24 Hours in Brussels, Belgium: Eat, See, & Do

January 27, 2016
It's amazing how much you can see and do with 24 hours in Brussels (namely, how many carbs I can cram into my waffle-hole) when your nose isn't buried in your smartphone while you frantically Google "How to make the most out of Brussels: So many things to see (eat), so little time".
If there are 3 things I can take away from my city break they are: a) Brussels is far more civilised and empty on the weekends (the day-trippers will have departed for Paris by Friday, which sees hotel rates drop), b) despite the current climate, Brussels has never been safer - the constant police and military presence makes the recently-unlocked down city the place to visit right now, and c) you can cover all the highlights of Brussels in a day, but there will never, ever, be enough room for all the waffles, frites, mussels, and chocolate. Oh the chocolate.
So, in the time-poor but experience-rich spirit that seems to be the zeitgeist of every city break-taking millenial, I've put together this blog post: a photo-diary slash city guide for all of you who want to hop aboard the Brussels Express. Passports at the ready...
 PHOTOGRAPHY BY JASIMINNE YIP AND HENRY RIDLEY-COOK. PHOTOS 2 & 14 COURTESY OF THEIR ESTABLISHMENTS






8:00AM
Take your morning coffee at Hotel Metropole* before a leisurely walk through the gilded opulence of Grand Place for the customary #Brusselsselfie. Try, if you can, to ignore the decadent scent of chocolate and waffles that seem to be the signature fragrance of Brussels - but if you must pause for some liquid gold make a pit stop at Elisabeth, an independent chocolatier with the most bijou little gems (my personal favourite are their matcha chocolate bars).
*but don't linger: as lavishly gorgeous as the café and bar is, the hotel is undergoing a much-needed renovation to bring the rooms up to scratch.


"...well, isn't this a Grand Place?"
The UNESCO-heritage central square 
- arguably the most iconic landmark of Brussels -
 is flanked by lavish guildhalls, the city's Town Hall, 
and the Breadhouse building (sadly, not actually made of bread).





11:00AM
    
Mere footsteps from the cobblestoned alleys off Grand Place is Les Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert, the original shopping arcade that inspired other famous 19th-century shopping arcades like the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan and The Passage in St Petersburg. Take cover from the elements in this filigreed, refined alley of retail heaven, where you can shop in relative serenity for Belgium's more famous exports by Pierre Marcolini and Wittamer 
If antiques is more your scene, get digging in the daily flea market at Place de Jeu de Balle. You could find treasures there far more bargainous than in the dizzing array of antique shops on Rue Haute - had I not departed Brussels by way of easyJet I would have easily scooped up half a dozen antique light fittings, about 20 altar crucifixes, and a Georgian-era Carrara marble bathroom basin...

 



...the many chocolatiers of Les Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert: where diets go to die.
Fun fact: despite what their names suggest, Godiva and Leonidas are Belgian chocolates, not British nor Greek.




1) This little guy is really taking the piss. 
2) Restaurant Vincent for quintessentially Belgian mussels in white wine 
 and 3) international vibes at Les Cercles de Voyageur


1:00PM
No doubt you'll be absolutely famished by now.
 If you've just come from Les Galeries Royale Saint-Hubert, seek nourishment at nearby Restaurant Vincent for some mussels for Brussels. For a more worldly ambience, travel-themed restaurant Les Cercles du Voyageur serves up an eclectic menu with German-sized portions with a side of cultural events in the evening. On your way out, make the mandatory pitstop at the curious Manneken Pis - the 400-year old bronze boy peeing into a fountain (allegedly inspired by a real-life merchant's own son who wandered off and was shortly found happily urinating in the streets) who may or may not be clad in a festive costume from his vast wardrobe (sans pants, of course).






3:00PM
Right, let's get some culture in you (although IMHO eating is plenty cultural for me).  Fans of Tintin, make the journey of a lifetime to the real-life Rue du Labrador and pay homage to the world's most famous Belgian at Musée Hergé. It's quite the journey from central Brussels - you have to take an hour-long train from Brussels Central station to Louvain-la-Neuve. But hey, hasn't the boy reporter and his friends taught us that there's nothing more exhilarating than adventure? 
 Jasiminne In The Land Of Tin Tin. It's Hergé's world and we're all just living in it... 
...complete the experience by listening to the cartoon's opening sequence while perusing the exhibits. 

If you're not up for a trek to the suburbs there are other works of art you can visit  at Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts (Royal Museums of Fine Art) or the wonderfully wacky Magritte Museum. Should you need a comic fix afterward, put your feet up at nearby Comics Cafe on Place du Grand Sablon - with original comic art on the walls and a life-sized Tintin and Snowy it's the next best thing to visiting the Hergé Museum.









7:00PM

If the intoxicating, perpetual aroma of chocolate and waffles hasn't already made it clear that Brussels is the worst destination for anyone looking to shift a few (or many) pounds then the city's culinary offerings will undoubtably cement Brussels as a destination for foodies. Take your pick: fine-dining at Comme Chez Soi or nearby Alexandre. No less upscale is the sumptuous Belga Queen, where I saw out Brussels in style over a fresh, steaming platter of lobster and scallops swimming in butter.


10:00PM 

Save yourself the journey to the hideously-modern Atomium.
Instead, embrace the chaotic bric & brac-dotted labyrinth that is Goupil Le Fol. Their signature fruit wines is the perfect after-dinner aperitif - the raspberry wine is quite the sweet treat!


12:00AM

Delightfully bursting at the seams with the city's shopping, cultural, and culinary offerings, its time to bid farewell to Brussels. Take one last (and much-needed) walk around Grand Place - the buildings are simply spectacular by night, incandescent as they are lit up and reflected in the cobblestones like the moon on the darkest ocean. 
Who knows, you might even make the room for a midnight snack of frites and waffles from the 'hole-in-the-wall' carb-parlours...


A photo posted by Posh, Broke, & Bored (@poshbrokebored) on






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