"More than a decade in Brussels" Top 5 Page for this destination Brussels by Norali

Brussels Travel Guide: 5,875 reviews and 12,809 photos

Welcome to Brussels

Antiques, comics murales, De skieven architek, the flea market on Place du Jeu de balle, Brussels dialect, fun & themed cafés: les Marolles area features those.

Cosmopolitan Brussels

Home of many European and International institutions, many foreigners from Europe, America, Africa, Asia, Arabia :) Hearing so many languages in a so small place: striking enough.

Start with the General tips to have an overall view of "my" Brussels.

My must-see activities tips include usual experiences here: places, monuments, museums, some interesting events (namely in spring & summer). I am not telling which ones, go digging :))

My Off beat path tips ? Don't look over them. They include, amongst others, things to experience, see in Region de Bruxelles-Capitale area (outside Bruxelles commune (municipality), that is). [Side notice: for instance, Musee Charlier is an interesting museum in Saint-Josse-ten-Noode, yet very close to Brussels center, easily accessible. I put it, not in Brussels must-see but Off beat path tips because the other communes are lesser known.].

Interested in seeing Brussels from top? Click here.

My restaurant tips are my impressions on restaurants I experienced. Some are focused on low budget (& centrally located), others on gourmet taste (whose locations I wrote in brackets - often out of the center).
Do what you want but bear in mind that those little charming streets near Grand-Place, Rue des bouchers et al., is Brussels' n?1 tourist trap. On VT, you wouldn't find insiders advertizing about this area. Too many problems with Hygiene inspection, comparatively expensive food.. much ado about nothing... To be honest, I used to eat there many times in my early years here, for not being used to Brussels restaurants. Acquaintances with real Brusselaires deterred me from going there. Of course, for quality restaurants, I have discovered some and they are all (but one !) outside this area..


May I suggest ?

Want to meet the "locals"?, click here to launch a forum thread. Beforehand update your homepage, at least, with your idpic. Be polite, don’t forget to thank those helpful Belgium-based Vters!

Yet, if you are not a meeting-type and would like to do it by your own, I recommend you one of best ways to visit this city.

Fellow VTers, when you visit Brussels, don't limit yourself to the Grand-Place and Mont des Arts/ Kunstberg areas. Explore the unknown otherwise you would not taste any of this lovely city. Brussels is lovely but only to those who dare to explore it.

See the Grand-Place, sip a beer there if you want (warning: more expensive than elsewhere). But on Place Rouppe, you discover one of coolest Latino jungle bar in Brussels. I like it there.

A stone' s throw from Grand-Place, you will find an area, packed with cafes, pubs, many of cheap and more expensive restaurants. You wouldn't notice it but you are in the very origin of Brussels city: Saint-Gery area.

You can always go further in this direction and discover Belgian fashion and design in Rue Antoine Dansaert. Or, wander around Place Ste-Catherine and Marché aux poissons... I like there the small shops (trendy clothes, hats, sweets, artcraft, jewelry..)

Go uptown, visit Marolles area, home of real and original Brussels' people, to find unusual Brussels.

Head to Cinquantenaire area for some Belgian speculoos ice-cream (well, not only: for museums too). Shopping is nice there though a bit expensive. Or go relax in the park before partying in lounge areas in the center.

One of my favourite areas is Ixelles. Multifacetic municipality: student, artist, a bit boheme (the Art Nouveau spirit is still there) also African. It would surprise one who dares to stroll there, to get out of the usual "circuit". Also, since Oct. 2004, I use to work in this municipality, not far from the boat-shaped Flagey building.

Fall in Brussels!

End of a cultural season and the beginning of another one. It was at the end of this season that I could visit an exhibition in the Bozar (ex- Palais des Beaux-Arts). Also, rain is back.

I tried to avoid supermarkets with their hords of Mums and kids trying to find suitable stationery at lower prices. Yet, I had to go there fetching for something I needed right away. Then, the end of summer hit me. Mums and kids were there, making noises near me while I tried to focus on the magazine I was reading. Yes, they were there. With nervous and bored toddlers crying. Poor kids!

In the contrary, I use to greedily expect the encountering with "bizu" students in Brussels metro. Don't be afraid if you see screaming groups of youngsters with one or two leaders in uniform. And be glad to hear those hordes of students, ready to achieve those rituals that would make them accepted, when "baptized" within their respective "cercles", those college frats. "Trainings" are held at beginning of academic year so you won't see that except during the first weeks of univeristy. A local student custom.


Winter in Brussels!

Unusual winter in 2004.

* Feb. 2004, we had a TGV meeting (check my Region de Bruxelles-Capitale page). Ian-Grace managed to put together a quick meeting of 2 hours at Midi station. That was when Rochelle (Geisha_Girl) and Christian (Christian.Lafont) had a stop over Brussels to catch up their TGV train to Paris. Unusual but fun.

* On Nov.30, we had our Brussels meeting (check my Etterbeek page), kind of unusual location for giga meeting. It was the second leg of our Pan-Belgian meeting, the first one being Antwerp- Nov.2. Or check album in my home page.

Apart from visiting the EU area, the city center, with its "most beautiful square in the world", "the tiniest peeing boy in Belgium", this was time to see a Vietnam exhibition at History museum in 50aire, experience fries at Maison Antoine. Plus, we saw the Sunday market at Place Jourdan and stayed at a stamcaf? with the "resident" customers. A bit crowded after the sunday market, when locals join the place after some buys and chats. But we managed to have the terrasse for us, have a good time. All of that was in Etterbeek area. One reason why the rest of my travelogues about this Brussels hectic meeting is in my page of Etterbeek.

