If you want to see Brussels, Beligum on a long weekend or while exploring nearby European countries, use this 4-day bucket list and check off these essential Belgian experiences.
Get to Know Brussels With a Free Day Tour
Brussels is decorated with history and clashing, albeit beautiful, styles of architecture. Too bad you’ll have no idea what any of it means unless you’re a history buff (or tour guide).
Try explaining the statue of the peeing boy (or the 25 tourists taking photos with it) at any given time -- good luck with that.
A free day tour is essential to even begin to wrap your head around Brusselian quirks and sights.
Head over to Grand Place any day and kick off your Brussels vacation bucket list with a Bravo Discovery free two-hour tour around Brussels.
It will prepare you for the city adventure you're about to have. Be sure to book online to secure a spot.
Indulge in Belgium Chocolate and Beer
You know when you experience something so mind-blowing-ly beautiful that you can’t feel your legs? Yeah. Multiply that by ten. You cannot possibly leave Belgium without trying their beer and chocolate (and fries, and waffles, and everything else).
That is a LIFE bucket list.
Get acquainted with Brussels as you taste filling chocolate (and macaron) samples from acclaimed shops and exclusive chocolatiers. The moment you start to feel sick from doing the one thing grown ups told you not to do (eat too much chocolate), move on to the beer.
I didn’t even like beer but, as promised to me, I now love Belgium beer. Visit local bars and taverns to taste Abbey beers, Lambics, Belgian IPAs, Triple Blonds, and Double Browns (and more) and become tipsy with 10 new best friends by the evening.
For my beer and chocolate experience, I booked with The Brussels Journey. The seven-hour tour is run by a beautiful, witty Parisienne who now calls Brussels her home. When you book with The Brussels Journey you also get 10% off any chocolate and beer from the shops you visit.
Experience Life in the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert
The famous Galeries Royals dates back to the 19th century, when nobility couldn’t stand to cross the dirty, dimly lit streets and needed a special path built for them so as not to be robbed or feel filthy.
The Galeries were created as bright shopping courtyards with arched, windowed roofs and luxury shops and cafes.
Fast forward to now, the luxury of these Galeries still lives on. As a major Brussels bucket list, why not live near the Galeries and experience life passing through the arcades.
I booked an apartment rental right around the corner from the Galeries Royales and just steps from Grand Salbon and Grand Place. Build atop a 16th century house, I stayed in a luxurious Airbnb duplex (by Airy Spaces) designed with a large terrace, two large bedrooms and bathrooms, and features like a jacuzzi, antique art, and fully equipped kitchen. I woke up every morning stepping outside of my building and feeling like royalty.
Taste True Belgian Fries
Just because you eat french fries in Belgium doesn’t mean you are actually eating genuine Belgian fries.
What makes a Belgian french fry? Beef fat! Without graisse de boeuf, french fries are just cut up potatoes in need of flavor.
The Belgian fry is traditionally prepared with beef fat, double fried, and served in a cone shaped cardboard paper.
I personally loved walking up to the order window at Cafe Georgette to order traditional Belgian fries and would add a side order of pepper-aioli dip and the secret Georgette sauce.
Oh, and I know its good because even the locals recommend it.
Take a Waffle Break… Everyday
If there is one thing to do in the world before you die, it is eat Belgian waffles. Now these waffles are not the Belgian waffles you're thinking of from that one favorite diner you frequent for hangover food.
Belgian waffles are actually an array of different styles of waffle - none of which include the North American-style breakfast food with syrup. The yeast-levened Belgian waffles, like the Brussels waffle, can be found in waffle shops throughout the city and ready to eat at anytime of the day. You won’t find maple syrup or butter to pair with these dessert foods, but chocolate syrup, mixed fruit, and ice cream are addicting alternatives.
Order a Brussels waffle for as low as one Euro and eat the take away food as you continue to explore the city.
Take a Day Trip to Bruges
You can’t visit Belgium without making a stop in Bruges. Luckily Belgium is so small that a visit to the old medieval town is a short train ride away from Brussels!
Lined with cobblestone streets (weak ankles, beware) and canals, Bruges still has horse-drawn carriage rides and 17th century homes. Now primarily a tourist attraction, it really does feel like you’ve slipped into a time machine.
Bravo Discovery is a tour company I used to take a full day trip (9 hours) to explore Bruges. Complete with train tickets, a tour guide and romantic canal ride, I explored the nooks of the old provincial town feeling very Beauty and the Beast-esque. On my free time, I creeped into dark alleys and spotted lively pubs serving Corne du Bois des Pendus (Triple and Blonde Ale Belgium Beer) served in a glass horn on a wooden platform.
Are You Ready?
Have you bumped up your bucket list to feature these enticing Belgian experiences? Now go!
Check Skyscanner for flight deals or take a Megabus ride if you are nearby. Here's $35 off your Airbnb booking if you want to try renting an apartment for the first time.
Comment below and tell me what you loved the most.
Don't be selfish. Tell everyone about these fun things to do in Brussels.