As I continue to reflect upon some of the wonderful places that I have visited by train, I wanted to suggest Brussels. For me, I pick countries that I can get to without using aeroplanes as my real intention is to be more ecofriendly. My last journey to Brussels was at Christmas time and so now is a good time to share my experience. You may end up wanting to visit during the festive season.
Brussels is relatively affordable and certainly cheaper than Switzerland or Luxembourg, but I also love those places very much. Here are my reasons for considering Brussels as a holiday destination in winter.
1) The Christmas Market
Browsing the Christmas market was lovely because of all the scents and mouth-watering delights. There were so many continental meats and Vegan offerings as well as all my favourite sweet treats such as crepes and chocolates. As the far end is a Big Wheel which slowly rotates to give you a brilliant view of Brussels. We went straight to the wheel and then mused past the market, absorbed in the seasonal vibe.
2) The Grand-Place
You have to visit the Grand-Place during the daytime and at night. It is the historic city centre where government and city buildings sit around a beautiful pedestrianised square. This was definitely a hub of activity and the nearby streets had plenty of shops and restaurants offering a range of cuisines.
At night time, the amazing Christmas tree and lights set a fantastic scene and at the heart of the square was a very detailed and intriguing nativity set. The reason I suggest going to Brussels in winter is to witness their incredible displays and lights. The place just represented Christmas perfectly.
I first saw Mini-Europe on an episode of Travel Man (Channel Four) and was totally inspired by it. It looked so cool that it became a must-see on my little trip to Brussels. Although it was winter, a fresh walk around the intricately made mini-buildings and waterways of Europe was pleasant and enlightening. It gave me ideas of other places in the continent that I still needed to explore. From a little Colosseum to a mini Eiffel Tower, this place had everything.
This attraction was right next to the Mini-Europe venue and was an intriguing feature in the Belgian skyline. Constructed in 1958 for the Brussels Trade Fair, this 102m stainless steel structure is absolutely fascinating. You get to take a lift into the central sphere and then use escalators to access the other globes. Each one is unique and together they make a brilliant museum whilst having incredible views over this remarkable city.
There are many murals and paintings throughout Brussels and many contain images of Tintin. Herge’s famous cartoon character is synonymous with Brussels and is celebrated in a museum and shop. We visited the beautiful little shop which was littered with Tintin memorabilia but we never had the chance to visit the Herge museum (maybe next time).
I like how the paintings on the walls celebrate diversity. The picture above was in the LGBT district of town. Below is an impressive painting of Tintin on a mission. These fabulous images add more intrigue to an already busy city, full of history, culture and Christmas.
Being just a two hour Eurostar train ride from London, Brussels is an easy to get to destination. I went before Brexit kicked in and the pandemic started so I cannot tell whether prices have remained the same, but when I went it was very affordable. I stayed about a fifteen minute walk from the centre in a lovely hotel which had everything I needed. You are able to use Uber to get around when you don’t feel like a walk, but I enjoyed plodding through the streets which were full of atmosphere and vibrancy, instead.
If you enjoyed this post please consider following my growing blog. For another post about a visit to a European city, check my Paris feature here.