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2 Days in Brussels

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We will be spending 2 days in Brussels (but are open to traveling outside the capitol during that time) in Late July. My husband is a beer drinker and we already know we'll be making a stop at the Cantillon brewery. Can anyone suggest a good beer tasting or other 'must see/taste' breweries?
Also, would love some tips on places to eat (mussels, chocolate, waffles...etc.). We'll be traveling on to Paris from here but would like to get taste of the Belgium culture.

We're looking for some great travel tips on how to spend our 2 days in Belgium!
Thanks to any advice in advance!

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    Thank you, @joannyc. I've heard wonderful things about Brugge! Can you please provide best sites to see? Brussels is a must stop, at least for an afternoon of beer. Is it not worth more than a day? Would it be possible to visit both, Brugge and Brussels?

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    I really like the Het Anker brewery (brewers of Gouden Carolus) in Mechelen (half an hour from Brussels; Antwerp is 20 minutes further, so you could tour around Antwerp for a bit and hit Mechelen on the way back).

    I've never done the Het Anker tour, but even just hitting the tasting room is really worth it- - they tend to have five or six of their beers on tap. The brewery is at the far end of the town center from the train station, but Mechelen is very pleasant town with interesting sights, a river walk, nice restaurants with reasonable prices on the central square, and hardly any tourists.

    Brugge has a few nice beer pubs; the only brewery in town is De Halve Maan - - it's a very pretty tour, but their beer is not exciting. Brugge does have a few nice beer pubs.

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    We gave ourselves the mission of finding the "best" chocolate in Brussels a number of years ago. Our verdict? Pierre Marcollini. But the taste tests are the most fun.

    Take a look at a guidebook for Brussels and chose the places that interest you most. We spent a week there and didn't run out of things to do. We did a day trip to Brugge, which I'm glad we did, but I didn't find it as compelling as most people here apparently do.

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    Hi mwal,

    Brussels is ok for 1/2 - 1 day. I spent 2 nights there and wished I had added that time to Bruges. There are breweries all over Belgium if that is your sole purpose for Brussels.

    I spent 4 nights in Bruges and could have spent longer. This was my itinerary (taken from various sources and forum postings):

    * 4 remaining windmills outside walls

    * 4 remaining Medieval City Gates: Gentpoort, Kruisport, Ezelpoort, and Smedepoort -Beginning of 15th Century

    * Canal Cruise on De Lamme Goedzaak - Sails between Bruges and Damme - 45 minutes

    * Cathedral - Basilica of the Holy Blood (Heilig Bloedbasilick) Blood of Jesus. The chapel of the Holy Blood is actually a double chapel which can be visited on the 'Burg' square in Bruges. One can enter the church on the first floor where the Holy Blood is kept via the 'Steeghere' which is a beautifully decorated façade behind which a staircase leads to the first floor. The relic is shown to the public every Friday. Reliquary can be seen in the Museum of the Holy Blood next door to the Holy Blood Chapel.

    * Town Hall and Burg Square, Office of the Town Clerks (Oude Griffie), and justice buildings Go inside! One of the most beautiful buildings of Bruges can be seen here : the gothic town hall from 1376 is one of most beautiful bldgs in Belgium

    * Huidenvettersplein has some of the best restaurants in the city and the VIEW over the waters of the Burgundian Cross is STUNNING

    * Some old patrician houses still have window panes of Venetian glass - House # 7 on Dijiver is worth noting.

    * The Groeninge Museum Small museum in both size and collection, quality is fantastic! Collection of Flemish masters. Museum's masterpiece is 'The Madonna with Canon Joris van der Paele', which Van Eyck painted in 1436
    'Death of the Holy Virgin' by Hugo van der Goes, and 'The altar of Saint Christopher' by Hans Memling, Located in a former Augustian monestary.

