We landed in Bruxelles in the late afternoon and ran straight to see the main square of the city, the Grand Place. I didn't think I'd like it that much. It really leaves you breathless, it is one of the most beautiful squares seen so far in Europe. It glitters, it shines, it has these beautiful buildings surrounded by decorations and slightly gilded details, words can't describe it. It is beautiful by day and is just as beautiful in the evening, all lit up. In addition, the atmosphere is also beautiful: it gives the idea of being a quiet and happy place, in fact here they all sit on the ground and relax, which is not obvious or usual in the main square of a big city. Throughout my stay Bruxelles continued to give me the impression of an extremely livable and peaceful city. It is not a particularly huge city, in fact a weekend is more than enough to visit it, and that is why, having three days, we decided to match the visit to that little jewel which Bruges.
Bruxelles is one of those cities to get a little lost in its streets. There are no special and unmissable attractions or monuments to report, it should be enjoyed step by step. However, there are some honourable mention to make. For example, did you know that the symbol of the city (omg) is an urinating child? I'm not kidding. The symbol of Bruxelles is the manneken pis, which literally means "baby peeing". It's located in the middle of the city centre, a short walk from the Grand Place, at the intersection of Rue de l'Etuve and Rue du Chane. At first we couldn't locate him, because he's really tiny, and he's assaulted by the crowd who want to take pictures of him. The size is actually quite disappointing to be the city symbol, but it's really nice to see.
In Brussels, among all the beautiful churches, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, which is the fifth largest church in the world, deserves an honourable mention. It's really big, and it is free. Even inside it's impressive, but not particularly well decorated. It's definitely worth a visit. It's a bit in the middle of nowhere, at the end of a tree-lined boulevard, not exactly downtown, but it's a pleasant walk.
And then there's the artistic symbol of Bruxelles, the one you see a little bit in all the brochures, the most famous, the Atomium. It's a modern construction, it looks a bit like a construction of what you did with geomag. I don't know why he became so famous and it's so important, I haven't documented it, but I can say it's gigantic. It's accessible by metro, it's out of the center, and once you get to that area, you can see it right from every corner, because it's very huge. You can't say it's beautiful. It's big, impactful, but not exactly a beautiful monument. Given that we were in that area, right next to the Atomium is the Mini Europe, a park with miniature European famous monuments and buildings. We had time, we had already visited the whole city, and decided to enter the park. He's really nice, very nice to spend two hours there, especially for kids.
What to eat? Belgium is the home of chocolate and french fries. This means it's literally heaven to me. In Bruxelles we did not spent much money to eat, it is a city with affordable prices. We ate downtown, in a restaurant that apparently looked like a chain, and it served sandwiches and fries with the possibility of putting a thousand types of sauces on it. Some sandwiches had fries even inside of them, very fatty stuff, and Roberto of course did not miss it. I, on the other hand, did not miss a good waffle, called gauffre in Belgium, the typical Belgian dessert. I always loved gauffres and couldn't help but taste one in their homeland. You can find them everywhere, in every corner, with the most varied sweetness on them. For chocolate, however, we reserved ourselves for Bruges, considered the authentic Belgian city of chocolate.
As for the accommodation, I took it near the Gare du Midi station, to be comfortable to go by train in Bruges. I recommend that place, because it is comfortable, has a nearby underground to be able to go downtown in a short time, it is comfortable to get to the airport and it is a safe area, it is absolutely not as bad as you might think of areas close to a station, I would like to point this out since I'm often asked about it.
We visited Bruges in a day trip, taking the train from Bruxelles. A day for the visit is more than enough. Bruges is one of the cities that surprised me the most in Europe. I didn't think I'd fall in love with it that much. In Bruges it feels like you're in a fairy tale, it's all so colorful, so fairy, so sweet. Everywhere you turn there is harmony for the eyes. Bruges even more than Brussels, it is the typical town where you have to let yourself go and get lost in its streets, wandering without knowing exactly where you are going, because wherever it is, it will be beautiful. Already the road from the station to the center, a walk of about a quarter of an hour, presents the first colorful and charming houses. Then you get to the real center, the first thing visible is the cathedral, which is beautiful, but compared to all the fairy color you see around turns in the background. The cathedral compared to the city is rather dull, gray. Bruges is crossed by a small river, which makes everything even more picturesque. Despite what I said, every corner of Bruges is magnificent, my favorite part is the main square, where there is also the town hall, and where the colors of the houses really go crazy. It really brings joy. We were lucky, we had a beautiful sunny day that maybe helped the beauty of the colors, but I think it is always suggestive, with any weather condition.
Bruges owns a Unesco world heritage site, the Beguinage. A set of white buildings. To get to it you have to skirt the river, and is literally full of swans! I've never seen so many swans in my life. Boat trips in the river also start near the Beguinage.
Bruges is also the chocolate city in Belgium, as I have already said. You find chocolate shops on every corner. We went into many, and in one they gave us tastings. The chocolates as well as very good, are just works of art.
Bruges is more expensive than Brussels, so to eat you have to be careful not to fall into tourist traps. We ate near the Beguinage, tried to get as far away as possible from the center, which is usually full of traps. That area is equally full of restaurants, less touristy and less expensive. We ate some great meat, not spending as much, but in any case more than in Bruxelles.
Visit these two cities! They won't disappoint you. Two welcoming, cute cities, easy to reach. Belgium is a small treasure and these two cities are its pearls. Besides, chips and chocolate aren't enough to convince you? :)
In this Historical and Cultural walking tour, you will discover Brussels main touristical sites and taste Brussels best waffle and even have a Belgian chocolate tasting. When the tour ends, I will recommend you the best museums, restaurants and bars to spend you time!