The boys of Brussels are ready to bounce back into business
Brussels is one of our favourite European mini-break destinations. It’s a vibrant city that’s easy to get to and always seems to be able to deliver a good time.
After a summer of outdoor events as the city continued to navigate the restrictions required by Covid-19 and the rollout of the vaccine, Brussels is now ready to fully embrace the new-normal.
From the beginning of October, the city’s clubs will be open and a big night out in Brussels in on the cards.
Is Brussels a queer destination?
The LGBTQ community of Brussels is vibrant and visible. Most of the action is centred around Rue du Marché au Charbon in the Downtown precinct – the bars and businesses of this precinct proudly adopting the collective identity of the Rainbow Village, or the Saint-Jacques district.
There’s a laid-back and friendly vibe to this lively neighbourhood. The bars are small, everyone drinks outside. It’s good fun.
If you’re looking for a few Instagram-worthy moments, Brussels won’t let you down.
Here’s some suggestions for your itinerary.
- The Grand Place – with its imposing Gothic town hall , this is the postcard-worthy tourist hub of the city.
- The Mannekin Pis – the famous fountain of a small bronze boy happily urinating into the water below. A surprising but popular choice as a symbol of the city.
- Place Royale and the Coudenberg Palace – The palace of the dukes of Brabant is an impressive reminder of the history of this part of the world, and how to build with an eye for grandeur.
- Place du Grand Sablon – this is chocolate central , you’ll find shops by Pierre Marcolini, Leonidas, Godiva, Neuhaus, Maison Dandoy, Frederic Blondeel, and Wittamer. While you’re here, the Eglise Notre-Dame au Sablon has an enormous carved wooden pulpit that’s worth a look.
- Parc de Bruxelles Warandepark is the ideal spot to watch the energetic joggers pounding out the miles.
- The Atomium – this futuristic construction was built in 1958 . It was designed as the Belgian pavilion when the World Expo came to Brussels that year. Today the Atomium is the most visited attraction in Brussels and, thanks to a recent renovation, it still feels as otherworldly and cutting edge as ever .
- If you’re looking for vintage treasures, the flea market on Place du Jeu de Balle is a popular destination. There’s been a market on this square since 1873. Surrounding the market are a number of vintage stores that are also worth exploring.
- The old indoor market of Les Halles Saint-Géry has been transformed into a going-out destination. Once a month, they hold a market for vintage clothes.
You get the sense that Brussels is a place where worlds come together – sometimes they collide, but mostly there’s an easy co-existence of cultures and communities.
This isn’t a new thing. Established as a fortress town in the 10th century, Brussels and its surrounding regions has been caught up in various power struggles through the ages between Austria, France, and The Netherlands - becoming the capital of the newly-independent Belgium in 1830.
Today, with a population of just over one million people, the city is officially bilingual – historically Dutch speaking, these days French is equally prevalent. English is also widely-spoken.
With the gravitational pull of the European Union, there’s a fluidity about the population of Brussels. People come, people go – there’s always new faces, a fresh perspective. There seems to be a very international perspective on life, it’s easy to meet people, to start a conversation, to share experiences.