Exploring Europe with National Express
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Waffles, fries, chocolate and beer – Brussels is a foodie’s dream, but there’s also a lot more to consume in the city than just food. And with a range of fare types on our coaches from just £14 one-way, you can enjoy affordable travel to the continent. Even if you’re only booking three days in advance, you could enjoy extra discounts if you’re able to be flexible with journey times.
See how cheap tickets to Brussels can be, and save that spending money for your stomach.
Please note: From Dec 31 2017, our coaches to Brussels now terminate at a new location at Rue de France 87. For further information, please download our Brussels stop guide.
Where the European Parliament resides, and praline was discovered, Brussels has tonnes to offer, whatever length of trip you’re planning. We’ve put together some ideas to help you get started.
Noordzee / Mer du Nord
Here you’ll find cheap fresh seafood served unpretentiously from a fishmonger’s window. There’s limited sit-down eating but the minimalist approach, speedy service and delicious food means that there’s often a (fast-moving) queue. People-watching whilst standing up to eat your moules-frites at one of their outdoor tables – washed down with a glass of wine of course – is a quintessentially Belgian thing to do.
They’re not ‘chips’, they’re frites. Get yourself to Maison Antoine’s frikot (kiosk) to tuck into Brussels’ best. Served with sauce splashed over the top, choose from mostly mayonnaise-based variants, including andalouse – a Belgian specialty flavoured with tomatoes and red peppers.
Us Brits aren’t the only Europeans to appreciate afternoon tea as part of our culture. Wittamer opened in 1910 and continues to offer beautiful patisserie as well as chocolate – they’ve even baked a wedding cake for the Belgian royal family. Make sure to try their hot chocolate drink alongside a traditional sugary waffle.
Escape to the Impasse de la Fidélité
With sister bars Delirium Café and Floris, the choice of beers or absinthe is yours. Delirium is home to over 3,000 beers and, for those who normally favour a G&T, Floris offers a spirit called jenever; gin’s older and more traditional Belgian cousin that is also distilled with juniper berries.
Head to St Catherine for music (and drinks)
If you’re bored of beer, the bartenders at L’Archiduc (founded in 1937) are well-known for their classic cocktails, accompanied by live jazz at the weekends. Or make some shapes and be a little more debauched at Madame Moustache, a chic bar-slash-club also near Place Saint Catherine.
...Or go straight to the source
Maybe sipping from a pint tapped fresh from the keg is on your agenda? Then head to the face of the modern brewing scene in Belgium, Brussels Beer Project, which has own-brand craft beers and ales on tap at its urban brewery. For genever, (a Belgian spirit flavoured with juniper, much like gin), visit the Fovel Distillery, founded in 1864 and the last one active in the region.
Galeries Royales St Hubert
Europe’s oldest shopping arcade sits in the centre of town. The magnificent interior makes for an Instagram-worthy shot and you can treat yourself and splurge a little on luxury chocolates or high-end accessories.
With a trail of irresistible trendy boutiques throughout the neighbourhood, you’ll be able to pick out some chic pieces of fashion from stores such as Icon, an airy concept store, or Stijl which is well-stocked with the best of Antwerp fashion design.
Not just for buying and eating, at Planète Chocolat you can also learn the secrets of artisan chocolate-making. Visit for their workshop demonstration of how to produce pralines and the renowned Belgian chocolate.
Whilst Brussels is home to the EU’s lawmakers, a defiant bronze statue of a little boy urinating into a fountain is one of the more rebellious landmarks in Europe. You can even visit the Garderobe MannekenPis, a museum dedicated to the statue’s fancy dress wardrobe, with the oldest example dated from the seventeenth century. And if that tickled your sense of humour, also check out Jeanneke-Pis and Zinneke-Pis.
Musée Fin-de-Siécle Museum
Translating to ‘Turn-of-the-Century’, this unique museum celebrates the breadth of art that was created between 1868 (when the Free Society of Fine Arts was founded in Brussels), and the start of World War I in 1914. Showcasing works by many famous artists, it also neighbours with the Magritte Museum, and the Musée Oldmasters, all along Rue de Regence.
Set your sights at the Atomium
After you’ve all had a giggle at Manneken Pis, whisk yourself up to the Atomium, a museum once named as Europe’s most bizarre building. Shaped like “the unit cell of an iron crystal”, you’ll find exhibitions and viewing platforms inside the spheres, and escalators in the tubes between them. Kids under 12 go free with a paying adult.
Take them to the Comic Book Centre
Belgium is big on comics, inventing iconic characters such as The Smurfs and Tintin. Walk through a literally step-by-step exhibition of the stages of how to create a comic, and catch yourself a break watching some old-school classics.
Whizz around all of Europe
Mini-Europe that is. Brussels is home to a homage of Europe’s iconic buildings and monuments – roughly 80 cities and 350 building have been recreated at 1:25 scale. These sit alongside live action models of trains, mills and an erupting Mount Vesuvius. You can also enjoy the interactive games at the end inside the ‘Spirit of Europe’ exhibition.
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