Best things to do in Brussels this winter

As winter starts knocking on Brussels’ door, the city gets ready to throw on its Christmas outfit and show off its cold weather tricks. From Christmas markets and fairy tale-like carousels to secluded chalets in the woods all the way through snowy hot tubs, Brussels has got you covered for some wintertime magic. 

Figure skaters enjoy the rink at Place de la Monnaie, lit with bright purple lighting that makes the ice and the shadows of the skaters glow blue. One young male-presenting figure skater is caught in motion at the center of the image, skating towards his own shadow.
The ice skating rink at the Place de la Monnaie © Eric Danhier

Winter Wonders

Brussels’ yearly Christmas market lights up the whole city centre in a dreamy collection of wooden chalets serving hearty meals, sweet treats and hot glühwein (mulled wine). Hungry bears will avidly devour some tartiflette while sweet toothed rascals dig into Belgian waffles topped with whipped cream and chocolate.

But Winter Wonders is much more than food- and crafts stalls. From 30 November to 6 January, the city becomes a large scale playground for kids and adults alike. Winter sports lovers will have a blast at the ice skating rink on Place de la Monnaie and everyone will marvel at the huge Christmas tree on Grand Place and the nighttime sound and light shows. 

Visiting Brussels in the summer? There's plenty to keep you entertained any time of year.

White ducks stand on a frozen section of a pond in front of the Chalet Robinson covered in snow. The buildings and boat dock and one tree are lit with the warm yellow glow of Christmas lights
Chalet Robinson enneigé © Pierre-André Borremans

Chalet Robinson

If you fancy a little adventure away from the Christmas crowds, head to Bois de la Cambre and hop on a tiny boat, which will take you to a little island in the middle of the lake. Chalet Robinson is the perfect refuge to curl up with your better half, a hot cup of tea in your hands, a fire crackling in the hearth. Feast on their wholesome menu as you watch the charming snowed surroundings, its peaceful ducks and enchanted white nature.

Plain white mugs of hot chocolate sprinkled with spices and more chocolate on wooden trays arranged on warm wood tables with knots and wood grain visible.
Hot chocolate at Laurent Gerbaud © Svetlana Shynkarchuk

Laurent Gerbaud 

For some, wintertime wouldn’t be complete without the perfect cup of hot chocolate. If you’re in the Mont des Arts area, don’t miss Laurent Gerbaud’s shop and cafe. Their decadent hot chocolate will warm up your bones and soul and you can get a box of pralines on your way our as a gift or for the road!

Hot chocolate isn't the only great sipable in Brussels. There are almost 300 breweries in the city, too, contributing to Brussel's beer history.

A bright blue pool with a round hot tub in the center is surrounded by snow, with a classic Belgian chalet in the background, its roof and turrets slightly obscured by fresh falling snow
Snowy Boetfort Therman spa © Roel Speybrouck

Boetfort Spa

Picture yourself in a hot outdoor Jacuzzi with snow all around you. The cosy feeling is all the more intense in your warm bubbly refuge! If that image strikes a chord in your wintertime fantasy, pin Boetfort spa on your map. The 400-year-old castle has been beautifully transformed into a spa and hotel. Half an hour away from the capital, escape the city for a wellness experience with luxurious dining and exquisite massages.  

A large metal sculpture in the shape of an atom with six big silver balls connected to a larger, central sphere by metal rods is lit by both a series of lights arranged in similar atomic patterns on the surface of each sphere and by a bright fireworks display behind the Atomium against a deep cobalt sky
The Brussels Atomium lit by fireworks © Pascal Everaert / Getty Images

New Year’s Fireworks

If you’re kissing 2019 goodbye from Brussels, welcoming the new year on the Atomium’s esplanade might just be this year’s last great idea. The fireworks will launch at midnight from Heysel’s Palais 5 in Laeken. Getting there by public transport seems wisest, as many roads will be closed down for the event. Expect aerial shows and a lot of dancing!

A tall, narrow Christmas tree constructed of chocolate balls and silver and gold jinglebells sits on a thin white platter against a white backdrop
Limited Edition Chocolate tree © Pierre Marcolini

A meter tall chocolate Christmas tree

You may know Pierre Marcolini’s chocolate blissful creations and if not, shame on you. He is the first chocolatier to have used denominations of origin for chocolate, gathering the world’s best beans and then subtly blending cocoa from different origins in order to create surprising, original and delicious chocolate marvels. For this winter, he is launching a collection of Christmas yule logs, a delicious advents calendar and even chocolate Christmas trees made of milk and dark chocolate and praline baubles. For those aiming for an over the top exclusive Christmas, order the meter tall limited edition tree for the hefty price of €1000.

There are even more places to eat and drink and Brussels, too, from frites to African cuisines.

Le Pesage

Winter time in Brussels is a great excuse to try out one of Brussels’ newest restaurants right in the heart of the Drohme Park, the former Boitsfort racecourse. Le Pesage, which translates as ‘the weighing,’ offers a unique dining experience in the room where jockeys once bellied up to the scale.

The place has been completely redesigned by Lionel Jadot, one of Belgium’s most captivating interior architects (he's also the mind behind the The Jam Hotel). Jadot works in what looks like a collage, following a sort of faux puzzle, upcycling elements in a joyful and eclectic atmosphere. The venue offers breath-taking views on the old track and the forest. Local products are transformed into subtle seasonal dishes finished on the Chilean barbecue, and a festive vibe guaranteed.

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