If you time your Belgian trip so you’re spending a weekend night in Brussels
, you can often find very good deals at the city’s hotels. As one of the capitals of the European Union, premium and business hotels are often at capacity from Monday to Thursday, but then empty out over the weekends. Many of the top choices are centrally located near the Grand Place, making them ideal for efficient sightseeing. Explore all your choices in Brussels as well as Antwerp, with Brussels Airlines’ Hotel Booking service
After you’re settled, head to the Grand Place, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that’s the symbolic heart of Brussels. The earliest market held here was in the 11th century; many of the guild halls that surround enormous square date to the early 18th century. Then jump to the 20th century with a visit to the Atomium
, an iconic landmark. This 335-foot-tall structure of nine stainless-steel-clad balls, each with a diameter of 60 feet, was built for the 1958 World’s Fair and is modeled after an iron molecule. Ascend to the highest of them for panoramic views of the city.
No trip to Belgium is complete without trying one of the country’s signature dishes— frites, served with a variety of sauces. Maison Antoine
, in the European Quarter, is a kiosk has been satisfying locals with some of the city’s best frites, as well as burgers and brochettes, since 1948.
After lunch, take a stroll through the nearby Leopold Park—a landscaped oasis amid the institutions of the European Union. Then choose which one of Belgium’s two famous foods you want to explore in depth: chocolate or beer. If you have a sweet tooth, make your way to the Belgian Chocolate Village
. One of the world’s largest museums devoted to chocolate explains every step in transforming raw cacao beans into chocolate bars and candies. Afterwards, a visit to the Sablon district should include stops at some of Belgium’s most celebrated chocolatiers including Patrick Roger, Pierre Marcolini, and Wittamer.
If you’d rather sample Belgium’s world-famous beers, follow the self-guided Capital of Beer
tour. Stops include the Biertempel store—where you’ll find some 650 Belgian beers—and historic bars like the Greenwich Taverne, where surrealist painter René Magritte would often go when he was in the mood for a beer.
Tonight, make a reservation at one of Brussels’ many celebrated restaurants. If you want to splurge (and why not?), the city is home to 18 Michelin-starred restaurants. At Seagrill
, you can dine on fish and shellfish straight from the North Sea, prepared by chef Yves Mattagne. Or head to Bozar Restaurant
, which serves classic French dishes in a casual, contemporary setting