A couple weeks ago, I had the pleasure of visiting two very different cities in Belgium: Brussels and Bruges. Brussels is a more modern city with a very cute, but touristy, city center. Bruges, on the other hand, looks like you’ve stepped right into a fairytale. Although the cities were very different, we had a great time exploring both.
Outside of the city center, Brussels is a very modern city. During our two days in Brussels, we spent most of our time eating and drinking our way through the city center. There isn’t a ton to do in the city, but it’s still a nice place to visit. Below, you can read how we spent our time in Brussels:
Beer & Chocolate Tour
¿Por que no los dos? For four hours we toured around Brussels, tasting the finest Belgian chocolate and downing a total of six Belgian beers. In the words of our tour guide: “We try the chocolate first because once you start drinking the beer, you won’t care about the chocolate anymore.” Truth. This might be because the alcohol content of Belgian beer comes as singles (3%), doubles (6%), triples (9%), and even quadruples (12-15%). This tour was a great way to see the city and feel very fancy. Lemongrass chocolate and a triple beer, anyone?
You couldn’t miss Grand Place, the central square of Brussels, if you tried. The square is comparable to Old Town Square in Prague, but with four main buildings all decorated with gold. Grand Place includes the Brussels town hall and the Museum of Brussels. The square is a great place to grab a waffle and just sit in the sun.
This statue/fountain of a tiny peeing baby is underwhelming to say the least. But since the Mannekin Pis is a symbol of Brussels (and the baby is sort of cute I guess), you should still see it. Several myths surround this little urinating baby, one being that he saved the city of Brussels by putting out a great fire with his stream of pee. A hero if I’ve ever seen one. People even dress up the Mannekin Pis in costumes for different occasions. Previous costumes include a Santa Claus outfit and a condom (covering the entire baby).
I don’t normally talk about the night life in my blog posts, but I really loved the two places we went to in Brussels so I thought I’d share. First was the famous Delirium bar where we ordered a Delirium red beer (cherry kriek). The second was called Mademoiselle Mustache. It was a blast and marked the first time I’ve ever heard Bohemian Rhapsody play in a club.
We also visited the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (a science museum) as a way to pass some time. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to tour the many beautiful government buildings or visit any of the parks. Something to look into if you visit Brussels!
An hour train ride from Brussels, you’ll find the magical city of Bruges. While I enjoyed our time in Brussels, visiting Bruges was my favorite part of the trip. The little city is ridiculously adorable and is complete with a castle, bell tower, cobblestones, horse-drawn carriages, and winding canals. I couldn’t have built a more perfect looking city if I’d tried. If you can swing the day trip to Bruges, you absolutely should. Here are some things you can do if you decide to visit:
There are several free walking tours to pick from that will take you around the city and explain its interesting history, going all the way back to the Vikings. You’ll see the Belfort Tower, the castle, and just the beautiful city itself.
For just €8, you can take a boat ride through Bruges’s many charming canals. The tour was so relaxing and really gave us some great views of the city. It went swimmingly (heh), and I highly recommend.
Hot Chocolate at De Proeverie
While Bruges is full of shops and cafes selling Belgian chocolate, I’ve never had a hot chocolate experience quite like the one at De Proeverie. If you order hot chocolate here, you’ll be served a giant mug of steamed milk, a hunk of Belgian chocolate on a stick, whipped cream, and some smaller chocolates. Just stick the hunk of Belgian chocolate into the steamed milk and swirl it around until it becomes hot chocolate. I told you Bruges was magical.
And now to everyone’s favorite part…
Between Belgian chocolate, waffles, beer and so much more, it’s safe to say that I ate my way through Brussels. And Bruges. And pretty much just all of Belgium.
(In the morning, I’m making) WAFFLES
The famous Belgian waffle lives up to its title. It’s pretty easy to come across a waffle on the street, both a blessing and a curse. Below are the three waffles I ate in my three days in Belgium. Beauty really does come in all shapes and sizes.
French fries are another one of Belgium’s many street foods. Belgian fries are fried in beef fat and can be eaten with a wide variety of sauces. Basically, they’re a heart attack. But I tried them anyway (with truffle sauce). If you look closely, you can see the grease at the top of the container. Yummmm.
Mussels (in Brussels)
Maybe I ordered them because they rhyme. Maybe I didn’t. Either way, Brussels is definitely known for their mussels. This was my first time ever trying mussels so I don’t have any others to compare them with. But here’s a picture (with horrible lighting)!
One Beautiful Burger
Belgium isn’t known for their burgers, but I thought the best burger I’ve ever eaten deserved a shout out. This beautiful hamburger from Rachel’s was topped with swiss cheese, caramelized onions, bacon, sauteed mushrooms, lettuce, and dijonaise. Definitely not kosher, but I’m still dreaming about it.
That’s all for Belgium! It really is an adorable country, and I’m glad I got the chance to visit. I wish I had gotten to visit Antwerp too, but two cities in three days ain’t bad. Stay tuned for my next post (coming soon) about my trip to Krakow, a complete 180 from my trip to Belgium.