Art and culture in Brussels, Belgium / Two days itinerary
Belgium’s capital, Brussels, is an exciting city where you can discover your inner artist. Everywhere you look you see some kind of art, from paintings to graffiti, sculptures to galleries, markets and people, the city has a very bohemian feeling overall. I must admit that for me it was my favourite city from this trip.
You can’t leave Brussels without trying their waffles, their chocolate, their artisanal beers and the fries. Also, traditional Belgium food is delicious and worth trying. If you are not already full of the chocolate, their traditional food will leave your mouth watering.
Talking about experiences, the things you must see in this city are the art, that lays everywhere, the street and the nightlife, the creativity and bohemian character of the people and the Atomium experience.
Accommodation and transport
Both of these sections will be different for every person depending on the country you are coming from and on your budget. For us, personally, was a budget trip that we took because we needed a break and we didn’t plan it in advance.
For transport, we decided to try for the first time a company called Flixbus, because of the prices they had, and we paid 10£ for one way from London to Brussels and around 10£ back from Bruges to London.
For accommodation in Brussels, we found a very artistic flat on Airbnb, and because I had a discount, the price was really good at around 60£ for 2 nights. If you need a discount as well, you can use my code and you will get 34£ to use for accommodation and experiences. The cool thing is that after you have an account you will get a link like this and you can share it with your friends, and everybody wins.
Also, another option is to use a website as Booking.com to look for a hotel or hostel. I usually prefer the hotel version, but it worked very well with the flats in Belgium.
We only stayed 2 days in Brussels, and I must admit that I was tempted to stay at least one more day. If you walk around the city centre, you will find something interesting in every street, in every corner, and you won’t even need this little guide. I will share some of the places that we found interesting in Brussels, but my recommendation for one day is to forget about the list and just walk in the city centre as much as you can. You will end up finding most of the attractions below and even other small, but lovely places.
Comic Book Tour
One of the first things you will notice without even trying is street art. What most of the visitors don’t know is there is actually a brochure that will help you find all the 60 murals in Brussels and tell you their story. You can buy this brochure from the Visit Brussels checkpoints or find all the information on the Visit Brussels website. Try to spot as many as you can while visiting other attractions in the city.
Manneken Pis is a landmark sculpture of a child pissing in a fountain that is representative to Brussels, and it is dressed and accessorised around holidays or national days. To be honest, it is something that you can easily miss if you are on a tight schedule, but if you are in the city centre, you may get to it without even wanting. For me, the imitation of the sculpture from across the street, made entirely from chocolate, was more impressive than the actual Manneken. Some people may not know, but you can also find Jeanneken Pis, which is the female version of the Manneken Pis and also, a dog version called Zinneke Pis.
Grand Place/ Grote Markt
The central square of Brussels is one of the most stunning places in the city. And I am not the only one who says that, considering the fact that is known as one of the most beautiful places in the world and was registered on the World Heritage of the UNESCO.
It is surrounded by the guild houses, the City Hall and the King’s House. Every 2 years this market is covered in a carpet of flowers with nearly 1 million begonias, and it is one of the most beautiful things to see. Unfortunately, this year was not one of those years, so we missed it, but it is definitely worth coming back for.
If all of the above didn’t convince you yet, just wait until you see those lavish, covered in gold buildings around the square. But I thought for this part I better show you with photos.
Galeries Royales Saint Hubert
After the luxury that is the market square, we arrived with even trying to find them, to the Royal Galleries, another luxurious scenery with the designer shops, elegant cafes and cultural spaces. I can definitely say that Brussels treated us very nicely and we felt a little spoilt by the fantastic views and the great food.
Mont des Arts
Too much luxury needs a break for some Belgian fries and beer. After we walked a little more through the city centre, we stocked ourselves with the best fries and a craft beer, we stopped in one of my favourite spots in the city to enjoy the sunset. Mont des Arts has, in my opinion, the third-best view after the Atomium and the Royal Palace. For someone like who loooves to take photos of beautiful places, Brussels is a very photogenic city.
Palace of Justice
I can’t really decide which is the best view between the view from the Royal Palace or the one from the Atomium. The best views are found on Poelaert Square, which is at the main entrance of the Palace. That was our favourite spot to finish the day with an artisanal beer and watching the sunset, and it was 5 minutes away from our Airbnb.
Except for the views, the building itself is one of the largest and most impressive buildings in Europe and the most important court building in Belgium. The architecture is also breathtaking, and the building can be seen from almost everywhere in the city.
It’s an old neighbourhood that often is not showed as a place to visit for tourists, but we absolutely loved the bohemian feeling that it has, the flea markets, antique and vintage shops and small galleries. We enjoyed our coffee in the morning at a little pub near our Bnb and then we went for a bit of shopping around the markets before heading to the metro station near the market.
Atomium is already known worldwide as an icon of Belgium, but I didn’t think of it as more than a tall, pretty building. We were not even sure if to buy the tickets to actually visit it, and we didn’t plan to stay too long there. I couldn’t be more wrong and now is of the first things that I recommend to people going to Brussels.
It is not only an attraction to visit, but it is an experience. The history is also surprising because Atomium was built as part of a world exhibition and it was not planned to be kept after. The building represents an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times. The interior has the best 360 views of Brussels, offers an incredible experience, a fine dining restaurant and a few expositions.
After visiting the Atomium, you can opt to visit Mini Europe, a nice place with miniatures of the iconic attractions in Europe in a miniature version. Or you go further for a walk in the park.
Parc de Laeken
After visiting the Atomium, you have to walk through this beautiful park for a stroll and see how many bunnies hide in that park. Unfortunately, they were shy, and we didn’t have food to lure them, but it was worth the walk. Even if we took the metro to arrive at the Atomium, after a long walk in the park we found some Lime scooters and decided to go back to the city centre on a scooter. It was an enjoyable experience because the streets were not very crowded, and we had fun.
This is one of the places that I am sorry that we missed because from the photos it is a stunning Basilica, the interior looks fantastic, and you can even climb the dome for a beautiful view of the city. I am also sorry that we missed it because we didn’t have the chance to see the one in Paris either.
Watch here a short video with some of the best views in Brussels. Watch until the end to see the Atomium experience.
Related to food, Belgium was really generous to us, especially in junk food and sweets. We divided the traditional food from Belgium to all the cities that we visited, and I want to make another post more in detail about everything related to Belgium, from our itinerary to transport, accommodation, food and so on.
Except for the food you have to try the artisanal beer. Either you go to a beer shop, as we did, and ask the nice seller what to choose or try one of the many beer tours in the city. We preferred to buy a few different types of beer and try them while watching the sunset, and we saved time to see other places in the city.
Also, you have to try Brussel’s waffles, and the fries. Two of the best places that we tried are near each other, a place called Gaufre de Bruxelles and Belgian Frites.
You can try one of these tours below for a great experience. I always use this website when I have time for some trips, but I felt 2 days in Brussels is not enough to visit everything I wanted and do tours.
As an overall conclusion or ending to this lovely experience, I absolutely loved Brussels and Belgium in general, it is a very welcoming country and Brussels is an experience. The art and the bohemian feeling around the city made me feel like home. I can definitely say that I can see myself living in that city, at least for a while. If I missed anything that you want to know or you want to share something with us, please comment below, and I will be the happiest to answer.
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