With the busiest uni term ahead, it’s not a surprise that many of us are already planning what we’re going to do with our summers. If you’re trying to create some light at the end of the essay tunnel but are stuck for ideas, I definitely think you should include Brussels as part of your European wanderings.
Often overlooked for bigger cities like Paris or Rome, there is much more to the Belgian capital than meets the eye. I too was a bit sceptical when I was on a coach driving across Northern France but on my return journey, I realised that I had been very much mistaken!
When is the best time to go?
With a very similar climate to the UK, Brussels is ideal to visit any time of the year. The summers are hotter than ours making the city a lovely place to wander around especially in July and August with the Flower Shows and Re-enactment festivals happening in the Grand Place. In the winter, there is an extra chill in the air but nothing that a mulled wine and warm waffle can’t sort out! Plus the Christmas markets and decorations around the city more than make up for it!
What is there to see?
The best place to start on a tour of the city is the Grand Place, the historic centre of the town. Not only is that where you’ll find the cathedral, the old Town Hall and a pretty helpful information centre, but it’s also a useful link to other city districts and attractions. Around the corner, you’ll find the Mannekin Pis, a statue of a little boy who is, umm, weeing. Yes, it sounds insane but it’s a historic symbol of the cities freedom and the Belgian’s seem to be quite proud of it! Also just off the Grand Place, there’s a brilliant little boulevard of chocolate shops, waffle stands, second-hand bookstores and antique shops. Looking for gifts from your travels? This is the place to go.
The Place Royale and its surrounding gardens are also definitely worth a visit. They are a little trek up the hill but once, you’re up there, you have a beautiful view of the city and there’s also plenty of museums and lovely eateries nearby.
And, whether or not you’re a politics buff, the European Union Parliament is also one of the places you need to visit. Not only will you come out having learnt a great deal about the EU, with all the displays, activities and light shows, you will have lots of fun doing it.
What’s the nightlife like?
Like all European cities, Brussels has its fair share of cheesy clubs and bars. Most of these can be found in the streets off of the Grand Place and while they do offer a solid night out, there’s plenty more that Brussels has to offer! At the top of that list is Delirium, a bar/club with the world record for having the greatest number of beers on tap. Lively, bustling and perfectly affordable for a student budget, it’s a backpacker’s haven. On the other side of the street you’ll also find a spirit bar serving 70% absinthe and all kinds of lethal substances.
If you’re up for something more chilled or cultural, there are quirky pubs on every corner offering speciality beers, open fireplaces and a more authentic Belgian experience.
Is it expensive?
It is a capital city but that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to spend a fortune. Most museums have student prices at around €5-7, you can grab a decent waffle for €1-2 and your average beer will set you back €3-5. If you play your cards right and don’t get caught up in the tourist trap, Brussels will not break your bank!
Image Credits: Pinterest