Hi, Loves! Life is a whirlwind. Now that Cecil and I live in Europe we are busier than we have ever been traveling. Traveling has taught me so much; check out these must-have travel tips. We’re gone every weekend, off to explore, it’s almost like a full-time job. Life is rough right? Nah. I am loving every minute of it. When we moved to Germany we made a decision to leave everything behind to live life to the fullest. Read more about that here,
Cecil, Charlie, Lucy and I recently did a road trip tour of Belgium and Brussels was our first stop. Brussels is the capital of Belgium but the city has a French flare that is charming, captivating and simply beautiful. Although it is diverse, everyone predominantly speaks French. I was instantaneously in love when we arrived!
Brussels is a big city with lots to see and do. A bit different from our recent trips. We tend to gravitate to the “not so touristy” cities (like Heidelberg) because we like the simplicity. Normally, the smaller cities show more character and you can truly get a sense of the culture. Honestly, Cecil and I didn’t mind all the hustle and bustle of Brussels. It kind of reminded us of New Orleans a bit (one of our favorites). It was Frenchy, lively, fun and every now and then the smell of pee would slap you in the face when walking by a street. Other than the pee face slap, we thoroughly enjoyed exploring Brussels and getting lost in the culture.
Below are my tips from what we learned on this trip.
Where to STAY: Two of my recommendations are based on exploring the city and the other one is based on us staying there. I like options, and when it comes to hotels I will always try to present different choices, as circumstances are different for everyone.
- Hotel Amigo: This place is in a great location. Situated near restaurants and so close to the city center that I am positive the views are lovely. The outside is clean and classy. At the entry, friendly bellboys stand, ready to assist with bags and park the car. It has a fancy feel. When we walked by it, the phrase “oooh-la-la” (in my fake French accent) came to mind. We did not stay at this hotel because they don’t accept pets. As I mentioned above, Charlie and Lucy, our Mini-Schnauzers, joined us on this trip. Yep they love to travel too. Unfortunately, our four little legged adventure partners in crime were not allowed. So sadly, I waved goodbye and promised to stay there next time we visit without the pups. Otherwise I would have loved to stay in this hotel.
- The Dominican: Wonderful hotel. The walking distance might as well be called “steps distance” to the city center; needless to say, it’s in a great location. We did not stay at this hotel because again they didn’t accept pets. Why? (Crying face) My puppies are good I promise. If you don’t have pets with you then this is a good option.
- Hotel Le Plaza: This is the hotel we stayed at because pets were allowed and it was extremely charming. Location was about 10 min walk to the city center which we didn’t mind. After all the eating and drinking we needed to walk anyway. The rooms are big (or bigger than most I’ve been to) and the beds are quite comfortable. Overall the hotel is a bit dated. The lobby is nice and not so noticeable but the rooms need some updating. I wasn’t staying there for the interior decor so it all worked out. The pups liked it and although it was on the higher end of our budget it still didn’t break the bank. Win win.
What to See & Do:
- Grand Place otherwise known as Grote Market is the central square of Brussels. It is beautiful. The hints of gold on every building sparkle with the day’s light and looks so picturesque. A must see!
- Town Hall. The beautiful tall building within the central square. The architecture is admirable.
- Guide Houses. These are also within the central square. The Central Square is huge and quite a sight all day. At night time, colorful rainbow-like lights, brighten up the buildings. It looks so pretty.
- St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral. A Beautiful church with wonderful stone work, statues and a lot of history. A must see.
- Jardin Du Mont Des Arts. A garden beautifully maintained and quite colorful. It offers great views of the city center and surrounding areas.
- Les Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert. Constructed in the 1800s, it is one of the oldest shopping centers. The roof is spectacular and allows in an abundance of natural light. There are tons of shops and a few cafes. Very lively and busy.
