A thematic walking tour around Brussels to follow entire walls of comic strips? A taste of different craft beers in a historical town? And how about the best mussels and fries away from the crowds of tourists? Here is my personal list of must see’s and do’s in Brussels to get the most of it in just a few days.
Do a comic strip walking tour of Brussels
If you’re ever in Belgium, that tiny country with complicated politics and three national languages, there are a few things you must do absolutely.
For example, the best way to get a feel of the unique atmosphere of this Comic book mecca is on foot. Follow a tailor-made street art itinerary that will take you across the historical center from Tintin to Asterix and from Blake & Mortimer to Lucky Luke. Discover the 50 frescoes with a map, a guide and an app and learn more about each Comic Strip’s characters, story and author.
Know more about comic books:
- Comic Book Festival 2016 (2-4 September, 2016) in the center of Brussels
- Belgian Comic Strip Center
- MOOF, the Museum of Original Figurines
Buy comic books:
With D*tour, you can visit some neighborhoods at your own pace, for free and without a guide by downloading audio tours in French on your mobile phone or tablet. Listen to testimonials, let local audio guides tell you about the history of Sainte Catherine, the Grand Place, the Atomium or contemporary architecture in Brussels.
Take a Belgian Beer Bus
If you’d rather discover Brussels on wheels, don’t miss the holy B trinity: have a beer in a bus in the heart of Brussels. Hop onboard a vintage yellow bus and taste local beers in atypical places away from the crowds of the city center. Perfect for a rainy day, this bus – in function some 50 years ago in Brussels – will take you through the European District and past the Royal Palace to visit some local craft breweries.
Tip: early booking is recommended.
Have some mussels with fries
The Belgian cuisine isn’t famous for being sophisticated or extravagant, but it’s flavoury, and it will keep you warm in the winter. Belgian waffles and stews cooked in brown beer are famous all over the world. But when in Brussels, you have to do like the Brusseleers and have some “moules frites” (mussles with French fries). Yes, even in the summer. Here’s a short list of the best restaurants in Brussels to have some mussles in white wine, with garlic or with mayonnaise, and ALWAYS with French fries.
- Le Zinneke, Place de la Patrie 26 in Schaerbeek
- Aux Armes de Bruxelles, 13 Rue des Bouchers (in the historical center)
- Au Vieux Bruxelles, Rue Saint Boniface 35 (M Porte de Namur)
- In’t Spinnekopke, Place du Jardin aux fleurs 1 (in the historical center)
Tip: here’s an idiot’s guide to eating mussels in Belgium
Get your art fix in art galleries and subway stations
Brussels has a varied, ever-changing art scene which ranges from the street wall murals and public exhibitions in Subway stations – see Stockel station and its Tintin-based fresco – to the many wonderful museums found all over the city. The Bozar, the Center for Fine Arts, the Magritte Museum with its spectacular trompe l’oeil façade and the Museum of Ixelles with its young vibe and temporary exhibitions are just a few ideas for art lovers and rainy days.
If you can’t make it to one of those, however, you’ll still see plenty of art as you visit the city. Every inch of the Brussels Underground is an incredible museum with bizarre paintings, sculptures, photographs where you least expect to see them or Mondrian-like stained glass windows. A list of the major art subway stops is available here in English.
- Don’t miss the Brussels Gallery Weekend (8-11 September 2016) and visit over 30 Contemporary art galleries in 4 days.Much bigger, visit the BRAFA Art Fair (21-29 January 2017) and Art Brussels (21-23 April 2017)
Have a craft beer and party with the locals
Leffe, Chimay, Chouffe, Hoegaarden … ever heard of those? If Belgium is famous for the mussels and chocolate (but not together), it’s even more famous for the bazillion of high quality beers available just about everywhere. And us, Belgians, are very friendly people; especially after a few lambic beers. Get out of the city center and hit less touristic spots such as Parvis de Saint Gilles, Place Flagey or Place du Luxembourg for a real night out.
You can stick to the classics or try some of the newer craft beers created in local microbreweries. New flavors, modern names and funky glasses are on the rise in Brussels! Here are a few famous bars where you just can’t miss:
- Restobières, Rue des Renards 9
- Cantillon Brewery, Rue Gheude Straat 56
- Moeder Lambic, Place Fontainas
- Poechenellekelder, Rue du Chêne 5
- Le Barboteur, Avenue Louis Bertrand 23
- L’Aubièregiste, 140 Rue de la Première Armée
- Brewdog, Rue Putterie 20
- Brussels Beer Project, Rue Dansaert 38
Use-it is an interactive and artistic guide kind of website with tons of useful tips to discover Brussels. Many other European cities available.
Discover Brussels through 126 artists who sing in 88 places such as the Brussels Stock Exchange, the Comic Arts Museum, a flea market, a park or a skate park.
Available for many other capitals in the world, Spottebylocals came up with a great variety of addresses, museums, and tips thanks to their local team of editors.
A comprehensive guide of Brussels with a focus on Comic Strips.