A last minute trip to Brussels to visit the City’s famous ‘Winter Pret’ most definitely got me into the festive spirit. I only had a day and a half but I tried to cram in as much as possible.
My priority whilst in Brussels was of course the Winter Market, however the city has so much else to offer but I unfortunately didn’t have enough time to do all that I wanted, so I will be returning and promise a non-winter based blog.
Therefore this following blog post is for those of you planning to visit the city between the 25th of November and the 1st of January.
Given how little time I had in Brussels I’ve decided to list what to do, eat and visit whilst the City hosts it’s legendary Winter Wonderland.
Madame Chapeau – Have dinner here! This small but stylish restaurant located at 94, Rue du Marche au Carbon. Here they specialises in a Belgium classic, Stoemp, which is a potato puree mixed with seasonal vegetables, such as carrot or leek, which is traditionally accompanied by a pork sausage and gravy. However, Madame Chapeau’s menu allows you to mix and match their choices of mash, meat and condiments to make your ideal meal. I would advise booking in advance as the restaurant fills up quickly. The quality of the food was outstanding, who knew a simple meal of sausage and mash could be so tasty.
Peck 47 – Have brunch/breakfast here. Okay so there was a queue out the door, but trust me when I say the 10-minute wait was worth it! Peck is located on Rue du Marche aux poulet, number 47. This place has a great vibe and a cosy atmosphere, they offer brunch with a delightful twist, I opted for their waffle based brunch with smoked salmon, perfectly poached eggs and psycho sauce (which is their homemade spicy Hollandaise) hich is accompanied by a side salad. Their smoothies and juices are also amazing, and I would 100% advise trying one of them out.
See the Origami lights – A 3-D light show projected onto the Sainte-Catherine church which shows every night from 6-10pm and the show is on every half an hour. There is a countdown projected onto the church so you know when the next show is. The projection features images and musical graphics from Japanese culture. Definitely don’t miss out on this!
Grand-Place – As if this square couldn’t become anymore jaw-dropping, all you have to do is stand in the ‘Grote Markt’ and witness the outstanding light and music show. The whole square is lit up and proves an exceptional sight. This square is also worth visiting in the day as it is breath-taking, the gold trimmings around all the luxurious buildings is a must see.
Ferris Wheel – one of the Winter Pret’s most iconic attractions. For 6 euros why not ride the Ferris Wheel, it offers an amazing view of the whole city and of course makes for great photos. Plus you can’t not get on the wheel whilst visiting, let’s be honest.
Ice Skating – located at Place de la Monnaie ( however it moves every year, so check the markets yearly map) and for only 8 euros (adult price) it would be rude not to ice skate at a Christmas market. I visited about half an hour after opening so it wasn’t too busy, which was great, and there was no time limit so you can stay on the ice for as long as your heart desires. Having had a few ice-skating lessons as a child, I was having a great time and called it a day after about an hr and a half of skating around & posing for pictures. If ice-skating isn’t for you could always just pop by to laugh at a few people stumbling around like bambi.
Visit the Champagne bar – aka ‘La Bulle Ephemere’ for a quick escape to a warm and cosy dome where some of the best champagne is served. Its located just under the Ferris Wheel and provides a little brake from all the crowds at the market stalls.
Street Food & Christmas Shopping – the smells coming from some of the stalls are irresistible and I can quite happily admit that I ate my way round the market trying so many different cuisines. Some of the things I would 100% advise are; bratwurst, Belgium fries with plenty of mayo, churros with Nutella, crepes and of course the Belgium waffle. In addition a lot of stalls were selling unique and fun items which make for perfect gifts such as, chocolate, meats and cheeses, Christmas decorations, hats, cards & so much more.
Drinks – at the Christmas market a lot of hot drinks are on offer such as; hot plum wine and classic mulled wine, and of course various hot chocolates. But the winner for me, by a long shot, was hot apple cider served with Grand Marnier and a sprinkling of cinnamon, it was divine. I will be attempting to make this at home for Christmas.
Shop in the Stalingrad area – this quirky area has some super trendy shops which reminded me almost of Shoreditch and Camden in London, there are also some great bars and pubs in this area so definitely worth checking out.
If you happen to find yourself in search of some festive spirit, or you have a few more days holiday available for the year, I would recommend you book your flights or train tickets to Brussels now.