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Brussels, the vibrant heart of Europe, is a city that tantalizes the senses with its famed culinary delights and stands as a symbol of European unity. Known for its exquisite beer, delectable waffles, and as the administrative center of the European Union, Brussels offers a unique blend of gastronomic joy and political significance. The city’s rich history is mirrored in its majestic squares and grand palaces, while the presence of EU institutions adds a contemporary, cosmopolitan vibe. Whether you’re indulging in a culinary adventure, exploring historic sites, or delving into the heart of European politics, Brussels presents a multifaceted experience. Let’s embark on a discovery of the top 10 things to do in Brussels, where the joys of Belgian cuisine meet the pulse of European governance.
Sample Belgian Beer at a Local Brewery
Belgian beer is renowned worldwide, and Brussels is the perfect place to explore this rich brewing tradition. Local breweries in the city offer a wide range of beers, from traditional Trappist ales to innovative craft brews. Many breweries also provide tours and tastings, allowing visitors to learn about the brewing process and the history behind Belgian beer.
Visiting a local brewery is a must for beer enthusiasts. It’s an opportunity to taste some of the finest beers in the world and understand what makes Belgian brewing so special. The experience is often complemented by a cozy, convivial atmosphere typical of Brussels’ beer culture.
Indulge in Belgian Waffles at a Local Café
Belgian waffles, with their crispy exterior and light, airy interior, are a culinary icon of Brussels. Local cafes throughout the city serve these delicious treats, often topped with whipped cream, fresh fruit, or Belgian chocolate. The experience of biting into a freshly made Belgian waffle is a delight not to be missed.
Sampling Belgian waffles in Brussels is a treat for the taste buds. It’s not just about the waffles themselves but also about enjoying them in the city where they have been perfected over generations. It’s a simple yet essential part of experiencing Brussels’ culinary heritage.
Explore the Grand Place
The Grand Place, or Grote Markt, is the central square of Brussels and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Known for its ornate guildhalls, the Town Hall, and the King’s House, the square is a stunning example of Brussels’ architectural wealth. The Grand Place is also the site of many cultural events and festivals throughout the year.
A visit to the Grand Place is like stepping into a living museum of European architecture. The square’s beauty and historical significance make it a must-visit for anyone exploring Brussels. It’s especially magical at night when the buildings are beautifully illuminated.
Visit the European Parliament
The European Parliament, located in the European Quarter of Brussels, is at the heart of EU decision-making. Visitors can explore the Parlamentarium, the visitors’ center, which provides interactive exhibits about the European Union and the work of the European Parliament.
Touring the European Parliament is an educational experience, offering insights into the functioning and impact of the EU. It’s a chance to gain a deeper understanding of European politics and the role Brussels plays as the de facto capital of the European Union.
Stroll Through Parc du Cinquantenaire
Parc du Cinquantenaire, with its grand triumphal arch and expansive green spaces, is a perfect spot for a leisurely stroll or a picnic. The park is also home to several museums, including the Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History, and Autoworld, a vintage car museum.
Visiting Parc du Cinquantenaire offers a mix of relaxation, history, and culture. The park’s beautiful setting and its museums provide a diverse experience – from enjoying nature to exploring historical exhibits.
Enjoy a Chocolate Tasting Tour
Belgian chocolate is world-famous, and Brussels is home to some of the best chocolatiers. A chocolate tasting tour in Brussels allows visitors to sample a variety of high-quality chocolates and learn about the chocolate-making process. Many tours also include visits to top chocolate shops in the city.
Participating in a chocolate tasting tour is a sweet way to explore Brussels. The experience combines the joy of tasting exquisite chocolates with learning about the craftsmanship behind this beloved Belgian product.
Discover the Atomium
The Atomium, an iconic building and museum in Brussels, represents an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times. Visitors can explore the spheres connected by tubes, which offer exhibitions, panoramic views of the city, and even a restaurant. The Atomium, originally constructed for the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair, has become a symbol of the city.
Exploring the Atomium is a unique experience. The structure’s futuristic design and the views from the top provide a different perspective of Brussels, both literally and figuratively.
Visit the Royal Palace of Brussels
The Royal Palace of Brussels, the official palace of the King and Queen of Belgium, is open to the public during the summer months. Visitors can explore the lavish state rooms, adorned with beautiful art and décor. The palace’s elegance and historical significance are a testament to Belgium’s royal heritage.
A visit to the Royal Palace allows a glimpse into the opulence and history of Belgian royalty. The palace’s grandeur and its role in Belgian culture make it an interesting and worthwhile stop.
Take a Walking Tour of the Art Nouveau Districts
Brussels is famous for its Art Nouveau architecture, and walking tours of the Art Nouveau districts reveal the beauty and intricacy of this style. The tours often cover the Ixelles and Saint-Gilles neighborhoods, known for their Art Nouveau buildings designed by architects like Victor Horta and Paul Hankar.
A walking tour of the Art Nouveau districts is a visual treat. The unique and decorative buildings showcase a crucial period in Brussels’ architectural history, making it a fascinating experience for art and architecture enthusiasts.
Relax by the Lakes of Bois de la Cambre
Bois de la Cambre, a large public park on the edge of the Sonian Forest, offers a peaceful retreat with its picturesque lakes and wooded areas. The park is ideal for walking, cycling, and boating, and it’s a popular spot for picnics and relaxation, especially during the warmer months.
Spending time in Bois de la Cambre is a way to enjoy the natural beauty of Brussels. The park’s serene environment provides a perfect escape from the city’s hustle and bustle, offering a slice of tranquility and greenery.