3 days in Brussels...What to do?

Old Mar 4th, 2004, 05:06 PM
  #1  
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3 days in Brussels...What to do?

Got a great deal on a long weekend in Brussels in June--always get great ideas from Fodors posters! Well, my traveling friends?
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Old Mar 4th, 2004, 05:31 PM
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Brussels doesn't get a lot of play here. I was there for 4 nights in 2001 and really enjoyed it. I had a car but it stayed parked the whole time. I drove in and out, that was it. The rest of the time I used public transportation.

I ate at Armand & Ko and really enjoyed it. It's very near the Grand Place.

www.armandandko.be

I thought there were interesting museums and, of course, the Grand Place is stunning to be in as the sun sets and it gets dark.

The Museum of Modern Art is pretty good. It has the best collection of Magritte's I've seen assembled. Has Salvador Dali's "Temptation of St. Anthony." (Think elephants on stilts.) The Museum of Ancient Art is right next to the Modern Art museum, nice collection of Rubens and old masters.

There's a musical instrument museum close to the art museum. An extensive collection and headphones that you could use to listen to recordings of the instruments being played. Nice set-up, usually you just see instruments but don't get to hear them.
I enjoyed the old world's fairgrounds to the northwest of downtown. The Atomium seems like a bizarre space ship landed in the Brussels suburbs. Next to it is a Europe-in-Miniature that was funny. My friend kept taking odd perspective photos of me looking big next to a European landmark with the full size Atomium over my shoulder.

To the west of downtown is a huge basilica that was done in the art-deco style. You can climb to the top and have a great view.

The Mannequin Pis didn't do much for me, though I was surprised that people had gone to the effort to create almost 500 outfits for him. I saw him in a tuxedo and an archer's outfit.

I've since found out from BTilke that Brussels has a huge automobile museum. Something I'll have to see someday.

www.autoworld.be
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Old Mar 16th, 2004, 05:14 AM
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Personally I can't imagine spending that much time in Brussels. I'd definitely go to Antwerp, at least for a day. Very upcoming and trendy shops, lots to see, especially the Rubens house and the cathedral.
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Old Mar 16th, 2004, 05:34 AM
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Hmmm, I've managed to spend over 4 years in Brussels without getting bored, I think a visitor can find enough to do for 3 days!
Crazyone, what are your interests? What would you like to so? Sightsee? Shop? Try some fine restaurants, or are you on a tight budget? Do you want to stay put or do a day trip elsewhere (Brugge, Antwerp, Leuven, or even the Netherlands)...
BTilke (Brussels)
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Old Mar 16th, 2004, 05:36 AM
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or Ghent for a smaller town feel. It has a fort/castle right in the city center and a meandering canal.
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Old Mar 16th, 2004, 07:24 AM
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crazyone, I have to agree with kvm. Brussells has the least to offer of any european city I have been to. I got in and out of there in 24 hours. THe city bus tour is the worst I have ever been on. You can honestly see the entire city centre in 8 hours at a very liesurely pace. I would get out to Brugge for two days and one night and you will have a much better exprerience.
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Old Mar 19th, 2004, 04:24 AM
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I live in Brussels so I whince a little at the comments about this lovely city. I know it's not Paris or Rome but it is quaint and the fact that it is NOT overrun with tourists, is one of the things that gives it an authentic feeling. Brussels is incredibly diverse and full of foreigners thanks to NATO and the EU. Thus, many venues cater to this crowd. While there may not be many grandiose sites (minus the Grand Place) there are definitely plenty of cool bars, restuarants, night clubs, and of course, chocolate shops.

If you stay in the centre, try the St. Gery, Sainte Catherine, or Grand Sablon areas. You're still close to everything but it's not as noisy as the Grand Place. Otherwise, stay in the Avenue Louise area (trendy restaurants and haute couture shopping).

