On September 18, 2012Amanda Cherrin answered the question:Belgians are kids at heart (they love comic strips and chocolate), so you’ll have no trouble entertaining your children in this kid-friendly town. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ five favorite ways to wow kids in Brussels:
1. Belgian Comic Strip Center. Did you know the Smurfs are Belgian? Kids will love learning about the creation of everyone’s favorite pint-sized blue characters, created by Belgian artist Peyo in 1958, as well exploring the history of Tintin and other Belgian comic classics. Parents will enjoy the Victor Horta-designed building that houses the museum.
2. Hot Chocolate. Make sure to drink your chocolate as well as eat it while in Brussels. It’s not hard to find a good cup of cocoa in this city, but Maison Renardy is the best hot chocolate shop. One sip and you’ll understand why.
3. The Atomium. Kids — and adults — will marvel at the 102-meter sculpture that lifts nine massive metal balls straight into the Brussels skyline. Built for the World Exhibition of 1958, the Atomium currently serves as a landmark and museum. Children can actually spend a night at the Atomium, sleeping in small groups in “raindrops” or small mini-spheres.
4. Musical Instruments Museum. This hands- and ears-on museum allows kids to listen to music as they learn about the instruments that make them. Plan to have lunch at the museum café, an attraction in its own right, which sits on the top floor of the historic Art Nouveau building and boasts some of the best views in the city.
5. Mini-Europe. Take a tour of Europe in a few short hours at Mini-Europe, a park with 300 petite models of the continent’s finest attractions. Big Ben. The gondolas of Venice. A bullfight in Seville. It’s all here — just a little bit smaller. Kids will love the interactive models, which include an eruption of Mount Vesuvius and the fall of the Berlin Wall.
On September 18, 2012Amanda Cherrin answered the question:The attractions in Brussels are as diverse as the city’s international population. If you visit, be sure to bring your appetite and sense of humor and prepare for a great time. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ picks for the five best things to see and do in Brussels:
1. Grand Place. A visit to the Grand Place is kind of like a stop at the Eiffel Tower or the Statue of Liberty — obligatory, but totally worth it. Surrounded by gilded buildings and gothic towers, including the Town Hall and the City Museum, the 15th-century square is really quite stunning.
2. Peeing Statues. The Bruxellois have a quirky sense of humor, displayed never more clearly than in the three statues of peeing creatures located around the city. The most famous, the Mannekin Pis, is a 15th-century statue of a peeing boy, who has an enviable wardrobe featuring more than 800 outfits. His clothes are changed a few times each month and the rest of his wardrobe is on display at the City Museum. The Jeanneke Pis — rumored to be Mannekin’s sister — is a statue of a squatting girl, located a few blocks away, across the alley from the popular beer bar Delirium. Finally, there’s Zinneke, a statue of a dog, who is also heeding the call of nature.
3. Open-Air Markets. There are dozens of open-air markets operating year-round throughout Brussels where you can find fresh produce, meats, cheeses and more. The biggest one is the Sunday market at the Midi train station, which features more than 450 vendors. The Wednesday night market at Place du Chatelain may be the most chic — you can enjoy Champagne and freshly-shucked oysters as you shop.
4. Cantillon Brewery. Founded in 1900, this working brewery offers self-guided tours of its funky location where you can learn about the process of brewing tangy lambic beer using only wild yeasts. At the end of the tour, you can sample the fruits of this traditional Belgian style of brewing. If you try a gueze, be prepared for a uniquely sour taste, but even non-beer lovers will appreciate a kriek, a sweet-tart cherry beer.
5. The Matongé. Named after the commercial district of Kinshasa, Congo (a former Belgian colony), the Matongé is overflowing with the sights, smells and tastes of Africa. Located in the neighborhood of Ixelles, this thriving district is the place to sample grilled goat, take an African dance class or pick up exotic fruits and vegetables.