As the capital of Belgium, Brussels hosts many café’s, restaurants, musea, and other activities for both tourists and locals. Trying to find your way around in Brussels, could be a pretty damn hard task. But don’t worry, this guide will bring you to all the places you don’t want to miss out on.
Breakfast at Velvet Peck
What’s a better way to start the day, than spending it eating a healthy (or not so healthy) at one of Brussels hottest spots. Velvet Peck offers a broad selection of healthy breakfast and lunch meals. They also sell delicious-looking home-made cakes for all the sweet teeth out there.
Simple on the outside, mesmerizing on the inside, is how I would describe this place. When you take a step inside, you will see the bar where you have to order and pay before you settle down at a table. The ground floor is decorated with plants hanging from the ceiling and a handful of picture frames brighten the walls. There are one big oval table and many smaller tables suitable for pairs. The second and last floor is smaller in comparison. Though decorated in the same style, the second floor gives a whole different vibe. You can say that it’s more cozy and enjoyable. Take a seat at the window and enjoy a pleasant view of Quartier Sainte-Catherine.
Most of the staff are friendly and able to speak French and English. The service is fast, which is good considering that you have to wait at the counter most of the time.
Brussels has a great selection of museums and cultural centers to choose from. I suggest visiting Bozar, the Centre for Fine Arts, to soak up some culture. A little anecdote, the name Bozar derives from the French way of saying Fine Arts: beaux-Arts. My last visit to the Centre was a couple of days ago when I spontaneously decided to go to the exhibition of Keith Haring. I will share my experience to give you a feel about an exhibition at Bozar.
Due to the construction work that took place at that time, I was having a hard time finding the entrance, until a kind security guard showed me the way, lucky me! I was amazed by a large number of people and groups with a guide who was present that day.
Keith Haring is an inspirational artist who was considerate of everyone around him. Famous for the stick-like figures known by everyone. His art is not only amusing to look at, but it also makes you think about the past and current world we live in. He began drawing because of his father who was a cartoonist. His love for art flourished while he was living in the city of everyone’s dreams: New York. The liveliness of the metropole itself combined with street art from other artist and several art museums, is what gave him inspiration for the art we are familiar with and deeply love today.
The exhibition takes you on a trip through the life of the man in question. The rooms were either decorated with black, white, yellow, and red/white striped walls. Each of the rooms evolved around a specific topic that was essential in Keith’s life, such as LGBTQ+ rights, AIDS and HIV, drugs and more.
Hidden at the back of the hall, a small room that had sparked my interest. A questionable, yet amusing video was playing where the same few words were repeated at a constant speed. In the end, the text read LICK FAT BOYS.
Lunch at Chicago café
This lunch café is one of my favorite places in Brussels. I absolutely enjoy the family-friendly atmosphere and the overly appealing and extremely fun interior, more on that later.
The gem is located in the heart of Brussels, close to Place Sainte Catherine. Chicago café is only open during the day and they serve breakfast or brunch, lunch, and homemade cakes. All the products they use come from local sources and their beer is locally brewed as well.
Words can’t explain how much I like this café, but I’m going to try for your guys. I was truly amazed by literally everything when I first visited this place. From the cinema-like chairs to the little sparks of color on the pillars and wall. The chairs against the wall are made of wooden plates. It looks uncomfortable, but with a pillow, it’s not so bad. There are plants scattered around the room and they hype up the liveliness. One of the walls displays several artworks and they change them every once in a while.
The counter is filled with pricy but yummy sweets, and by sweets I mean cakes. Their assortment of cakes changes every time, and if you’re lucky, make sure to try the chocolate cake. The taste is superb! Their toast, burgers, and soup are heavenly, to say the least. They serve English, Mexican, American and Oriental breakfast, which I have yet to try, but seem worth the more expensive prize. Chicago has an immense selection of hot drinks, so you will most likely find something you like.
The last aspect I love about this wonderful place is their love for children. In the back is a little play corner and they have a children menu. You will meet people of all ages and backgrounds.
Watch a movie at Cinema Galeries
This small cinema is hidden inside Brussels magical Royales Saint-Hubert Galeries. It’s not only a fancy looking movie theater, but it’s also one where you can watch alternative movies. So not your typical blockbusters, but rather more unknown movies from all around the world. Because of this, not a lot of people come to watch a movie at the same time. You’re most likely accompanied by a few other persons, making the experience more enjoyable because you can the movie in peace and quiet.
