Dating back to the 10th century, Brussels is now a thriving modern city and European melting pot, where French and Dutch languages and cultures combine to create a unique character. With many cheap Brussels hotels being found in the heart of the city, it’s easy to immerse yourself in its history.
Mussels in Brussels
Taste the real flavour of Brussels with some moules-frites in one of the seafood restaurants around the Rue Sainte Catherine, such as the Noordzee Mer du Nord, known for its traditional atmosphere and incredible range of fish and shellfish. Afterwards treat yourself to something sweet with a genuine Belgian waffle from a vendor by the iconic Mannekin-Pis, or for something a bit more unusual, we love the apple and cinnamon flavoured waffles at Vitalgaufre. And Brussels really takes its chocolate seriously, with the sophisticated selections at Laurent Gaubaud being expertly paired with coffee and wine.
Culture and comics
Housed within a former department store, the Belgian Comic Strip Centre celebrates comic book history, and Brussels’ most famous (fictional) son, Tintin. There are also plenty of more traditional art galleries in the city, including the Musees Royaux des Beaux Arts de Belgique, whose collection includes works by Bosch and Brueghel.
Pubs and clubs
Where better to enjoy a Belgian beer than in one of Brussels’ traditional bars? Many of the city’s drinking spots are wonderfully historic, and Au Bon Vieux Temps, dating back to 1695, has beautiful stained glass windows and a carefully curated drinks menu. If you’re looking for something a bit trendier wander down to Place Saint Gery, a lively square that’s near several Brussels hotels, and try Mappa Mundo’s delectable daiquiris.
The Belgians might have a (somewhat deserved) reputation for being jazz-lovers – Bonnefooi is a cool place to go if you’re into that – but Brussels also has a buzzing electronic music scene, and the former church Spirito Martini might be one of the most inspirational clubs in the world.
Medieval to modern
The city has had a fairly turbulent history, and this is on show in its mix of architecture, and reflected by the choice of hotels in Brussels, which span the classic to the contemporary. The city is perhaps best known for its Art Nouveau style, which you can find out more about at the Museum Horta. Brussels’ central square, the Grand Place, is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its 17th century architecture, and you can walk down narrow medieval streets in the Uccle area.
Christmas comes early
From late November to early January, the Christmas Market takes over much of Brussels’ centre, with the city’s buildings beautifully decorated and illuminated. Among the vast collection of stalls, you’ll find plenty of gift ideas, and there’s also a Ferris wheel and ice-skating rink. A stay in a cheap hotel in Brussels is an ideal way to get in the festive spirit.
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