Brussels was never one of those cities high on the bucket list. However, it was along our high-speed train route from Paris to Amsterdam and we felt this unique and underrated travel destination was worthy of a 24-hour visit. Unfortunately, like most European cities in the spring, it rained A LOT during our stay. Nevertheless, the spring showers gave us a perfect opportunity to see a few sites and indulge in Belgium’s world-renowned beer and chocolate.
In the heart of the historical city center is the Grand Place, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s flanked with beautifully ornate 17th century guild houses, the City Hall, and Maison du Roi (King’s House). The main town square is the most bustling part of Brussels with shops, restaurants, cafes, and numerous festivals throughout the year.
Les Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert
A trip to Brussels wouldn’t be complete without a mouth-watering selection of fine chocolates at the Les Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert. Europe’s oldest shopping arcades were built in 1847 and covered by beautiful panes of glass. The galleries are home to luxury shops, restaurants, and chocolate shops.
Kunstberg/Mont des Arts
The garden of the Mont des Arts is located on a landscaped hillside with the best view of the city. The garden, now a link between the old town and the royal palace, used to be a densely impoverished neighborhood until King Leopold demolished it to provide a better picturesque view.
Royal Palace of Brussels is the official palace of the Belgium monarchy and only open to the public between July-September. The Palace was originally built in the 12th century, but later rebuilt after it was destroyed by fire in 1731. The church Saint Jacques-sur-Coudenberg was designed to be part of the beautiful neoclassical style of the Royal Palace and contains a box reserved for the royal family near the choir.
With half the population French-speaking the other half Dutch-speaking along with hearty influences from Germany, Belgium has one of the most underrated cuisines in the world. Waffles are the most popular snack food in Belgium and it is easy to see why. Sold on nearly every corner, the toppings are endless: chocolate, fruit, whipped cream, and syrup.
Belgian chocolatiers may adhere more closely to traditional techniques than any other country, but we actually have to thank the Aztecs for discovering chocolate along with the Spanish conquistadores for bringing it back to Europe.
One of our favorite meals came from Nuetnigenough on rue du Lombard Street. This charming restaurant and bar had authentic Belgian fare with a stellar beer list to pair.
The Manneken Pis is Brussels’ most unusual attraction. The bronze fountain sculpture depicts a naked little boy urinating into the fountain’s basin and occasionally dressed in one of his 900 costumes. Located on an inconspicuous corner, we almost walked right pass the 24″ statue if it wasn’t for the crowd.
Brussels Marriott Hotel Grand Place | Brussels, Belgium
Within walking distance of the Grand Place and opposite the Bourse Stock Exchange, the Brussels Marriott Hotel offers luxurious accommodations in a historic building. The check-in process was speedy and our upgrade to a junior suite with sweeping views of the city as well as access to the executive lounge was a very nice surprise. Our room also had a plush new down comforter and luxury pillows which made it hard to make our early train the next morning.
Have you visited Brussels? Tell us about your experiences. We love to connect with others, so feel free to leave us a comment! (Disclosure: Burbs2Abroad traveled to the above location as guests and was not compensated for this review. As always, our opinions are our own.)