One Day in Brussels

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Sandwiched between France, Germany and Netherlands lies a strong little country that boasts more diversity than just the cliché stereotype of beer and mussels. Often misunderstood as a weekend getaway destination or merely a dull centre of EU bureaucracy, Belgium has, in fact, a lot to offer — museums, medieval monuments, gorges and caves, state-of-the-art galleries — enough to make up a week’s worth of stimulating experience.

Although the country is distinctively split between the Flemish-speaking northerners (Dutch language as spoken in Flanders), and French-speaking southerners, I had no difficulty traveling around Belgium equipped with just English. It would be nice however, for the locals to be warmed up to fellow visitors with greetings in their language as a courteous gesture.

THE TRIP

With 3 full days altogether, I split up each day starting with Brussels the capital, followed by an hour train ride out to Namur, a charming city in Wallonia in southern Belgium, and lastly Bruges, a medieval town in northwest Belgium.

Staying at Sheraton Brussels Hotel was a real convenience, only 10 minutes walk to the main sights at Grand Place and St. Catherine. First time visitors, what to do in Brussels you ask? (Downloadable itinerary below)

Grand Place

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First on the list for all visitors to Brussels is non-other than the central square, Grand Place. This pedestrianised UNESCO World Heritage site is surrounded by opulent Gothic buildings from the Middle Ages, comprised of the Town Hall, Museum of the City and guild houses.

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Maison Dandoy

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Of course, biscuits and chocolates aren’t to be missed in Belgium. At nearly every corner of a block lies an unsurprising chocolatier/bakery with their perfected goodies displayed against the shop windows. Almost two centuries old, the Brussels born biscuiterie, Maison Dandoy bakes the freshest Speculoos, a traditional spiced shortcrust biscuit, among other invigorating confectioneries. It’s a little hefty for a bag of biscuits but hey, what’s a few euros more for an authentic taste of a preserved family recipe that survived the World War 2?

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Pasta Divina

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Not necessarily an option some of you would like to include in your visit, but Pasta Divina scores 4.5 out of 5 on TripAdvisor and makes pretty delicious, well, homemade pasta. It gives you the option to create your own pasta dish if you feel like wandering off the suggested menu. Not your average large portions but sufficiently compensated with great texture and flavour.

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St. Hubert Gallery

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A few minutes away from Grand Place is this 19th century glazed arcade shopping centre filled with boutiques, restaurants, chocolatiers and even a cinema.

St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral

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A beautiful national treasure, St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral holds royal ceremonies within those walls. There is no admission fee for visitors.

Royal Palace of Brussels

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Although the royal family does not reside here, it is the official palace of the Belgium monarchy. The palace is open to the public from July to September.

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Mont des Arts Garden

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Not quite a top attraction in Brussels but this manicured garden is sure to catch any passerby’s attention, perfect for little breather away from the crowds on the main streets. Grab a drink and simply relax.

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Noordzee Mer du Nord

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Noordzee offers a unique, no-frills dining experience. With an open counter top and kitchen just behind, fresh seafood is prepared and served right under your nose. Being a favourite among both locals and visitors, get prepared to brace the crowds during peak times, and eat whilst standing as there are no proper seating but occasionally unoccupied stools and bar tables. Each platter costs €5.

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Le Crachin Crêperie

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You can surely trust the Belgians with making the delectable french dessert. Tucked in a quiet alleyway in St. Catherine, this crêperie will satisfy your appetite for the sweet and savoury. Freshly prepared and aesthetically pleasing presentation, I could have another crepes within minutes.

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If I had another day in Brussels, I would have most definitely liked to visit the Atomium, an iconic landmark in Brussels, and Maison Antoine, a popular frites stall. It was a great experience nonetheless to have explored the city by foot, there was no need for public transportation to see and do all of the above. Download this Brussels itinerary that I’ve created with Tripomatic to help you enjoy Brussels with ease.

DOWNLOAD ITINERARY

 

Next Up…

Another day in Belgium exploring the beautiful southern city of Namur and saving the best for last, the medieval town of Bruges.

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9 Comments

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  1. Hey Shelyn! I nominated you for a blogger award :) https://samanthafaloon.wordpress.com/2015/08/11/leicester-blogging-award/#more-1268 This post makes me want to go back to Brussels so bad!

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    • Although I can’t quite put a finger on it, there’s something captivating about Brussels. Hope you enjoyed your time there.

      And thanks for the nomination, Samantha! What a great way to get to know all fellow bloggers, shall aim to answer all of those questions a.s.a.p.

      x Shelyn

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  2. Great guide to Brussels! We managed to hit everything on the list when visiting in April except for the palace (and specific restaurants). I definitely agree that St Catherine has a ton of good restaurants though!

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    • That’s awesome! St Catherine was a gem. Felt I’ve done a lot in a day but gutted to have missed Atomium and Delirium. I read on your blog post that you had a fun night at the bar, I wonder what made it exceptionally good? ;)

      Liked by 1 person

      • We met a French couple who spoke no English and communicated in gestures, drawings and buying more drinks haha. It was a lot of fun. You can get delirium (in bottles) in other places, so you may not have missed it completely. As for the Atomium, don’t be too gutted, we spent about 2 hours in line, which was most of our time there! Enjoy the rest of your trip!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, seeing two mismatched groups of people trying to communicate can be very entertaining! Sounds like you had a great time. Thanks for the tips on the delirium bottles, will hunt them down in London. x

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  3. Omg this was amazing to read! I studied abroad in Brussels and this definitely brought back some good memories. Brussels has a lot of hidden treasures!

    Liked by 1 person

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