If I could take all of my favorite elements and put them together to make a city- that city would be Brussels. Brussels or “Bruxelles” is an eclectic, artsy city. It’s my ideal maybe first because I could speak French there and I was understood and understood anyone that spoke to me. Obviously that’s always a nice feeling. I also loved the vintage shopping and record stores. The architecture, buildings and general vibe of the city was great to. Not to mention Belgian beer is my favorite and I’m a huge fan of chocolate, waffles and fries…so without any further introduction here were my favorites.
Les Marolles and lodging
I stayed in “Les Marolles” district right in the same square as the marche aux puces or flea market. I stayed at the “Hotel Galia” which is a pretty decent basic hotel that has hostel style rooms as well with very friendly and helpful staff members. I loved everything in the district and the overall vibe it was a 10 minute walk from the gare du midi and about 15-20 minutes to the center of Brussels. It was a scenic walk so I really didn’t take public transit too often.
I definitely recommend going to the Delirium Cafe early to beat the crowds but you can’t beat their range of choices, I had a strawberry lambic and it was amazing. I also loved “La mort subite” for it’s gorgeous interior which doesn’t look like it’s changed since the 1930’s. Their framboise lambic is great too! It also felt a lot more local than the Delirium.
Recs: Delirium, Little Delirium, La mort subite
Recyclart, Pinpon-Honorable mentions! Recyclart is a cool cafe underneath a subway tunnel and Pinpon is a fun local brewery in the same square as the flea market.
Maybe I’m biased as “Friterie de la chapelle” was only a short walk from my hotel…but it was unbeatable prices for amazing fries and a large quantity. My runner up would be Fritland.
Recs: Friterie de la chapelle, Fritland, Friterie Tabora
Waffle factory, le Funambule- Not a huge difference in waffles again super cheap and lots of options for toppings besides the two different kinds of waffles.
Cafe Capitale, Cafe du Sablon- Two of my favorite cafes in the area near my hotel ‘les marolles’. Also Paul! Which is one of my favorite French chains, it’s kind of a bakery/cafe.
Recs: Zaabar, Neuhouse, Elisabeth-These chocolates are as beautiful as they are delicious!
So Brussels kills it when it comes to vintage. In particular if you can make it on a Sunday definitely try the Brussels Vintage Market. My hotel was right in front of the Marche aux puces which is held multiple days a week. I also loved Melting Pot Vintage, Bernard Gavilan, Foxhole Vintage and more!
My vintage haul below featuring: Blousey, Bebop & Lula, Melting Pot Vintage and more. I even discovered a thrift store with clothing, vintage furniture and a bar- Les meubles du coeur, which benefits charities. The quality of the vintage in Brussels is great (although a lot of places are mostly 70’s-90’s) everything is very reasonably priced. Brussels is definitely the best city where I’ve sought out vintage in Europe so far and yet another reason to return.
Recs: Brussels Vintage Market, Melting pot vintage, Bernard Gavilan, Foxhole Vintage, Marche aux puces, Heyday, Les meubles du coeur. The Brussels Vintage Market is typically the first sunday of every month you can find the locations and times here.
Record Stores and book stores
Tropismes, Veals & Geeks, Hors-Serie, Arlequin- Definitely also had great luck finding records at awesome prices too. Arlequin is right by Manneken Pis and it’s so beautifully organized.
Sites and art
Manneken Pis, Jeanneke-Pis- World famous statues (fountains?!) of peeing children? Go figure.
Brussels City Hall/Grand Place-A pretty tourist packed square but very beautiful! And the little delirium is around the corner.
Royal Palace- In the surrounding areas there is a huge park and all of the nearby museums. This area feels particularly French to me with a kind of Versailles feel.
Atomium-Disclaimer, I didn’t go up, I got there too early…still a pretty cool site to see
EU buildings- I liked this district overall just keep in mind the opening hours since I didn’t get to go in here either without a tour.
Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert-I adore the galleries. It’s a covered promenade from the late 19th century with a great book shop, theatre, cinema, cafes and more. It’s definitely somewhat frozen in time.
Museums, comic book walk, murals, galleries- there were art galleries all over the place as well as little shops and galleries dedicated to Belgian comic books like Tintin or Asterix.
The only thing annoying was there was a lot of stuff open Sunday and not as much Monday or Tuesday. Every place (museums, stores, attraction) is different so definitely plan accordingly or come later in the week. There’s more to see and do on Sunday’s than you think there would be. Overall, I loved the vibe of the city. All of the art deco signs, the amazing food I’m sure I’ll be back soon.