Last April I visited Belgium’s capital city with some friends from University. We took the Eurostar from St Pancras on a cloudy Saturday morning and arrived back the following evening. When the journey is just over two hours it’s such an easy way to travel to Brussels! That said, the trip did get off to a bad start when one of our friends missed the train. He forgot about the whole security / passport control issue…oops!
Brussels is a pretty compact city and we really enjoyed taking our time to explore and get to know it. Plus it meant we had plenty of time to enjoy lots of tasty food and beer! Read on to find 10 different ways to spend 30 hours in Brussels 🙂
1. Grand Place
The Grand Place is the beautiful central square of Brussels. It is bordered on all sides by gorgeous buildings of varying architectural styles including the Town Hall whose tower is 96m high. It’s no surprise that the Grand Place is a Unesco World Heritage Site!
2. Indulge in Waffles with all the toppings
Let’s be honest. One of the best reasons to visit Belgium is the incredible food and specifically the indulgent waffles dripping with chocolate sauce and toppings. We chose ours from the Waffle Factory which had a huge selection of sauces such as nutella, dark chocolate and biscoff (yes, in sauce format, it’s amazing) and toppings like banana, strawberries and whipped cream. I loved the sticky sugary Liege waffles!
3. Visit the Manneken Pis
This is possibly one of the strangest attractions a city might have to offer but the statue of a little boy ‘spending a penny’ into the fountain below is one of Brussels’ most famous things to see! Throughout the year he gets dressed up in various outfits – I’m honestly not sure what his costume was for our visit!
4. Learn how chocolate is made
Don’t just taste Belgian chocolate but learn how it is made as well! If you’re intrigued then visit the Museum of Cocoa and Chocolate which teaches you about the history and production of chocolate as well as a live demo where they’ll make some treats you can try! Admittedly I spent 9 months working in a chocolate factory so I may have known most of this already but my friends really enjoyed it.
Top Tip: just a few doors down from this museum is the shop papabubble which sells exquisitely designed handmade sweets – an unusual gift to take home.
5. Cathedrale St-Michel & Ste-Gudule
The Cathedral of St-Michel & Ste-Gudule is super close to the city centre, just a few minutes walk away from the beautiful shopping galleries of Brussels. It sits on top of the Treurenberg Hill and its height is made more imposing by its Gothic style!
6. The Royal Palace
This beautiful neoclassical palace sits in front of Brussels Park. Although it is no longer where the King and Queen of Belgium live, it is still used for royal duties. You can visit from 21st July until September as it’s been a tradition for the Palace to be opened up to the public during the Summer. Even if you don’t come to Brussels during the time it’s open to the public, the Royal Palace is still a gorgeous building you should pass by and enjoy!
7. Devour delicious fries
Yup, more food on this list! But if you’re in Brussels then you must get your hands on tasty fries that you can munch on while you’re exploring! At Cafe Georgette you can grab them from the hatch in a cone to-go. Make sure you add on a sauce as well, the truffle mayo and tomato sauce were so good!
8. Cinquantenaire & the Triumphal Arch
Head East of the city centre towards the Cinquantenaire park which is home to the Triumphal Arch and a great place to rest weary feet after all that time exploring the cobbled streets of central Brussels. The impressive Triumphal Arch was built to celebrate Belgium’s fiftieth birthday!
9. Taste hundreds of beers at Delirium Cafe
A trip to Brussels is not complete without a pint of beer and there is no better place to enjoy it than Delirium Cafe. It’s situated along the entire length of an alley by the Jeanneke Pis (the Manneken Pis’ sister) and with hundreds of beers and ciders to choose from it’s a great place to taste something different, just watch out for the % – some are surprisingly high!
Top Tip: After spending many hours in Delirium, we headed to Madame Moustache for a night out. It was a lot of fun even if the music combination of disco, house and 80s was pretty out there!
10. Enjoy brunch at Café de Luxembourg
If you had a few too many beers the night before then you may be in need of a hearty brunch to soak it up! At Café de Luxembourg (on Place de Luxembourg, South East of the city centre) we had the most incredible brunch with juice, coffee, a smoothie bowl AND a main brunch bowl included in the price. Honestly. The best brunch I’ve ever had.
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