– During my stay in Brussels, I was lucky enough to be a guest of the Made in Louise hotel and The Hotel Brussels, but all opinions presented are mine and mine alone. –
Well Brussels was nice! I wish I could have stayed about one day longer than my 48 hours, but it was a special place. It’s such a calm city and I am excited that it was my first stay when I was in Belgium. I chose Brussels as it was on the way to Amsterdam from Paris, so if you’re using the Eurostar or a Thalys train, it’s the perfect stop on your way! The city is ripe with culture, art, and food, but it does tend to quiet down after the sun goes down. If you’re young, I’m sure you’ll enjoy the cost of Brussels relative to other cities in the EU, and if you’re older, I’m sure you’ll make the most of the culture and scenery that Brussels offers.
Where to Stay:
Made in Louise: If you’re looking for the comfort of home, look no further than the Made in Louise. This hotel has little touches of home that make you forget that you’re at a hotel, which is perfect for younger travelers or families. The location is prime for foodies and those who love walking, just around the corner from the Louise station deep in the Ixelles district. The hotel is walking distance from many other attractions in Brussels and this little boutique hotel definitely lives up to the hype.
A stay here is more relaxed than other places and you can spend the afternoon in the garden reading a book, playing giant chess, or drinking a beer. The Made in Louise is a great alternative and their commitment to environmental protection really drew me in and took my eye. If you’re looking for a space to feel at home, but not an Airbnb, the Made in Louise will be the perfect place for you to call home for a few days. Prices start at $80 a night during the low season.
The Hotel: If you’re looking for elegance and the red carpet experience, you have to go to The Hotel. A beauty in its own, you can’t miss the hotel from the Louise station. It towers above the rest of Brussels, but when you get to your room, there is an unparalleled experience and view. Our view was facing the Palais de Justice, which was a stunning part of the skyline. I loved staying here and the hotel was created in an elegant style which reminded me of the hotels I normally stay at in the US. The bed was a dream and their black-out blinds worked like a charm.
We walked in with wows and walked out feeling refreshed. The location of the hotel also isclose to the Louise station that it’s impossible to get lost. The small park behind the hotel is a great place to sit and read a book on a bright afternoon, and The Hotel is perfect if you’re looking for a space for a business stay, I definitely recommend The Hotel. Prices start at $137 a night during the low season.
What to See:
Palais de Justice: Okay so it may seem boring, but this building is the courthouse of Brussels and one of the biggest buildings on the skyline in Brussels. You don’t have to go in, but going around it and looking at the massive dome is a feat. It’s currently being restored (as of May/June 2018), but you can still see the gold on the top. The building is a feat of architecture and truly beautiful. If you have any interest in law, it’s a stop I highly recommend!
Cathédrale des Saints Michel et Gudule, Bruxelles: One of my majors at university is art history, so I had to study gothic architecture. In reality, I did a 20 page paper on Gothic style architecture my first year of school and I have 0 regrets. This cathedral is a real stunner and standing in the square alone takes your breath away. The streets leading up to the cathedral all are full of cafes, shops, and restaurants so you can eat while you take in the splendor. Completed in 1519, the cathedral has become one of the largest attractions in Brussels for your list!
Palais Royal: The royal palace of Brussels isn’t the actual residence of the royal family of Belgium unlike Buckingham Palace in the UK, but it houses their official offices. The palace is across from the Jardin de Brussels, and it is a great space to walk around. Although all the children are WAY too young for marriage, so maybe your kids can take their Meghan Markle shot! The royal palace is open to the public during the summer, mostly July to September for free. It closes around 3:45, so you’ll have to time when you go, but if you can get in, it’s worth a shot!
Where to Eat:
The Old Market: Between the current Royal Library and the Cathedral is the Old Market and it’s brimming with food and drinks! You won’t be hard-pressed to find something, from waffles (gaufres) to fries (frites) to satisfy your stomach! I enjoyed walking through and going through this area. You also have many shopping areas like the Galeries Royale Saint Hubert.
Le Prince: I visited Le Prince on a whim because when Eden and I arrived, we were STARVING. We saw the restaurant and decided to take a chance. Good choices for us! It’s a Lebanese restaurant with amazing prices and even greater food. I picked up a chicken shawarma plate and Eden got the same in wrap form. We paid under 30 euros for the both of us, including bottled water and a starter. It’s located near many other restaurants in the Ixelles district too. I recommend Le Prince is one because the food was quality, tasty, and filling for the remainder of the night.
What to Experience:
Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts: I put the museums under what to experience because they truly are an experience. The Museums are connected and the prices are affordable. I paid 3€ for entrance to all three museums that are interconnected under the youth fee (Under 25’s). In the museums you have the Magritte Museum, Musee des Anciens Masters, and the Fin-de-Siècle, so you really get what you pay for. I could have spent all day in the museums. If you take your time, you’ll be there all day in the massive collections.
Where to Shop:
Galeries Royale Saint Hubert: It’s not a gallery don’t worry but in actuality a passage or tunnel filled with shops. We saw chocolateries, clothing stores, and stores full of everything Belgium in the passage. An added bonus is that it is near the Old Market and located in the middle of everything. Shopping in Brussels easy with the main stores, plus a host of EU only stores that you can check out! Opened in 1847, the passage is similar to the style of Parisian passages. These are great places to shop in Brussels and Paris, plus you get to step into a place of Belgian history.
Louise District: One of the greatest things about these hotels is that they’re located next to a major shopping street. The Louise District is brimming with stores, both high end and high street. While you may be planning your Max Mara office look, you also can look around Urban Outfitters and lower-end boutiques. I found a store called Noa Noa that I loved. It reminded me of a cheaper version of Free People, but the quality was still good! I may have done damage if I had room in my suitcase! There’s something for every budget in this area.
How to Get Around:
My preferred option is walking. Brussels is a very foot-friendly city, so walking around really shouldn’t be a problem. There are many cobblestones, so walking through the city is easier than biking or driving. The drivers are conscious of pedestrians and will often allow you to cross before them.
The second option is bikes. The City of Brussels has a bike entity called Villo! that they have bikes literally everywhere with affordable prices that can’t be beaten. If you’re only using it for 30 minutes or less, it is free once you pay the initial fee of 8,20€ for one day or 7,90 € for 7 days.
Your third option is the underground/trams. While these are handy, they can get quite expensive. I opted to only use it to get to and from the Brussels Midi station when I was leaving and coming to Brussels which cost me 4,20 € round trip, 2,10€ per ride. If you plan on staying for extended periods, the pass may be a better option for you. If you’re only there for 48 hours, I recommend saving your money and walking.
How to Get There:
Getting to Brussels wasn’t hard, especially from Europe. There are three train stations, Brussels Gare du Nord, Brussels Centraal, and Brussels Midi. The Eurostar stops through Brussels as well as many Thalys, SNCF, etc. companies. You can also take a bus, which services Brussels mostly at Brussels Gare du Nord for cheap. There is an airport that services Brussels, Aéroport de Bruxelles-National, where you can catch a train/car into the city center. Brussels is a city with a comprehensive transportation above and underground, so getting around is very easy.