We arrived in Brussels right after their annual pride festival. It was an amazing sight with all the buildings glowing in rainbow color at night. We stayed in the Grand Place area, which is a safe and convenient alternative to other areas. Brussels is a walking city, so avoid driving there if possible. The metro and tram systems are quite easy to navigate, so venture out to use these. The tram is a great way to see the city above ground when traveling from point A to point B. Definitely download the public transit maps to use on the go. Most hotels have maps as well, just ask.
Since we only spent one day there, we walked until we dropped. After checking out the Grand Place, we visited City Hall then walked around through a small street to find the Manneken Pis on the corner of Rue l’Etuve and Rue du Chêne. Please keep in mind the fountain is very small, but it should be on everyone’s “to see” list. There are many wonderful Belgian waffle places in this area, just pick one because they all offer the same thing for about €2. It’s so worth the calories. There are many chocolate shops in this area as well. They pretty much offer the same selection everywhere you go, but you definitely need to pick up some in the mold of the Manneken Pis, total conversation piece!
From there we walked through the Royal Square up to the Mont des Arts. Then we walked up to Brussels Park. It’s a beautiful and serene location in the middle of the bustling city. You can walk through the park to the Royal Palace. We did not go inside the palace, but we got a glimpse of a TV show or something being filmed nearby, so that was exciting.
After this, it was time for a beer, so on our way to indulge in some beautiful Belgian brews, we walked back down to visit the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula. This is a must see, an amazing cathedral, enormous in size and has the most beautiful Gothic architecture.
We found our way to a more bohemian part of town in the gay district. We settled in to alfresco libations at Café de Lombard. They had a great selection of beers and amazing cheese pairings. Try the Corsendonk cheese, it blew me away.
In the evening, we ventured a bit northwest of Grand Palace. It’s where some of the gambling and casinos are located. It was a bit sketchy, and there were many dive bars in this area, so we called it an early night and walked back to the hotel.
The next day we rented a car in the city center to drive to our next destination in Belgium. It was less expensive to rent the car in the city than at the airport, so we took a chance. It was very hit and miss driving in the city because it felt like driving in New York City. Not only do you have some aggressive drivers all around you, there are also trams everywhere so you need to make sure to look out for them to avoid being hit. If you rent a car, only do so to get out of the city. If city driving scares you, it’s best to just take the train to the airport then pick up the car there. In any case, trust your GPS because the roads are a bit confusing. Pay attention, focus and stay alert, you’ll do just fine!