brussels design guide

brusselsmain
today’s city guide comes to us from artist christina vantzou. christina is based in brussels, so today she’ll be taking us through her hometown of the last 5 years- focusing on great shops, landmarks and places to grab a bite to eat (or a great cup of coffee). christina’s guide is a detailed look at a truly beautiful european city, so if you’re lucky enough to be traveling to brussels soon, i hope her guide will help you navigate some of the best spots in town. thanks so much to christina for her hard work on the guide- click here to check out her newly renovated online screenprint shop, and here to check out her collaborative print with hammerpress.

CLICK HERE for christina’s guide to brussels after the jump!

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Brussels

Brussels is the capitol of Belgium, the official capitol of Europe, and has been my home for just over five years. Brussels is located a few hours from Paris, London, and Amsterdam by train, is over 1000 years old, and is highly supportive of the arts and design. The city is made up of several quartiers, or quarters, however this guide will focus on two of my favorites for shopping: The cobbled-stoned City Center and neighboring Ixelles.

Getting Around

Brussels has a compact center so just about everything in this guide is accessible on foot. Heading towards Ixelles gets a bit hilly, however, so there are also metros, trams, and buses for getting around town. Cyclocity is Brussels’ city bike initiative and offers dirt cheap rentals hourly or daily.

Museums

There is a museum for just about everything in Brussels and many offer free admittance on the first Wednesday of each month. The Agenda, a free weekly magazine with listings in English, is a great resource for current exhibitions.

Royal Museum of Fine Arts: 3, Rue de la Régence
The Royal Museum houses an impressive collection of paintings, drawings, and sculpture in a beautiful and spacious building. Their permanent collection includes the likes of Jan and Pieter Bruegel, Van Dyck, Rembrandt, Reubens, & Hieronymus Bosch, plus a whole room is dedicated to 20th century Belgian Surrealist painter, René Magritte. A visit to Bosch’s Triptych of the Temptation of St. Anthony is hightly recommended.

Cinematek: (Film Museum) 9, Rue Baron Horta
This is a national treasure. With one of the biggest film archives in the world, the Cinematek is more than just a film museum. They screen several films daily, usually surrounding a theme or director, and you are guaranteed at least one silent film projection each day with live piano accompaniment…and tickets are only 3 euros!

Victor Horta house: 25, Rue Américaine
This is the former home of Belgium’s leading Art Nouveau architect, Victor Horta. Built for himself in the late 1890’s, his home is a testament to the beauty of the Art Nouveau concept of design.

The Wiertz Museum: 62, Rue Vautier
The underrated Belgian painter, Antoine Wiertz, has his very own museum in an old mansion that used to be his studio. A relatively small Museum, it’s ceilings are just high enough to display his super-sized canvases and entry is free to the public.

Palais des Beaux-Arts: 23, Rue Ravenstein
Designed by Art Nouveau architect Victor Horta, the Palais des Beaux-Arts or Bozar as it is commonly known, functions as a museum & concert venue with several concert halls. Bozar’s calendar of events includes rotating exhibitions, live performances and films, so there is always something interesting on view. Their newly renovated museum shop is my favorite contemporary art and design book shop in the city…and it’s open until 11 pm!

Musical instrument Museum: 2, Rue Montagne de la Coeur
Another Victor Horta building, this museum is easy to spot with its shiny gold letters that say OLD ENGLAND across the dark steel facade. Taking the wrought-iron lift to the sixth floor café is free of charge and the café’s terrace offers one of the best views of the center.

Galleries and Contemporary Art

Brussels has several contemporary art galleries and one of my favorites in the city center is Aliceday. Here I discovered the lovely painter, Blaise Drummond.
Every year in April Brussels also has a contemporary art fair called Art Brussels. It’s an overview of local galleries, well established galleries from around the world, plus a sprinkling of emerging talent and young galleries.