If you want bar or restaurant recommendations, let me know...
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Old Mar 19th, 2004, 04:48 AM
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you really should spend at least 1 night in BRUGGE, 2 NIGHTS would be better. you will not be disappointed.
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Old Mar 19th, 2004, 05:10 AM
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I made a three day trip to Brussels at the end of December. The half-day bus tour of the city was worthwhile (the obligatory souvenir stop was at a lace place (in Sablon area, I think) but there was a cafe across the street). Stayed at the SAS, not far from the Gran Place, and it was comfortable and quiet.

Enjoyed the shopping gallery St. Hubert while walking to the Gran Place for chocolate and on to the Bourse area and St. Catherine's. Heading north along the Rue Neuve, a bit past half-way, there is a shopping center on the right side with a booth where the waffles are baked while you wait.

I took the bus day-tour to Brugge and Gent and enjoyed the short stop in Gent. Gent, like jess_march said of Brussels, was not overrun with tourists and has an authentic feel. Several posters here recommend staying over in Brugge and that they enjoy it more "after the tour buses leave". Brugge was overrun with tour bus tourists, like me, and had an amusement park feel. I would have liked to have spent more time in Brugge, though, exploring the second square, the one next to the main square.

Maybe Antwerp would be a better day trip, but I kind of regret not taking the train out to Spa for an overnight.
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Old Mar 19th, 2004, 05:42 AM
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I think Brussels is a wonderful, vibrant, very international city. I did 3 nights few years back, and when leaving I was mad at myself for not being able to stay longer.
It all depends what you're looking for. Some people want to stand in front of all the "famous" landmarks so they could snap a shot, and show it to their friends back home that they were everywhere, just like the guidebook. Nothing wrong with that, but in that case, I can see why they would not appreciate Brussels or many other places.
Personally I like to dicover the "back alleys", meet locals as well as visitors. Exchange ideas, have few laughs, maybe beers, hopefully meet a young lady to show me around, etc., stuff that you can't get visiting the cathedrals and museums according to the guidebook schedule.
I do like old European cathedrals, castles, churches and museums, but I also like to get the "feel" for a place. I have nothing but great memories of Brussels. I did meet some very intersting people. Few are still my friends. I actually got to go to a Morrocon(?) wedding by accident. I met a very nice young lady that immigrated to Belgium from Morroco few years earler, so she took me to a Morrocon retaurant and it just happen to have a wedding party. I also met a group of young military officers attached to NATO offices in Brussels. They were British, German and one Italian. We debated te world politics for hours in a great pub that served some outstanding Belgium beers. I exchanged addresse with few and I still keep in touch. One actually fought in Iraq, so it was nice to get some "inside info" from him through e-mail.
Anyway, my point is this, I treat every destination as possible gold mine of new experiences. It could be the great architecture, it could be all the "famous" landmarks, but it also always involves discovering the people, food, culture.
Brussels provided a little bit of everything and in some cases more. And it goes wihout saying, some of the best beers in the world. KWOK is still on my shopping list
Follow the guidebook, but don't be afraid to walk through the side streets as well, and you will discover that Brussels has much to offer.
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Old Mar 19th, 2004, 08:33 AM
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The Horta museum for the ultimate art nouveau private house.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2004, 11:28 PM
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I do think Brussels is underplayed on here. As a regular visitor for the last 18 months, I am not even close to running out of things to see and do.

In addition to those above, go and see some of the Art Deco buildings which are scattered around the city; some are terrific bars and cafes.

You have the "cartoon" museum, and the Tintin shop, which for some of us is like rediscovering our lost youth.

The area around Avenue Louise is great for shopping, but the Old Town is more characterful.

