I’m getting pretty good at being more easy going and less planned down to the minute with our travels. So much so that before we left for our Belgium trip we hadn’t even planned how we would spread out our time between Brussels, Bruges and Ghent!
Because the three cities are close together (45-60 minutes on the train) we based ourselves in Brussels and did day trips from there. We ended up spending three of our five days in Brussels and found so many picture perfect spots just walking around that I wanted to share my top ‘bucket list for Brussels’ picks with you!
Oh and if you’d like to see how I packed carry-on only for this winter trip to Brussels you can have a peek inside my suitcase here.
A Picture Perfect Bucket List for Brussels
1. Feel teeny tiny in comparison to the stunning St Michael and St Gudula Cathedral
St Michael and St Gudula Cathedral became very familiar to us during our stay in Brussels as it was close to our hotel. Dating back to as early as the 9th century it’s spires are 64 meters high and make you feel teeny tiny in comparison. We loved that it wasn’t a very busy spot so it was really easy to get some pretty pictures without a million other people in them!
2. Pick your favourite spot for chocolate shopping
Going to Belgium we knew chocolate was going to be a big thing, but I didn’t quite expect it to be as incredible as it was. With pretty little streets lined with chocolate shop after chocolate shop it’s impossible to choose just one to buy from! But I’m not going to complain…
My favourite chocolate shopping spots
- Galerie de la Reine (Queen’s Gallery) is a pretty pink 19th century shopping arcade choc-full of Belgian chocolate shops… you just know I was in heaven here!
- The streets around Grand Place are full of sweet delights to discover! I highly recommend the hot chocolate spoons and lollipops from Le Comptoirde Mathilde and a box of mixed biscuits from Maison Dandoy to take home with you!
P.S the biscuits in the window display in my Maison Dandoy photo below are REAL, and no Jase wouldn’t let me get one.
3. Do a little happy dance in Grand Place
Even though this pretty little square is a tourist hot spot, unless you go early (before 10am) it will be pretty busy, it’s still a must see. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Grand Place is the central square in Brussels and is home to opulent, gold dusted buildings including town hall and Museum of the City of Brussels. If you’re here at Christmas time make sure you visit during the evening for the most incredible light and music show… we felt like we were standing in the middle of a Disney movie – but more about that below!
4. Hunt down a street waffle van
When I think of Belgium, I think of waffles. During our trip I had a daily waffle target of at least one! What I didn’t realise was that as well as the waffle stores there is also waffle vans dotted across the city. So if you don’t look for them they will come looking for you! We found my favourite van at Mont des Arts, or Museum Quarter, a nice quiet spot with a pretty view over the city.
5. Explore Brussels Park
We found this park wondering home one day and it was such a nice spot to escape the crowds in the city centre. Surrounded by the Royal Palace of Brussels, and full of hidden gems, see which ones you can find:
- Théâtre Royal du Parc, a theatre built in 1782
- Vauxhall, a meeting and concert venue, built in the 1780s
- The wooden kiosk of Vauxhall, built in 1913
- The cast iron music kiosk, built in 1841 (this was my favourite pick)
- The main pond, constructed in 1855
- The octagonal pond, constructed in 1780
6. Climb the Eiffel Tower of Brussels – Atomium
To be completely honest with you I had never heard of Atomium before we arrived in Brussels. I also wasn’t quite sure I wanted to visit. But after a little bit of googling the night before we decided it was worth seeing. Originally built for the 1958 Brussels World Fair Expo, Atomium is 102m tall and made up of nine 18m diameter stainless steel clad spheres and forms the shape of a cell of an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times – no. big. deal. The tubes connecting the spheres enclose stairs, escalators and a lift so people can move from one sphere to another. Once inside you are free to walk around and see the different museum exhibits and panoramic views over Brussels. It’s super quirky with a very retro outer-space Jetsons-like vibe!
Be warned though you will probably have to line up for an hour to get in. On the plus side, you know those waffle vans I mentioned earlier? There is two within convenient distance of the line – and yes I tested one out just so I could recommend them… no really! I would also suggest going in the afternoon so you can see the lights on the outside of the spheres go on. They turned on just as we were walking away at around 5.30pm. So of course I had to do a little happy dance in the middle of the road!
7. Draw on the Tables Without Getting in Trouble at Brussels Beer Project
As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before Jase is a craft beer enthusiast and so we always have (at least) a few brewery visits on our to-see list! And of course as well as being very well known for chocolate and waffles, Belgium is also big on beer. I usually find most breweries pretty similar (because I’d rather be eating chocolate and waffles I guess). But Jason found one little gem on our trip that I was pretty excited about. And that’s a big call for me, to be excited by a brewery!
Brussels Beer Project is a crowd funded, collaborative brewery, using co-creation to bring more innovation and fresh thinking to a sometimes too conservative Belgian craft brewing scene. But even more exciting than that? You can draw on the table tops and they have a beer that tastes like a strawberry milkshake. That’s all it really took to win me over! But Jase also gives them rave reviews for their beer too!
Oh and I also found the cutest canal side spot. It’s lined with colourful pin wheels and is just down the road from this brewery! Winning!
8. Seek out the prettiest Christmas lights
Our visit to Brussels, between Christmas and New Years, caught the tail end of all the beautiful Christmas displays around town. And they really weren’t hard to find. Walking to dinner on our first evening there took a bit longer than we expected. I had to stop on every corner and get a photo of the street lights. If you happen to be visiting between 24th November and 31st December you have to check out the Christmas markets, have a ride of the ferris wheel and see the stunning light and music show in Grand Place, which is on every night!
After seeing this list which picture perfect spot would you love to add to your bucket list for Brussels?
LIKE MY OUTFITS?
These items are from my ’17/18 Winter Capsule Wardrobe and you can see exactly what I packed for this trip here. Shop these items and support Jayde Archives at the same time by using some of the affiliate links below:
- Witchery Grey long sleeve (or similar here)
- ASOS Stripe long sleeve (or similar here and here)
- Oysho Beige fluffy knit (old, similar here)
- H&M Beige cable knit sweater (old, similar here)
- Mango Blue faux-ripped skinny jeans (I struggled to find the faux-rip jeans and ended up getting them from Mango last year)
- Grey trench coat (old)
- Checked coat (old, similar here and here)
- H&M Checked scarf
- H&M Blush pom-pom beanie
- Ugg Brown leather gloves (or similar here)
- Panama Jack Brown winter boots
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