Don’t miss all that Belgium has to offer with this fun guide filled with tip on what to do & eat in Brussels & Bruges!
I’m so excited to start recapping my vacation with you all. I’ve been home for a week and still wish I could go back to Europe and fill my days with exploring and eating good food.
Will and I spent just under 2 weeks in Europe. We flew to London for a quick pit stop (we were there for about 24 hours) before training it to Brussels to really kick off our trip. Our days in Belgium were filled with activity, exploring and learning all about Brussels and Bruges, and I’m excited to share my must-do list with you all. So without further ado: all the fit & fashionable things to do in Brussels and Bruges!
WHERE TO STAY IN BRUSSELS
We stayed at the Pantone Hotel because it looked so fun and colorful. While the hotel was fine (and perfectly colorful), now that I know more about Brussels, I would have selected something closer to The Grand Place (or Grote Markt), the central square in Brussels. There are a ton of restaurants and bars in the area, and it’s more tourist-friendly than where we stayed.
WHAT TO SEE IN BRUSSELS
Brussels has a very unique and somewhat quirky history, so I definitely suggest taking some sort of guided tour to learn all about it.
There are a ton of free walking tours, but we chose to explore the city by bike. I signed us up for this bike tour ahead of time.
We were met in The Grand Place by our tour guide and ended up being the only people on the tour. I was a-ok with getting a little private tour! Since it was just us, our guide asked us what we were most interested in. We told her we wanted to learn more about the history of Brussels, its culture and its food! With that instruction, we were off. I must say, I highly suggest the biking tour over a walking tour because you’ll get to see so much more of the city in the same amount of time. There’s only so much you can see by foot, but you can really zip around on a bike. I won’t give you the play-by-play of the tour or tell you all the stories because that would take the joy out of you learning it yourself, but I will give you the list of some of the places we saw so you can be sure to add them to your list:
- The Grand Place – There is a ton of history right where we started on the tour. The buildings are old and simply stunning and house a ton of history.
- Manneken Pis – This humorous statue is the pride and joy of Brussels and comes with a slew of great stories.
- The Royal Palace of Brussels
- Parc du Cinquantenaire
- Parc de Bruxelles
- The Atomium (we only saw this from afar but it’s supposed to be cool)
We also visited the Beer Museum in the Grand Place, but I don’t suggest going there. You pretty much just watch a video and get a beer. We learned a lot more from the beer tour we did (more details on that below!).
WHAT/WHERE TO EAT IN BRUSSELS
Our guide also taught us about the food culture. Let me tell you, Belgians love their beer! So much so that they drink it all day long. Any beer under a certain percentage of alcohol (I think it was 4 or 5%) is considered a breakfast beer. Yep, beer. For breakfast. Legal drinking age is basically birth, so Belgians pretty much grow up drinking the stuff. I can’t say I blame them; Belgian Beer is top notch.
During our bike tour, we stopped in 2 chocolate shops and our guide pointed out another for us to stop at (all listed below). She also took us to the best frite place around for frites fried in goose fat. Sounds gross. Tasted… AMAZING!
Later that afternoon, we did this Beer Tasting Experience, which was a ton of fun. We got to taste and learn about different Belgian beers, including what makes a Trappist beer a Trappist beer, Here’s the lowdown on what to eat in Brussels:
- Frites! – a must. We went to Maison Antoine. Apparently the lines can get long so get there right before they open (11:30, I believe) to avoid a long wait.
- Pieree Marcolini – This is one of the highest end chocolate shops, and its prices reflect that. If you aren’t looking to spend a lot of money, you can just get a piece or two (any good chocolate shop will allow you to just buy a few pieces). There are multiple locations throughout the city.
- Leonidas – This chocolate shop is much more affordable and still incredibly delicious.
- Mary – Our tour guide said this is her favorite chocolate shop, so we stopped by their location at the Galeries Royales St Hubert (right around the corner from The Grand Place). I got a piece of dark chocolate and a dark chocolate champagne truffle. To die for.
- Trappist Beer – These are beers brewed by Trappist monks (or at least supervised by Trappist monks) and brewed at monasteries. In my opinion, they are some of the best beers around. I really enjoyed Chimay and Orval.
HOW TO GET TO BRUGES
We made a day trip out to Bruges on our second day, and getting there was a breeze.
Head to Brussels South Railway Station and you’ll see signs everywhere for how to get to Bruges (Brugge). You don’t have to purchase your tickets ahead of time, either. Just go right up to a ticket booth or machine and get one. Trains leave every 15 minutes or so. The train ride is about an hour and I believe Bruges (Brugge) is the 3rd stop. The last train back to Brussels is at 11:20/11:30pm, so just be sure to get back by then or you’ll have to wait until 4am.
WHAT TO SEE IN BRUGES
The walking tour we did in Bruges was one of my favorite tours of our whole trip. The guide was really passionate about Bruges and its history and was a fantastic storyteller. I highly recommend doing that tour and then exploring from there. A few things we saw on the tour:
- Markt Square – the main square surrounded by restaurants and shopping.
- Beguinage – more or less a convent you can walk through during the day. It is also right on the canal where all the swans are. There’s a great story behind why there are so many swans in Bruges, but I won’t ruin it for you in case you want to do the tour.
- Basilica of the Holy Blood – a church built in the 12th century that claims to have a vile of Christ’s blood.
WHAT/WHERE TO EAT IN BRUGES
- Chez Albert – Will got a Belgian Waffle here and said it was, “life changing.” I think that’s reason enough to go and get choself a waffle!
- Le Trappist – This bar is so cool! It’s set in a 13th century cellar, so it will really take you back in time. They also offer over 100 beers, including the great Trappist ones.
- Flemish Stew – I didn’t get a chance to try Flemish Stew, beef and veggies stewed in beer, but it’s supposed to be delicious.
We had one and a half days in Brussels and one full day in Bruges and I think that was perfect. If I were to do the trip again, though, I would stay in Bruges and make a day trip to Brussels. I just liked Bruges better. It was a cuter city with more old school European vibes.
Stay tuned next week for What To Do & Eat in Nice. You might also get to finally hear about my and Will’s engagement story!
In the meantime, check out the Fit & Fashionable Friday Link Up (full rules here) and add your link below!
Have you ever been to Brussels or Bruges? Add your must-dos in the comments!