    * The Gruuthuse Museum - Furniture, tapestries, silver, etc. of life in the 16th and 17th C Bruges

    * Church of Our Lady (Onze Lieve Vrouwekerk)- Mary of Burgundy and Chas the Bold tombs and several Old Master paintings are the highlight. Don't miss Michelangelo's Madonna & Child sculpture (only Michelangelo sculpture to leave Italy during his lifetime. Largest Gothic church in low countries built in 13th C. Served as royal wedding chapels to dukes of Burgundy

    * Holy Savior's Cathedral (St. Salvatorskathedraal)- The other major church, also houses Burgundian masterpieces. Gothic choir stalls. Founded in 646.

    * Canal Ride/tour - Neat to see town from canal and offers a good overview of the historic center

    * De Halve Maan Brewery beer tour and tasting

    * Hospital Museum - St. John's Hospital (Memlingmuseum housed the 13th C St. Janshospitaal)

    * Great photo op from bridge to left of canal and hospital

    * In front of Our Lady's church stands the large complex of the medieval St. John's hospital, one of the oldest still existing hospitals in Europe. In 1978 it lost its function as hospital and harbors now the Memling museum, the hospital museum and the old pharmacy.

    * Minnewater - Minnewater and its lovely park are the entrance to the beautiful city of Bruges. The Minnewater is a canalized lake. From the bridge (1740) one can already enjoy a nice panoramic view over the town. Because of the idyllic surroundings it is mostly referred to as 'the lake of Love', the Dutch word 'Minne' meaning 'love'. Gorgeous view!!!

    * Beginhof - ( Prinselijk Begijnhof ten Wijnarde) - One of the most enchanting nooks in Bruges: Beguines residence founded in 1245. Just behind the Minnewater lies the Beguinage 'De Wijngaard' (= the Vineyard). It is one of those typical areas in Bruges where one can find more peace and quiet than in the sometimes busy and overcrowded streets of the town center. The Beguinage is a group of houses around a little garden covered with large poplar trees. It was here that during the last seven centuries lived the beguines of Bruges. In 1937 the beguinage became a monastery for the Benedictine sisters who still live here now.

    * Kantcentrum (lace center) - you can buy lace and watch the craft being practiced

    * Streets and Alleys north of Markt - Spanjardstraat leads to oldest bridge in city, you also see Spaanse Looskai, Oosterlingenplein and the Natiehaus (Nation House of Genoa). Headqtrs of Florentines at corner of Vlamingstraat and Academiestraat (now chic restaurant), Venetian residence down street a bit further. Old Customs House is one of most beautiful and ornately decorated gothic bldgs of Bruges on Academiestraat.

    * Chocolate Museum and Frites Museum

    * Fish market and craft stalls

    * Market square and belfry tower - completely refurbished and is now one of the most attractive parts of the city. The main monument is of course the belfry tower and the cloth hall. On the Northern side of the Market is the Provincial Court.
    The belfry tower charms the visitor with the lovely music of a carillion, which consists of 47 bells. 366 steps to top for a beautiful view!

    * Good photo op - from the bell tower 366 steps up!!!

    * Good photo op - Groenerei canal from far side of bridge looking towards cathedral

    * Good photo op - view of canal beside St. Janshopsitaal
    * A favorite part of Brugge was around the river and windmills and the church of St Anne's -- a great, classic early 20th century Belgian residential neighborhood

    * Jerusalem church has preserved its original style almost completely. The beautiful stained glass windows date from 1482 and 1560. Behind the lower altar is a small space which suggests the tomb of Christ.

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    Cantillon is fabulous and we always spend an afternoon in Brussels at their tasting room. Seriously amazing...if your husband enjoys their beer I would recommend a stop at Moeder Lambic Fontainas which is a world class beer bar.

    I too would highly recommend seeing Brugge. As beer and history lovers it's possibly our favorite city in the world! In addition to all the fabulous things to see and do listed above by joannyc, it had a great beer scene. All right in the heart of the city are watering holes such as T' Brugs Beertje, Café Red Rose, Comptoir de Arts, and Cambrinus. So much to see and do!

