A small country known for its beer, chocolate and waffles, Belgium is petite wonderland in the heart of Europe. Brussels, its charming capital city, is a great place to start your exploration into the culture of Western Europe. This city is perfect for a long weekend trip full of exploring historical sites and devouring every waffle you can get your hands on. From medieval squares to modern sculptures, Brussels offers a diverse cultural experience that appeals to every sweet tooth and history buff.
Wanting to stay right in the city center, we booked a few nights at Penta Hotel in Brussels. The hotel was within walking distance to the Avenue Louise fashion street, a variety of international and Belgian restaurants and around the corner from the infamous Grand Place.
The hotel had a trendy modern interior with an authentic bar and restaurant in the main lobby. The lounge area had multiple pool tables and plenty of seating next to impressive bookshelves that made you feel nice and cozy during colder days in Brussels.
If you are visiting any city in Europe, then our very first recommendation for getting around is walking. Walking through the city is magical and is a great way to get your bearings for your new environment. Brussels is made up of small cobblestone alleyways with beautiful buildings around every corner.
Despite popular belief, Brussels is not as small as you would think. Some places worth seeing in Brussels can be a 45 minute walk away. If this is the case, then of course we suggest getting a tram ticket. The tram system in Brussels is one of the largest in the world and are incredibly easy to use.
If you are in Belgium, you have to knock these food items off your foodie bucket list. You can travel all the way to Belgium and base your entire itinerary around eating.
Why not? We certainly did….
Within just three days time, we did our due diligence and explored the best of the best in Brussels.
Belgium waffles are the OG waffles and you better brace yourself because breakfast after this moment will never be the same. There are waffle places all over the city; in street stalls, independent cafes and small coffee houses.
You have to find the time to try the fries at Belgian Frites located in the center of Brussels. The portions are quite massive but don’t let that intimidate you. You can get them with a variety of difference sauces too!
Almost more so than Germany, Belgium is also known for their great quality beer. Beer in Belgium is a lifestyle. Oftentimes you’ll find that a restaurant will provide more beer options than they do food items on the menu! There are a few breweries you can visit to see how beer is made and take a guided tour of the brewing experience. If you’ve already done the tour then head over to one of Belgium’s 300 active breweries.
Just like waffles, going to Belgium and not enjoying some of their finest chocolates is a crime. Chocolate in Belgium dates back to the 17th century and is the birthplace of some of the most well known chocolate brands in the world! You really cannot go wrong with strolling around Belgium and sampling from their numerous chocolate shops!
This is one of the most iconic landmarks of Belgium and is located right in the heart of Brussels. The stunning gold designs decorate the opulent guildhalls and the city’s Town Hall , the King’s House and the Museum of the City of Brussels.
Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Grand Place hosts annual festivals, and if you are lucky enough to be in Brussels in the summer, be sure to see the Grand Place Flower Carpet Event.
Belgium is the birth place of various prominent comics such as Tin Tin, Spirou and the Smurfs. As a HUGE comic book fanatic, I wanted desperately to visit the Comic Center and see my childhood comic books come to life. The museum is built like a playground for all ages and the entire museum is dedicated to the colorful world of comics.
Lifesize red toy cars were parked within the ticket hall and comic strip cut outs were positioned in a maze-like fashion directing you throughout the museum. It is an unmissable attraction located in the heart of Brussels and honors the artists that have created a movement within the comic book industry.
Whats more is that there is literally a Comic Strip walk throughout Brussels. As you wander around you’ll come across loads of cartoons and comic strips painted on the sides of buildings. The comic book lane has a total of 55 murals in the Brussels city center and it’s a blast to try and spot them all!
A little bit outside of the city, this fascinating modern sculpture was built for the 1958 Brussels World Fair. Now a historical museum, this landmark stands over 300 feet tall and if you have the time to head up to the top, it offers fantastic views of the city.
The Atomium represents a single unit of iron crystal…obviously magnified a ton; 165 billion times to be exact. The nine spheres represent atoms which are connected by tubes with escalators and lifts. One of the spheres even has a high end restaurant with a panoramic view!
Mannekin Pis Statue
Okay I honestly don’t understand the hype of this little guy…but he’s everywhere! He is like the Eiffel tower of Belgium; you will find mini versions of him in every souvenir shop you go into in Brussels. Basically, it is a statue near the city square of a man peeing into a fountain.
Seriously…It’s name translated is “peeing man statue”
Also, there is a man in Brussels whose job is to make little outfits for the statue. When no one is attentive, he quickly dresses up the statue for the week and then suddenly disappears. He is the Banksy of Brussels. When we went, he was decked out in a full on Zoro costume.
In the center of Brussels, you’ll find the beautiful Royal Palace of Brussels. The official palace of the Belgian King and Queen is still used from time to time for official engagements.
The Palace is situated right in front of Brussels Park. The palace itself has some beautiful gardens surrounding it (although Brendan kept complaining about how unkept the hedges were!
Castle of Laeken
The Castle of Laeken is actually where the royal family lives and is considered their official residence. It is relatively close to the Atomium and is a bit out of the city center, so you can easily see both during a day trip.
The palace is off limits to the public, however, the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken are open to the public for three weeks. Many people travel from all over for a chance to see the wonderful architecture of Alphonse Balat and the beautiful gardens of the greenhouse.
Get your wallet out, its time to go shopping!!! The Saint-Hubert Royal Galleries are a stunning array of shopping arcades in Brussels and dates back to 1850! The hall is incredibly beautiful to just walk through and is a perfect place to enjoy a morning coffee before getting your day started.
The Cathedral of St Michael and St Gadula
This beautiful 15th century Roman Catholic Church could be mistaken for the infamous Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris! The Cathedral is oftentimes the venue of choice for Belgian monarchy weddings, coronation and state funerals. The cathedral is located in a peaceful square nestled between Treurenberg Hill.
Palais de Justice
This grand courthouse is not only a magnificent work of architecture, but it offers the best view of all of Brussels from its steps. One of the most important court buildings in Belgium, the palace is located in the Marolles district of Brussels and is reputed to be the largest constructed in the 19th century.
Behind the building a terrace offers wide panoramas over Brussel’s rooftops.
Parc du Cinquantenaire
More than your ordinary park, the Parc du Cinquantenaire is a national landmark and was built during the reign of Leopold II (what a surprise). Symbolically, the park is built in the shape of a pentagon and just sits outside the inner circle close to the European Quarter.
The monumental entrance to the park is a giant arch and home to two museums; an art museum and an army museum…because the two go hand in hand?
The park has a beautiful fountain and is one of the most visited park in all of Brussels. There are many places to sit and relax, have a picnic or even do your morning exercises! The park also hosts a number of events such as festivals, concerts, and cinema showings!