The most beautiful part of the year is here again – and Brussels welcomes it with the great pomp.
Here are 8 reasons to visit this lovely underrated city in the nicest wintertime.
1. Christmas markets!
Through its 2-kilometers course deploying through the historic town centre, Christmas markets in Brussels will once again be the topic of many, a dream for children and adults alike. The festive atmosphere, unique ambiance, quality activities, delicious dishes, fairy-tale lighting and the discovery of other universes and cultures on offer during the event will nourish many a reverie…
Five weeks filled with enchanting encounters, perfumes, colorful stalls, fantastic gift ideas and original tasting sessions. Joy and lights sparkled, bathing visitors in the festive atmosphere embodying these markets.
Its attractiveness is now legendary, making it a key event in Brussels during the festive season.
The new, wider course seduced everyone and offered a greater fluidity as the ice-skating rink was moved to the Place de la Monnaie where it was very successful.
The magnificent fir tree, the splendid, magical and original light and sound show, the incredible ’videomapping’ on the façade of the St Catherine church, the creative and original guest of honor, the festive Christmas Parade of RTL… And also the traditional attractions: the Ferris wheel, the merry-go-rounds, the slalom, a huge Christmss tree, the Ice Monster etc.
Center of Brussels: Grand Place, Place St. Catherine, Vismarkt, Bourse, Muntplein
2. What is better than a walk?
Apart from going around the Christmas markets – there are a couple of great antique markets, some nice museums (don’t miss the Museum of Modern Art, it’s superb) and a really nice jazz club (The Music Village, near the Grand Place). But really, I would say just walk around, window-shop and stop off for lots of food and drink, because the bars and restaurants are really what makes the city special. Top on my list would definitely be any bar/restaurant on the Grand Place where you can grab a window seat! Pretty much all of them have an upstairs, and inside there’s always a roaring log fire and lots of pretty and tasteful xmas decorations. Order a mulled wine, hot chocolate or a ’half and half’ – half white wine, half champagne! – L’Archiduc bar, 6 Rue Antoine Dansaert. You have to buzz on the door to be let in but anyone can go in there. It’s a beautiful little art deco bar with a balcony, shaped a bit like you’re in a ship! They have gentle live jazz there a few nights a week – Bonsoir Clara restaurant – pretty much next door to L’Archiduc. Absolutely beautiful restaurant with fantastic stained glass all down one side! And the cooking is amazing. One of the best restaurants in Brussels – and will cost you far less than the equivalent posh dining experience in London. Bleu de Toi restaurant – 73 Rue des Alexiens – all candles and exposed brickwork. Gorgeous! And I’ve just been reading about a restaurant called Lola, which sounds nice. 33 place du Grand Sablon. Time Out says “Imaginative in decor and menu, Lola is also blessed with a fab location, slap among the bright lights of Sablon. Diners are professional, trendy, chatty gay/ straight mix are ushered to a swish holding bar or a long row of dark leather seating and tables. The menu offers classic French cooking with a contemporary twist. Table reservation is recommded there. Majestic Atomium and tiny Manneken Pis can’t be missed in your walk neither!
3. Restaurants, cafés & bars
Winter is approaching, and Brussels is getting ready to don its Christmas cloak. As soon as the really cold weather arrives, Brussels, this beautiful, fun, cosmopolitan city, shows its magical and bewitching side. The days get shorter, but it’s at dusk that the city’s nighttime beauty is revealed.
The streets are lit up with Christmas decorations, the carousels start to spin, children skate on the ice, but above all, the bars and restaurants turn cosy with soft lighting, and sometimes a fire crackling in the hearth. Don’t delay, explore our selection of friendly places where you can warm up with, for example, a hot chocolate!
On an island right in the middle of the Bois de la Cambre lake, Chalet Robinson will delight grown-ups and little ones alike. For your children, crossing the lake in a boat will be like a little adventure. Come and warm yourself up in a charming setting with an uninterrupted view of nature, while enjoying a hot chocolate or a Brussels waffle; or relax over a dinner with friends.
Whether you are pleasure-loving or nature-loving, you will find plenty to make you happy at the Lodge, a restaurant–bar/club in Watermael-Boitsfort, one of the greenest communes in Brussels. Taste the brasserie cuisine in a house at the edge of a pond, in a little corner of paradise tucked away in the city.
Do you fancy a unique gastronomic experience in a cosy, intimate atmosphere? The Cabane du Fou in Uccle is just like your childhood tree-house, actually perched in a tree, and entered by climbing a wooden ladder. Ideal for pulling out all the stops on an intimate evening for two! For those who prefer big tables packed with merry, singing people, the Fou Chantant restaurant is a unique structure, where a friendly, musical, festive atmosphere reigns just below the Cabane du Fou.
