Brussels is the type of city that grabs you when you least expect it. For me it was on a rainy, gray October Wednesday, when the specialness of the city hit me. Is it the atmosphere of relaxed locals in the brown cafes? The unique way Brussels combines everyday activities like work with great food and drink? The fact that every street has some historic story and every local has their own way of telling it?
Perhaps it’s all of the above. Here’s how I’d spend three days in Brussels—I hope you love it as much as I do.
It’s warm in summer and very chilly in winter. Wear layers, and take an umbrella.
If you only have time for one thing, make it Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert for stunning architecture and chocolate shops galore.
Today’s the day for chocolate, waffles, and beer—all of Brussels’ finest luxuries. Take a walk through the city’s glass-roof shopping galleries in search of chocolatier boutiques, or enjoy a chocolate-making class. Then, it’s time to branch off and wander the streets of the old quarter, stopping whenever you fancy for moules frites and waffles.
Later, throw yourself into Brussels’ beer culture on a pub crawl, or combine both chocolate and beer in one tour.
On your last day, explore the hidden gems you might have missed on a private walking tour of Brussels’ lesser-visited neighborhoods, and learn about the city from a local. Before you hit the streets, however, grab breakfast at one of Brussels’ hip brunch spots like Léopold Café Royal or Woodpecker Schuman.
Take a 20-minute train ride from Brussels-Zuid/Midi to the Atomium for some must-have holiday snaps, then head back into the center. Fancy some more beer before you go? Visit a Belgian brewery and pick up some rare bottles to take home—like iconic and historic local brewery Cantillon or 3 Fonteinen.