- Royal Palace or Palais Royal. Impressive architectural building and perfectly manicured gardens! Although it is not open for viewing to the public, I still recommend a visit. Plus there is park across from it where you can have a nice picnic. The King doesn’t live in the palace, instead, it is used for holding Official State Functions.
- Quartier de L’llot Sacre is one of the main tourist attractions. It is lined with restaurants and the architecture is lovely. As you walk through the narrow street the aggressive restaurant waiters try to lure you in. It’s interesting!
pssst: great for photos!
- Place du Grand Sablon. The Sablon neighborhood is packed with galleries, antiques, chocolate shops, cozy cafes and many other small chic shops. It’s a beautiful part of town.
- Carillon du Mont des Arts – A Jacquemart Carillon clock, built in 1958, with 24 bells at the bottom of the arch of Mont des Arts. It has 12 figurines around it and they each represent historic figures of Brussels. At the top of the clock there is a little guy and every hour he strikes the bell with a hammer. It’s a neat clock. You must visit at noon!
- Mini-Europe: Although we didn’t go because it wasn’t walking distance from our hotel, I still recommend a visit. Mini Europe is a one of kind attraction. It’s like a baby theme park but instead of rides, it has 3D, miniature (probably as high as five feet tall) models of buildings and iconic landmarks. It’s also right by Atomium.
- Atomium, a building that illustrates nine iron atoms in the shape of an iron crystal, magnified 165 billion times. It’s 335 ft tall and offers panoramic views of Brussels.
- Drink the Belgium beer. This was number one on my husband’s list. When it comes to beer, he doesn’t discriminate. Plus it’s super yummy. Although you can drink Belgium beer at restaurants, visit the beer stores throughout the downtown area. Get you a roadie and enjoy it while you look around. The variety of beers is mind blowing! And although I am not a beer girl, I absolutely loved a lot of their beers.
- The Belgium waffle…my mouth is watering as I type this. When Cecil and I finalized our travel plans, the Belgium waffle was one thing I was really looking forward to. Before going, I’d heard that they were delicious but in person they were beyond delicious. The flavor, I can’t even begin to describe. It is soo good! Every bite is crunchy, and soft and literally melts in your mouth. Plus you can customize it. Add chocolate, whipped cream, strawberries, kiwi, ice cream and so many other options. Pretty sure I had at least one every day. I want one now. Darn it! Yes, I am obsessed.
- CHOCOLATE! You. Must. Eat. Chocolate. Pretty sure I don’t need to repeat myself! There is a chocolate store on almost every block in the town square. It is the best chocolate I’ve ever had in my life. Yes ladies and gents, they don’t play around with their chocolate over there. It’s the perfect treat. The best part is you can buy as much as you want. You can buy a variety bag, which I highly recommend, and try out just about every flavor they make.
- The Belgium fries. Crunchy goodness you can snack on while exploring the city.
- Rent a bike if you can. The city is big and exploring on foot can be exhausting.
- Stop and enjoy the music of one the street musicians. There many of them and they are very talented!
Where to Eat:
Dessert: Ok, let’s start with the best meal! Yummy.
- Waffle Factory: My favorite waffle place. Their waffles were the best by far. Crunchy and the perfect amount of sweet.
- Pierre Ledent: Delicious macarons. Their selection goes beyond the basic flavors.
Coffee & Tea
- Aksum: Close to the center and their coffee and tea was delicious! Plus they have free WIFI.
- Maison Dandoy Tea Room: Considered the best waffles in Brussels.
Lunch & Dinner
- Tonton Garby: Budget friendly and delicious. This place is close to a park where you can sit and enjoy your delicious food. It’s a small place; there is not much indoor seating and no outdoor sitting.
- Bia Mara: Budget friendly as well. Typical fish and chips in the heart of downtown, on the pedestrian walkway. On a nice evening, the outdoor seating is a great place to sit back and enjoy your food. *pssst: This place gets quite busy so be ready to wait. (We got lucky and got there right before the dinner crowd).