Then, not to forget: the Marolles. The walk in the dark was nice, started with the view from Place Poelaert. Took the lift to join the Marolles area. Some steps to spot some comic strip walls and paintings. We added to the walk in the Marolles some drinks in a typical Marollian caf? on Place du Jeu de balle. Our "beloved" restaurant was in the Marolles too. Joining the Marolles from Manneken Pis area was a crazy ride with explanations, laughters, discoveries. One of my favourite spot is the slope street Rollebeek. It has some little restaurants, nice shops of antiques, deco, tableware.


Chilling out in Brussels area

From end of July, 2004 summer was.. erm.. hot. Heatwave made it quite impossible to work, focus on study and think. Same as for 2003, when, with some fun expected, I could spot painted cows with Dannie (irisbe), all over Brussels region. Click here to see some of them... and check my Belgium page to read transcription of chat and tales from those cows. Because those cows were witty, that should you know. I learnt many things from them.

But mood (and conversation) was like "Hey, what you doing tonight?"... "Nothing, chill out!" ... "May I join?" ... "Sure!" ... "What' s planned?" ... "Oh well, many possibilities .. depends on mood ... 'll fix that later ... "

Yep, many possibilities:

- Walking for hours in woods near Brussels. I did it in Hoeilaart wood and liked it. Nothing to do except walking and ... talking ... Just to hoist myself up and above everyday events...
Then chill out home or ...
- Head to caf?s and lounges (evening) in urban area. I like this way too... except when they are too crowded. My fave are terraces outside Brussels center, Irish pubs too (oddly for its crowdy ambience!!!).
- Home... one of my fave too. In my terrasse with some music, a good book or friends, some chilled Bordeaux white wine (beers for my friends). Perfect summer evening!
Or... at my friends' places. I am spoilt with choices, sometimes :-)

Always wondered where to put my tips on pubs and cafes. Well, they are in my Nightlife tips section. Haha.. also you may find some lousy pics in those nightlife tips... because when going out, bringing a camera is the last thing we think of. We just enjoy partying without thinking of reporting. I am not a nightlife photoreporter :)

Outside Brussels city and its beautiful buildings with sophisticated and varied architecture (at least for some of them), find greenery and parks...

Also, we all experience different Brussels. I think it would be useful if after reading my page, you visit other Brussels insiders pages (people who know and love Brussels well, imho, for living or having lived here). More often, they are small ones but with infos non-insiders would not find in first place.
-Bendokan, I recommend his "Bars in Brussels" Travelogue;
-Sjalen, don't miss her "Brussels with children" Travelogue if you travel with... guess what... CHILDREN... hahah
-Also, I was greatly surprised by Gillian's page. What can I say ? She loves Brussels and displays a really different Brussels.
-Maybe this will help you too, Bigjones has some interesting addresses in Brussels.


Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Small, warm, witty people with humour
  • Cons:So far away from Madagascar !
  • In a nutshell:Rainy and diverse Brussels (and Belgium) for warm Brusseleer
  • Last visit to Brussels: Dec 2004
  • Intro Updated May 6, 2007
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Reviews (146)

Comments (107)

  • Norali's Profile Photo
    Oct 12, 2010 at 3:38 AM

    Salvatore, you created an account to only write this comment ? wow! Anyway, my experience at the Camper shop (in St-Gilles) was nice, but that was years ago.

  • Oct 1, 2010 at 6:35 AM

    Bocacci only has Camper and the rest is cheap shoes that they charge double. And the shop girls are RUDE! I do not want to give my money and be treated like nothing. I vote for SUEDE! The best shoe shop in Brussels.

  • Pinoy_Traveller's Profile Photo
    Nov 10, 2009 at 1:37 PM

    thanks for the very informative page on Brussels. i think i'll enjoy brussels even if i'll be traveling alone. Thanks!

  • dexteratl's Profile Photo
    Aug 2, 2009 at 12:14 PM

    thank you for the tips. I love to check out the view (from the top) of all places i visit, .e.g rooftop cafe on samaritan store in Paris (when I was there), top of new town hall (besides the old town hall) in Prague.

  • pieter_jan_v's Profile Photo
    Jun 27, 2009 at 4:48 AM

    A meeting with Nathalie_B is always great! PJ

  • Sep 13, 2008 at 5:05 AM

    In case you need good and economical Indian vegetarian tiffin for lunch and dinner plz contact 0488775294

  • songlines's Profile Photo
    Aug 10, 2008 at 3:33 AM

    What interesting tips on the architecture to be found in Brussel, I've so enjoyed them and your pics! Greetings from West Cork

  • ludogatto's Profile Photo
    Apr 11, 2008 at 5:56 AM

    In 2006 I partecipe in Zinneke parade with a Par tot parade company, from Bologna parade...different by gorgeouse!

  • MrsPeel's Profile Photo
    Sep 7, 2007 at 7:17 PM

    Thanks for a marvelous read.I have read in trip advisor some similar things you comment here, but not detail or intense. I am only sad that you arent there anymore..... would loved to meet you.Thanks for sharing, it will surely make our tripp much better!

  • goga4444's Profile Photo
    May 5, 2007 at 3:20 PM

    I sure have to come back for more chocolate :) I loved Brusseles very much when I visited.

Norali Used To Live Here!


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