Brussels hosts a large variety of cultural and culinary tours available through many different outlets. There’s something for everyone, ranging from tours highlighting Brussels’ famous paintings of comic book heroes painted across the walls of the city, to chocolate and beer lovers tasting tours. The best part of guided tours is finding yourself in the company of like-minded travelers while exploring a new city.
Filigranes is Belgium’s biggest bookstore, made for the solo traveler. Open seven days a week, this library boasts an impressive collection of books, comics, and other charming bookstore finds. You will also be able to order a slice of cheesecake and a cappuccino at the café. Or sit down to people watch, and catch up on a good read. On Sundays, there are often book readings, author signings, and live piano performances.
MeetUp is an app designed for people roaming alone in foreign places. In Brussels, popular MeetUp groups include The French Language MeetUp Group where everyone from beginners to native French speakers gets together to parler Français. These events often are hosted at trendy wine bars, so if you want to meet people and you’re feeling courageous, grab yourself a glass of Merlot and get ready to roll your R’s at the next French night.
What can only be described as an enchanted forest, Bois de la Cambre is an urban park at the edge of Sonian Forest in Brussels. In the spring and summer, you will find people running, biking, picnicking and enjoying the beauty that these woods have to offer. If you brought your running shoes to Brussels, take advantage of the outdoors and make a tour of the lake.
Spend an afternoon admiring the works of Belgian artists at one of many art galleries in Brussels. Brussels is developing a booming contemporary art scene and is also host to the BRAFA art fair, one of the leading European art and antique fairs. Check online to see which exhibitions are happening during your visit.
No more tables for one. Harvard Business School graduate Evelyne White was living in Brussels when she came up with BookaLokal, where the concept is easy: food brings people together. With BookaLokal you can find yourself a guest at a dinner party in the home of a Brussels local. This is a way to try homemade, cultural fare while meeting people from all over the world gathered together at a single dinner table.
Brussels’ shops have something for everyone. As a solo traveler feel free to wander in and out of stores at your own ease without having to worry about a shopping partner. From high-end designers on Avenue Louise and Boulevard de Waterloo to the flea markets of Jeu de Balle, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the variety of shopping available within a short walking distance of each other. Take note: shops are closed on Sundays.
One of the greatest European pleasures is the coffee break. It won’t be hard to find one of many cafes scattered across the city, but if you are in the Sablon area be sure to check out Café du Sablon. This welcoming café is a favorite hangout for ex-patriots and travelers, and you will almost always hear a constant hum of English being spoken here. Not to mention their specialty drinks menu puts Starbucks to shame.
Café du Sablon: 1000, Rue de la Régence 26, 1000 Brussels, Belgium
Located next to Grand Place, Delirium Café tops the list when it comes to solo traveler nightlife. This bar offers more than 2,000 choices of beer and holds the Guinness World Record for the longest beer list. This is an international hub for tourists and locals to meet over a pint.
Bring friends you have made along the way, or go as a lone wolf but don’t miss out on Place Poelaert after dark. Take a seat on the wall and have a look at the city in lights. From here you can even see the Atomium. Take a minute without your phone or camera. Just look out and enjoy.
By Leanna Hunt