Brussels city guide: what to see plus the best bars, hotels and restaurants

Ignore the cynics, Brussels is one of Europe’s most cosmopolitan cities, with hip bars and cafes, vintage markets and a fine line in the ‘9th Art’

Living in Paris, I am used to getting a surprised look from French friends when I tell them I am off for a fun weekend in Brussels. For sure, this may not be a top-10 destination for sightseeing, though the monumental Grand Place, with its ornate guild houses and palaces, ranks alongside Venice’s Piazza San Marco as Europe’s most breathtaking square. But the Belgian capital is forever reinventing itself with hip new places to stay, restaurants, bars and nightlife, as well as shopping that spans designer fashion boutiques to vintage bargains at one of the great authentic flea markets on the Jeu de Balle square.

Every weekend there is an event taking place, from the funky Food Truck Festival to nonstop concerts and street theatre in Brussels Summer Festival, followed by Design September and Brussels Fashion Days in October. There’s some serious partying during Belgian Beer Weekend (2-3 September) and the month-long traditional Christmas market.

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