In 2017, the Erasmus program is celebrating its 30th birthday and rightfully patting itself on the back for having become a true European success story. Belgium took part in the journey from the beginning, meaning that European exchange students have not only been studying in the heart of Europe since the ‘80s but also partying in the capital’s bars for three decades straight. Step into any of these five pubs, and chances are you’ll find an Erasmus student enjoying Brussels life to the fullest.
Celtica gets a bad rep among grumpy locals for embracing tourists and their younger cousin, the Erasmus student, but the Irish pub has clearly decided it doesn’t care. From young Irish lads clinging to their beloved Guinness for dear life to other nationalities enjoying the cheap beers and second-level dance floor, Saturday nights tend to get the fun kind of sloppy here. While not the trendiest establishment around, it’s a warm nest for jovial bonding among international strangers, boisterous sing-alongs, and sports watching during the day. Open every day until the wee hours.
A Brussels institution with the widest selection of commercially available beers in the world to its name, Delirium Café is three floors of endless beer discovery. Any exchange student who is even the least bit interested in Belgian brews has ended up here once or twice, with the actual aficionados turning it into somewhat of their stomping grounds.
Exchange students who are not so much into the beers but rather the Green Fairy invariably land in Floris Bar. The brick-walled pub a hop, skip and jump from Delirium, in the charming and touristy Impasse de la Fidélité where Jeanneke Pis squats while doing her business, is, like its beer-focused neighbor, very much into variety. Over 400 different kinds of absinthe line the shelves, and the walls form a cozy patchwork of Green Fairy paraphernalia. Cocktails and spirits such as quality rums and whiskeys lift this atmospheric place above your typical student den, though flaming shots are part of the package too.
Situated on the Brussels corner known as Cimitière d’Ixelles, the tucked away Le Bar d’Ixelles comfortably holds its own amongst guaranteed student hangouts such as Le Tavernier and Le Waff. Exchange students and their local friends are well aware that “happy hour” actually consists of the time between 4 and 9 pm here, and that cocktails are two for the price of one during those golden hours. The all-around appeal of the modern pub is much more than cheap drinks and cocktails, though. This bar is where the younger Brussels crowd gathers to cheer on the Belgian Red Devils on game days, to dance away the week’s worries to live DJ sets or concerts, or to enjoy a lazy afternoon sipping white wine on its sun-kissed back terrace.
A solid program of Erasmus-geared parties, international after-work drinks, and rhythmic salsa workshops are the lay of the land at Mezzo Bar, not too far from La Bourse on the cozy Place Saint-Géry. Weekends get rowdy and crowded on the intimate dance floor, and IHECS student can expect a deep discount on colorful drinks.