Brussels at a glance
Expensive (5 of 5)
Level of costs
Brussels’ fame as a political centre is well known, but it would be terrible if this reputation gave the impression that the Belgian capital was in some way one-dimensional. With its stylish shopping districts, incomparable beers and seafood and one of the finest squares in Europe, Brussels has far more to offer than it is often given credit for.
Spend your first morning on the Grand Place. Breakfasting outside in one of its cafés is the perfect way to soak into the atmosphere of this intriguing city. The wonderfully preserved architecture serves as a spectacular backdrop to the bustle, colour and humour of everyday life in central Brussels. Try to get here on a Sunday, when the anarchic flea market moves into town. As a focal point for the rest of the city, the Place also makes an ideal starting point for a day’s wandering. Take a walk through the seedy but charismatic Marolles to the south, where you’ll find the famous Manneken Pis, a bizarre representation of a young boy relieving himself. If you’re after something a bit flashier - go north to the splendid Upper Town. This plush area combines imposing architecture and grand boulevards with chic boutiques and designer department stores. All your shopping needs can be satisfied in the Galerie Saint Hubert, the Boulevard de Waterloo and the Rue Antoine Dansaert. The Upper Town is also the quartier that houses most of Brussels’ mammoth political bureaucracy - from Nato and EU headquarters to the country’s own national government. The political activity gives the area a great buzz, but there’s plenty of non-political interest here as well. Check out Belgium’s most famous cartoon hero, Tintin, at the Comic Strip Centre in Horta’s Art Nouveau building. East of the Grand Place you’ll find the complementary Ancient Art Museum and Modern Art Museum, with the latter containing an impressive range of Magritte’s work.
After a hard day’s wandering, there’s no better way to unwind than in a Brussels seafood restaurant with one of the city’s famed beers. Head back towards the Grand Place and look for Rue des Bouchers, the city’s most impressive dining area. Choose from Lambic, Leffe, Chimay and a host of other brews before making some impossible decisions on the food menu. Will it be the straightforward but unbeatable "moule frites," the tempting shrimp croquettes or the rabbit simmered in gueze - another local speciality?
Brussels is an enchanting winter destination thanks to its charming Christmas markets, sparkling lights throughout the city and wa
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