Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Brussels in a Weekend: Top 7 Things to See or Do

Belgian waffle Bethany_wanders
Grab a Belgian waffle!

1. First thing to do when you arrive in Brussels: eat a waffle. You’ll notice that there are traveling waffle vans with fresh dough, a delicious crunch, and lines no matter what time of day. In Belgium, the waffle is more than a snack; it is a symbol of their food culture and can be combined in many different ways for any mealtime throughout the day or night. Keep an eye out for a good van or stand and snag one of these delights as soon as you can!

Brussels antique market Bethany_wanders
Wander through a local market
2. If you can come on a weekend, you are likely to catch one of the famous markets in the neighborhoods on this vibrant city. My favorite for affordable, antique finds takes place at the Place du Grand Sablon. These antiques have to be at least 30 years old and are on sale on Saturdays between 9 am and 5 pm and Sundays from 9 am to 2 pm. If you’re looking for crafts and art, swing by the Place du Jeu de Balle at the Agora Roundabout on a Thursday between 10 am and 8 pm, or Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 10 am to 7 pm.

Place Royale Bethany_wanders
Visit the church in Place Royale
3. Saint Jacques-sur-Coudenberg is a lovely neoclassical church you can pop into while you’re admiring the views over the entire city from the Place Royale. There used to be a medieval abbey here, but urban planning got the best of it; this architectural wonder was designed and begun in 1775-6 by the renowned Gilles-Barnabé Guimard and Jean-Benoit-Vincent Barré. The best part is catching an organ or choir concert here to fully enjoy the acoustics. Plan on swinging by in the afternoon, though, as it usually doesn’t open until 12 or 1 during the week.
MIM and cafe Brussels Bethany_wanders
Savor a rooftop café
4. Take the party to rooftop literally with one of Brussels’ many rooftop bars and cafes. My fave? Tour the fantastic MIM (Musical Instruments Museum) and end on the top floor terrace with a stunning view across the realm of Belgiums capital. You can find this museum in a cluster with other great places to visit at the Place Royale (Koningsplein) such as the Magritte Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts just around the corner.

Manneken Pis Bethany_wanders
Wave to the Manneken Pis
5. If you’ve ever stumbled upon pictures of Brussels, you’ve likely seen a shot of this little statue peeing either naked or in various costumes. Lovingly referred to by Belgians as Manneken Pis, so easily embodying the rebellious spirit of the city. Supposedly, his wardrobe contains more than 900 different costumes, each one a unique experience. At least this means that your photos will be different from your friends’ when you come home from your adventure. This guy is small and can be hard to miss, so be intentional about your visit to his peeing sir.
Atomium Brussels Bethany_wanders
Explore the iconic Atomium
6. Atomium is an absolute must visit if you’re in the area, even if you need to jet to the edge of town with the metro to get there. Created as the focal point for the World Fair in 1958, this massive creation seems like a sculpture, but you can actually tour the entire structure because the spheres are open to the public. There is a really fascinating exhibition about the fair itself on two levels, but the other exhibitions offer space to traveling topics of design, art, architecture, culture and science. If you’re up for another stunning view, pop into the Panorama for 360 degree views and an overpriced, but delicious, cocktail.
Grand Place Brussels Bethany_wanders
Shop in awe of the Grand Place
7. Known for the annual flower festival, Brussels (and other Belgium cities) often showcases its love for flowers in a very colorful way. The Grand Place (Grote Markt) is surrounded by stunning facades, gold trim, and proud buildings flanked with cafés. One of the most impressive in this lot is that of the Hotel de Ville or Town Hall (Stadhuis) as it overlooks the square. Swing by here from the 12th to 15th of August in 2016 to see this famous Flower Carpet. Otherwise swing by to see the flower stalls throughout the daytime if you're lucky to catch a market day!

Bon voyage! Questions or ideas? Catch me on Instagram or Twitter @Bethany_wanders

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