- Pasta Divina. Located in the heart of the city this restaurant offers lots of food options: Italian, Mediterranean, European, Vegetarian and Vegan options. Check this out, it’s family owned and they make their own pasta. Talk about delicious! *Tip: Call ahead and make reservations. This place gets packed.
Drinks: Here is a little extra. Sitting out on a patio with having a glass wine, people watching is fun and so relaxing. These places were lively and offered a small break from all the walking.
- Delirium Bar: The atmosphere is amazing in this place. You can sit outside and enjoy one of the 3,000+ beers they have to offer. That’s right! It is lively and always packed. When Cecil and I sat
- Champanotheque de Bruxelles: a wonderful Champagne bar in the middle of town. Their menu is the server who is quite the entertainer and super knowledgable about the Champagnes. It is a big pricy but the experience is worth it.
- Drug Opera: This place is on the corner of a busy street. Great for a drink and people watching.
What I enjoyed most in Brussels:
- Hearing people speak French.
Think of the last time you heard someone speak French. It sounds so romantic (I think so anyway). I am so enamored by it that when we walked into a store and the lady asked, what I am assuming was “can I help you?”, all I could do was grin with star gazed eyes and think “Oui Oui”. Cecil responded for me because I apparently lost my speech and my ability to form sentences in my broken French. The lady just looked at me like “okkkkk”.
- The waffles.
They are soooo good! Crunchy and sweet and probably made with cocaine because they are addicting. My morning and evening ritual included a waffle. Yep, I gained like ten pounds on this trip and I regret nothing. Best ten pounds I’ve ever put on.
- The Beer.
Belgium beer is just delicious that’s all there is to it. The variety was insanely diverse that I could have a beer for the next ten years and not drink the same beer twice. So maybe I am exaggerating bit but they had options. Lots and lots of them.
- The French Architecture.
It was divine. We’ve never seen anything like that in America. It’s admirable that most of those buildings were constructed over 200 years ago. That’s why I have 1,000 pictures on my phone of old buildings because they’re cool.
- The chocolate.
How can I not mention this? It would be a crime if I didn’t. Although I don’t have much of a sweet tooth (What? I know, I know) I still appreciate good chocolate. Chocolatiers are all over town and when you walk by one the heavenly smell, like a fisherman, hooks you and reels you in (“Got me a Marlin”). Pretty sure I was on the verge of licking the windows that’s how heavenly it smelled. Every time I walked by one I’s disappear from Cecil’s sight. A minute later he would come in saying “there you are” in the most loving tone. He’s learned by now that I am an explorer and he’s adapted. After a couple of disappearances, he would just pull me in the Chocolatiers saying “come on, let’s go in”. I love that man. How could I say no? Belgium chocolate is part of the reason why I gained weight on this trip but like I said before, I regret nothing. It’s top notch; it just melts in your mouth. Delightful!!! Every once in a blue moon I crave chocolate so I brought two big bags home with me, just in case.
In summary, we had so much fun on this trip. Charlie and Lucy also enjoyed walking and peeing on every corner and tree. They were so well behaved. I am so proud. Cecil and I shared a lot of laughs and made great memories to cherish for a lifetime. The smiles on our faces on the pictures speak a thousand words so enjoy them below.
Turning it over to you. Have you been to Brussels? What did you like or not like about the city? Share your travel experience and adventure. I’d love to hear about them.
Until next time. Cheers!
Grand Place Market Square – Below is the Town Hall and surrounding buildings.
St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral
Jardin Du Mont Des Arts
Les Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert
Quartier de L’llot Sacre – It was so busy, I couldn’t get a good picture. This was the best I could do.
Place du Grand Sablon
Carillon du Mont des Arts
Food, Drinks & Dessert:
Remember The girl in pink dancing around on every street Brussels. See the lady smiling? At least I made someone smile with my silliness!
And this Handsome guy!
Until Next Time Brussels!