City Center Shopping

Right in the heart of Brussels city center lies the beautiful Grand Place. The 15th century tower, Hotel de Ville, stretches high into the sky and is a good landmark to get your bearings. Just a couple minutes away on foot is Rue Antoine Dansaert full of fashionable boutiques, cafés and restaurants. Here you will find clothing shops like Comptoirs des Cottoniers, Filippa K, and Rue Blanche. Also in the Dansaert area are Rue Van Artevelde and Rue des Chartreux with several independent designer boutiques.

While in the center it’s worth taking a walk through the Galleries Royales Saint-Hubert, a 19th century shopping arcade under a handsome glass roof filled with attractive boutiques, chocolatiers, cafés, and even a cinema. And no design guide would be complete without mention of the Grand Sablon and Marolles District. These neighborhoods will introduce you to some of the best chocolatiers, luxury antiques, and second hand treasures on the continent.

City Center Shopping: Dansaert district

Mouche: 23, rue de Flandre
Friendly and adorable 20th century vintage shop for homewares. You will find a great selection of kitchen items, small end tables, lamps, and more.

Own shop: 5, Place du Jardin aux Fleurs
Clothes, accessories, and shoes for men and women. They carry A.P.C. so this is great place to buy a classy trenchcoat.

Norden: 46, Rue van Artevelde
A boutique specializing in Scandinavian fashion and design. This shop has great style AND they carry mid 20th century Scandanavian furniture.

Alexia Berckmans: 10, Rue van Artevelde
A curiously small and charming space selling eco friendly women’s and children’s clothing. A sister shop right next door, Valérie Berckmans
sells the local designer’s collection of women’s clothing plus I love how you can peep into her adorable workspace downstairs.

Eb(Espace Bizarre): 19, Rue des Chartreux
Spacious, independent contemporary design shop for the home. They have everything from pocket-sized home accessories to shelving, storage, tableware, furniture, wallpaper, and scents for the home.

Brocéliande: 44, Rue des Chartreux
Small boutique selling decorative 20th century antiques. They have a good looking selection of home accessories and are open from Wednesday to Saturday.

Atelier des chefs: 17, Rue des Chartreux
Fine products, books, and utencils for the kitchen.

Gabriele: 27, Rue des Chartreux
Vintage clothing shop with a great selection of pastel-colored slips, evening wear, and high heels.

Nicolas Dehon: 24, Rue des Chartreux
His store front is painted orange plus you can’t miss the window display crowded with children’s toys, books, games, cups and saucers, lamps, knick knacks, women’s boots and sunglasses all from the 1950’s up thru the 80’s. Open Wed – Sat 12:00 – 6 pm.

City Center Shopping: In the vicinity of the Grand Place

Dandoy: 51, Rue du Beurre
Since 1829 this Belgian cookie shop has been baking the best buttery ginger biscuits known to man. They have several locations in the center but I guarentee this flagship store (located a stone’s throw from the Grand Place) will make your heart go pitter-patter. Apparently Charles Baudelaire would agree –he was a regular back in 1860.

Posada: 29, Rue de la Madeline
Three floors of used books dedicated entirely to visual arts and design. Located close to Gare Centrale, this is a place I go for inspiration plus I have bought more than a few design books here for my own library.

Episode: 28, Rue de la Violette
With stores in Amsterdam, London, Antwerp, and Rotterdam, this vintage clothing store means business. Somehow they manage to find a big selection of specific styles for each season. So pea coats galore in the winter and dozens of patterned dresses for summer.

Privejoke: 76/78, Rue Marche au Charbon
This contemporary men’s and women’s boutique carries a variety of soft and stylish clothes from small French, Dutch, and Scandanavian designers. Great selection and reasonably priced.

Plaizier: 50, Rue des Eperonniers
Located right around the corner from the Grand Place, this shop carries books, posters, and postcards featuring classic mid 20th century photography of Brussels’ architecture and interior gems. In my opinion they have the best postcard selection in town so stopping here is a must if you want to drop a line to a loved one.

