Belgium’s capital is one of the most misunderstood—and underrated—major cities in Europe. Indeed, travellers who look beyond Brussels’ occasional architectural eyesore and ignore its undeserved reputation as a staid centre of governance will find a dynamic multicultural hub of arts, food, and fashion.
The city undoubtedly puts its best foot forward in its sweeping La Grand-Place, one of the most spectacular squares in all of Europe. World-class arts and cultural institutions like the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium showcase the cultivated side of the city’s personality, while its famous unofficial mascot, the endlessly urinating Manneken Pis—and his lesser-known sister, Jeanneke Pis—hint at its good humour.
Among the many markets, lively Marché du Midi is big enough to spend full days browsing, while hip Saint-Gilles is but one of many municipalities flush with cool cafés, boutiques, and bars.
Staid and stodgy? Not Brussels; not even close.