Brussels

Things to do in Brussels

There are a lot of things to do in Brussels, from its landmarks and museums to its shopping districts. Brussels is a fantastic city for shopping, a fact often overshadowed by its presence as the EU capital. Find out for yourself by window-shopping in the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert, Europe’s first covered shopping gallery, which opened in 1847. Its arched glass ceilings cover 54 upscale shops retailing leather goods, books, clothes, and more.

There’s also the city’s old botanical garden. Now, Botanique is a cultural center, its 19th century glass and wrought iron buildings hosting French language theatre, performance art, and dance, all surrounded by a traditionally manicured formal garden It’s a lovely place for a stroll.

But we still haven’t touched on one of the best-known things to do in Brussels. If your stroll makes you thirsty, it might be time to take advantage of Belgium’s brewing tradition. Look opposite the infamous Manneken Pis, the famous 17th century bronze sculpture of a little boy urinating into a fountain, and you’ll find the Poechenellekelder, a non-tourist tavern whose extensive beer list will introduce you to the best of Belgian ale.

American decorators haunt this place for Michel Lambrecht's clever furnishings.

Rue Haute, like parallel Rue Blaes, traverses the Marolles district; both are dotted with antiquaries that grow more affordable the farther you travel away from the Place du Grand Sablon.

Though they aim to emulate Axel Vervoordt, this design store is a more affordable and polite version of eclectic Belgian style.

Haute Antiques houses 40 dealers whose wares span the full range of styles and periods, from a fanciful iron birdcage and a mod trapezoidal fireplace, to a flat-bottomed skiff suspended from the ceiling in the basement.

An ormolu-mounted fruit-wood desk and a bench of thick rubber molded to resemble giant blocks of chocolate front a huge painting of African dancers.

One of the few active breweries remaining in Brussels is the family-run Cantillon Brewery, built in 1900 in an old warehouse and famous for its acidic lambic brews (in March and November they invite the public to participate in the process, which may include adding hops or cleaning the 19th-centu

At the Desmet antiques gallery, nearly everything is of majestic scale and almost nothing is Belgian. Sarcophagus-like stone tubs come from France, boldly framed mirrors from the Netherlands and Italy, a pair of Georgian gateleg tables from Britain.

This shop has closed.

In Brussels’s main square, 10 master Belgian chocolate makers are showcased at this boutique, where they host daily workshops to teach the secret ingredients of their country’s rich dark and white cocoa.

These dealers in African art and relics as well as the adjacent Congo Basin Art History Research Center can be found on a charming lane off the Place du Grand Sablon.

Established in 1839, this antiques store is one of the few still holding on to its spot on the Place du Grand Sablon. Its salons are filled with 18th-century furniture and objets - and sometimes with audiences for Baroque concerts - but the courtyard is what sets Costermans apart.

What to Expect: Brussels' Christmas market has been around only since 2002, but it pulls off its Plaisirs d'Hiver/Winter Pret ("Pleasures of Winter") festival with elegant style.