We fell in love with small one-day stopovers when we first decided to cut our journeys in half. When we take these short trips, we do not visit all parts of the city as we would like. Frankly, these are our favourite kind of tours since you don't waste any time. We get an interesting preview of the city after quickly seeing certain hot spots. And our stop to Brussels did just that and we would certainly go back.
Let us also remind you that stopovers can sometimes cut the cost of your airfare. Don’t ask us why, but it’s truly awesome! Test it for yourself. Now buckle up and let us guide you through this fabulous city full of beauty, history and Chocolate:
This chubby little boy gets lots of attention. Unfortunately, the bizarre statue is much smaller than expected, but that shouldn’t turn you off from going to see the urinating boy. He is also dressed differently on various celebrations that come with an unveiling show. The statue carries much significance to the city and many legends are attached to this little boy. You should also know that since 1965, officials decided to replace the original with a replica. An impressive wardrobe of 600 outfits is displayed in the Maison du Roi, along with the original statue.
Indulging on some good food is something the city provides well. Waffles are not only a breakfast food, but they are served as street food on almost any corner. This fluffy pastry, usually topped with powdered sugar and whipped cream, is savoury and crunchier than its nemesis, the Liege Waffle. The tea room at Maison Dandoy is the perfect spot for a great coffee and waffle. Take the opportunity to buy some tasty biscuits in their store downstairs.
Cone of French Fries
Next on the list is the birthplace of the deep-fried potato. Many historians argue where fries originate from, but clearly Belgians take pride in making the best recipes. Friteries are your one-stop shop for some of the most delicious fries you will ever taste.
Make your way to Maison Antoine for the crispiest fries in town. They are literally to die for! The best we have ever tasted. They come in a large paper cone with your choice of sauce, mostly mayonnaise-based. Although tight on time, it’s still worth the wait here as the queues can sometimes be long. Remember they come in a cone which makes it perfect when you’re on the go!
Chances are you’re coming to the city simply for this reason. Neuhaus, Cote d’or, Godiva, Leonidas and Pierre Marcolini just to name a few, you do not come to Brussels without buying chocolates. There are over 2000 chocolatiers in Belgium with the majority’s headquarters located in the city. They are delicious and made with the highest quality of cocoa. Certain people are prepared to spend lots of money to shop for the best chocolates in the world. What we also like is how the vast majority of Belgian chocolate is made not by large manufacturing companies, but in small family chocolate shops by hand and using very basic equipment.
Grote Markt (Dutch) / Grand Place (French)
The capital’s town square is surrounded by towering buildings with rich golden decor and has been well-preserved for centuries. This historic center is labelled the most beautiful in Europe and is often crowded with tourists. Many restaurants, bars, cafés and souvenir shops are found here. At night, the lights brighten up the square and we find it at its best especially in the wintertime. And if that’s not enough, there’s a spectacular Flower Carpet event every 2 years in August worth checking out.
Palais Royal, Brussels Park and Palace of the Nation
Since time is of the essence in a 12 hour trip, a quick stop at the Palais Royal is a good addition to your planned trip. It’s quite unique as its façade and outdoor gardens are beautiful and a tour inside the Royal Family’s principal residence is only open in the summer months.
Continue your journey with a stroll around Brussels Park which faces the Royal Palace. This large beautiful urban park is full of trees as well as multiple fountains, benches and sculptures. You can sit and relax for a few minutes to admire the symmetry and well-maintained rows of natural beauty.
You will also find on the opposite end of the Royal Palace the Palace of the Nation. It is the Belgian Federal Parliament dressed in impressive architecture. You should be sure to know that Brussels is the capital of the European Union. Located nearby is the Espace Léopold, a complex of parliament buildings. The complex houses the modern yet incomplete-looking structure of the EU Parliament Building. There are group tours available to visit the Hemicycle and Parlamentarium.
Jardin du Mont des Arts
We felt that the panoramic view as you are overlooking the city is simply phenomenal. It’s located close by to the Royal Palace and is the most picturesque part of the city. It represents the beauty and true essence of Brussels.
Another structure that’s hard to miss is the Atomium. This unusual monument is visible from many locations with large spheres hanging high in the air. It was introduced at the 1958 Brussels Expo and has become a local landmark ever since. Inside, you can visit three of the spheres which include a restaurant, boutique, museum and kids hotel. It’s a pretty cool experience! Unfortunately on this trip, you can only see it at a distance.
We hope this list persuades you to stop by Brussels on your next vacation!