few days, stop in to see what she has to offer.
Top 5 Things To Do
- Cantillon brewery – Still brewing like they did centuries before, a place that makes Lambic style beer very well. Take the tour and learn the history of Lambics and many other forms of beer that end in a delicious tasting.
- Grand place – The main town square is amazing to see at any time of day, but especially lit up in the evening. Stop for a bite and people watch! You won’t regret it!
- Atomium – Built for the world fair in Brussels, it’s astonishing to see. Go up to the top and have a drink and overlook the city. Take some time and go through the museum, it has a lot of art exhibits and it’s fun moving from floor to floor!
- Manneken Pis – I’m putting it on the list as Brussels is a very walkable city, but this figure is at the heart of it. Walk by each day to see the different costumes placed on the statue. You can really see why the Belgian people have a great sense of humor!
- Tonton Garby – A restaurant graces this list again, but honestly it’s the best sandwich shop experience I’ve ever had. The amazing creations that this owner makes and the level of service he gives is something that every eatery should aspire to. The line will be long all days but wait and see the magic unfold.
- Cantillon Brewery
- Manneken Pis
- Grand Place
- De Gulden Boot
- Les Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert
As we got off the train from Paris to Brussels, we took some time to settle into where we were. We found it a pretty walkable city so we dropped our bags off at our Airbnb and headed out to our first stop. A brewery of course! This was not just any brewery though, we quickly learned that there is a history to the Cantillon Brewery in Brussels.
Cantillon Brewery: Founded in 1900, this brewery does a fantastic job with lambic style beers. We started by taking a tour of the brewery and fell in love with their ancient style of brewing. They went through and showed us brewing techniques and as we made our way upstairs, they show you an open air fermenting area. An old style of brewing where the beer would be fermented at the top of the barn. It made a unique style of beer, because depending on the weather, it would affect how the beer was produced.
The end of the tour culminated with a beer tasting that was delicious. Many styles of beer to taste and you could see the happy faces on everyone as they took a sip. I was also able to take some beer home for family as they had several to go options of beer. I didn’t realize until I got home, that this beer is highly sought after and can fetch a pretty penny from someone in the states!
*Manneken Pis: This unique little statue is tiny, but very interesting. Each day we were there, they would change the outfit that they had on the statue. It’s a highlight for tourism as there are constantly people walking through and taking selfies with this little figure. It was placed in 1618 and means, “Little Pissing Man” in Dutch. Even though it will be a pretty short visit on your holiday, stop by and see why the Belgians have a great sense of humor!
*Grand Place: After our viewing of the little pissing man, it was time for us to take in the central square of Brussels. We got to the area and took it all in. We stood in the middle of the square and twirled around a couple of times to see the beautiful architecture surrounding us. The town hall is here and you can take a tour of it, but it was enough for us to take in the view. What we also loved about the Grand Place was going back in the evening. It lights up and is a very different perspective than in the daytime.
De Gulden Boot Restaurant: We stopped at a local cafe in the square and had some famous Belgian fries. Belgians are known for their fries. You can easily see why! They were delicious and to much dismay of many in the US, I had Mayo with the fries and it made them even better. It sounds disgusting to many in the US, because our Mayo is made differently and would taste foul with fries. Their Mayo has a great taste to it and you should be very willing to try it while you are here.
Les Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert: As we made our way through the city, we stopped and walked through this beautiful shopping area. There are many shops to stop at and also plenty of places to break the bank! What we liked about this area was the architecture of the overall building. It has extremely high arching hallways through the shops. We didn’t end up buying anything while we were there, but it was fun to just walk through for a hour and enjoy window shopping.
We made our way back to our Airbnb that night to get some sleep before a busy next day. Agian, this inner city is very walkable and it’s so easy to make your way around to many top destinations. We actually only used public transportation once to get to the Atomium as it is a distance outside the city. Other than that, enjoy your walks because there is so much to stumble upon in this city.
