Ixelles is one of the most central municipalities in Brussels and also one of the most international ones. This makes it very diverse in terms of things to do and see. It is a great place to go out and have fun, shop and generally live. The mixing of nationalities makes it also very lively and creates a sense of welcoming. Ixelles is Brussels at its best.
Especially refreshing on a summer day, this little park is like an oasis in the middle of town, right next to the frenetic buzz of the Avenue Louise. You would not notice how abundant the nature is just by looking from outside: it is imperative to go in and step inside another green dimension. Because of its little alleys and hidden places that make it quite cozy, some use it as an urban beach and feel comfortable enough to bring their swimming suits and towels. There are also small extensions of grass protected by bushes and fruit trees, that can provide a sense of privacy and coziness. Also, because of all the vegetation, it is very fresh even in those typical steamy Brussels summer days, that make it otherwise hard to move around the city.
This is the main shopping street in Ixelles and has about everything from food stores to clothes shops, including the latest range from the widely known Zara to its cheaper versions. There is also an African shopping center with lots of hairdressers, clothes and record stores. The advantage of shopping at Chaussée d’Ixelles is that it possesses the same big brands that can be seen in the much larger Rue Neuve, but without the crowd, the mess, and the huge lines. The walk is therefore quite pleasant, especially if you stroll along all the way to place Fernand Coq.
This is a very small square just outside the Chaussée d’Ixelles’ main shopping area. The atmosphere is trendy and occasionally sprinkled with relaxed hipsters. There are typical Belgium pubs where you can have a beer outside if the Belgian weather permits it, but if you are more of a wine person there is also L’Îlor Corse, a wine bar that serves specialties from Corsica, like the local charcuterie and desserts. For a more composed meal, try the Il Nobile, a great Italian restaurant. Or, for a more fashionable alternative, the Amour Fou. This is a very trendy place that serves a good extension of cocktails and mocktails. For dinner, there are home-made burgers and fries, and later the room in the back turns into a small dancing bar. On weekends and bank holiday Fridays, there is a brunch from 1pm until 5pm.
This is a classic of Belgian culture, know as the ‘paquebot jaune’ (yellow boat) for its characteristic shape. It was originally built in the 1930s as a radio broadcasting and recording studio complex, that meant to combine aesthetics with functionality. Some of its studios are amongst the best in the world. After the explosion of the television industry, however, it became too small, and the TV and radio studios were transferred somewhere else. The Flagey was then closed for a while, only to latter be restructured to accommodate several cultural initiatives. Nowadays, there is the Cinematek, a film lover’s paradise that shows various films, classic and modern. In terms of concerts, jazz and classical music are the main thing. There are also literature meetings and round tables. And finally, film projections, concerts and workshops for kids are also available.
A big art deco café right on the first floor of the Flagey building, this was previously a meeting point for artists and actors, but has now been a bit more invaded by the younger crowd. Still, it remains indispensable in the Brussels bar scene, and the locals love it. Because the inside is so spacious, it can get quite noisy and confusing. So the best is just to grab a beer or a quick snack and sit outside, in what is one of the biggest terraces in town. On weekends, it is one of the most popular places to hang out, and stays open until late hours.
Right in front of the Flagey building there is a big series of lakes that go all the way to the Bois de la Cambre. Around it there are joggers, ducks and passers-by. The area gets especially animated on Sundays, when families also like to grab a waffle and hang around the lake. Some of the young student crowd that normally frequents the bars in the Flagey Square has the habit of jumping the fence and chilling in the sun with a book or listening to music. The houses are especially beautiful in here, especially in the area that is further away from Flagey. They are generally maisons de maître, a type of narrow three level building, and the fact that they have a view on the lake make them even more valuable and, in some case, quite luxurious.
This is, despite its discrete appearance, one of the trendiest bars in town. It is located on the Rue de la Brasserie, which is on the corner of Flagey Square. During the day you can enjoy a cup of tea sitting on the characteristic yellow benches in the balcony, and every Friday night the place transforms into a DJ bar. It has an wide range of cocktails, among which the Fleur du Tigre, done with vodka and violet liquor, is possibly the most delicious Because it is so small, it also gets quite cozy, and constantly bumping into the same people makes it easy to meet them, especially because the atmosphere is so relaxed.
Chatelain is located between Saint Gilles and the Avenue Louise. Its main square has a farmer’s market on Wednesdays, that turns into an after work drink meeting point. People have a glass of wine or a beer and either spread around the lawn or shop for food in the stands. The surroundings contain residential neighborhood that is peaceful and well taken care of, with plenty of original shops that sell clothes, decoration items and all sorts of things. Rue du Bailli, one of the main streets, besides having plenty of upscale restaurants and shops, is also famous for Supra Bailli, a popular bar in town.