How to Spend a Mini Break in Brussels

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Belgium’s capital city, Brussels, is often overlooked by tourists who instead flock to picturesque Bruges and university-led Ghent. However, there are so many reasons to visit this city, and it’s not all about the its role as the base for the EU either.


Brussels is a remarkably good-looking city and strolling around it is a real experience in itself. Some highlights you’ll find while walking around the centre are the Grand Place (Brussels’ central 17th-century square) and the nearby Manneken Pis (a quirky fountain which is literally a small boy urinating in a pool). The area is surrounded by coffee shops, so you’ll be able to grab a croissant and a cappuccino in order to drink in the atmosphere of the area. We recommend bagging a seat outside the Café Capitale.

The famous cartoon character, Tintin, was a Brussels native and the plucky protagonist is represented in murals across the city. It’s not just Tintin either, the city has a fully fledged Comic Strip Trail, one that dates all the way back to the 1990s. There’s street art on almost every corner, so keep your eyes peeled and your camera ready.

The city is an incredibly green one, brimming with parks just calling to be strolled through. Runners, picnickers and those looking to get out into nature will want to head out to the Bois de la Cambre. This park sits on the edge of the Sonian Forest and is home to lakes, smart restaurants and the art deco Villa Empain—a former private home and example of the work of architect Michel Polak. Back in the city centre, the manicured flowerbeds of the Parc de Bruxelles act as a gateway to the city’s best-loved galleries and museums.

Those gardens make way to the Royal Palace of Brussels, the administrative home to the King. This 19th-century palace is open to visitors between July and late August each summer. Nearby, you’ll also find the Royal Museum of Fine Arts of Belgium, an essential visit for any art lovers. There’s a wing here dedicated to surrealist Belgian artist, René Magritte, with works spanning his entire career. The medieval St Michael and St Gudula Cathedral is within walking distance too, giving a sense of history with no entry fee.


As with all capital cities, Brussels is brimming with cuisines to try, making it a great place for those with dietary requirements and allergies to visit.

When visiting anywhere, it’s incredibly expensive to sit down in a restaurant for every meal and that’s where the patisseries of Brussels really come into their own. Nikolas Koulepis in Ixelles is one of the very finest! This area is also great for those looking to shop in independent boutiques and upmarket homeware stores.

For some of the very best pizza outside of Italy, you’re going to want to visit Nona in the city centre. The decor is unpretentious, the prices are wallet-friendly and the pizza is frankly, insanely good. I visited Brussels solo and the staff here could not have been more welcoming!

For traditional Belgian food that’s loved by locals and not just there to lure in the tourists, head on over to the fuss-free Les Petits Bouchons or ‘t Potverdoemmeke. Once there, order meaty dishes with side orders of fries with homemade mayonnaise for a true Brussels dining experience.


Brussels, much like the rest of Belgium, is famed for its beer so it’s essential that you hunt some down on a trip here. For a traditional beer hall, head to the somewhat strange-but-charmingly puppet-adorned Poechenellekelder in the city centre. For live music and hip surroundings with your beer, you’ll want to go to Monk where a simple menu also exists to line your stomach. Delirium is one of Belgium’s best-loved beer brands (both there and here in the UK) and the city is home to Delirium Village where eight Delirium bars reside.

We don’t know if it’s just us, but there’s nothing that gets us more into the holiday spirit than having an alcoholic drink in what feels like the middle of the road. The Coucou chain offers just that, and the one perched by the wheel offers €5 glasses of wine with vistas out over the city.

Some bars, and they’re rare to find, have a real local feel to them, and by that we mean that you immediately feel as though you belong there. The staff are friendly, the drinks are good but unfussy and you feel like you could easily while away a whole afternoon there. Chez Mon Ex in Ixelles (and not too far from Brussel-Centraal) is one such spot! Opt for the home-brewed version of an Aperol Spritz and grab a seat at the bar where you’ll be able to chat to the bartender.

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