Brussels is pretty centrally located in Belgium, it’s only about 50 minutes by train to Antwerp and just over an hour by train to Bruges. Not only is it the capital of Belgium but apparently also the capital of Europe. The main language is French but about half the population also speaks Flemish, and the most common religion is Christian/Roman Catholic.
Because of the bombing of the airport last March, and the on-going tension in Europe, we were unsure what to expect in Brussels. But other than the odd pairs of heavily armed military patrol, things are operating as normal. Although you should always be aware when travelling, and always watch for petty crime like pick-pocketing; in terms of everything else going on in Europe, it shouldn’t affect a trip to Brussels.
There is so much to do in Brussels that it would be impossible to fit it all in in 48 hours but we sure tried!
We started off our Saturday with waffles for breakfast at Maison Dandoy and then a dive at Nemo 33, the worlds second deepest dive pool. As long as you are certified you can dive on your own.
€25 gets you a dive, rental equipment and a mask, and for €3 and a valuable item, you can rent a dive computer. After a quick safety briefing we were free to jump in the water, no guide required! 🙂
By the time we finished at Nemo 33 and made it back to the city centre, it was late afternoon. We spent the rest of the day wandering around and tasting chocolate. We then headed back to the hotel to change and get ready for dinner.
We had dinner at Chex Leon (read more below), a restaurant that has been in operation since 1893! And then went to check out Delirium, a cafe by day, club by night that apparently has 3000 different beers! Needless to say, we did not try every beer on the menu but we did try Deliriums own, Delirium Nocturnum and Delirium Red. Delirium Nocturnum is 8.5% and tastes rather strong, (according to Bry) but the Delirium Red had a dark cherry flavour, is 8% and really good. What was supposed to be a ‘lets just go for one beer‘, turned into a few more, and then that turned into a really good night.
If you’re ever in Brussels, Delirium is a must. It is three floors full of locals and travellers alike, you can dance if you want to dance or sit and socialize if that’s what tickles your fancy. Deliriums building is huge with many different areas/rooms and with that huge selection of beer, there has got to be something for everyone.
NOTE: BEWARE OF PICK POCKETS and guys walking around trying to steal drinks. They are sly, super friendly and really good at what they do. There are even signs up all over the bar saying to watch for pick pockets.
Sunday was spent really exploring the city. We had breakfast at Peck 47 – known for its savory waffle options, and then carried on to the Grand Place. The Grand Place is Brussels central square and was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1998. The place is absolutely spectacular; during summer it would be a great place to sit, sip beer and people watch.
From there we really just wandered around, finding chocolate shops, eating waffles and snacking on frites (fries/chips). We found our way to the Manneken Pis, the icon (if you will) of Brussels, and also went in search of Brussels iconic Comic street art; although we only found two pieces.
While you’re wandering around tasting chocolate and if you’re like us and love Nutella, be sure to stop by Le Comptoir de Mathidle. This shop makes their own version of our favourite hazel nut flavoured chocolate spread and they’ve even thrown their own twists on it like Speculoo flavour, coconut, wafer bits, and even white hazel nut (who knew that was a thing!).
There are two different types of waffles served in most place, Brussels waffles and Liege Waffles. Brussels waffles are a batter base and are light, crispy and fluffy. Liege waffles are more of a dough base, and are thick, rich, heavy, and slightly stodgy depending on where you get them. We highly recommend going for the Brussels waffle.
Tip: Walk down Rue de L’etuve, you can get delicious €1 waffles in several shops down this street.
If you go to one of the Maison Dandoy’s tea rooms on a Saturday go just before 11am. 11am is when their upstairs/tea rooms open, where you can sit down and get table service. We say to arrive early because we arrived at about 10:50am and there was already a line to the door.
Peck 47 seems to always have a line outside their door, which I suppose, in the restaurants case, is a good thing. We promise, it’s worth the wait, and if you’re only a group of two you may not even have to wait as long. It isn’t exactly first come first serve, it is more a case of which tables open up first. We were lucky and were only in line for about 30 minutes max.
Tip: The larger your group, the longer you will probably wait.
Frite Flagy supposedly has some of the best chips/fries/frites in Brussels, although we never made it there to find out. But Cafe Georgette is worth going to while wandering the city centre, it’s not far from Delirium. Make sure to get the Georgette sauce for dipping, it’s delicious. You can sit inside and order a proper meal, or grab some chips from the takeaway window.
Chez Leon has been in business since 1893 and is still run by the same Family! Make sure to have the mussels, it’s what they’ve built their restaurant on. Don’t worry about booking a table, we just showed up and were seated after a few minute wait.
I think we sorta fell in love with Brussels; it’s a beautiful European city with a lot of culture and so much to do. There is definitely something for everyone, from museum goers to foodies, comic book junkies to chocolate lovers, and everything in between.
Brussels, we’ll definitely be back for you!