Brussels is where modern Europe has its home. The Belgian capital is steeped in social, cultural and culinary riches that radiate out from the magnificent Grand Place. Come for art. Come for shopping. Come for politics (if you must). And above all, come for steak frites and moules marinieres, all washed down with lashings of delicious Belgian ale and chocolate.
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As well as those Brussels classics chocolate, lace and beer, the city also offers a lovely selection of interesting shops and markets. Antiques are the focus in the Marolles district, ranging from exclusive and high-end boutiques to rummage-worthy bric-a-brac stores. Designer fashion and familiar brands can be found in and around Avenue Louise, Rue du Bailli and Rue Neuve, while Brussels’ popular markets include the Marché des Antiquités et du Livre at Place du Grand-Sablon on Saturdays and Sundays, and the daily Marché aux Puces. For a mouth-watering choice of delectable food, head to the Sunday Marché du Midi (Boulevard de l’Europe).
Food & Drink
Brussels is a confident culinary destination. Sway away from the tourist traps and it’s not tricky to eat and drink very well indeed. Le Coin des Artistes (Rue du Couloir 5) is a friendly little restaurant where diners pick seasonal dishes from the chalk board, while Odette en Ville (Rue du Châtelain 25) is a sultry and stylish number serving up dishes from around the globe. Hearty Moroccan fare illuminated by a plethora of glowing, colourful overhead lanterns is enjoyed at La Kasbah (Rue Antoine Dansaert 20); couscous dishes, steaming tagines and sizzling meats come in generous portions big enough to share.
Brussels Jazz Marathon
Musicians flock from all over the world to participate in this three-day celebration of live jazz music, delighting ears with a diverse mix spanning the modern and funky to the traditional jazz and blues.
Brussels Film Festival
This annual film extravaganza celebrates the pick of European cinema. Films are screened over around eight days, and an assortment of free music events can also be enjoyed across Brussels. The majority of screenings take place at the Flagey Theatre on Place Sainte Croix.
This medieval festival is an annual re-enactment of the pageant put on for Charles V in 1549. Find a colourful procession, traditional music, flags, horses and many flamboyant historical costumes.
This popular marathon sees crowds line the city streets and cheer on runners of all ages and abilities as they make their way through the urban terrain.
Brussels becomes a wonderfully festive place come December, with the centre of the city transforming into a magical array of twinkling lights, festival entertainment and shopping stalls. Let loose around the ice rink, take in the views from the big wheel, and pick up some special Christmas treats.
There’s no shortage of choice when it comes to picking hotels in Brussels. The Dominican (Rue Léopold 9) is a boutique hotel decked in bold artwork and luxurious fabrics. It’s lavish without feeling exclusive and stands on the site of a 15th-century abbey. Also sitting towards the upper end of the scale is the recently refurbished Neufchatel Hotel (Rue de Neufchatel 34), located just a few moments from fashionable Avenue Louise. For a cosy and affordable stay, try the light and airy rooms at the family-run Hotel La Vieille Lanterne (Des Grands Carmes 29), close to central attractions.