Next stop on our one-year anniversary road trip through Europe was Brussels, Belgium! Although we weren’t staying there long, we still had an amazing time exploring the city. We were mesmerized by the beautiful architecture, ate delicious foods, learned about the history, and were so pleased that we added Brussels as a stop on our trip!
In case you missed it, we already wrote several posts on the Netherlands, and our most recent post covered fun attractions along the drive from the Netherlands into Belgium.
When booking our hotel, we looked for the best rating for the cheapest price. We ended up finding the four-star Crowne Plaza Brussels – Le Palace for an affordable price, and that was the winner!
Having never been to Brussels before, we should have done a little more homework before we booked. It wasn’t necessarily a bad location, but it reminded me of the financial district in Manhattan versus the heart of Times Square. We were in a sleepy area of town where everything closed early and wasn’t open on the weekends (it seemed like a business district), and though it was walking distance from everything, it was a little far from the main attractions. Having been to Brussels now, I know we should have not cared as much about four-stars and rather selected a hotel right in the heart of the city. We were hardly in the room anyway, so it didn’t matter how nice the room was.
And on that note, the hotel was very nice! The lobby and common areas downstairs had a 1920s art deco vibe. Our room was plenty spacious and nicely decorated. We were impressed with the lobby and décor as well. For the little time that we spent in the hotel, there was nothing to complain about.
Planete Chocolat – When in Belgium, I think the most important activity is to indulge in Belgian chocolate. The Planete Chocolat chocolate shop was a place we had just stumbled upon as we were exploring the city. They offered an amazing demonstration of how to make pralines, and then the chocolatier asked for an assistant. You know I threw my hand up and was selected first 😊 It was so fun. I think my husband had just as much fun watching me make pralines as I had making them. I highly recommend you investigate the demonstrations. Not only was it entertaining, but we were gifted a baggie of chocolate that I made, and it was delicious!
Grand-Place – The heart of the city is the Grand-Place market square. This was one of the most gorgeous city centers I’ve ever seen. The buildings were intricate and spectacular during the day and night. Every day we found ourselves at least once walking through admiring the architecture. All of the most popular attractions, dining, and tours were surrounding this square.
Guided Tour – Right in the Grand-Place square, you’ll find locals offering donation-based tours of the city. We hadn’t planned out our day, and when we made it to the square and realized this free-ish type of attraction, we were on board with it. We circled around a local woman with a group of tourists, and she explained how the tour would work. We would follow her around the city, she would point out all of the most impressive and famous spots, we would have ample opportunities for photos, and then at the end we can offer her a tip for what we think the value of the guided tour was worth. We loved this tour. The highlights were a history of Grand-Place, the Manneken Pis statue, the most famous waffle shop, the most famous chocolate shop, a beautiful church, and Monte des Arts garden plaza. There were so many more places she pointed out, but those were my favorite. As a local, she had a wealth of knowledge, and we learned a lot about Brussels on this tour. In the end, we tipped generously, because the value of the tour was awesome! We kept busy for hours, and this was the best attraction we experienced while in Brussels.
Manneken Pis – One of the most disappointing monuments that we ever saw was the Manneken Pis. I know, I know… why is it making my list if it was such a disappointment? Because Manneken Pis is the most popular statue in Brussels and among the most iconic in all of Europe. The only reason it was such a disappointment was that based off photos we’d seen before our trip; I expected the statue to be so much larger or grander than it is in person. The statue ended up being so teeny tiny, that had there not been crowds around it, you would have walked right by and not even noticed it. But when in Brussels… you see Manneken Pis. Ironically, even though it was nothing to write home about, our souvenir ended up being a crochet Manneken Pis Christmas ornament haha!
Comics Art Museum – If you enjoy comics or cartoons, then this museum may be fun for you. We didn’t plan to go here, but when we walked by, my husband remembered a cartoon from his childhood (Tintin), and we decided to stop in. It was actually really cute. Some of the comic strips weren’t in English, so the jokes went right over my head, but I still had a nice time. We weren’t there very long, because it was kind of small, but this was a nice attraction to just stumble upon.
Dandoy Restaurant – This restaurant was recommended to us by our tour guide. They are well known for the liege waffles. A liege waffle is a thick rounded-edge and chewy waffle that contains little clumps of sugar. These were heaven!!! I highly recommend these snacks while in Brussels. We’ve actually looked up how to make these at home in NYC, and though they don’t compare, they are so tasty!
Nüetnigenough Brussels – When we had stumbled upon the Planete Chocolat shop and learned they offered demonstrations a few times a day, we decided to stop by a local restaurant and kill a little time before the demo began. This restaurant was just down the street, and we sat at a cute table, grabbed a beer, and I ordered a very delicious beef and fried dish.
Drug Opera Restaurant – The Drug Opera was a large two-story pub style restaurant. They were very busy when we visited. One of the main reasons we chose to eat here was because the hubbs had a craving for moules frites (mussels and fries), a classic Belgian dish. He was very impressed, so it ended up being a wise choice for dinner. I really liked that the menu was extensive with many options.
Brussels, Belgium, was a really awesome city. I know we were just driving through Belgium to get from Netherlands to France, but I’m so glad that we decided to stop for a few days and experience this amazing country. Ever since we experienced a long road trip, I feel stronger than ever that it’s not only the destinations that matter but also what happens along the way. We didn’t plan most of what was going to happen in Brussels. We flew by the seat of our pants but stumbled upon the greatest finds and really enjoyed ourselves.
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