City Center Shopping: The Grand Sablon

L’atelier en herbe: 36, Grand Sablon
This florist goes above and beyond the call of duty. I love all of the greenery, fresh cut flowers, exotic plant life, and pretty potted plants against the somber hues of the interior.

Flamant: 36, Grand Sablon
This up market home interiors brand updates old style luxury with contemporary comfort and a pleasing color palatte. Like many regional brands, the store comes with its own café/restaurant.

Pierre Marcolini: 1, Rue des Minimes
Simply put, this chocolate shop changed my life. This famous Belgian chocolatier displays his chocolates ever so elegantly and the shop ladies with their little white gloves fill pretty black boxes with whatever you point to. It’s irrisistable.

Comptoir de Famille: 7, place du Grand Sablon
This boutique specializes in the French country house look with an appealing sense of nostalgia.

Côte d’Or: 1, Place du Petit Sablon
I can’t seem to get enough chocolate in my life. This little chocolate workshop/ boutique offers everything under the vast Cote d’Or umbrella. As the official supplier to the Belgian Royal family, If it’s good enough for King Albert and Queen Paola, it’s good enough for me.

More Shopping in the Sablon area:

Papiers d’antan: 19, Rue du Lombard
Their sign indicates the following shop hours: Tues – Fri 1:30 – 6 / Sat 10 – 6. (I find they are also closed for suspicious holidays). Fortunately, the window display alone is well worth the visit. They carry 19th and 20th century memorabilia and collectibles like antique tins in all shapes and sizes, stationary, postcards, booklets, pamphlets, posters, matchbooks and more. Everything in the store has that fading color and aged typography that I find irresistible.

Emery & Cie: 25-29, Rue de l’Hopital
Oh man, if only I could describe this place in words. From the street it looks like a specialty tile store and the tiles are beautiful but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. They offer complete home decoration from printed fabric, ceramics, and metal work to their own line of interior house paint. The store itself is a work of art with room after room of home environments in their unique customized look.

Philippe Lange: 2a, Place de la Justice
20th century home furnishings and lighting. It’s a bit pricey but the pieces are impressive and lovingly restored.

White design: 61b , Rue de la Régence
Furniture and lighting – a high concept, very contemporary, and sometimes futuristic home store. The childrens’ furniture is cheerful and colorful.

City Center Shopping: The Marolles District

Place du Jeu-de-Balle, located in heart of the Marolles district, is a historic part of the city center and home to the daily antiques market. Go during the week for the best prices and on weekends for maximum selection.
The streets around Place Jeu-de-Balle are filled with antique dealers and second-hand shops. Here are some highlights:

D+: 83/87, Rue Blaes
20th century design and decorative arts with attractive furnishings, lighting, and well selected decorative pieces.

Stefantiek: 63, Rue Blaes
Antique store full of second hand curiosities.

Passage 125 Blaes: 121-125, Rue Blaes
Bringing together 25 antiques dealers under one roof, they have everything from19h and 20th century table ware, candelabras, chandeliers, and bathroom fixtures, to art, furniture, lighting, fixtures, and a whole room dedicated to the 1970’s.

City Center Eat nibble & sip

If you are like me and a black tea is a your idea of a stiff drink then you will be happy to hear that pretty much any old café/bar you plop yourself down in serves fresh squeezed orange juice, tisanes (herbal tea), and sweet Moroccan fresh mint tea. Plus you always get a piece of chocolate or cookie with your coffee, tea, or hot chocolate. If you like beer, I’m sure you already know Brussels is lager heaven. If it’s spring or summertime, I highly recommend a fresh local white wine called Maitrank, translation: “May drink”. It is seasonal, exclusive to the region, and can only be found in select cafés. Try Au Soleil: 86, Rue du Marché au Charbon

Le Pain Quotidien: 16, Rue Antoine Dansaert
Le Pain Quotidien was started right here in Brussels and I love their rustic interior and big loaves of organic bread in the store front bakery. Their café serves soup, salads, and tartines for lunch and you also can’t go wrong with any of their pastries, a croissant, or breakfast items.

