Together has compiled the ten necessary ventures while you are in Brussels. Yes, many of them involve food, but I find the best way to really know the place you are in is to eat the local food. Not only is it insightful, but delicious as well.
Atomium at Night
Just about everyone who is going to Brussels knows about the Atomium, and everyone should visit it at some point. Although there are tours during the day, the Atomium is really special at night. It makes you proud to be a Bruxellois, even if you are only here for a short time.
Belgium is known for its beer, so while you are in Brussels you have to see an authentic hundred-year-old brewery. The Cantillon family brewery brews Belgian beers such as Lambic, Gueuze, Faro and Kriek. The brewery is also the Brussels Museum of the Gueuze where you can learn about the family’s traditional brewing techniques, tools and machines. The entrance fee is only €6 and a beer is included in the price.
Les Frites/Het Fritjes
You can find street food just about anywhere in Brussels, but one of the best is Maison Antoine. The frites stand is located in the middle of Place Jourdan and you can smell the frying potatoes the second you turn the corner onto the main street. The food is not pricey and there is a wide array of excellent sauces for your frites. If you are in the mood to try something new, the andalouse and special sauces are delicious. Your visit to Antoine will be one of your favourite experiences in Brussels, and that is not for a lack of other things to do.
Even if you are not a big drinker, one of the things you have to do in Brussels is go out to a bar at night. The Delirium Café near the Grand Place (which you can find in most Brussels guide books) that offers over 2,000 types of beer. Delirium is fun, but it draws quite a few tourists – you have a better chance of meeting an American than an actual Belgian. If you are looking for more of an authentic Belgian bar experience, Café Belga in Place Flagey is a great place to try. La Porte Noire just to the south of the Sablon also offers a similar number of beers to Delirium, but has a more studenty crowd and you are more likely to strike a pleasant conversation with our Belgian friends.
It’s great that you can meet people from all over the world in Brussels, but the best part is the food. A fantastic Lebanese restaurant called Al Barmaki located near the Grand Place. You can also find delicious kabab places on every corner. And if you are feeling a little more adventurous, the African quarter, Matongé, located between Chaussée d’Ixelles and Chaussée de Wavre has many great restaurants.
Belgium used to have a thriving auto industry until World War II. You can go see the country’s automobile history and 950 classic cars at Autoworld. The exhibit is located in the beautiful Palais Mondial, so even if you aren’t a car buff, it’s a nice way to spend the afternoon.
Find Some Old Stuff
The flea market on the Place de Jeu de Balle is a good place to find to the odd trinket to take back home. You can go browse through the many stalls and find all sorts of hidden treasures. The sheer amount of products these vendors have is quite incredible. It is open every day from 6 am to 2 pm. And when you have thoroughly perused the market, you can grab a sausage with peppers and onions at a nearby sandwich place. Just follow your nose.
Go To A Museum
Take your pick – Brussels has museums for whatever your interests are. The Music Museum in the fine Belee Epoque Olde English building is filled with more than 1,500 musical instruments from all over the world. Another is good choice woud be the Musée René Magritte, Belgium’s most famous Surreal artists, and you can learn a lot about his life and paintings. Just a little outside Brussels in Tervuren is the Royal Museum for Central Africa. Belgium is known for its comic strips, so go find your Smurfs, Tintin and Astérix at the Belgian Comic Strip Centre.
If you are going to Belgium, one of the questions people will frequently ask is, “Are you going to have a waffle?” Hilarious, I know. It’s even worse that you should really get a waffle if you are going to Brussels. They are delicious and basically the doughnut equivalent of Belgium – I prefer mine with strawberry jam. Every place where they are offered produces a delicious confection and you can smell them from a mile away. Don’t be picky or worry about how many calories they are, just get one.
Yes, you have to go see the Grand Place. I know it is a huge touristy area and most of the people there will be visiting for a few days, but the square is a pretty amazing especially at night. Another tourist attraction you need to see is Mannekin Pis. It is a statue of a little boy peeing into a fountain. If you come on the right day, he will be dressed up. Just try to avoid this landmark on weekends because the tourists are swarming on Saturdays and Sundays. While you are at it, find your way over to Jeanneke Pis (Mannekin Pis’ female counterpart) for a good laugh.