Are you passing through Brussels? Or are you coming for work and have a short day between 2 meetings to visit the city? Sorry but that’s not enough! However, if you follow a few tips, you can get a good idea of what the city has to offer… But beware: once you have tasted it for a few hours, you will want to come back for more! This is just an idea of what to do in Brussels for travellers who are here for a very short time and who want to discover the city by themselves. For others, Brussels By Foot offers free themed tours written and guided by passionate Brussels guides !
A (very) early-morning visit to the “Place du Jeu de Balle” Flea Market
Start the day with a stroll through the Flea Market at the Place du Jeu de Balle, in the heart of the Marolles. The earlier you arrive, the better business! And it doesn’t matter whether you visit Brussels on a Monday, Thursday, Christmas Day or St. Aristide’s Day : The “Vieux Marché” has been open every day of the year for… almost 150 years! And don’t forget to haggle: It’s one of the 2 national sports in the Marolles.
After such an intense haggling session, relax on one of the many café terraces surrounding the square. Too early for a beer, you say? Never! Because yes, here it is, the second national sport of the Marollians !
Rise to the heights
After your little drink, head up to the top of the neighbourhood along the picturesque Rue des Renards. Take the time to visit one or two craft and design shops: some are really worth it! Above the rue des Renards, after a little “left-right”, you will arrive at the foot of the elevator. Get on board. In just a few seconds of climbing, you will have a view of the whole of northern Brussels. From the top, you can see, among others, the Atomium (in clear weather) and the City Hall, whose spire rises from the Grand Place. Turn around: You are just next to the largest courthouse in the world. Can you see it, behind its nearly centuries-old scaffolding ?
You let yourself slide towards the Historical Centre
From then on, if you play your cards right, you won’t have a single climb all afternoon! After taking a beautiful picture from the viewpoint, head towards the Place du Sablon, a few hundred meters away. A mecca for high-end chocolate and luxury boutiques, the square also has a few restaurants of superior quality (and price!). For the low budgets, the “Friterie de la Chapelle”, nearby, will treat you as much as a lobster with champagne! The author of these lines advises you the following order: “Petit cornet” + cheese croquette + mayonnaise. After that, you’ll drive all alone to the Grand Place!
To do in Brussels : The “beaten tracks” are worth it
From the Place de la Chapelle, you are only a short distance from the Manneken Pis and the Grand Place. Because yes, these are must-see places, and even the reactionary anti-tourist-classicist that I am will tell you not to miss them. The History of Manneken Pis, like that of the Grand Place, is full of anecdotes, legends and scandals. Here is a recent one, just for fun.
You will notice that, once again, you are surrounded by pubs. To get the fries cone down properly, you have to be full. Located right across from Manneken Pis, the Poechenellekelder, despite its location in the heart of the historic centre, is a traditional Brussels bistro. Why not try a good Gueuze? Ask the owner for advice.
Grand Place, Bourse, Halles Saint-Gery,… you will finish your walk by strolling through the cobbled streets as you go along. You can push on to the Rue des Chartreux and discover the statue of “Zinneke Pis”, whose history is described here. On your way, you may have fallen for an old postcard to write us your impressions… If no postcard, just leave us a review leave us a message at the bottom of this article 😉
In any case, we hope you had a good day and that we will have the opportunity to see you soon in Brussels!