My sister and I celebrated New Year in Brussels but you will not find any new year photos in this post for the simple reason that I had way too much fun! Let me share with you the things you can do in Belgium instead!
From Lille, you can go to Bruges by car in less than 1 1/2 hours. If you want to go to Brussels by train then it’s less than 40 minutes and by car it’s less than 1 ½ hours. I usually check out Rome2Rio to plan my itinerary, including the travel time.
Things to do in Belgium if you are only there for a day:
Visit the Old Town Center and definitely check out the Christmas Markets.
In Bruges, you will find the Market Square or also known as Brugge Markt which used to be the place for medieval festivals, fairs, tournaments, and even executions! It is right in the city center where they setup the Christmas market. We were lucky to even catch the outdoor ice skating ring!
Within the center, you will find the Belfry Tower, an iconic landmark of Bruges, as well the as the town hall and dozens of restaurants.
Another iconic building which you will see when you research about Belgium is the line of guild houses converted into restaurants! They are even more beautiful during the holiday season.
Do you know that Bruges is also known as the Venice of the North? The city is ringed by a canal, lined up by chocolate-box style traditional houses! Just follow the canal and you will get lost in small alleys with cafes and restaurants. The whole area is a World Heritage Site.
Now let’s go to Brussels. We actually spent a night in a friend’s place in Brussels to celebrate new year. It was raining the whole time (it’s always raining in Belgium, they say) but we did try to visit the center and grabbed some food!
The central square of the city of Brussels is called the Grand-Place, surrounded by architecture influenced by the Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque era. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site made up of the guild houses, city hall and the Maison du Roi. Similar to the center of Bruges, it used to be a place where people gather for festivities or executions and trials.
But if you are in Bruges, our local friend told us you shouldn’t miss the Pee statue or what they call the Manneken Pis which means “Lil Piddler” in Dutch. It’s not a big statue; it’s actually a small bronze sculpture of a boy urinating into the fountain. They say you haven’t been to Brussels if you haven’t seen it. This statue is the iconic symbol of the people in Brussels showing their sense of humor! We had to brave the rain to find this statue and I have to admit we laughed when we saw it because we were expecting a big sculpture and our friends were really excited to show it to us! Well, we had good waffles after!
In other news, don’t forget to eat Bratwurst and pair it with a mulled wine or hot choco!
Also, eat Belgian Waffle and shop for Belgian Chocolates! There are a lot of stores in the area so don’t worry. But for your Belgian Waffle I suggest this local restaurant in Bruges called Barista’s Secret Restaurant. You can stay here after a long walk and just enjoy the food and watch people pass by.
Lastly, get lost in the alleys and discover more quaint buildings!
Not bad for a daytrip I have to say!
Next stop: Budapest, Hungary! For the meantime catch me in Instagram @travelanyway for some random trips and daily musings! Ciao!