After talking about it for what feels like years our interrail adventure finally kicked off on Thursday 30th August in lovely little Brussels. We spent just 48 hours in Brussels, exploring everything the city has to offer.
If you love one or all of, good chocolate, good beer and stunning architecture, Brussels may just be the place for you. And let’s face it, who doesn’t love at least one of those things.
We landed in Brussels at about half-past one after a pretty quick hour-long flight from London Heathrow.
Top tip: if you’re flying into Brussels make sure you land at Brussels Airport in Zaventem (BRU) rather than Brussels South Charleroi Airport (CRL) which is about an hour away by car!
It’s a short, 20-minute, train journey from the airport to the city centre. The train station is right underneath the airport and a one-way ticket costs just €9.
I knew I wanted to try to do a walking tour the afternoon we arrived as a way to get our bearings and see all the main sights. After checking in at our hostel, we wandered back into Brussels city centre and headed towards Grand Place for the Sandemans New Europe Free walking tour.
As the name suggests the tour is completely free, you simply tip your guide at the end, if they deserve it!
Our guide, Antonio, was amazing. Not only did we see all the big sights Brussels has to offer, but he filled us in on all the history of what we were seeing. And gave us important information like the best places for a waffle and what beer to try…
It’s a particularly good way of fitting everything in if you’re only in Brussels for a short amount of time.
Highlights included: a famous statue of a little boy peeing, otherwise known as Mannekin Pis, and seeing some of the more famous Tin Tin and other Street Art around Brussels.
At the end of the tour it was time for a quick food stop and what better than to try some of Brussels best fries at Fritsland, served with a huge helping of mayonnaise. (€3.20 without sauce, €4 with sauce)
French fries were actually created in Belgium and nowhere else does them better.
And what could beat Belgium fries? Belgium beer.
We headed to a place called Scott’s Bar which does a set of 4 tasting beers for €8 or €9 euros depending on which one you go for. Or, if you’re like me and can’t stand the taste of beer, there are plenty of other alcoholic beverages on offer!
After a crazy first day in Brussels, we decided to head back to the hostel to get some much-needed sleep.
But first I suggested we walk back through Grand Place to see it at night. It was magical. All the buildings were lit up in this soft yellow glow. Possibly my favourite moment of our first day in Brussels.
Top tip: Make sure to go see Grand Place during both day and night. It has a completely different feel when the sun goes down and you won’t want to miss it.
We woke up bright and early and headed for the Atomium. Dubbed the Eifel Tower of Brussels, I don’t think any visit to the city is complete without seeing it.
The Atomium is about a half an hour on the metro from Brussels city centre. Take either line 5 or line 1 from one of the many city centre stations. Change at Bekkant and from here take line 6 to Heysel. One trip on the metro costs €2.10.
We chose just to have a wander and take advantage of the photo opportunity. But you can also choose to visit the inside of the Atomium for €15. I’m sure the views from the top are more than worth it!
Top tip: If like us you decide to not to go into the Atomium itself then grab some food for a picnic and spend some time exploring the nearby park. Otherwise, it feels like a long way for some pictures!
Once back in Brussels City centre, we headed towards Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert.
Make sure to spend plenty of time browsing the incredible chocolate shops housed here. And of course, you can’t leave Belgium without trying some!
I bought 4 individual chocolates from Neuhaus for roughly €4. They price by weight so you can spend as little or as much as you want.
And if that wasn’t enough sweet things you can’t leave Brussels without having a waffle or 10!
We stopped at Maison Dandoy for gourmet waffles in Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert. €7 for a waffle and your choice of topping and boy were they worth it!
The afternoon was then spent getting angry about Brexit all over again at the Parlamentarium!
The Parlamentarium is a half an hour walk away from Grand Place. A walk that takes you through Brussels Park and past the Royal Palace, ending up right by the European Parliament in Brussels.
The Parlamentarium is a completely free museum all about the EU. It covers everything from how and why it was formed, how it works, and its role in Europe, all through a self-guided audio tour. It’s incredibly interesting and definitely worth a visit if you’re part of the EU and like me, have never properly understood it.
During the walk back we stopped at the Cathedral of St Micheal and St Gudula. It’s free to enter and is one of the most stunning pieces of architecture in the city. I love wandering around Cathedrals, I find them incredibly peaceful and it’s not often you find one that is completely free.
Once back in city centre we headed back to Scott’s bar because I was dying to try their hot chocolate. Described as the best in the city its made by melting a bar of Belgian chocolate in hot milk. It was divine, the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had and only €4 a glass.
After grabbing to some food we then headed to Delirium. Well known in Brussels, although often described as a bit touristy, this bar is home to the biggest selection of Belgium beer including some rather interesting flavours.
Feeling brave I tried ‘Pink Killer’, a Grapefruit flavoured beer and ‘Floris Cactus’, a fruit flavoured one. Both cost around €4 for 25cl. As someone who hates the taste of beer I surprisingly really enjoyed both. Although maybe because neither tasted at all like beer!
There was no way I could leave Brussels having only tried one waffle, so on the walk back to the hostel I stopped at a little street store called La Funamble (€3 a waffle). Like our tour guide from the day earlier said “you can’t beat that street food taste” .
Our last morning in Brussels and I was a little bit sad to be leaving already.
We had a bit of a lie in before checking out of the hostel. Then just had time to wander back through Grand Place, and past Mannekin Pis for one last look before heading towards the train station.
And then it was on to Amsterdam…
All my love,