Brussels, the city where all the important decisions about Europe are made, I expected boring seriousness and grey suits, not random street parties to appear out of nowhere. I’m so glad that the Europe Train Challenge brought us to Brussels. Because of my silly assumptions it would probably have taken me a long time before I got there – but now it won’t take me long before I return …
To read more about our time in Brussels, make sure you check out:
We hope you enjoy our Brussels Belgium Travel Video
Brussels Belgium Travel Video
I was Proven Wrong About Brussels Belgium
Assumptions can be bad, and sometimes downright dangerous – we all know this, so why do we never seem to learn? I will be honest, I didn’t have very high expectations about Brussels. I don’t know where I got it from, but I thought it would be boring.
But already when we stepped out of the central train station I knew something about my assumptions were wrong: We were greeted with loud samba music and a stage where people were getting their hair a make over in all of the rainbows colors. Continuing to another square there was heaps of fun entertainment for kids, and there were concerts everywhere around the city. It was a Sunday and the whole city was buzzing with people – after having rested at our Brussels hotel, we went out to walk the streets in the evening. All of the sudden we entered the most beautiful square I had ever seen.
I had heard that Brussels was an ugly city, but the buildings in the Grand Place were incredible! Strolling down the cobble stoned streets we heard music. Turning around the corner we saw a big crowd circling a little orchestra. There were about 7 people in the orchestra, and they weren’t very good musicians – but the vibe was incredible. Soon the whole place turned into a street party. People were dancing to the music, inviting strangers to dance with them and really let go. They didn’t care who was watching, they just wanted to dance.
The following day we realized more and more what a fun city this was, and how many cool free stuff and events they had so often. I had no idea that Brussels was such a fun city, that it would be such a care free place. Brussles, the city where all the important decisions about Europe are made, I expected boring seriousness and grey suits, not random street parties to appear out of nowhere. I’m so glad that we went to Brussels. Because of my silly assumptions it would probably have taken me a long time before I got there – but now it won’t take me long before I return
5 Cities To Visit In Belgium
Belgium is the perfect country to explore on a one or two week holiday – its rather small size means you will spend less time traveling and have more time left over to actually explore the places you’re visiting. You can easily get around the country in a small car like the MINI Cooper Hatchback car, which would also be a cheap option if you want to save on fuel. Checkout this Belgium Travel Guide and Here are five cities not to miss!
Brussels – A Quirky Capital
Self-proclaimed as the capital of Europe, Brussels is a vibrant city with a lot to offer, from amazing cuisine to beautiful architecture and a lot of quirky history. Whether you want to follow the comic strip walk or visit historical places such as the peeing statue, you will find that Brussels is a city with a tongue in cheek humor. A must visit is the Grand Place, the most beautiful square in Europe (in my opinion anyway), and a stop at one of the many chocolate shops to stock up on Belgian pralines (Leonidas is a good place with fairly cheap prices, around €5.60 for 250g).
Ghent – Best of Both Worlds
When visiting Ghent for two days last summer we fell head over heels for the city. With medieval architecture, beautiful canals and history around every corner, Ghent also has a great city atmosphere and is rapidly growing as the country’s premier foodie city. Combining historical beauty with culinary expertise and city atmosphere it’s has the best of Bruges and Brussels while being less touristy than both of them!
Bruges – Historic Idyll
If you visit Bruges in summer you will likely be a bit overwhelmed by the many tourist crowds filling the streets, but they’re certainly there for a good reason: few towns are as picturesque as Bruges, which looks as though it’s taken out of a fairy tale. Sit down at one of the cafes by the many squares, take a beer tour at the brewery (highly recommended!) and enjoy the beautiful surroundings along the river.
Antwerp – Fashion Center
If you’re a shopaholic, forget about Brussels and head to Antwerp instead. Being the designer hub of Belgium, Antwerp is proud of their local designers and the shopping streets are some of the best I’ve seen in Europe, showcasing not only local designers but international brands that are rare elsewhere in Europe. Many shops in Antwerp have combined Belgian culture with shopping by having a café selling Belgian sweets and coffee so you can shop even during your coffee break. A small car like the MINI Hatchback makes it easy to navigate the narrow cobbled streets of Antwerp, stuffing the trunk full of shopping bags as you go. But there is more to Antwerp than just shopping. Besides being a beautiful city, it has some of the best nightlife in the country.
Leuven – Beer Capital
Finally, you can’t write a whole post about Belgium without praising its beer. Belgian beer is by far the best beer I’ve had throughout my whole travels, beating even Bavarian pints. While you can quench your thirst with Belgian beer in just about every city in the country, Leuven is the brewing capital of Belgium. Leuven is the headquarters of Inbev, the second largest brewery in the world, famous for Stella Artois beers. Centuries of Flemish tradition and craftsmanship lie behind Leuven’s premium brews. Take a brewery tour at Stella Artois or Domus, do some beer tasting at one of the many pubs such as De Blauwe Kater or De Metafoor, or why not take a whole workshop about food matching beer or cooking with it?
Bruges Fairy Tale Town
The adorable medieval town Bruges was almost a surreal place – with old traditional buildings, narrow cobbled streets and weeping willows dipping their branches in the canals, and as many horse carriages on the streets as there were cars – Bruges was a town taken out of a fairy tale.
The only thing that kept me from pinching myself were the hordes of tourists around me that kept poking me in the back, as they elbowed their way trying to get the best photos.
For some reason, all the tourists seemed very stressed, and they were all running around with waffles in one hand and a camera in the other. With only a couple of hours in this cute town, we were moving pretty fast too. First stop was a boat tour along the canal, which was one of the best ways to see the city (had it not been for the heads popping up in every picture).
After that, we joined the other tourists as they raced around the streets snapping photos, yelling and eating – making our way to the beer brewery.
Beer is very important in Belgium, and has a long history – today, Belgians are the fourth heaviest beer drinkers in the world, flushing down 90 L per person per year.
In the Medieval days, people in Belgium drank beer as if it was water – literally – because the water was so polluted, everyone drank beer instead – including the children…
This resulted in 400L per person per year, but in those days the alcohol was much weaker than it is today.
Trying the many different beers is one of the top things to do in Belgium, and every local you talk to will ask which beers you’ve tried and tells you which ones you must have. A brewery tour is definitely a highlight on a visit to Bruges, so most tourists who were rushing around had also had a couple of beer glasses throughout the day! There was no question whether Bruges was pretty, but looking around yourself and being surrounded by so many tourists, the question was rather if it was perhaps too pretty for its own good.