Mer du Nord: 45, Rue Sainte-Cathérine
Right in the Place Sainte Cathérine (look for the big cathedral in the Dansaert shopping district) you can nibble on mussels, oysters, crabcakes, seafood soup, and other tapas-style marine delicacies while sipping champagne. There is something charming about the outside bar service and having a snack in front of the old cathedral.

Café Modèle – 208, Rue Antoine Dansaert
A fashionable new café on the tail end of Rue A. Dansaert serving mouthwatering hot sandwiches, salads, and baguette or bagel sandwiches plus coffee, tea, and a selection of fresh squeezed juices. They also serve a popular Sunday brunch.

Au Suisse: 51, Boulevard Anspach
This is a great place for a quick bite in the center. I like the 1950’s interior and bar stool seating in this classic Brussels sandwich shop. If you like diners you will like Au Suisse.

Den Teepot: 66, Rue des Chartreux
Welcome to my favorite health food store in Brussels. Small, yes, but they do have a deli/bakery with homemade sweet and savory baked goods and the café upstairs serves daily vegetarian specials. I recommend the deli’s arame seaweed roll if you want something to go.

Fin de Siècle: 9, Rue des Chartreux
Laid back, old-style Belgian brasserie with communal seating, generous plates of food, and a great atmosphere. They serve regional speicialities like rabbit in beer sauce, and the national dish, Stoempf—2 large sausages over a mile high pile of buttery mashed potatoes. (I hear from my carnivorous friends that it’s heavenly). They also serve salads and cheesarific quiches for vegetarians. Did you say you were vegan? Wrong part of the world I’m afraid…

Frederic Blondeel: 24, Quai aux Briques
Coffee, tea, jam, biscuits, and hand made chocolates in a mint green interior….What more could you want?

Stella Solaris: 2 entrances: 34, Rue de Laeken / Rue du marronnier (Place du Béguinage)
This restaurant/bar/café has a delicious menu fusing classic French and Asian flavors. I also happen to know they serve an addictive chocolat chaud. (hot chocolate).

Jacques: 44, Quai aux Briques
Some travel to Brussels for one reason and one reason only: to eat the Moules Frites (Mussels and French fries or Belgian fries to be exact). Follow the locals to Jacques and remember this rule of thumb: order Mussels in months that have the letter R in their name.

A la Morte Subite: 7, Rue Montagne-aux-Herbes Potagères
Translating to “Sudden Death,” A la Morte Subite is home to the famous Geuze beers flavored with cherry and raspberry. It’s very popular among locals and visitors alike plus Jacques Brel, Belgium’s most famous crooner, used to hang out here.

Wittamer: 6, 12 – 13 Place du Grand Sablon
Chocolatier, bakery, & café with a bit of old school grandeur. Their outside terrace in the Grand Sablon is a perfect spot for taking in the surroundings over an éclaire, croissant, tea, or homemade ice cream.

Ixelles Shopping

Ixelles is my favorite quartier for shopping outside of the City Center. The atmosphere of artist-run shops, independent boutiques, and cafés makes for an inspiring days outing. If you happen to visit Ixelles on a Wednesday look for Place Chatelain’s farmers market from 1 – 7 pm. Here you can find organic produce, olives, nuts, cheese, bread, pastries, and tasty take away snacks. Mmmmmm……

Boucle d’or: 12, Rue du Tabellion
Adorable children’s clothing shop with a good selection of toys and books. I don’t fit into the clothes but I always seem to want to buy something for myself?

Zao: 96, Rue du Bailli
A good shop for modestly priced gifts and home accessories.

Rose: 56-58, Rue de l’Aqueduc
An attractive gift shop for the design lover….And they carry Atelier LZC!

mon amour: 36, Rue du Page
This is my favorite new design gift shop in Brussels. They carry beautifully selected stationary, cards, notebooks, tableware, wall art, and other home accessories that make you smile.