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    Funny how few people say they like Bruxelles.
    Seems like there's nothing there.
    I live 20 kms from there, used to work in Brussels and am always amazed by it. Brussels is clearly not homogeneous but saying half a day there is enough is non-sense.
    Spending 4 days in Brugge is for me also non-sense. Been there 3-4 times, and never slept there, was always fed-up after my visit - nice but ... somehow feels like Disneyland - seems a little bit unreal.
    So please Mwal, just open a book about Belgium and make yourself your opinion.
    Moeder Lambik is very nice as well as La Becasse, that I find very funny - it is really a hole in the wall, not so easy to find.

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    July is not the best time for mussels.

    Do you have any special interests beyond beer?

    Some things to do:
    Ride the 94 tram from Place Louise to the tram museum. Take in the museum and go for a walk in the Parc Woluwe across the street. Then take the 39 or 44 tram to Mongtomery, head down to Cinquantenaire and walk through the EU district.
    Have hot tea with fresh mint leaves. Delicious -- served at many cafes in Brussels (and almost none here in Basel, :-( )
    Spend time wandering in and around the Sablon, visit the Flamant flagship store there.
    The Grand'Place, of course! If you want to see the pee-boy, fine. If you skip it, don't worry, you're not really missing anything.
    Go to one of the markets, whether it's the antiques/art market on the Sablon (where you can find anything except a bargain), the Chatelain food market ( http://www.smarksthespots.com/chatelain-market-brussels/) or something else
    Attend a preview exhibition at the Horta auction house.
    Eat some frites from a local stand.
    Taste lots of different chocolates. I'm a Neuhaus fan, but it's all good.

    There! that should fill up two days. At least ;-)

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    I agree with pariswat:
    If you have never been to Brussels then of course you want to see it.

    Weisser also has given some good places to see.

    1. Yes walk or ride to the Cinquantaire , you really want to see this place.

    I am not much into Military Museum but the one here at the Cinguantaire is really something

    2. I think Brussels has one of the nicest Old Town Squares in Europe...called Grand Place.
    Do a little homework and you can name 90 % of the buidings in the Old Town Square.

    3. Yes, walk down to see Mennekin Pis, the little boy peeing.
    From the Old Town Square you are only 2 1/2 blocks away.
    And on your way ,a block away of the

    Museum of Belgium Costume and Lace

    4. The stock Exchange and right beside it is St. Nicholas Church ( the church is built at an angle due to a creek that once ran across here.

    5 Within about 3 -4 blocks of each other is:
    St. Catherine's Church
    St. Catherine's Tower.
    The Black Tower.
    Hotel Metropole ( go inside)
    Place de Brouchere
    Martyr's Square and Monument.
    National Opera House.

    and...if you want to see the girl peeing ( you have already seen the boy !!)then a block from the Opera house is Jeanneke Pis.

    6. a block from the Grand Place ( Old Town Square) is Galeria Royal Arcade...good inside.

    In front of the arcade is a nice Square with a statue of Charles Buis Statue .

    7. From here go to the Central Train Station ( 1/2 block away ) and next to the station is the Church of St. Mary Magdelen.....you have to pass by here to go to...

    8. The Hill of Arts with a statue of King Albert on a horse facing a statue of his wife Elizabeth.

    The views from the Hill of Arts toward the Old Town Hall are terrific.

    9. Walking through the Hill of Arts you will pass the whirling Ear Fountain, Musical Instrument Museum and then arrive at the Royal Place Square.

    10. You are at the Sablon Area that WeisserTree mentioned.

    Places to see here are:

    Cathedral of Sts. Michael and Gudula
    Maturity Statue
    State of Godfrey Bouillon in front of St. Jacque Church at Royal Palace Square.
    Museum of Fine Arts..lovely building take some pictures.

    keep walking and on the next b lock is the Notre Dame du Sablon.

