After our time in Brugge, we took the train to Brussels. our favorite attraction was the Grand Place, a public square lined with 17th century gilded buildings. We also had the chance to visit the interesting EU Parlamentarium, an exhibit to learn about the EU. It was awesome to take the Eurostar train directly from London to Belgium in under 3 hours!
Top Things to do in Brussels
Grand Place (or Grote Markt)
Brussels’ Grand Place is a square full of gold plated opulent guildhalls and the city’s Town Hall. It is very impressive, and known as one of the city’s most memorable landmarks, so spend some time there to take it all in.
The European Parliament’s Visitors Centre is a really neat exhibition where you can discover what makes the European Parliament so unique, learn about the history of the development of the EU, and learn how decisions are made to the challenges facing Europe. Well worth a visit when in Brussels!
Saint Catherine Place (Sint-Katelijneplein)
This square is a former fish market and is now full of seafood restaurants and other cafes. Built in the mid 19th century, St Catherine’s Church houses a beautiful stone Black Madonna from the 15th century. This area is a great place to get some fresh seafood and enjoy the expansive plaza.
Tips: Walk to the east of the church to find a stone Black Tower, dating back to the original 12th century city walls.
Les Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert
A unique indoor shopping hall that reminded us a lot of Milan’s Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, although far less ornate, with its glazed arched roof. This shopping area is full of Belgian chocolatiers and other shops and cafes.
St. Michael & St. Gudula Cathedral
A beautiful Roman Catholic church, dating back to the 11th century with some parts back to the 9th century. An interesting fact about this grand cathedral is that several peregrine falcons live and have nested in the cathedral’s towers, still around today (though we did not see them).
Brussels Park (Parc de Bruxelles)
A nicely manicured park and garden adjacent to the Royal Palace of Brussels. The park boasts interesting statues and multiple fountains. It is a nice place to bring a picnic or enjoy a quiet afternoon stroll.
Royal Palace of Brussels
The Royal Palace of Brussels is the palace of the Belgian constitutional monarchy. The King and Queen do not live in the palace, but use it for state affairs and official functions. Be sure to check out the Royal Square as well.
Notre Dame du Sablon Church
Located in the Place du Grand Salon, this Catholic church dates back to the 15th century and features a Gothic exterior and two Baroque style chapels. Across the street, Kleine Zavelsquare is worth a visit with is well-manicured gardens and large fountain.
Tips: A flea market can sometimes be found just outside the church in the Sablon square.
This fountain is pretty comical because it is exactly what it sounds like - a “mannequin” boy that is peeing. It is famous for its ever-changing outfits; it was in St. Patrick’s Day garb when we visited!
Where to Stay in Brussels
A nice four-star accommodation in a great location with really comfortable beds. They have a chic bar and restaurant downstairs as well.
Food and Drink in Brussels
The Sister Brussels Cafe
Although located near the Grand Place, this amazing organic lunch spot is non-touristy and has an amazing selection of beers. Go for the beer tasting and the delicious sandwiches on ciabatta.
Located a stone's throw from Les Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert, this “snack” counter offers infamous Belgian frites with your choice of sauce. A perfect savoury and salty complement to the sweet waffles.
Home of the famous Belgian Delirium beer, this tri-level brewery cafe is a fun spot to grab afternoon beers and hang out.
A fun bar serving up craft beers and bites. They have a large variety of beers to choose from and give you roasted barley to munch on with your beer.