A la Page: 2, Rue du Prévot
Charming antique furniture and home accessories of yesteryear. I could easily walk away with any one of their old weathered wooden tables and live happily ever after.

Neess: 58, Rue du page
An old-fashioned frame and restoration shop that also carries specialty art supplies and their own eco-friendly house paint.

Em72: 72, Rue du page
When I first walked into this newly opened art and accessories boutique it almost looked like there was nothing for sale. But on closer inspection I discovered some beautifully delicate ceramics, drawings, and jewelry. Plus the tiny kitchen space in back has items for sale too.

Septante sept: 77, Rue du Page
A collective of local artists and designers have joined forces to showcase their creations in this friendly boutique.

Peinture Fraîche: 10, Rue du Tabellion
Contemporary Art Bookshop with titles on fine art, architecture, fashion, graphic design, packaging design, children’s book illustration, and more—a fantastic selection. They are open Thursday – Saturday.

Schleiper: 151, Chaussée de Charleroi
4 floors of arts and crafts supplies–heaven sent.

[Mmmmh!]: 92, Chaussée de Charleroi
Everything for the kitchen for amateurs and professionals alike with a focus on fine Asian ingredients. It’s fun to parouse their 2 floors of edible gifts.

Ixelles Eat nibble & sip

Teddy L: 2 locations in Ixelles: 4, Rue du Bailli / 49, Avenue Louise
I love the name, I love their logo, I love their creamy pastries. If you want to try something different, I highly recommend the scrumptious tarte au riz. Translation: rice pudding pie!

Guapa: 2b, Rue due Bailli
Fresh juices and smoothies.

Coffee Club: 38, Rue du Bailli
Step into one of the only café/eateries in town that have soymilk available for your chai or latté and a decent salad bar. There’s an attractive outdoor terrace in the back and a pile of fashion and design magazines to thumb thru while you sip and eat.

El Vergel: 39, Rue du Trône
Mostly a lunch time place with Latin American food and some classic Mediterranean dishes, this restaurant has everything I miss about home. The atmosphere couldn’t be friendlier, the food is fresh, consistent, flavorful, modestly priced, AND they have tacos on the menu! They are open Thursday evenings for dinner.

Landmarks

Atomium: Atomium square
Brussels answer to Paris’ Eiffel Tower, the Atomium is a giant metal representation of an iron crystal built for the 1958 World’s Fair. It has recently been polished so it’s looking shiny and new these days. There are escalators to take you up into the spheres and an elevator to access the upper-most sphere where there is a panoramic view and a restaurant serving lunch and dinner.

Parc de Bruxelles
This is the largest public park in the center of Brussels. It’s very close to the Royal Museum of Fine Arts and is surrounded by the Royal Palace of Brussels and many foreign embassies. The park has its own Metro stop and features curiously knobby trees around the perimeter. A grand fountain surrounded by replicas of classical Greek and Roman sculptures is a favorite spot of mine and there are also many grassy spots for recreation and sunbathing. Yes, the sun does come out from time to time but if you are planning a trip to Brussels it’s always a good idea to pack an umbrella.

Col

I worked in Brussels for 6th months in 2006/2007. If you love restaurants, coffee bars, beer and socialising its a great place to be…and amazing variety of places to eat in such a small place

Delerium is a must visit if you are into beer. The choice of beers is ridiculously large.

Also recommend Fanny Thai (no im not making that name up) near the Bourse for excellent Thai food!

Elysia

I love Brussels! I went there with my mom back in 2000 when we were in Paris. We just took a train to Brussels for a day and bummed around, eating & shopping. So much fun! I can’t wait to go back some day.

David

Leaving for Bruges tomorrow. Might have to make a side trip to Brussels. Sounds great!

