I have to be honest and say that this was a much more beautiful place than I expected. I originally ended up going to Brussels because the person I was traveling with wanted to go there. Once we got there I was extremely glad we made the stop. There is plenty of things to do in Brussels, and it is a much slower pace than other places I visited. Unfortunately the day that I traveled to Brussels the museums were closed due to a holiday. Make sure you check this website, it is a list of all the free museums in Brussels.
A little fun fact, Brussels is more or less in the center of Europe. With this being said they are the headquarters for the European Union. Above is a picture of the EU Headquarters. This location is fair distance away from the rest of the city center and I was only able to see it because I had gone on a bike tour.
One pro tip that I would definitely suggest is ladies to get a purse to fit at least one water bottle. I had the perfect purse that fit exactly one water bottle, a wallet, a pen and my journal. It is the easiest way to save money and if you go to the bathroom I would always fill up my water bottle there. It sounds kind of gross but when you’re on a budget cutting corners is needed.
Overall my biggest tip exclusive to Brussels would be to rent a bike for the day and enjoy the mass amount of parks that are available in this city.
What to do
Every day at 10am in the Grand Central Plaza has a free tour that shows you all of the highlights around the city for roughly three hours. There link posted says 2.5 hours but our tour was closer to 3.5 hours. The catch here is that the free tour is based off the idea that if you like the tour then you tip the guide, but if you hated it then you aren’t out any money. In the end it ended up costing around €5 a person. We got a tour guide named Mick with a Irish accent. He is a shorter man with brownish hair and I would HIGHLY recommend him as a tour a guide.
I also went on a beer tour that was sponsored by the same people who put on the walking tour. This is the cheapest beer tour that I was able to find and was worth the price. The amount of beer that was provided and the history that was told behind the beer was interesting and worth the €17. And for me, the person I traveled with did not drink (I found out about this AFTER we were in Europe together), so traveling alone one drinking adventures I found this to be a safe way to see some of the nightlife that was in the Brussels. You are directed to three of the most famous bars and served a total of 2.5 glasses of beer. This was more than enough to give me a slight buzz, which is always a plus. I was unable to find the website for the beer tour but if you show up to the free tour I am sure that someone would be able to give you the information about how to buy a ticket. Also if you stay at the hotel I have suggested below they have the information there for the tour.
My biggest recommendation would be to rent a bike and/or go on a bike tour. Brussels has some of the most green/park space in of a city in Europe. This was something that I wish I would have known before I went there because there are several parks that are beautiful and I wish I could have taken a bike around the city for an afternoon. The bike tour was fun but I would not recommend it to be people that aren’t okay with riding bikes in the street with the cars. It was safe; don’t be worried about that, but if you are nervous bike rider you will be anxious the whole bike ride.
Where to eat
Of course you need to get a waffle there are no ifs ands or buts about it. The waffles make for a nice breakfast or an afternoon snack. They are roughly €1 for a plain waffle but once you start adding toppings to the waffle it tends to get pricier. My favorite combo was chocolate and bananas on top.
Fries are also a must if you are in Brussels. If you go on the walking tour the guide will point out the most famous spot to get fries. Below is a picture of the menu and what I ordered while I was there. I really liked the fries but I also really like my fries with mayo in the first place. On the bike tour that I suggested, you actually go to a famous fry place and stop for a break to get something to eat.
If you want to order real Belgian food I would recommend this restaurant. It is located near the city center and has great food. The only complaint that we had about the restaurant was that really enjoyed their meat and after spending three weeks in Europe and eating out, we all wanted a fruit salad. Besides that the food was authentic. I honestly couldn’t tell you what I ordered because we went to the restaurant after we went on the beer tour and my memory seems to have slipped me. 🙂
Where to stay
I stayed at the Meininger Hostel near the city center. It was roughly a fifteen minute walk to the city center where the tours above began. I absolutely loved the hostel. They had an energy efficient moto that they tried to use as little water and energy as possible. In order for the electricity to work in the room you had to insert your room card into a slot. This was so you couldn’t accidentally leave the light on and leave the room. The rooms were very spacious and the bathrooms were inside your room which is a bonus compared to other hostels. There were also bikes that you could rent through the hostel if that’s how you wanted to get around. They did offer breakfast through the hostel but from what I heard from people that had bought it, they said it wasn’t worth the money.
For coming to this city with no plan in mind and just winging it, this was one of my favorite places that I visited. If you are looking for a cheap place to stay in Europe I would recommend coming here. It was nice to get a break from the busy traveling styles of Amsterdam and Paris. The food and tours were decently price and the hostel was fantastic.