Mention Brussels and people think of a few things. The home of the EU…..and more importantly, chocolate, waffles, frites, and beer. We indulged in all of the above save the beer. Belgium is a delicious, beautiful country and one that needs to be added to your bucket list if you haven’t visited before. We spent a few days in Belgium and were able to see all of Brussels and Bruges thanks to their relatively small size and the excellent public transportation in Belgium. When we first arrived, we ended up in the middle of a protest (citizens protesting a proposed increase in the retirement age), were stuck in a cab that hardly moved for 30 minutes, and had to walk a KM over cobblestone with heavy suitcases to get to our hotel due to road closures. It was frustrating but hysterical. After we checked in, we started our food and city tour and documented our favorite things that you’ll find here in our Brussels guide.
Belgium is uniquely situated between France and Germany, so as you might expect, there is a mix of native tongues throughout the country. In Brussels, French is the dominant language, while most people also speak German and English. In other parts of the country (Bruges, for instance), German and Dutch are the dominant languages while locals still speak French and English.
While we always recommend Airbnb, we decided to use some Hotels.com free nights to stay at a nice hotel – The Dominican. The hotel was clean, luxurious, and conveniently located just outside the center of Brussels. The Dominican church music in the elevators, however, was a bit creepy.
So for those of you who skipped everything before this section and are only interested in the chocolate – we got you. Having surveyed and sampled a plethora of chocolate stores in Brussels, we feel ourselves qualified experts in the art of chocolate. Our choice for the best chocolate in Brussels is Pierre Marcolini. The nice young men working at this heavenly store were kind enough to give us samples so that we had a chance to try some of their favorites as well as some of the new releases. Our favorite was a chocolate truffle filled with hazelnut cream. It’s probably the best chocolate we have ever tasted.
You really can’t go wrong, however, with the chocolates (especially the truffles and pralines) at any of the myriad of stores you’ll find littered throughout the city. Bottom line, Belgium has the best chocolate in the world. Period. End of story.
We also happened to eat our fair share of waffles while in Belgium. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to try more than a few spots. Based on both reviews and our experience, we recommend Maison Dandoy. They have a speculoos latte that pairs perfectly with their waffles, chocolate sauce, and ice creams. Everything is homemade, and they (of course) have chocolates and assorted biscuits for you to try as well.
There is good and bad news about our favorite coffee place in Brussels. Good news – the espresso is fantastic. Bad news – they for some reason don’t open until about 09:30. Not sure why, but Brussels is a sleepy town in the AM. There’s almost nothing going on before 09:00. So, have a cup of coffee at your hotel and then head to Aksum for some delicious espresso. They have non-dairy milk as well to cater to those with dietary restrictions. They roast their own beans that you can buy to bring home. They also have tasty pastries and are conveniently located a few steps from our favorite chocolate shop.
Here is our guide to planning a Bruges Day Trip. We have tips on how to get to Bruges, what to do and see in Bruges, and of course, where to find the best restaurants in Bruges and the best waffles in Bruges.