Elien

I live in Bruges, Belgium, it’s nice to finally see a belgian city here! We have lots of other cool places (such as Ghent or Antwerp), but Brussels really has it all! I don’t get there as much as i’d like, but evertime i go, i discover something or someplace new…

illustrativo

hi,

i’ve tried these guides – and must say, it works and i was never left down.

are you planning any Lisabon/Lisboa guide? If not – what would be your suggestion to find a good one?

many thanks

grace

i’ll email around and see if i can find a local who might be able to help with one… :)

Andrea

Ever since I was in Belgium for 2 weeks last August, I’ve been singing it’s praises… Brussels, Ghent & Antwerp are all fabulous places to get the creative juices flowing (the chocolate & beer helps)!

Nelly

I’ve lived in Brussels for over a year now and I’m surprised at how many of these places I haven’t run into..will have to check them out, maybe they will change my opinion of grey Brussels :)

Ashley

I grew up in Belgium and lived there for 8 years (now i’m in San Francisco). I was so excited to see a Brussels design guide! Thanks :)

minim

Brussels is absolute heaven in every respect. I’ve been flat broke there twice and still it’s heaven. Key advice though: Take sturdy shoes! You’ll be doing a lot of walking :-)

It should be said that the musical instrument museum is the best I’ve ever been in – and should be interesting even to non-musicians too because they have a great system that allows you to hear what most of the instruments sound like as you go along. The Royal Museum of Fine Arts is also opening a dedicated Magritte museum next door this summer… I saw the promo stuff for it when I was there in February – can’t wait!

minim

Oh… and the comic strip museum! Smurfs and Tintin are only a small part of it, but it’s a really interesting museum. And there’s a special comics walk you can do around the city, visiting big murals of comic-strip scenes painted on the sides of buildings – beautifully unexpected.

mregan

Mary Chocolatier should definitely be on this list. It’s in 1000 Places to See Before You Die so maybe it’s a bit overdone but the chocolate is amazing – http://www.marychoc.com/

Also, it seemed that Brussels was the perfect city to just wander around (and get lost) in. My friend and I followed very vague directions from some map on the promise that it would be worth it and ended up at a viewing and subsequent group chat of An Inconvenient Truth. Definitely the most surprising city I’ve been to.

caroline

thank you, grace! i’m planning a trip there in july, and i can’t wait to put this to good use.

Mariana

Excellent list, Christina! I would add that Le Cirio is a great place to get a drink in the city center: a charming and old-fashioned interior with many many mirrors. Also l’Archiduc: restored to its art deco glory. You have to ring the buzzer to get in.

rhaya

Bookmarking this post for a two day layover in Brussels in September! Can’t wait!

kim

I live in Antwerp but love Brussels as well. Good friends of mine live there, I was there just last Sunday.
* I missed the comic museum on your list, I haven’t been there yet myself but it’s higly recommended and on my to-see list.
* The musical instrument museum is indeed a gem, perfect for romantic breakfast/brunch!
* None of the locals I know visit ‘Mary Chocolatier’, we all go to Wittamer, Pierre, or one of the Neuhaus stores.
* If you want to buy some comics or vinyl toys try Brüsel on Boulevard Anspach (http://www.brusel.com/).
* Rue de Boucher works for restaurants (similar to quartier latin in Paris)
* My all time favourite spot is Pain Quotidien!

Liz

Thank you! Can you belive I’m going to Brussels this weekend for the first time. This will be perfect!!

Alison

I’m a Canadian who’s been living in Bxl for 4 years now and I think it’s incredible that you can find hidden gems like these every time you wander around. A great list!

eva

i lived in brussels for a couple of short stints several years ago…and i miss it! it’s such an overlooked gem. one thing that i loved doing was walking around the art school that is located on the grounds of the abbaye de la cambre for the visually arresting combination of stylish art students, old architecture, beautiful gardens, and interesting art. oh – and a stroll around the square ambiorix is great to get an eyeful of art nouveau architecture.

