I visited Brussels in August 2012 with three friends.
We travelled from Scotland to Brussels by bus via London and although this is not an experience I wish to ever repeat, it was a very cheap way of getting to mainland Europe!
Although it has now been several years since I went to Brussels, I luckily have a quite detailed journal which I keep when I travel which helps with jogging my memory of some of the things I enjoyed about the city.
When I was in Brussels, I was fortunate enough to stay in a hostel just off the Grand Place. Although this was not the best hostel ever, the location really couldn’t be beaten! Upon returning to the hostel on our first night, we were very lucky to stumble into the opening night celebrations, complete with fireworks and music, of the ‘Tapis de Fleurs ‘ or Carpet of Flowers. The grand baroque and gothic architecture of Brussels’ Grand Place, in particular the Town Hall and, if you are lucky enough to be in Brussels during August, the Carpet of Flowers certainly make it an unmissable sight.
This may sound like a slightly odd recommendation, but another one of my most memorable moments in Brussels was viewing the city from the top of a 10 storey inner city car park. This unique spot offers the chance to take in some brilliant views of Brussels without being swarmed by fellow tourists as you often are at such great viewing spots . I also think it’s pretty interesting to say that you have seen the city skyline from a car park which has some of the best free views out there!
The Belgian Centre for Comic Strip Art
I know visiting museums might not be for everyone, but I love a good museum! Aside from the numerous art galleries and national museums, some of the most interesting exhibitions I have visited have been about niche subjects that you might not have connected with the city. The Belgian Centre for Comic Strip Art is certainly one of those and is a very unique, educational and enjoyable museum. Even if you don’t necessarily think it is something you will be interested in, it is definitely perfect for a rainy day or for visiting with children.
Yes, visiting Manneken Pis is a pretty typical tourist thing to in Brussels and yes, it is just a small sculpture of a peeing boy dressed up in different outfits and yes, it is a bit disappointing. However, I would still recommend searching for it as you never know what else you will discover on the way! Visiting the sculpture is not going to be the highlight of your trip, but, as often happens when travelling, it is not so much the final destination that matters as what you experience on the way, so go forth in search of Manneken Pis and see what happens on the way. There are also lots of other versions of the sculpture dotted around the city including a squatting female version called Jeanneke Pis!
Parc de Bruxelles –
So, this last recommendation is an odd one as what I am discussing was actually a temporary exhibition which is actually no longer in Brussels, but was one of the most special parts of my visit. The Brussels Park, which is situated by the Royal Palace, was sprinkled with really cool sculptures of stereotypical Belgium foods; chocolate, mussels, sprouts and fries when I visited. Even without the awesome and fun sculptures, however, I would still say that this pretty park is worth a visit while you are in Brussels.
To sum up, I would recommend Brussels as being worth a visit, but would say that a few days is probably enough time as I know that there are much more interesting and picturesque parts of Belgium to explore!
Next in this series, I will be discussing… Berlin!