Belgium is home to many things, but I associate it most with food. Belgian beer, fries, chocolate, and waffles had me dragging myself to the airport after 24 hours in Brussels (definitely a few pounds heavier.) Here are my suggestions to make the most of one day in the country’s capital.
When you arrive in Brussels, check in at Hotel Metropole, a lavish five-star hotel, and the only hotel in Brussels from the 19th century that is still in operation today. (I actually got lost in the hotel because it is so spacious and mesmerizing!) From there, walk over to La Grand-Place, which is a market square flanked by beautiful ornate buildings. Depending on when you go, you could find yourself in the square surrounded by concertgoers, marveling at a towering Christmas tree, or admiring the flower carpet that presents itself every two years in mid-August showcasing more than 500,000 begonias! On the rare occasion that the square is bare, you always have the opportunity to sit at a restaurant in La Grand-Place and people watch.
Next, walk over to the Palais-Royal, the official palace of the royal family. Even though the family does not live there, the Royal Palace is host to many royal staff members, foreign guests, and the King’s own workplace. You can feel like royalty in the summer, as the Palace is open to the public from the National Holiday of July 21st through September. Not only can you feel like a King or Queen, but you can eat like one, too. Mary, a chocolate store open since 1919, is an official supplier to the Belgian Court, and has a handful of stores in Brussels. Mary received the title of Belgian Royal Warrant Holder in 1990 by His Majesty King Baudouin I, in 1990 by His Majesty King Albert II, and as recent as 2013 by His Majesty King Philippe I. The quality, refinement, and elegance of the chocolates personally make this my favorite chocolate in the world.
If you are still hungry for more, walk around and you will most certainly bump into a place to get Belgian waffles. There are actually two kinds of waffles: crispy and doughy. The doughy ones were my absolute favorite. (So much so, that I had to have two in a 24-hour span of time.) To shake off your food coma, relax in the Parc du Cinquantenaire. This area is replete with gardens, monuments, and museums. Most notably, feast your eyes on the gorgeous triumphal arch with three arches that was built to commemorate the city’s 50th anniversary and walk through the Royal Museum of Art and History, which is home to one of the most extensive tapestry collections in the world.
End the day at the Delirium Café, famous for its insanely long beer list! With a mind full of history and culture and a belly full of beer and chocolate, you will certainly have made the most of your day in Brussels!