Blaire Dessent

There is a new contemporary art space opening on Friday 24th April in Ixelles: Charles Riva Collection, 21, rue de la concorde. Be sure to check it out too! An exhibition of Jim Lambie will be on view through the summer.

illustrativo

yes, i must say this guide is really really good. i’ve been in brussels 3 times and have seen most of these. can’t imagine a fuller, better, more complete guide.

katomatik

nice work! even though i never been in brussels, (plannin to go in september) feels like i know the place already :)
one question though, does someone know a place there, where i can rent a bike with 4 wheels and pedal brake?

Gladys

Oh Brussels! I spent there 10 months from 2007-2008 and strongly recommend Kriek (cherry beer), sturdy shoes and an umbrella every time you leave the house. Also check out the actor´s studio cinema for indie films. And don´t miss out on the Café Belga in Ixelles, it´s a must!

Sandra@Botanys

I highly suggest Flying in Paris and renting a car and driving to Belgium and then continuing on to Amsterdam. We did this road trip several years ago and it was the most amazing vacation. The food, the shopping and the people were fabulous. I wish I could have stayed there forever. I can’t wait to do this trip again.

AllieRuth

Thanks so much for this guide! My fiancee and I are going to Brussels on our honeymoon in May. We will be taking a train from there to Paris for a few days. I’ so excited! We will definitely be using this guide A LOT

Marcelle Audia

Was in Brugge and Brussels several years ago with friends. Loved it all. Interior design is being very much influenced by the moody and simple pallate of Belgium now. I would like to visit again this summer and wonder if you could recommend some clean, affordable and hopefuly central hotels? Thanks ever so much. Marcelle

MAKIS MAVROUDIS

Was in Brussels last year .Perfect city

Sat

I’ve always lived in Brussels and I have to say it’s a great guide.

A few adds after reading the comments…

– Rue des Bouchers : this is a street with a lot of restaurants for tourists, I wouldn’t advise it. Quality of food is not that good. The only good restaurant there is called ‘Aux armes de Bruxelles’ (decor a bit old but very good food).
– Chocolate : you absolutely need to check the Sablon area for Wittamer and Marcolini. Don’t you dare going to Brussels and not going to Marcolini. If there’s one chocolate place, it’s this one.
– Ixelles shopping : check also ‘Les Anonymes’ for shoes (Chie Mihara, Camper, Vialis, etc.) and Degriff for sometimes great designer bargains.
– Beer : Moeder Lambic in Saint Gilles is also a great place, probably a bit more authentic than Mort Subite (less drunk teenagers :-D).
– The Magritte Museum is open now.
– Bikes : you can very easily rent bikes in a lot of spot of the city, it’s a system like in Paris (www.villo.be).
– Travelling : I would suggest travelling by train and leaving your car at home.
– Vintage or second hand shopping : vintage today in chaussée de Waterloo (from 50’s Chanel bag to the latest Prada or old granpa watches) and one very nice rue du page in Ixelles (latest collections, Chloé, Fendi or more alternative brands), I forgot the name.
– Hotels : depends what you’re looking for. Five stars like Conrad hotel or Metropole, in boutique five stars a very nice is Manos Ier (classic) or The Dominican (design). Be Manos is also great but in a bad neighbourhood. I work in a 4 stars in Louise neighborhood so if you need a room…

So much to say but here were my first thoughts… I hope you will enjoy Brussels if you are going there soon.

Randall

My wife and I are visiting family in Tours, France, but are making a special trip up to Brussels, Bruges, and Dinant. This is all happening in December so we are prepared for the cold. Thanks for the list, I hope it proves to work out as we are taking much of the advice it offers.

Caroline

I spent a sabbatic year in Brussels. I miss it a lot! Nice guide. Je peux fermer les yeux, en écoutant Jacques Brel, et avec vos suggestions faire un tour dans ma tête à Bxls!

