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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Get more travel inspiration, tips and exclusive offers sent straight to your inbox with our weekly newsletter. Make the most of your travel with sightseeing tours and activities from our trusted partners.