1. Be inspired by design
Created in 1958 for the Brussels World’s Fair, the Atomium, designed by Belgian engineer André Waterkeyn, is the only structure left standing after the event ended. The design – to represent a single unit of iron crystal magnified 165 billion times – was way ahead of its time and the artefact is a prominent symbol of Brussels. There are nine spheres that represent atoms, and they are connected by tubes with escalators and lifts inside. The surrounding park is a great place to relax and enjoy the structure.
2. Picnic in the park
Bois de la Cambre (Ave Louise, 1050 Ixelles) is an urban public park on the edge of the Sonian Forest in Brussels which is extremely popular with locals during warmer months. You’ll find residents enjoying ball games, picnics, music, sunbathing and walking around this little green oasis.
There is a boat that can take you over the lake to a gorgeous little island, Robinson’s Island. It is there we recommend popping open a bottle of Belgian bubbles and toasting with a loved one.
3. Take a Belgian beer tour
There are a number of beer tour operators which can be found all over the city and online. Most follow the general format of a visit to some of Brussels’ most vibrant and historic bars to sample a selection of beers. These are often paired with cheeses or cured meats. A local tour guide will talk you through drinking culture in the city and brewing traditions, as well as help you discover a palate of variety.
Global Enterprises Belgium offers a four-hour pub crawl with food tasting included for 65 euros (US$74).
Meeting point: Grand Place 21, 1000 Brussels
4. Step back in sound
There are a staggering 1,200 musical instruments on display at the Musical Instruments Museum (MIM) in Brussels. As part of the Royal Museums of Art and History, it hosts one of the most important collections of musical instruments in the world, including pieces such as the viola da gamba from the Court of Brussels to the 20th-century theremin.
5. Taste the world’s finest chocolate
Chocolate making is an art in Belgium and the standards are exceptionally high. In Belgium, all chocolate must meet a minimum level of 35 per cent pure cocoa; in comparison, milk chocolate in the US only needs to be 10 per cent chocolate liqueur. Belgian chocolates must also be made with 100 per cent cocoa butter – vegetable oil is forbidden. Our favourite chocolatier is Pierre Marcolini; the house creates the finest chocolates, including champagne truffles and pralines.
Stores all over Brussels including Maison Pierre Marcolini, Ave Louise 75 M