Brussels, Belgium, Museum of the City of Brussels in the Grand Place
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Museum of the City of Brussels in Grand Place iStock.com / eurobanks
Brussels, Belgium, Liquor truffles
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Liquor Truffles iStock.com / Jorisvo
Brussels, Belgium, Arcade du Cinquantenaire
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Arcade du Cinquantenaire iStock.com / mdmworks
Brussels, Belgium, Fries and beer
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Fries and Beer iStock.com / Bombaert
Brussels, Belgium, Grand Place at dusk
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Grand Place at Dusk iStock.com / siraanamwong
Brussels, Belgium, Traditional Belgian waffles at bakery
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Traditional Belgian Waffles iStock.com / dinozaver
Brussels, Belgium, Beer flight
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Beer Flight iStock.com / EddieHernandezPhotography

Brussels, Belgium

The capital of Belgium — and political center of the European Union — has one foot in the old world and the other in all things shiny and new. Sleek modern buildings are scattered around the city, while most of the visitor-favorite sights are in Brussels’ historic district. The area is marked by a grand square and other architectural gems dating back 600 years. Just don't blink or you may miss one of the top landmarks — a cherubic little fountain.

What We Love

Grand Place: The charming square is the heart of Old Town and emblematic of Brussels’ mercantile past. Home to elaborate 17th-century guild houses, the towering 15th-century Hotel de Ville, and neo-gothic Maison du Roi, Grand Place is lined with pubs, cafes, and a flower market. Bonus: It's close to the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert, a striking shopping arcade built in 1846.

Royal Museums of Fine Arts: Ensconced in an 1887 Beaux-Arts building, the museum is chock-a-block with more than 20,000 works. Among them are pieces by masters Rubens, Bruegel, Rodin, Gauguin, and Magritte. 

Best Known For

Street Treats: Chocolates, waffles, and frites, oh my! Pack the elastic pants — Belgians are masters of all things chocolate, they savor their waffles topped with the equivalent of an ice cream sundae, and peddle French fries on virtually every corner.

Manneken Pis: He may be tiny (just 24 inches tall), but he's a huge emblem. You'll find him in guidebooks, on dozens of postcards, and all over Instagram. The (in)famous bronze statue of “the peeing boy” was created in 1618 as a public water fountain and is located not far from Grand Place. 

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Who It's Best For

Beer Lovers: Belgian brews are some of the tastiest — and strongest — on the planet, and the city’s pubs have plenty on tap. Beer festivals crank the revelry up a notch.

Don't Say We Didn't Warn You

Some of the City Is a Snoozefest: Outside of its historic center, Brussels is pretty much a collection of glass and steel office buildings that would be mainly of interest to modern architecture fans.

Donna Heiderstadt

Donna Heiderstadt is a New York-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for Coastal Living and Islands.

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Itineraries Including Brussels, Belgium
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