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Old Mar 25th, 2004, 08:20 PM
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mrwunrfl: I just saw you stayed in SAS. I assume that is the Raddisson SAS. We have booked there for mid april. Just wanted to get some feed-back from you. Did you like the hotel? any particular room to avoid? How big are the rooms?How is the breakfast? Any other info will be appreciated. Thanks so much.
Barna
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Old Mar 27th, 2004, 06:57 AM
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Thank you all for the great Brussels advice--Especially indytravel, for the quick (and only, I thought!) reply. To answer the other helpful posters, we are not really on a budget, but locked into a Brussels hotel for our stay. Sightseeing, restaurants, shopping, it's all good. I am not opposed to a day trip--the question then becomes, to where? If you could pick one day trip from Brussels, would it be Brugge, Antwerp, or elsewhere? Again, thanks for the great advice. Not too many travel guides for just that area.
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Old Mar 27th, 2004, 08:05 AM
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The Radisson SAS was comfortable and quiet. It is on a small side street, so it is quiet at night. There is a bus route that passes in front of the hotel, so one morning I was woken by a bus (good thing), but didn't notice it the other mornings. The side of the hotel that I stayed on and the front of the hotel are at the corner where the bus passes and a higher floor would be better. The bus was no big deal really.

The breakfast was good . Better to get there early (like before 9AM, I think) as it can get busy. It was the second morning when I realized that the stuff in the one pan was actually scrambled eggs. If I went back there I would have breakfast there again. I would not have dinner there, though, since it was just ok and quite expensive.

Shuttle-tour buses pick up in front of the hotel and then go over to Centraale Station where passengers are collected onto the tour bus. It is an easy walk to that station (there is another subway station nearby, in the other direction from the hotel).

The Gallery St. Hubert is right around the corner from the hotel. That leads to the Gran Place. The room that I had was what I expected: comfortable, clean, quiet, and of average size. Your basic Radisson room.
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Old Mar 27th, 2004, 08:33 AM
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...I was in Brussels last year for a week on business....there is more than enough to keep you busy for 3days or even three months..If you choose to stay in the Grand Place I would recommend the Le dixsizieme..I echo the comments on the Louisa area and the art deco and antique shops of the Sablon...I also enjoyed the old "fish market" area..If you felt compelled to go elsewhere there are some one day bus trips to Brugges or a combination Bruges/Ghent which can be booked through your hotel.
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Old Mar 27th, 2004, 08:53 AM
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I've been on three long business trips to Brussels, and on one that was for two weeks I had a four day period w/no work to do. I second the post on the Museum of Modern Art, but I thought it was much more than pretty good, it's a unique collection. I did alot of walking and saw the cartoon animations on all the buildings- that's a nice walking tour. I stay at Le Meridien, which is one block off the Gran Place and literally across the street from the train station, so it is great for traveling in and out of the city and if you get a room that is on the side w/the train station you can do alot of people watching from your window. I found the food in Brussles wonderful. Save your appetite for a night around the Gran Place on those narrow walking streets filled w/cafes w/outdoor seafood displays and tables outside. I also had very very good food at the restaurant at the Meridien- I can still see and smell it when I think about it. Some of the best chocolate places are not the ones at the Gran Place- the hotel concierge told us about one that was a cab ride away and it was divine, chocolates w/delicate gold inlays on the top. I hope you drink beer because it is good beer there, lots of good people watching sitting outside having a beer at the cafes. And I hope you like mussels, because you can get a pot of them and they are great. My colleague took the train to Brugge on our days off but I got a car and drove to a very provencial area, Durbuy, for three days as I had been to Brugge before. A street cart full of ripened cheese, pulled by a horse, clip-clopped down the brick street in front of my hotel and I was able to get Roblechon like I'd never had before (I wrapped up a wheel and brought it home too- really had to wrap it tight to get it not to smell on the plane). I'd go back in a second. Very romantic, sensual, and vibrant city.
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Old Mar 27th, 2004, 10:00 AM
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..whoops excuse my typing..dixsixieme..
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Old Mar 27th, 2004, 08:10 PM
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mrwunrfl: Thank so much for your information.
Barna
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Old Mar 28th, 2004, 02:02 AM
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Travelbunny, don't worry about the spelling, as it's actually Le Dixseptieme ;-) address: 25 rue de la Madeleine, Tel: 32 (0) 2 517 17 17. It is one of the nicer hotels in the Grand'Place area, but I always suggest people look beyond the Grand'Place. While the GP is an amazing square, there is so much more to see outside that area...
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