Thursday, 9 February 2017

10 things you should do when visiting Brussels

Hi guys,

Some of you may have seen on my Instagram that I've just visited Brussels - I am so sad to be back home! Although, the weather forecast is much better in Manchester than Brussels (for once) so that's definitely a plus!

Brussels is such an amazing city with so much to do and see, even if that simply consists of having a leisurely stroll around the city - you'll always come across something interesting and new.

I thought I would share with you 10 things that I would definitely recommend doing if you ever visit Brussels.


1

Grand-Place



I have to say that this is probably one of the prettiest squares I have ever been to. Each and every building is so grand, the majority covered in intricate gold designs.

 
 

The Town Hall, known as Hotel de Ville, is one of the main buildings in Grand-Place. Parts of the gothic design remind me of Notre Dame cathedral in Paris - one of my favourite churches in the world. The intricate designs made of stone together with the large arched windows and symmetry makes this building extremely striking.

 
 

As you can probably see the from the pictures, this is definitely somewhere to visit.


2

Belgian chocolate


Obviously I had to include a mention of Belgian chocolate! Anyone who knows me will know that I have such a sweet tooth so Brussels was heaven! I didn't actually eat that much chocolate when I was there but I brought some home from a chocolatier and it was incredible!

There were so many chocolatiers in Brussels - literally on every corner - and the closer you got to Grand-Place the more chocolate shops you came across. They were all quite different though so it was good to have a little nosey in a few different ones.


3

Sablon


Sablon is definitely one of the neighbourhoods that I would recommend visiting. Sablon is a large neighbourhood near the centre of Brussels filled with cobbled streets and cute little cafes and restaurants. 

 
 
 

There is also a cute little park called Petit Sablon or Kleine Zavel. In Brussels there are two main languages - French and Dutch - which is why all of the signs, neighbourhoods and attractions have two names.

 

I loved the little fountain in this park - it was a really pretty place to just take a few minutes rest. Unfortunately the weather wasn't too nice when we visited but if you visit whilst it is dry/sunny, definitely take some time to chill out in here.

4

Mont des Arts


Mont des Arts, known as the Arts Hill, is a lovely place to chill out for a little while. Located just a few minutes walk from Grand-Place, these gardens are filled with lots of little benches and beautiful flowerbeds.

Even if you don't have the time to sit and take it all in, or if the weather isn't nice enough to spend too long here, it is definitely worth a visit. Climb the steps to the very top for the best view of the gardens.

 
 

There is also an amazing bell clock at Mont des Arts which we definitely took some time to admire.

 

5

Try some 'Belgian' waffles


Belgium is known for its waffles and Brussels in particular has literally hundreds of waffle shops/restaurants where you can buy waffles.

There are actually three types of waffles sold in Belgium: the Liege waffle, the Stroopwafel and the Belgian waffle. If you go to a cafe or restaurant then you are likely to be sold either a Liege or Belgian waffle. Stroopwafels are usually sold in supermarkets as opposed to restaurants.



The Liege waffle is a smaller type of waffle and is the most common type of waffle eaten by Belgians. This waffle is already super sweet and so is usually eaten plain, however, many cafes in tourist areas sell these waffles with toppings to make extra money. If you have a really sweet tooth then eating a Liege waffle with toppings won't taste too much but it isn't the usual way of eating them.




The Belgian waffle is probably the type of waffle that you'll have seen. It is a larger waffle and is in a rectangular shape. This waffle is the one that you are expected to eat with toppings and the most common topping for Belgians is whipped cream or powdered sugar but you can eat them with pretty much anything.



Finally, the Stroopwafel consists of two smaller flat waffles with dried syrup in the middle. They are in the shape of a round biscuit. If you place this waffle over a hot drink the steam melts the syrup inside and they are then ready to eat.

If you are a keen baker, or simply want to make your own waffles, you can do the Belgian Waffle Workshop. This workshop gives you some background on the waffles and the opportunity to make your own waffles. To read more about this workshop, keep an eye out for my blog post on it which will be posted in the next few days!

6

Visit the Markets

Brussels is some to several different markets.



We visited the Flea Markets which are basically like a car boot sale, minus the car (and boot). Flea Markets are where people are able to bring possessions that they wish to sell to a local square in a neighbourhood called Marolles and people can visit and buy them.

 

I found it really interesting looking round these markets. There were so many different things for sale from plates and cutlery sets, jewellery, framed pictures and paintings to native African tribal wall decorations.

What I found really strange though was that people were actually selling framed paintings of deceased people. Maybe it's just me but I don't think I would feel comfortable having a painting up in my house of a stranger that was no longer alive...

The Marolles Flea Markets are definitely worth visiting and are open every day from 6am - 2pm.

Brussels also has a vintage market located not far from Grand-Place. Unfortunately we didn't get time to visit this but it has good reviews online and is quite central so, if you have the time and are keen to visit, I definitely would! The vintage market is open on Sundays from 12pm - 7pm.

7

Take a day trip to Bruges



Bruges is such a beautiful city and, with it only being around an hour's train journey from Brussels, it is definitely worth visiting.

 
 

Bruges is similar to Brussels in that it has lots of cobbled streets, a main square, hundreds of little shops and lovely parks.

To read more about why I think Bruges is worth visiting, keep an eye out for my new blog post all about Bruges.

8

Mannekin Pis


This is probably one of the weirdest attractions I have ever visited. As suggested by the name, this is literally a statue of a little boy weeing - bizarre, I know. However, it is one of the main attractions of Brussels and is one of the most visited attractions in the city.

At certain times of the year, Mannekin Pis is dressed up in little outfits. This is what we saw when we visited.

 

I won't lie, I thought that the statue we saw was a mini version of the real one. I really couldn't believe that the tiny little statue that we saw was one of the main attractions of the city! 

Although it isn't mindblowing, it is worth a visit as it holds the reputation of being a main attraction of Brussels. It is also only a couple of minutes walk from Grand-Place so it seems silly not to visit it.

9

Brussels Light Show


After seeing how beautiful Grand-Place was, I was definitely excited to see the Light Show. The Light Show is basically where Grand-Place, the central square, is lit up each hour for 10 minutes at night. Someone that had previously visited Brussels told me how beautiful this show was and I knew I just had to see it.

So it gets to evening, we had eaten and were ready to see the Light Show at 11pm.  We're standing in Grand-Place with several other people for probably over 20 minutes until we are approached by a Belgian man who kindly tells us that the Light Show is only on in December for Christmas - fab. Dumb act number 1,000 from Marianne.

I have seen several images on Google (including the one I have used above) and it just looks so pretty. I will definitely be returning to Brussels in December at some point to see this!

10

Try a Belgian delicacy



There are many delicacies in Belgium and the list could go on for a while, however, you may have heard that Belgium is famous for its fries. They are deep fried twice (super healthy, I know) and served in a cone with a choice of so many different sauces. Literally, any sauce you can think of and more!

I came across a really good blog recently on all things Belgian that explains why Belgian fries are so popular. If you're interested, you can read about it here.

They were quite different to normal fries and I loved them. I got a small cone and I am so glad I did because they were super filling!

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So there you have the 10 things I think you should see/try when you visit Brussels. I hope you have enjoyed reading!

As always, I would love to hear from you by email: xthelifeofm@outlook.com or by direct message/comments on Instagram: @xthelifeofm.

Lots of love,
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