- Tonton Garby
- St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral
- Museum of Cocoa and Chocolate
Tonton Garby: Situated on a side street, this shop could be missed if you are walking by. The shop has only a small selection of seating for you so it goes to the people that already have their food. As we waited in line outside, we looked around at all of the drawings and thank you cards that were sent to the owner. All, seemed extremely thrilled with his service and almost treating him like a local celebrity. The line didn’t really move and we were honestly only three people back. I started to see why. The man took his time with each customer. He asked lots of questions and made sure he only focused on that customer and making them feel like a king or queen. It was amazing to see the level of detail he placed in every ingredient.
Finally we got to the front of the line and ordered two sandwiches. He asked about what meats we enjoy and suggested cheeses to go with them. The sandwiches he made for us were incredible. He also let us know that if we didn’t like them, he’d make different ones. We continued to watch him as we sat down. Spending every moment with his patrons. I can’t imagine what the world would be like right now if everyone had this level of service.
St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral: After eating our delicious sandwiches, we headed towards the cathedral. It didn’t take us long before we were standing in front of what almost actually looked like the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris. A Gothic style cathedral with two towers to the sides, it’s a beautiful building. As you enter inside, you have sweeping views of the whole church. Walk through and look at the beautiful stained glass. We walked the area for around a half hour and came out at the little park in front. The leaves were changing color the whole time we were in Europe so it made for wonderful shots of trees.
Museum of Cocoa and Chocolate: As we stumbled back through Grand Place, we stopped in to see the museum. My partner is a chocolate lover, myself not so much. Confusing enough, she would rather have Hershey’s than Belgian chocolate! The place was interesting though. We didn’t take the full tour upstairs, but we did watch a chocolate demonstration. They also have different types of chocolate for you to try and compare. Each chocolate having more cacao involved so you can taste the difference in bitterness. It was neat, and a treat for any chocolate lover.
Atomium: Next up was just outside of the city, the Atomium. The Atomium was built in 1958 for the world’s fair. We took an uber to get to the location. When we got there, it was actually pretty slow with very little tourism around the area. As we starred up at this unique Atom like structure, it does give you a sense of wow factor. We made our way in and went through the museum area. There is a lot of information about the world fair that was hosted here along with some wonderful art to look at as you work your way through. They do a good job of connecting the museum together and you work your way up escalators that make you feel like you are riding Space Mountain at Disney! Our favorite part was getting to the top and having a drink at the restaurant. It has a beautiful view of the entire city of Brussels and the surrounding area. We enjoyed our time and it was pretty cheap to enter into the museum and not bad for overall pricing in the restaurant.
*Poechenellekelder: We made our way back into the city and decided that we needed to do a little people watching! The perfect location? Mannekin Pis of course! What better place can you watch people than around a statue of a little boy peeing? The restaurant had great outdoor seating and I loved the amount of beer that they carried. I was most interested in having some great beer. I had a great Geuze, because when in Belgium right? We sat for a bit and just watched people taking selfies from every angle in front of the statue. We didn’t have any food, but for a place to just people watch and drink a beer, perfect!
Delirium: Our final stop as we came back for round two on the day was Delirium. We needed to go and have a great selection of beer while we were in Brussels. The place actually has the world record for the most beers offered with 2,004 different types of beer to choose from. We sat down and it took some time, but we made our way up to the bar and made a choice on beer. The place was quite busy and felt a little too American for me actually. It is a quite large place, but I didn’t really care for the feel of the location as much. I would probably suggest going here, maybe when there are a bit less people to get a bit more of a beer lover feel.
The night was over and we stumbled our way back to our Airbnb. We have to say that we had a great time in just the short time that we spent in Belgium. Next time we would definitely make our way to a couple of the monasteries to taste some of the top Belgian beers. They are spread out a decent amount across the country so you would really need more than two days to take this tour on. Brussels was a lot of fun though and made for a great trip. Two days was plenty to see the city of Brussels.
*Top people watching spot