If you’re the sort of traveler who believes the best way to explore a culture is through its cuisine, Belgium is your sort of destination. Culinary riches here run the gamut, from traditional favorites like mussels and frites to Michelin-starred restaurants helmed by some of the world’s top chefs. Sure, you can find two of the country’s iconic flavors—chocolate and beer—all over the globe, but they taste even better in a Belgian café, surrounded by gorgeous architecture and welcoming locals.
This six-day itinerary focuses on two cities perfect for any traveling gourmand: Brussels and Bruges. But your culinary adventure begins even before you arrive. Cross the Atlantic in Brussels Airlines’ Business Class and you’ll enjoy a meal created by a Michelin-starred chef, along with fine wines and Belgian beers.
Plus, if your ultimate destination is somewhere else that Brussels Airlines flies to, you can take advantage of the Belgium Stop Over program, which lets you make a pit stop in Belgium from one to five days and includes free access to museums and sites throughout Belgium.
Itinerary / 6 Days
DAY 1Fly to Belgium
The design is just your first sign that you’re becoming a part of the Belgian landscape. Settle into your Business Class seat and discover this boutique hotel in the sky. Enjoy 15.6” HD television screens and noise-canceling headphones. Adjust the reading light and the stylish lamp in your space to create an ambience that’s truly hotel-like. The entire way, you’ll enjoy the personalized service of Brussels Airlines’ staff.
This is also when you’ll begin your immersion in Belgium’s culinary scene. First, choose from a curated selection of wines, Belgian beers, and Laurent Perrier Champagne. Enjoy the walk-up bar, which pays tribute to Belgium with its illuminated dome inspired by the glass ceiling of Antwerp’s Central Station. Then prepare yourself for gustatory delights. Every year, the airline collaborates with a different Michelin-starred chef as part of its unique gastronomy program. In 2019, Thierry Theys of the two-Michelin-star restaurant Nuance, in the town of Duffel, is creating seasonal menus with dishes like beef cheek à l’orange and crispy duck salad.
End your meal with some Neuhaus chocolates, then recline your six-foot-long fully-flat bed, made for one or two people—you can even customize the softness of the seat cushion. You’ll arrive in Brussels rested and ready to explore the city.
DAY 2Arrive in Brussels
Follow your nose to your first stop, the Belgian Chocolate Village—one of the world’s largest museums devoted to chocolate. Audio guides (in English, if your French and Flemish are rusty) explain every step in transforming raw cacao beans into chocolate bars and candies. A greenhouse includes cacao plants and some of the other ingredients used to make chocolate, like ginger, pepper, and vanilla. Afterwards, take a walk through the Sablon district, home to some of Belgium’s most celebrated chocolatiers, including Patrick Roger, Pierre Marcolini, and Wittamer.
In the afternoon, visit the Brussels City Museum, on the Grand Place. Get a historical overview, then peek inside the kitchens and dining rooms of Belgian homes over the centuries by checking out the collection of decorative objects, silverware, pewterware, and porcelain.
After a day learning about Brussels’s history and its chocolate-making traditions, you deserve a cocktail. While beer reigns supreme in this country, a new and exciting cocktail scene has emerged in recent years. Let the mixologists at Life is Beautiful and Pharmacie Anglaise pour you one of their signature handcrafted creations, made with ingredients like house-blended rum or horseradish-infused vodka.
Then it’s time for dinner, perhaps on the Tram Experience. You’ll enjoy a six- or seven-course gourmet meal as you admire the city’s illuminated landmarks in this unique mobile restaurant. More conventional restaurants are no less dramatic, especially at one of the 18 Michelin-starred hotspots. Choose from options like Comme Chez Soi, a long-established favorite where you might spot royalty and celebrities dining at a nearby table; or more recent newcomers like Bon-Bon, where you can watch chef Christophe Hardiquest overseeing his team of cooks in the open kitchen.
DAY 3Explore More of Brussels
Sated on culture, satisfy some other senses with one of Belgium’s most famous dishes—steamed mussels. The Art Deco La Taverne du Passage has been serving mussels and other bistro favorites since 1930. Or head to Friture René, a family-owned and -run restaurant that serves Belgian favorites in a casual setting.
In the afternoon, set off on a self-guided walking tour with a lot of hops—beer hops, that is. The Capital of Beer is a journey past places, both historical and contemporary, that are important to Brussels’ award-winning beers. Explore some 650 Belgian of them at the Biertempel store, then enjoy a glass at La Fleur en Papier Doré, a favorite bar of Belgian surrealist artists in the 1920s.
Continue the theme this evening with visits to Delirium, famous for its encyclopedic selection of beers (more than 2,000 of them) both on draft and in bottles, and Au Daringman, one of the city’s traditional “brown” bars. Refuel on pub fare like meatballs or frites as you continue your exploration of the city’s taverns.
DAY 4Arrive in Bruges
After getting settled, start your exploration with a visit to Markt Square—the city’s traditional commercial heart and the site of a market since 958. These days, market days take place on Wednesdays, when you can browse the cheeses and produce brought in by area farmers and pick up some food gifts like jams and honeys for friends back home. Yet any day of the week, the square’s medieval buildings—like the iconic Belfry—create a picturesque scene.
Chocolate is a countrywide specialty, of course, and Bruges has its own chocolate museum, Choco-Story, that you’ll visit this afternoon. Along with learning the history of cacao cultivation and the process of making chocolates, you’ll find free samples throughout the museum, as well as live demonstrations by chocolatiers. Later, check out some of the city’s top chocolate stores. Chocolate Line and Dumon are known for their creative and unusual approaches to making chocolates, with colorful coatings and unusual ingredients.
This evening, enjoy a dinner of traditional Belgian fare with a gourmet spin. Bistro Bruut, located on one of the city’s canals, features upscale bistro fare made with local produce and served in creative but never fussy presentations. Assiette Blanche, another favorite in the historic heart of Bruges, serves Belgo-Franco cuisine in an inviting wood-paneled dining room.
DAY 5Explore More of Bruges
After seeing the catch of the day on canvases, check out the real thing at Vismarkt—the fish market—located in a stately 1821-era covered arcade. Perusing the bounty of the North Sea will help prepare you for lunch at Visscherie, one of the city’s best seafood restaurants.
In the afternoon, head to a more interactive museum: the Belgian Beer Experience. This hands-on museum lets you smell and touch the ingredients used to make beer while you learn about the beer-brewing traditions of the country’s abbeys. And what experience would be complete without some sampling? You’ll find 16 different beers on tap, from pale ales to dark stouts.
This evening, celebrate your last night in Belgium with a meal to remember. Choose from one of Bruges’s top restaurants, like the Michelin-starred Bartholomeus, where the four- and five-course menus are paired with sweeping views of the sea.
DAY 6Return Home
Either way, speed your way through check-in, with expedited service for Business Class passengers. Then be sure to enjoy some time in The Loft, the airline’s Business Class lounge. This gorgeously designed space features walls hung with contemporary art, a luxury spa, and nap rooms. Of course, this is also another chance to enjoy some delicious Belgian food and drinks, including coffee roasted by Rombouts and chocolates by Neuhaus. Then board your boutique hotel in the air for another memorable meal from a Michelin-starred chef and sublime service, all in the supremely comfortable surroundings of Brussels Airlines.