Belgium’s reputation hails it as the political centre of Europe. In 1999, Brussels had officially become the eurozone’s political capital. But there’s much more to Belgium than just a visit to the European Parliament.
Having said this, the Parliament itself is a great experience and it’s actually free. You get to visit the main room and discover how the European Parliament works. The guides are available in each of the EU’s twenty-four official languages, including Maltese.
The capital of Belgium consists of the lower town containing the Grand Place and Mont des Arts, and the upper town containing the Royal Palace, Place Poelaert, and Brussels Park — these are places that are not to be missed. Take a walk and just wander around, and you’ll be surprised how much Brussels has to offer: art galleries, museums, vintage shops, concept stores, cosy bars and atmospheric cafes.
Above: Museum of the City of Brussels
There’s an eclectic mix of architecture in Brussels. You’ll see everything – from the Art Nouveau buildings to unique pieces of modern architecture, to walls covered with graffiti. Brussels has a vibrant street art scene, and the city is actually the capital of comic books. You’ll also see the signature wall paintings featuring the local comic book heroes. You can even take a Comic book walking route to see the famous paintings of the Smurfs (yes, they are actually Belgian) and Tintin, all blending in nicely with their surroundings.
Brussels is a relatively small global city, and can be easily explored in one or two days, which makes it a perfect weekend destination. But if you have more than a few days here, you should definitely travel north.
The town of Bruges, (just a bit over an hour away from Brussels) is an absolutely beautiful destination with medieval architecture. You’ll immediately fall in love with the Gothic churches, red-brick buildings, narrow streets and slow moving canals. Take a free tour starting from the central square to discover everything, from the city’s history to some wildly romantic legends.
Above: Lovely Bruges
The Belgians love their beer, chips and chocolate, and there’s a perfectly valid reason for that.
Belgian chocolatiers have a reputation for being the finest in the world, which makes the country a great foodie destination.
Above: Chocolate for gods by Neuhaus
And last year, Belgian beer was officially added to the UNESCO cultural heritage list. So tasting an array of different beers — from extremely sour to bitter — is now also a cultural experience. Cheers!
Let’s have one more and we go!