In August 2016 I managed to fit in a weekend in Brussels. We booked flights from Opodo.com, in total it cost £272.10 for two return flights (including one 20kg bag). We also booked an apartment on Airbnb. I have used Airbnb a lot over the past few years, I find it convenient and a lot of the time cheaper than a hotel. I am a bit picky about them and will always read the reviews on the place and host and research the areas to stay in. We stayed a total of three nights and cost around £200 for the two of us.
Whilst we were in Brussels it happened to be the weekend the city has the flower carpet, which is basically a huge carpet made of fresh flowers in the main square, Grand Place (Grote Markt), the carpet is made from over 600,000 fresh flowers and covers most of the main square. To get the best views you can pay 5 euros to view it from the City Hall balcony. This happens one weekend every two years, we had no idea it was happening until we got there. The buildings in the Grand Place are also beautiful, they tower over the square making it feel somewhat intimate. There are loads of restaurants in the Grand Place, which gives a lovely view of the square and the flower carpet whilst we were there. There are also loads of little side streets off the Grand Place with bars and small restaurants that tend to be a bit cheaper. Brussels is also home to Manneken Pis. It is as it sounds, a statue of a boy weeing! Manneken pis means little man pee in Dutch. We found it by chance as we were wondering around the streets, I did however imagine the statue to be bigger but its really small.
Whilst we were in Brussels it was essential that we tried the beer, specifically Belgian wheat beer! The beer is made from wheat and is a lot stronger than usual, most of them are 9% or above so beware! I would recommend, from my limited beer pallet, Leffe Blonde, Duvel and Kwak. Its not just beer the Belgians are famous for, but also their food. Whilst we were there we found a small restaurant on our first night and both order steak fillet. It was hands down the best meal I have ever eaten. During our stay we also had the famous Belgian chips and mussels in garlic sauce, which was amazing.
Whilst we were there the weather was lovely and it was sunny all weekend long. We had found out that they do similar city bikes as London’s ‘Boris bikes’. A lot of the streets are cobbled so it is hard to ride on, but I find it a great way to see a city. You can get around quickly but don’t miss out on the sights that you might do if you use the subway or metro systems.
We spent an afternoon at the Brussels’s Atomium on the outskirts of the city. We didn’t manage to go into the Atomium because of the queues, but once you’re inside there is a restaurant and an exhibition area as well as a viewing deck. The Atomium is in the middle of a large park which we rode our bikes around. Next to the Atomium there is another tourist attraction called Mini Europe, a park with models of famous attractions of all the counties in the EU, we spent an hour wondering around and it was brilliant.
We also got the train to Bruges for a day trip, the trains are very regular, takes about an hour and cost around 15 euros return for one person. The day we went it was really hot, so it was lovely to wonder around. It is easy to find you way from the train station to the main square, just follow the throngs of tourists. The canals and small streets were beautiful to walk through, we found a nice restaurant to have some lunch in down one of the back streets.
My top tips for Brussels:
- The flower carpet – If you can arrange to go to Brussels when it is on, go! It is spectacular!
- The beer – make sure you try the beer. I am not a massive beer drinker, but I still really enjoyed it, just be careful due to its strength.
- The food – we never book a table in a restaurant when we go away, I love the wondering around trying to find a nice restaurant to eat in. There were so many restaurants in the city that you will not have a problem finding one for dinner.
We have an amazing weekend trip; a good taste of what Belgium and Brussels has to offer.