For a while now we wanted to spend some time away from our emails and laptops. After speaking at Traverse 2018 in Rotterdam, we decided to take some time off and spend 2 days in Brussels exploring what the capital of Belgium has to offer. We're not going to lie, we mainly skipped museums and explored the city on foot. Of course, we indulged in local beers and ate our weight in chocolate. Chocolate really is something special in Belgium and we would go back for the sweet treats alone. Brussels surprised us: we didn't expect such contrasts at every corner. There are so many types of architecture, without one particular element being more prevalent. After seeing so many pictures of the main square in Brussels, we honestly expected the whole city to be dressed in gothic elements. Without further ado, here's how to spend 2 days in Brussels for first-time visitors.
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Day 1 in Brussels
Morning in Brussels
Start the day exploring the Grand Place (Grote Markt). This is the iconic square of Brussels which looks the especially stunning first thing in the morning when there are no visitors around. The Grand Place is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most visited places in Brussels. Start the day with a few photographs, then sit down for a cup of coffee in one of the coffee shops around the square. Admire the guildhalls and the square as it gets busier and busier.
Continue your day with a visit to the MannekenPis, nearby at 19 Rue du Chêne. Remember that this is not the original. If you wish to see the actual boy, you need to make your way to the Museum of the City of Brussels which houses the original. Stroll around Sablon and admire the well preserved cobblestoned narrow streets. This is the place to start making your way from chocolate shop to chocolate shop. Love exploring the city on your own? Here is how to plan your own Brussels self-guided walking tour.
Street food for lunch
To properly enjoy Brussels, we always recommend you eat your way around the city. Luckily, Brussels has many street food options for all foodies. If you have a sweet tooth, eat various Belgian waffles with confectionary sugar or with whipped cream, chocolate and strawberries on top. Find a chip shop and order a cone of frites (fries). If you are still hungry for more, find a Greenway and sit down for a delicious veggie burger.
Afternoon in Brussels
Make your way to the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert and eat your weight in chocolate. There are so many chocolate shops, it will be pretty difficult to pick your favourite. We say forget about the calories and start eating as many chocolates as you wish. We tried some Belgian truffles which simply rocked our world. We also went for exotic flavours such as yuzu as matcha. We love Japanese food, so naturally, we went for our favourites.
After so many sweets, you must be thirsty. What better way to experience Brussels, than by doing beer tasting? Most bars offer this so you will be spoiled for choice. In Belgium, pretty much all beers come with their own glass in order for the brew to develop its flavour well. What type of beer will you like the most?
Dinner in Brussels
We recommend Spago, an Italian restaurant which serves some of the best pasta and pizza we've ever had. We tried their house wine and loved it. You can dine in or out but note that some people will smoke outdoors. If that doesn't bother you, we recommend dining outside, facing the street so you can people watch whilst munching on that delicious pizza.
Sleep in Boutique Hotel Saint-Géry
It's all about spending a romantic weekend in Brussels, so we recommend the same hotel we experienced. We stayed in Boutique Hotel Saint-Géry which has a very peculiar bathroom. The bathtub is technically in the living / bedroom. So carefully when you book this hotel, as these rooms are definitely only suitable for those who intimate with one another. Two friends might have difficulties showering with no privacy. The hotel is located in an excellent location (just a few minutes from the Great Place and less than 2 minutes walk to our favourite Italian, Spago). For alternative locations and hotels, you can read where to stay in Brussels.
Day 2 in Brussels
Morning in Brussels
Take a walk towards Parc de Laeken where you can visit the famed Royal Greenhouses of Laeken. Enjoy a peaceful stroll around the parc, then make your way towards Mini Europe, one of the most visited touristic spots in Brussels. Here you can photograph over 350 iconic European buildings. Ever wanted to see the Eiffel Tower from above? This is your chance.
Continue your adventure to the Atomium where you can visit the inner exhibition.
Lunch at The Atomium
Since you've been a true wanderer during the morning, it's time to relax and enjoy lunch with a view. The Atomium has a restaurant at the top sphere which offers panoramic views of Brussels.
After lunch, it's time to make your way back to the centre of Brussels. We recommend taking the Comic Strip walk which can be followed on a map on your phone. You will discover so much amazing street art, all to celebrate Franco-Belgian comics.
Afternoon in Brussels
Take a lovely promenade on the Avenue Louise and fall in love with extravagant Brussels. Avenue Louise is known to be lined with upscale international brands so if you love a bit of shopping, this may be the right location for you. We recommend it for a nice and romantic evening walk, as a perfect way to end your adventure around Brussels.
Dinner at Green Mango
Since you are already walking around Ixelles, we recommend dinner at Green Mango where you can have vegan and vegetarian options.
End your stay in Brussels with another round of chocolate and great Belgian beer before heading back to your hotel for a good night sleep.
Are you excited about your 2 days in Brussels? We sure enjoyed our time in the Belgian capital and we look forward to hearing your stories about eating too much chocolate (if that's even possible). So go on, tell us your story in the comments section below.
Thank you Visit Brussels for hosting us in your great city. As always, thoughts and opinions expressed here are entirely our own.