5 reasons to visit Brussels right now
The Belgian capital is having a moment in the spotlight as a ville créative, from Stromae’s catchy music to the fashionable concept stores and design ateliers that are popping up across town. Plus, it’s still one of the best food cities in Europe—who wouldn't want to wash down a cone of fries with a Trappist beer?
Belgian Chocolate Village
Belgians are proud consumers of chocolate (averaging 15 pounds per person every year), and visitors would be remiss to not indulge while in Brussels. Master chocolatier Pierre Marcolini has several boutiques throughout the capital. There's also the Belgian Chocolate Village, the largest chocolate-centric museum in Belgium, which has a tasting room, a workshop for chocolate-making classes, and a tropical greenhouse to demonstrate the humid conditions needed to grow cacao trees.
Brussels Design Market
Pick up fabulous vintage décor from the 1950s-’80s in the largest such dedicated market in Europe, which takes place twice a year (April and September). In the fall, it coincides with Brussels Design September, an annual event that has become a must-visit for design lovers. For the entire month of September, 100 events are staged across the city, and visitors can follow an urban circuit of shops and designer studios.
What the bagel is to New York, so the pistolet is to Brussels. This small, round bread roll now has its own dedicated deli at Pistolet-Original, located in the Sablon district. Choose from a bevy of sandwich options, topped with high-quality Belgian ingredients—such as meat from butcher Hendrik Dierendonck, cheese from Julien Hazar, and Tierenteyn-Verlent mustard. Even the coffee is roasted locally by the specialists at Corica.
La Guingette en Ville
This tiny, 20-seat bistro is a new local favorite on the place du Béguinage, one of the prettiest squares in Brussels. Order Parmesan and pecorino croquettes to start, followed by mushroom risotto or wild boar ragout. On a nice day, snag a seat at the outside terrace overlooking the Baroque church Saint-Jean-Baptiste-au-Béguinage.
The Game Designstore
Alexis Ryngaert, the founder of the Victor Hunt Designart Dealer gallery in Brussels, is the brains behind this shop, which is founded on the idea of showcasing 52 unique design concepts. Yes, 52: Each week, the shop debuts a new piece or design from a different brand or artist, so there's something new to look forward to all year long. You’ll find lighting, ceramics, décor, and more from some of the leading names in design.