Another aspect that makes the movie experience extraordinary is the old and mysterious movie theater on the second floor. The seats are old and a little unstable. You can hear them crack when you change your position into one that’s a little more comfortable. The lightning in the room is very dim, you can barely see where you’re walking. However, the other movie theater looks more put together. The room is decorated with Mediterranean decorations and the chairs are more comfortable and modern. This room has proper lightning and it makes the room feel cozy.
Cinéma Galeries doesn’t only distribute movies but also hosts events and festivals. Make sure to check their website for possible events at the time of your visit.
Evening stroll in the historical center
What’s a better way to discover a new place than wandering around? My absolute favorite thing to do, as stupid it may sound, is taking walks in Brussels, more specifically the historical center. I’m a newbie in Brussels, so I can’t share the most beautiful or hidden spots, because I simply haven’t discovered them myself. I will give more information on the areas and streets I do know and enjoy very much.
- The Grand Place/Grote Markt: The central square of Brussels is the most typical spot you can visit in Brussels, but hear me out. The buildings are absolutely magnificent, I still get astonished even though I’ve admired them thousands of times… I can observe the group of tourists, the wannabe photo models and the I-am-new-to-this-selfie-trend kind of people all day long. Plus I just enjoy the happy and pleasing atmosphere.
- The Spoormakerstraat is small and decorated with different kinds of decorations interlocked between the buildings such as colored flags, plants….For second-hand lovers, some thrift stores are located in this street.
- Kaasmarkt: This street is full of Greek restaurants.
- Jeanneke pis: Jeanneke Pis is a fun alternative for the well-known and always surrounded by tourists and cameras Manneken Pis. I can’t promise you whether you will be disappointed or not, but it’s worth to decide that for yourself, not?
- Grasmarkt: This Square is located in the heart of Brussels. A bunch of street artist plays here when the weather is nice. It’s close to the Grand Place, the Royal Galeries of Saint-Hubert, Brussels Central Station… The Flandersshop is located close to the square. This shop sells top quality merchandise of all kinds of things Belgium is known (or not so known for). I highly recommend this shop for unique souvenirs.
- St-Nicolas church: This church is worth a visit thanks to its special mosaic windows. They are black on the outside and colorful on the inside.
- Kunstberg/Mont des Arts: At the top, you have a view of Brussels, you can admire the Kunstberg itself, but also the very few higher buildings that squeak above the others.
Sushi date at MAKISU
Makisu is famous for its delicious sushi and I completely understand why. The menu offers many kinds of sushi and several rice bowls. If you’re feeling extra, you can even create your own sushi or bowls, isn’t that amazing? My go-to order are the Dragon Rolls combined with either the Spicy Pablo’s, when I’m feeling like eating spicy or the Japanese Garden Rolls. During my last visit, I felt like trying something else and I ended up choosing the Tempura Mix (rice bowl). Let me tell you, it was a brilliant choice, just take a look at the picture. For more information on their menu, take a look at their *cute* website.
As I have mentioned before, this place is extremely popular, so therefore it’s mostly very busy. I suggest arriving at the restaurant before 12 PM so that you’ll have a seat. If that’s not possible, go to eat between 3 and 5 PM. There won’t be so many people queuing up, so you can enjoy your meal to the fullest. If you’ve got a place nearby, I never had to wait for more than 10 min for take away, so that could be an option as well.
As far as the interior design, it’s not the most spectacular place you will see, but the limited decoration fits the vibe. The tables are all cramped next to each other, you’re almost sitting on your neighbor’s lap, almost. The walls are decorated with vertical wooden beams that are attached to the wall. The opposite wall brightens up the room with colorful designs.
Partay at Affligem Café
Last but not least, for some perhaps the most important and fun activity to do when visiting Brussels, trying out some Belgian beers, dhuuh. On the Anspachlaan are many cafes, but most of them sell their beers for a high price. Affligem café has tasty beers for a good price, around 3 EUR for one glass. There’s a positive and chill atmosphere present that makes you feel safe. The owner of the bar decided to install couches instead of chairs with tables. The wall is decorated with a world map full of polaroids from beloved tourists.