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Why?
The capital of Belgium is the host city of the European Union as well as numerous international organisations making it a vibrant, multi-cultural metropolis with much to offer visitors. Famous for its world class chocolate and beer it also has a diverse restaurant scene and mitteleuropean café culture. With a wealth of Art Nouveau, Neoclassical, Gothic and contemporary architecture the city on the Senne is a feast for the senses and perfect destination for a short city break.

 

Contemporary and Medieval Architecture

 

How?
Direct Eurostar trains from London's Saint Pancras take just 2 hours.

 

JY - Eurostar

 

When?
Spring and Autumn are great times to visit, when the weather is clement but not stifling, but there is much to enjoy during the Summer and Winter too.

Background Reading:
The 500 Hidden Secrets of Brussels by Derek Blyth [Luster]
Brussels Art Nouveau: Architecture & Design by Alec Forshaw [Unicorn Publishing]
The Rough Guide to Brussels. [Rough Guides].

Get Around:
At €19 for 10 journeys a 'MOBIB' card is valid on the metro, trams and buses so is really all you require. The city centre is readily navigable on foot so comfortable walking shoes or boots are 'must pack' items.

 

La Grand Place

La Grand Place

 

Stay:
At Hôtel Le Dixseptième an elegant townhouse overlooking the Sainte-Marie-Magdeleine church a two minute walk from Bruxelles-Central train station.

Eat:
It would be churlish to visit Brussels and not enjoy its signature dish of moules frites – Les Brassins at 36 rue Keyenveld did us proud in this regard.
'La Taverne du Passage' is a central gem where gold-epauletted waiters serve generous portions of croquettes and schnitzels with Old World élan. The wine list is extensive and well-priced to boot.
The Pré Salé is popular with the locals, so booking is essential, but serves classic cuts of beef and traditional fish dishes with a wide range of sauces.

 

Le Pré Salé

 

Drink:
Craft beer at Moeder Lambic overlooking the Place Fontainas.
'Half and half' (a blend of Hock and Spumanté) at the impressive fin de siècle 'Le Cirio'.
Trappist ales at 'Archipel' – a wood-panelled watering hole on the rue du Marché aux Poulets.

Don't Miss:
The Royal Museums of Fine Art for lashings of Bosch, Breugel, Rubens and Jean-Louis David's acclaimed 'Death of Marat'.
The Horta Museum at 25 rue Américaine the former family home of Victor Horta – an Art Nouveau masterpiece built between 1898 and 1901.
The fabulous flea market on the Place de Jou de Bal.

 

Marche aux Puces

 

Avoid:
Loose cobbles and paving stones which are (surprisingly) plentiful throughout the city.
Buying a plastic replica of the Manneken Pis – however tempting.

Take home:
Beer, chocolate, early editions of Tintin and innovative jewellery from REstore Design. www.restoredesign.be

 

Manekin Pis fountain

Manekin Pis fountain