Brussels, the captivating capital of Belgium, is a city steeped in culinary delights, from its renowned chocolates and waffles to its iconic beers and fries. So, Exploring Brussels in a Day: Food, Beer, and Culture
On a day trip from Paris, my husband and I embarked on a gastronomic adventure in Brussels. With only 24 hours to spare, we opted for the convenience of Brussels due to its proximity to Paris. We purchased our Eurostar bus tickets in advance and, upon arrival, took a short 15-minute taxi ride to our hotel.
While we did explore the city on a hop-on/hop-off bus tour, our primary focus was indulging in Brussels’ delectable cuisine. Brussels is a relatively compact city, making it feasible to explore everything it has to offer in just one day. Here’s how to make the most of your 24 hours in Brussels.
Where to Stay in Brussels
Brussels boasts a wide range of accommodation options, catering to all budgets and preferences.
NH Brussels Louise: For a mid-range hotel option, NH Brussels Louise offers a modern and trendy setting within a 20-minute walk from the Grand Place, providing all the essentials for a comfortable stay.
Hotel Sofitel Brussels: If you’re looking for a luxurious experience, indulge yourself with a stay at the five-star Hotel Sofitel. This lavish hotel showcases French contemporary design and provides top-notch service for a truly unforgettable stay.
Meininger Hostel: For budget-conscious travelers, Meininger Hostel is an excellent choice, conveniently located on the outskirts of the city. The hostel offers various room options, from shared dormitories to private rooms, and provides a clean and friendly environment, making it an ideal spot for solo travelers.
Budget Tip: Meininger has multiple hotels throughout Europe, and you can enjoy a discount on future bookings after your initial stay.
Where to Eat in Brussels
Brussels is renowned for its culinary delights, including chocolate, waffles, fries, and beer. While these delicacies can be found all over the city, here are some standout options to satisfy your cravings:
Chez Leon: This family-owned restaurant, operating since 1893, is a true gem of Brussels. For less than fifteen euros, you can savor traditional Brussels cuisine, with the mussels being an absolute must-try.
Peck 47: This cozy café is perfect for brunch, offering a delightful selection of sweet and savory options. Peck 47 is particularly famous for its savory waffles and piping hot lattes.
Café Delirium: If you’re looking for a vibrant night out, Café Delirium is the place to be. This multi-level, multi-building bar boasts an astonishing collection of over three thousand beers, earning it a place in the record books.
Belgium Fries, Belgium Frites, Pommes Frites, Frites:
Belgian fries, also known as frites or pommes frites, are a must-try when in Brussels. While the origin of fries is debated, they are widely associated with Belgium. You’ll find numerous street vendors offering these delectable treats served in a cardboard cone and topped with various sauces, typically mayonnaise-based, providing a savory and satisfying snack.
You can’t go to Belgium without getting some frites! The best places to find them are from the stands on the streets. They are all over, so you can’t go wrong with any of them.
I spotted people queueing for some food. Now I have a rule of thumb when I’m in a place I know little about. If there’s a queue of locals waiting for food, then that’s where I’m going. The place was Fritland.
Brussels is synonymous with chocolate, and you’ll find chocolate shops on virtually every corner of the city. While any chocolate shop is sure to delight your taste buds, some stand out for their exceptional quality and craftsmanship.
Belgium is renowned for its beer culture, with over 1500 varieties of beer and nearly 200 breweries. Beer is considered an integral part of Belgian life, and in 2016, UNESCO even recognized it as part of the “Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists.” The country offers an astonishing array of beer styles, from pale lagers to wheat beers, blonde ales to Lambic beers. A visit to Brussels would be incomplete without sampling some of these exceptional brews.
Surprisingly, waffles in Belgium are often enjoyed as desserts rather than breakfast items. Belgian waffles come in two primary varieties: Brussels waffles and Liege waffles. Brussels waffles are rectangular, light, and crisp, typically topped with powdered sugar. In contrast, Liege waffles are denser and sweeter, thanks to caramelized sugar in the batter. Waffles are commonly adorned with chocolate syrup, whipped cream, ice cream, and fruit, but notably not maple syrup.
During our visit, we both tried Liege waffles. I ventured to “le Funambule” and selected a trio of delectable toppings: Belgium chocolate, vanilla ice cream, and strawberries. The combination was simply divine, and I relished every bite. My husband, on the other hand, opted for a waffle from the renowned “Maison Dandoy,” situated conveniently near the Grand Place, and he too savored every morsel.
What to Do in Brussels
Even if you have no specific plans, wandering through Brussels will undoubtedly lead you to some of its most iconic attractions and hidden gems:
Comic Strip Walls: Brussels is the birthplace of beloved comic characters such as the Smurfs and Tintin. To pay homage to these creations, the city is adorned with colorful comic strip murals. Begin your exploration at the Comic Book Centre and embark on a captivating journey along the comic book route, where you’ll encounter these vibrant artworks.
Statues: Throughout Brussels, you’ll discover whimsical and iconic statues that add charm and character to the city. Keep an eye out for the trio of famous statues: Mannekin Pis, Zinneke Pis, and Jeanneke-Pis. These delightful sculptures are nestled discreetly around the city, and spotting them is a fun and rewarding endeavor.
Grand-Place: At the heart of Brussels lies the breathtaking Grand-Place, a UNESCO World Heritage site steeped in historical significance. This stunning square has witnessed countless historical events and remains a symbol of the city’s rich heritage.
In conclusion, we filled our 24 hours in Brussels with culinary delights and cultural discoveries. If you plan to spend a day in this charming city, I highly recommend indulging in its signature foods and beers. Arrive with an empty stomach, and disappointment won’t await you. Have you had the pleasure of visiting Brussels? If so, please share your experiences and thoughts with us below!