Eva

hey this is really great! I live in Rotterdam and Brussels is practically around the corner. Thanks for all the nice extra commentaries. Even more reasons to visit the place soon!

Rina

I agree with the advice to avoid the restaurants in rue des bouchers (Aux armes.. being the exception).
I like the flee market in the Marolles on Sunday mornings where you can also have a nice brunch at http://www.hetwarmwater.be/. Tea and Eat in rue Stassart (off Place Stephanie) is another nice place for brunch. However, my favourite brunch spot is L’ORANGERIE DU PARC D’EGMONT.
– The quality of the service at “Le Pain Quotidien” varies, personally I find the nicest one being next to Avenue Lepoutre on 515 Chee de Waterloo.
– As for the chocolate – Wittamer, Marcolini and Mary (Mary is appointed by Belgian Royal Court so at least some locals do shop there ;) ) are definitely the best ones according to my taste.
– As for restaurants I would also recommend Soul (close to Sablon): http://www.soulresto.com/ – fresh, organic grown food.
– For reasonably priced good Belgian food this is a hidden gem, DEN TALURELEKKER http://www.resto.be/ware/details.jsp?businessid=2961 but beware it’s closed during weekeends.
– The new Magritte museum is really worth a visit.
Enjoy Brussels – but do bring an umbrella! :)

Devrim Bayar

The New & Major Contemporary Art Centre of Brussels: http://www.wiels.org
Located in an amazing industrial building from the 30’s, Wiels presents large scale exhibitions of contemporary art, kids workshops, residencies for artists… & an organic café. It’s a bit out of the city center, but easy to reach. Check it out!

Jazz Kilkullen

I’m a fan of the “Lego” design that La Cambre Architecture school uses. Does anyone know of a way to get it on a t-shirt? Or, do they have a store than can be accessed online in English?

Andrea Devis

Hi, I love this list! I have lived here in Brussels for a year and am grateful for many things listed here as I am getting ready to furnish and decorate my own home. My question is, do you know of any decent sewing shops? Most are strictly textiles, fabrics and such. Or a very very limited and poorly lit notions hole.

anabanana

Can you help me finding some good ART, DESIGN or Crafts Schools at Brussels ???

Andrea

We recently stayed in Brussels with Matthieu G in a place we found through Airbnb. It was amazing and I would highly recommend looking him up and staying at his place! I hope to one day see his awesome house in the sneak peek section of Design Sponge. Everything at his place was just a work of art – which truly added to the whole magic of Brussels: http://www.airbnb.com/rooms/29258

ozlem yalim

heyy.. staying @liege for the last 3 days to visit the design biennial, i will have a plenty of time in brussels tomorrow. its really fantastic to find such an info on the internet !! lovely, useful and i appreciate it too much at the moment.
i had small notes on my moleskine, and try to pass my time around the city center due to your reccomendations! please call me whenever you will be in istanbul! i will try my best;-) promise. best- oz

Hanna

I leave this week for the a 5 month stay in Brussels, I
plan to cross off as many places on this list as I can fit in!
Thanks

siobhan

Love your blog! Want to let you know about a recent find in Brussels center (DeBrouckere)–a great little shop called FOSSILMAR…they have the most amazing decorative fossils and minerals etc…they have a website too http://www.fossilmar.com
Have not seen anything like it since its kind of hidden on a quiet side street. Continued success on your blog!

Allie

I’d love to see this updated with some more pictures. What a great city guide, though. My husband and I are planning a road trip from Bavaria, up into the Netherlands and then down to Brussels, and these have helped a ton! Thanks!

Kevin

I loved the city and the people, what a mix! I have discovered so many places, but since I am a plant-lover, I saw an amazing shop that promotes the idea of bringing life to your wall where you can choose your flowerbox and compose it with hundreds of plants. It is so original! Too bad we do not have it where I come from. Oh well… sweet memories. The name of the shop is Flowerbox Gallery on Chausée de Waterloo 563 in Brussels if any of you are interested!

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