I had such a short and condensed time while visiting Brussels (2.5 days) but it felt like a much-needed break from our 1-night stays we had in Bruges and in Ghent. I’ll keep this post short, simple, and sweet since I made a video that highlighted all of the beauty around the city and the delicious eats that the city has to offer. (Check it out below!)
After posting the video on YouTube I received some questions from people asking about what the food was and where they could go to incorporate some of the same experiences into their own trip! So here you go, my top highlights that I would recommend you visit while in Brussels. They follow along in order of appearance with the video but keep in mind that some of the clips are multiple angles or day & night shots in the video.
This unique structure was originally constructed in 1958 for the World’s Fair. It was a bit of a commute out from where everything else was centrally located (we ended up taking the rail), but it’s definitely worth it. We easily spent hours here just soaking it all in. As the night sky fell upon us it began to light up and became even more beautiful (as if that were possible). The “be.WELCOME” sign is also located here. If you go, make sure to walk all around the structure because each angle seems to offer an entirely unique perspective.
Parc du Cinquantenaire
We came here on our last day. We sat in the park that surrounded this massive building. It’s very grand in stature and royal in presence.
This had to be my favorite spot. We stumbled upon this area a day earlier than planned. We actually set out to visit the Christmas Market and this was just around the corner. It caught our attention because we heard lots of music coming from one direction. We followed the sounds and sure enough the whole place was lit up and in sync with music. I felt like a little kid with eyes wide open and circling around aimlessly in amazement. We busted out our GoPro and cell phones to document what was happening all around. (Note: I’m sure this light show was put on for Christmas time only).
I’m also really glad that we made a stop here during the day time. The architecture is amazing and completely awe inspiring. The detailing on each building was so intricate. Side note, don’t go to the Starbucks in this area. It’s horrible. The service is below par, you’ll wait a long time, and they’ll probably mess up your order (along with every other guest’s order that comes in). Go out and find something local for sure!
If there’s anything that I absolutely fell in love with, it’s the Christmas Markets of Europe. My first one was in Bruges and Brussels just upped the ante on it. The weather was quite chilly during the end of November but they had plenty of hot wine and hot chocolate to cuddle up with. The most amazing thing about these markets is the food! There was so much good food that didn’t even make it into the video. One, in particular, the raclette. Raclette is a Swiss dish and it’s melted cheese either on potatoes or on a sandwich.
Definitely, go get frites while in Belgium. There’s much debate about whether frites (or fries as they’re commonly known in the U.S.) originate from Belgium or France. This was one of the snacks that we just had to order while visiting. A lot of the frites that we saw were served in cones and typically have a big dollop of mayo on them. I’ll admit, I got pretty tired of just having mayo. Being a Utahn, born and raised, I miss mixing it with ketchup to make fry sauce.
My obsession! While in Belgium I tried both Liege waffles and Belgium Waffles. I prefer Liege. The Liege waffles are sweeter and have a nice sweet sugar type coating that has a crunch. I’ve never had waffles nearly as amazing as the ones in Belgium. Since coming back to the States I’ve tried to find something comparable and yet I fail over and over again. There are some good contenders all around, but nothing competes.
Grilled Salmon Sandwich
This sandwich I can’t personally speak to since I’m not a seafood eater, but Hung liked it. Honestly, I loved the “show” of it. The fire ablaze beneath the wooden boards that hold the salmon. This sandwich was at one of the stalls at the Christmas Market.
Saint Catherine Origami Light Wrap
This was another light show that was put on for the Christmas Market. This was amazing. The light show was wrapped around the Saint Catherine Cathedral. The show was titled “Origami” and it was visually stunning. It showcased a beautiful blend of traditional and modern Japanese culture.
I’ll admit, this one is a little underwhelming, but it’s a classic. You can’t wander around a souvenir shop or search for a postcard to send back home without seeing mini Manneken Pis sculptures or pictures strewn about. So, of course, we had to check it out. It’s easily within walking distance from Grand Place and there’s plenty of chocolate shops to pick at during your stroll.
There are many more things to do in Brussels and we easily spent a good entire day just exploring the Christmas Markets, but I’d say with the limited time that we gave ourselves we were able to accomplish so much. A few other things worth mentioning that I didn’t go into detail in the video or on this post is you should definitely try some Belgian chocolate and also a restaurant I’d highly recommend checking out would be Nuetnigenough – the veal meatballs and oxtail lasagna were on point.