Visit Brussels like a Local

By: Nora Westgeest

“Where should I eat in Brussels? What about places to get coffee? And what is the best club to go out?”. Having been brought up near Brussels, I often get asked these questions. Lucky for you, I spent my high school years lounging around all the local hotspots. With the help of two former schoolmates (Margaux Fabris and Felix de Keijser) I compiled a list of some local highlights you have to visit. Get ready for traveling around Brussels and hitting up all the hottest restaurants, shops, cafes, and neighbourhoods.

Where to eat / have a coffee stop:


Chicago Café: Chicago Café is definitely one of the most charming places in town to get brunch, lunch, or an afternoon snack. Their staff is super friendly and the whole place is aesthetically pleasing, with large windows, pastel colours, cute furniture, and of course, amazing food. They make their own cakes and quiches and they have a range of vegetarian and vegan options. Oh, and their quesadilla is to die for. Rue de Flandre 45, 1000 Bruxelles

Tonton Garby: If you’re busy browsing the city and don’t have time to sit down, grab a sandwich at Tonton Garby. The owner (Garby) makes you feel like you’re the world’s number 1 person and prepares your sandwich with all his love. A happy feeling and a great sandwich is everything you need. Rue Duquesnoy 6, 1000 Bruxelles


Hinterland: Definitely one of the prettiest coffee corners in Brussels is Hinterland. Prop yourself up on one of the window seats and have an organic juice or homemade toast and enjoy a people-watching spree, alone or with friends. Chaussée de Charleroi 179, 1060 Saint-Gilles


Where to drink (and party)

You won’t find big clubs lining the streets of Brussels. However, Brussels is THE place to be if you want to get a beer (or 10) at a picturesque bar.

Place Jourdan: This square is packed with ambiance in the afternoon. Lining the sides are bars, making it the perfect place to go bar hopping. This is also the square where the best fries of Belgium are served (Maison Antoine). Fridays and Saturdays, Maison Antoine is open until 1:30 a.m. for any of you craving that midnight snack.  1040 Etterbeek


Place Fernand Cocq: Much like Place Jourdan (and close by) this is a very nice area to hit up a bar!

L’Amour Fou, Chaussée d’Ixelles 185, 1050 Ixelles

Le Perroquet: Pop into this bar with its art nouveau-style, matching interior, and stained glass. Apart from the gorgeous setting, they make great pitas! Rue Watteeu 31, 1000 Bruxelles

De Monk: Jazz, dance, beer, and spaghetti. Only at de Monk will you find this combination! Rue Sainte-Catherine 42, 1000 Bruxelles

Viavia Café: Originally a travellers’ café, now one of the best spots to lounge, eat, meet new people, learn a new language, play a board game, or simply drink a beer or a cup of coffee. Quai aux Briques 74, 1000 Bruxelles

Brussels Beer Project: You don’t have to travel to the countryside to visit a great brewery in Belgium. Brussels has its very own innovative urban brewery, dead centre of the city. Taste the 21st century with the flavourful beer creations offered here. Rue Antoine Dansaert 188, 1000 Bruxelles

Kumiko: For those who want to dance, this is a nice local (Japanese) option. It’s a lot nicer than the few over-crowded night clubs you find in the centre. Being only a year old, it is still unknown territory for most citizens and tourists, but not for the cool kids on the block. With three different spaces and a photo booth, it is the best place to go for a fun night out!

Check out Kumiko’s Facebook page for an updated party-menu @Kumikoizakaya.

Rue d’Alost 7, 1000 Bruxelles

Where to shop: 


Think Twice T2: Think Twice is the gem of all thrift shops. You’ll find trendy pieces, basics, as well as vintage designer pieces for a bargain. Tip: At the end of each month the shop counts down their prices, meaning that the last five days you can buy anything for €5, €4, €3, €2 and €1. Really, I am not kidding.

2 locations:

Rue du Vieux Marché aux Grains 57, 1000 Bruxelles

Rue des Eperonniers 51, 1000 Bruxelles

La Maison du thé: Walk in and be overwhelmed by the gigantic assortment of teas this small boutique offers. Get a personalized opinion from the owner or simply come in for the nice smell: it’s a place worth visiting.

Plattesteen 11, 1000 Bruxelles

Place du Jeu de Balle: If you like all sorts of second-hand stuff, you will love Place du Jeu de Balle. It is one of the nicest flea markets in the city, open every single day from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. and until 3 p.m. on weekends. Get ready to roll up your sleeves and dive deep into an ocean of treasures. 1000 Bruxelles

Which ambient places to visit

Place Sainte-Catherine: Relax on a terrace, order the best seafood, sit on a bench under a tree, admire the nearby church, or walk around on the cobblestoned pavement. The area of place Sainte-Catherine has it all. 1000 Bruxelles

Place Jourdan: Place Jourdan is not only a great place to go out, but it also holds the nicest atmosphere on Sunday mornings. The square is packed with visitors and grocery shoppers, not to mention the myriad of other stalls selling knick-knacks at the weekly market. It is held from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.  1040 Bruxelles

Square des Ursulines: If you are an avid skater, you will feel at home at Square des Ursulines. And even if you’re not, just walk up to the big fence to admire the view of the city with the railroad right below you.  1000 Bruxelles

Palais de la Justice: Get ready to be in awe at Brussels’ prettiest viewpoint. And this is not all: take the glass elevator down to the Marollen, where you will find nice vintage and second-hand shops. Place Poelaert 1, 1000 Bruxelles

There are so many other places I could cover, but I think I have nailed it down to the top local spots. I hope you have the best time visiting!

Nora Westgeest, Class of 2018, is an Art History and Literature major from Brussels, Belgium.

Featured image source: EDanhier Photography – @edanhier

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