    Across the street is the little Park and lovely Fountain of Egmont and Hoorne.

    Have you ever seen that many bronze statues in one places !!

    Okay straight down a few feet away is the Great Synagogue of Europe and that Square ahead is the Anglo Belgium War Memorial ,which fronts the huge Justice Palace Building.

    11. There is a Comic Museum in Belgium worth seeing , the Belgiums are inot their comic strips.

    12. Tomb of unknown soldier
    13. Place of Congress

    14. Royal Palace ( no the Royal Family does not stay here)
    15. Brussels Park across from the Royal Palace.
    16. Belgium Federation Building..just walk through the park!

    If you want to see the place where the Royal Family lives then go to Royal Castle Laeken and see the area along with many other lovely sites here like:

    The Leopold Monument.
    Neptune Fountain
    Japaneses Tower
    Chinese Pagoda.

    Brupark that has the Atomiun , which is an atom magnified 165 billion times.

    Mini Europe is here also , a place where you will see in miniature size all he famous places ( buildings in Europe)

    Also from here you will pass by the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, the huge domed Church that you can see from almost anywhere in Belgium

    There is lots to see here and two days will not do it ...

    but if your husband wants to drink beer , then he can try the "sample tray" where they bring you five different beers in five different glass styles ....so you just sit on a sidewalk table , people watch and rink away .!!

    Waffles, you can get at any places and the ones sold in small street kiosks are great.

    There are many fancy waffles but the simple one with sprinkled sugars is one that I like best, because you can eat this and walk at the same time.

    Chocolates, you will come across many chocolate shops, some are very elegant and more expensive ,but you be the judge.

    I had three meals at the Grand Palace Square as there are some good waffle places and several true Belgium food places to eat here.

    You've got two days in Belgium ..stay right where you are in Brussels, see as much as you can.

    Leave Bruge for another time.

    and if you do plan to go to Bruges on the future, then I recommend seeing the movie Bruges (2008), as it shows lovely architecture and the canal rides.

    Bruges is lovely as joannyc outlines.

    I can identify with all she has sais and is is right.
    What is not to like about Bruges.

    I spent 3 full days in Bruges, one day with a private guide to make sure I saw everything I wanted to see and more.

    Let your husband drink in peace !! :)

    Oh , if you really want to leave Brussels for an afternoon , then go to Waterloo....but then you will miss a lot of things in Brussels.

    You decide, have a good time.

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    I'm glad to see others posting here who enjoyed Brussels. For some reason, Brussels gets put down here. And I'm glad to see someone else (pariswat) who felt as we did about Brugge.

    This is just to say that people are different from each other, like different things. Choose what looks good to you and enjoy!

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    Another fan of Brussels here. I am glad to see there are some others who don't automatically say "go to Bruges instead." Brussels definitely has much more to see/enjoy than the Grand Place and the Mannekin Pis.

    If you like Flemish art, the fine arts museum has a wonderful collection.

    The art Nouveau section of the city (Saint Gilles and Ixelles) especially the Horta museum is also a great area to explore.

    I wrote a trip report of the time we spent based in Brussels in 2011 with a link at the end to some suggestions about beers to try.
    http://www.fodors.com/community/europe/10-days-in-belgium-plus-a-day-in-the-netherlands.cfm

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    for mussels and other traditional dishes Aux Armes de Bruxelles, 13 rue du Bouchers, off the Grand'Place.

    there are many Michelin rated and starred restaurants in Brussels


    take a look at this website for beer : http://belgium.beertourism.com/cities/brussels

    also breweries:
    •Brouwerij Drie Fonteinen - 3 Herman Teirlinckplein, Beersel
    •Brouwerij Oud Beersel - 230 Laarheiestraat, Beersel
    •Brasserie de la Senne - Steenweg op Gent 565, Brussels
    •OWA Brewery SPRL - Rue des confédérés, 52, Brussels

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