5 MINUTES AWAY
See the sights for sure, but sneak away for a taste of the real Brussels. Wherever the big hitters are, we know the perfect place to grab a side order of authenticity, away from the madding crowds.
See: The Grand Place
Brussels’ camera-ready gem, the UNESCO World Heritage-protected Grand Place still sparkles after all these years. The fine gilding, bronze and decorative friezes were commissioned by the mercantile guilds after the city was ransacked by French forces in the 17th Century. Take a map from the tourist office (rue Royale 2, 1000 Brussels) and you can uncover the stories of this spectacular square.
Then visit: La Kasbah
La Kasbah promises to transport you all the way to Morocco, without ever leaving Brussels – look for the colourful lanterns and you’ll know you’re there. This cozy Moroccan serves delicious north African food at affordable prices.
Antoine Dansaertstraat 20, 1000 Brussels
See: Rene Magritte Museum-House
Magritte’s house, recreated almost exactly the way it was when the artist lived and worked here in the early years of the 20th century, is a real gem – and it’s crammed with canvasses and personal effects. Quite charming.
Rue Esseghem 135, 1090 Jette
Then visit: Le Vieux Pannenhuis
Close to the Brussels Expo and the Atomium, Le Vieux Pannenhuis is something of a Brussels institution – a 17th century inn, serving classic Belgian cuisine (think hearty grilled meats). Good value set lunch.
Rue Léopold Ier, 317, 1090 Brussels (Jette)
See: Royal Museum of Fine Arts
The best of the Low Countries’ Old Masters on display in this palatial museum – with collection spanning five centuries (15th-20th century), from Gothic to Surrealism. There’s two galleries – Old Masters and Modern. Both recommended.
Rue de la Régence 3
And: Magritte Museum
A chronological and somewhat theatrical jaunt through the artist’s life – with Magritte’s most famous works on display. It’s always busy – so book a pretimed slot ahead to avoid the queues.
1 Place Royale
Then visit: Poechenellekelder
You might have trouble pronouncing the name, but this delightful cafe bar, with a huge selection of fine Belgian beers, is one of the nicest spots for a drink in this touristy quarter of the city. Look out for the puppet figures!
Rue du Chêne 5, 1000 Brussels
See: Galeries St-Hubert
Europe’s oldest glassed shopping arcade is a real stunner – the forerunner of today’s soulless shopping malls is a far cry from some out of town hangar. It’s lined with chocolate makers, jewellery and gift shops.
Galerie du Roi 5, 1000 Bruxelles
Then visit: Neuhaus Salon de Chocolat
Let’s face it, you’re not going to leave the Galleries without a little shopping. So head for Neuhaus – Salon de chocolat, one of the most tempting chocolatiers in this chocoholic city. As the inventors of the praline (Belgian filled chocolates) and the celebrated “ballotin” box, Neuhaus knows a thing or two about the cocoa bean.
Galerie de la Reine 29, Brussels 1000