The Maison Renardy was founded in 1912 and has been offering a wide choice of teas, coffees, chocolate, bread, pastries and confectionery ever since. The ideal place to take a break around Porte de Namur or Saint Boniface!
Just opposite the Manneken Pis, you will find the Poechenellekelder, a genuine medieval hostelry where you can get together with your friends for a drink. In the past, the building was the meeting place for several guilds, and conspirators of all kinds. When you enter this unique bar, you are plunging into Brussels’ thousand-year history.
A sumptuous Art Nouveau café next to the Bourse, Le Cirio is a real period café where you can imagine meeting Hercule Poirot the detective, while you enjoy your “half and half”, the house speciality.
we got this little waffle as a dessert for free in one of the restaurants and it was surprisingly very good!
Making the most of winter in Brussels is all about: letting yourself be enticed by the scent of chocolate – and mulled wines at Winter Wonders. Feeling small in front of the Christmas tree and the sound and light shows on the world’s most beautiful square. Staring in amazement at the city’s festive lighting. Dashing off to see the exhibition everyone is talking about.
Experiencing Pompeii: this is what the new production of Tempora proposes in collaboration with major Italian museums. Feel the eruption of the Vesuvius which destroyed the city in the year 79 and then discover over hundred authentic objects that tell the history of the city from 2 surprising views: nature and technology.
Europalia is a major international arts festival held every two years to celebrate one invited country’s cultural heritage. Since 1969, Europalia has organised some twenty-two festivals. Each has turned the spotlight on one culture in a comprehensive programme of music, fine arts, photography, cinema, theatre, dance and literature. From November to February, the festival fills numerous locations in Brussels, other Belgian cities and in neighbouring countries. The festival offers guest countries a unique opportunity to present their cultural heritage and contemporary arts in an optimal format. In this way, Europalia hopes to promote better understanding between nations and stimulate cultural exchange between peoples. Europalia contributes to the cultural dimension of European construction by promoting Europe’s diverse cultures and encouraging their dialogue with the world’s great cultures.
The 2017-2018 edition focuses on Indonesia. How can a culture as complex and diverse as Indonesia’s be represented in only four months without resorting to clichés? In collaboration with Indonesian and European artists, curators and experts, Europalia meets this challenge to reveal Indonesia in its most unexpected and contrasted forms. While Java and Bali naturally feature, so do more remote regions like Papua and the Moluccas. From ancient ancestor statues to contemporary video installations, from gamelan music to Papuan experimental dance… discover an Indonesia that is rich in traditions but also firmly rooted in the present.
Regardless of whether you have a sweet tooth or not, Belgian waffles are so good that they will make you consider not just travelling to Brussels but maybe even moving permanently! Every single visitor has commented how the air smells like waffles all around the city centre, so it’s practically impossible not to give in. Make sure to spot the little yellow waffle trucks or head directly to Maison Dandoy for the best gaufres in town.
If waffles did not convince you, then I’m sure Belgian chocolate will do the trick! Brussels will tempt you time and again with its chocolate shops, so this is the place to indulge. Browse the creations of famous chocolatiers (Laurent Gerbaud, Pierre Marcolini and Frederic Blondeel for example), buy some for your loved ones and make sure to learn how to make your own chocolate next to the masters. Your trip well definitely become a sweet experience.
these lovelies can be found in chocolateries, too!
Just like Belgian waffles, the famous frites are almost addictive. Sure, they’re not the healthiest or fanciest snack out there but they’re crispy, tasty and indeed cheap like chips! Sold in small stalls around the city, they’re fried twice in beef tallow and come with different sauces. Spotting the best frites is a serious affair in Brussels and everyone has their favourite “fritkot”, mine is Frit’Flagey. Get in the line (there’s always a queue but it’s part of the charm), buy a cone with frites and enjoy them by the Ixelles Ponds.
8. What a trip would that be without trying the famous Belgian beer!
Belgians love their beer and Brussels is an ideal place both for beer experts and travellers who are curious to discover more about it. There’s a beer for every taste and countless bars around town where you can get a pint, like Moeder Lambic on Place Fontainas, A la Mort Subite but you can also go directly to the source and visit some of the local breweries like the Brussels Beer Project, Brasserie Cantillon or En Stoemelings. Feel free to enjoy different kinds of beer and don’t worry – it’s always beer o’clock in Belgium, haha.
I think these 8 items will definitely along with the atmosphere be another cause for you to visit this magical city!
Have a nice day everyone! 🙂