Besides to much information about chocolate, living in Brussels I got to know the city very well while attending events, working, learning French and discovering places. I was what people call a “social butterfly”.
So when you have a limited amount of time in the city of Brussels, let’s say just a weekend, you should put on your list the following 7 locations and events.
While some assume that Brussels is a boring city filled with EU buildings, I think this is a huge misperception to say the least. So I was very picky when I chose the following 7 recommendations.
1. From Grand Place & Royal Galleries to St Catherine
Grand Place is the center of the centers and one of the most beautiful squares in Europe, with Hôtel de Ville (the Town Hall), Maison du Roi (museum of the city of Brussels) and with guildhouses in Flemish style.
In the post “From Brussels with chocolate“, here is where we started the chocolate trail in Belgian “chocolateries”. Basically if you hunt all the chocolate cool places, will get to see also the most important sights. Don’t forget also about other goodies of Brussels – speculoos cookies and waffles. Delicious and efficient!
If you leave the square and walk on a little street called “Rue de la Collline” you will see the entrance of the Royal Galleries, or Les Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert.
This Gallery includes three galleries: Galerie de la Reine, Galerie du Roi and Galerie du Prince (Gallery of the Queen, King’s Gallery and Prince’s Gallery).
Saint Catherine neighborhood is named after the church in the square and it has many boutiques, cafés, restaurants and the club Madame Moustache.
2. Mont des Art
Go for the view and for the art. Mont des Arts (meaning mountain of the arts), because is surrounded by museums, including René Magritte Museum.
Mont des Arts is a little version of Berlin museum island, without the water. You have here a beautiful view of Brussels from the little platform, and many museums per square meter and Royal air with a castle nearby. What more can we ask for? Maybe just the river from Berlin.
Not for from Mont des Art is BOZAR – Palais des Beaux-Arts, an amazing Art Deco cultural center with concert and exhibition halls, and home to the National Orchestra of Belgium.
3. Sablon & Marolles
Place du Grand Sablon is a big sqaure filled with art galleries, concept stores, chocolate shops and restaurants.
In Grand Sablon I was always stopping on weekends to check the flea market and to buy pieces of dark chocolate from Pierre Marcolini. Dark Belgian chocolate is one of my favorites. Is not sweet at all, so basically healthy 🙂
Another hidden gem in the city is close –Place du Petite Sablon with a little park. From Petite Sablon you can walk until Place Poulart, perfect spot to see the sunset. The elevator would take you down to the cute Marolles neighborhood, packed with vintage shops and yet another fantastic flea market on Sunday called “Jeu de balle”.
As a Brussels enthusiast, I can’t help it. If you are in Brussels, it’s a pity to miss:
- the Atomium
- the European Parliament
The building is a landmark in Brussels and was originally build for the World Expo that took place in 1958 in Brussels. Same roots as the Eiffel Tower.
Now is a museum that host a permanent exposition and a temporary one. Only once I was inside the Atomium when my parents visited me, and we all loved it, but it’s fun to go just to see it from the outside (or make silly pictures like me and Georgi).
The area is very green, 15 min away with the metro from the city center.
5. European Institutions
As a former stagiaire at the European Parliament, this place was a mandatory non-negotiable stop on my tour city for my dear visitors, even if they were exhausted or it was raining.
The neighbourhood with the European institutions in Brussels is a piece of Europe within Europe. While there, is a good opportunity to visit the institutions to understand by yourself the whole picture.
Just like them, don’t miss the Parlamentarium, the interactive museum with free access, or the nearby “Ixelles” neighborhood.
Green time. Park Cincuantainaire is nerby if you want a breath of fresh air. Or some more museums.
6. Art Nouveau & Art Deco
Saved some best stuff for last. If Grand Place seems gothic, medieval even, and with guildhouses in Flemish style, the city is filled with other architectural styles.
I got to experience a lot in Brussels, but I will never forget two events and the effect it had on me. The first event is the Art Nouveau and Art Deco Biennale, an event that used to take place every 2 years in October. It is a celebration of Architecture and design variety of buildings in Brussels.
Nowadays it takes place every year in the spring. The long-established Brussels Biennial Art Nouveau & Art Deco Event (BANAD) was a weekend Marathon for me.
7. Events. Flowertime
The second event / celebratioon is the Flower Carpet build in front of the Townhall in Grand Place, that is every 2 years in August.
It was an extraordinary feeling to be in that Unesco World heritage, a beautiful square filled with flowers, smelling of Brussels, begonias mixed with waffles and chocolate 🙂
Picture says is better