Over the New Year I was lucky enough to spend several lovely (and very cold!) days in Belgium, a country I had not been to before. We originally chose to go to Brussels due to the fact there were cheap flights available there. Whilst we were in Belgium, we thought we may as well also see Ghent and Bruges. I’m so glad we ended up going as the cities that we did, they were so much prettier than I expected them to be.
We started the first day of our trip trying to cram as many of the things to do in Brussels in as we could possibly could! To my delight, all of the Christmas decorations and market stalls were still in place when we arrived and we took full advantage of the hot chocolate and Belgian waffle stands. I can imagine the Brussels Christmas markets are even more atmospheric in December.
The Grand Place is the central square of Brussels and a good place to start your tour of the city from. I didn’t actually know until we returned, but the square is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a hugely popular tourist destination. I loved the gold ornate buildings and gothic feel of the Town Hall; every photo I took didn’t seem to be able to capture enough detail! If you visit Brussels, this is the place to be.
We wandered down the side streets coming off the Grand Place and spotted dozens of chocolatiers and biscuitiers on the way. I felt like I had to dive into every shop (funnily enough) because of the beautiful tins and displays. Also, most of them had free tasters!
There is definitely a reason why Belgium is famous for its chocolate and you simply have to try some whilst you’re there.
Moving away from Brussels city centre, and after filling ourselves up with chocolate, we went to the René Magritte museum. There are dozens of museums to choose from in the city, we chose the Magritte one quite randomly but I’d definitely recommend it; it was nice to see a wide range work from just one artist for once and some of the paintings were visually incredible and very thought provoking.
Just round the corner from the Magritte museum is the home of the Belgium royal family, the Royal Palace of Brussels. It was winter when we visited (there was even snow on the ground!) so the palace wasn’t open for us to go round the rooms, but it’s exterior was still worth marvelling at.
After a fair bit of walking, we headed to ‘Delirium Café’ which is a three-storey bar and brewery that serves over 2000 different types of beers. A must-do in Brussels, try and have beer on every floor as each one serves different types!
By the time we had come out of Delirium it was quite dark, so we strolled through one of Europe’s oldest shopping arcades, Les Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert. The gallery is full of pretty shops, chocolatiers, and decorations.
After a wander through the arcade and some dinner, we made our way back to where we began, Grand Place, to see it at night. The buildings are even more spectacular lit up and standing in the middle of the square, there is a pretty special 360 view.
I was surprised by how pretty and quaint Brussels was. I didn’t really know what to expect from the city but I had envisaged a rather drab city centre for some reason, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. I’m conscious of the fact there is much more to see and do than we had time for – I’ll have to go back! Our next stop in Belgium was the beautiful Bruges.
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