Having lived all over the world, Lonely Planet Local Analia Glogowski struggled to plant her roots until she reached Brussels, a place she finally feels she can hang her hat and shout ‘baby I’m home’.

As a lifestyle and travel blogger, photographer and an assistant in the European Parliament, Analia loves roaming her adopted city looking for the coolest places to wine, dine and recline.

The Château Royal de Laeken in Brussels
Delver a little deeper and Brussels reveals parks, art and architectural masterpieces like the Château Royal de Laeken © Analia Glogowski / Lonely Planet

When I have friends in town… I make it my mission to show them that Brussels offers much more than the Grand Place, beer and fries. From underground gigs to pop-up park festivals and hip rooftop bars, Brussels always astounds, so I might take them to a trone concert in an old unoccupied house. If it’s summer, we would head to an Apéro Urbain, a music-filled picnic-turned-party.

A typical weekend involves... buying groceries at the street market on Place Flagey before heading for viennoiseries at Charli, the best bakery in Ste Catherine. If the weather is right, the weekend calls for a gargantuan brunch at La Fabrique in the Egmond Park, which sells all manner of eggs and the most devilish sugar pie you’ll taste. I’ll walk it off hunting for antique treasures at the Place du Jeu-de-Balle Flea Market.

A plate of vegetables at Grand the Central restaurant in Brussels, Belgium
A full plate of seasonal vegetables at Grand Central, Brussels © Analia Glogowski / Lonely Planet

Lunch might mean... meeting friends at Grand Central for a big plate of veggies from the huge seasonal buffet. This usually ends with coffee on the terrace which overlooks Parc Léopold. If we’re feeling famished, we might have truffle fettuccine at Senza Parole, rolled in a giant parmesan wheel for extra decadence.

When I need a caffeine hit… Mok is my first choice, followed by Café Velvet nearby. Both are in the Ste Catherine area and serve premium quality coffee along with healthy vegan nibbles. If I’m in the EU quarter, I’ll pop into Karsmakers on rue de Trêves for a latte and grab a carrot cake to go.

When I’m up for a big night out…I start with an aperitivo at Hotel Le Berger and let the night take me down to Spirito Martini, a former church turned club. Sometimes I hit Jeux d’Hiver, a chalet resto-club in the woods with an eerie forest vibe. And if I’m hankering for some nostalgia, I’ll finish the night at L’Archiduc, to teleport half a century back in time.

Shelves of lotions and potions at the Urban Therapy store in Brussels, Belgium
The Urban Therapy store in Brussels is great for gift hunters © Analia Glogowski / Lonely Planet

If I’m in the mood to shop… rue Antoine Dansaert is where I go to scour for riches in concept stores like A suivre, Le Magasin, Icon and Vêtue. If I want to buy a gift, Urban Therapy on rue de Flandre has everything from super original terrariums to vodka-infused teas and revamped caps.

When I want to get out of the cityAntwerp is always first on my list. Belgium’s creative heart is a just a 40-minute train ride away and it boasts architectural masterpieces like The Port House by Zaha Hadid, and gastronomic gems like The Jane, plus endless racks of avant-garde fashion.

The exterior of the Millennium Iconoclast Museum of Art (MIMA) in Brussels, Belgium
Founded in 2016, the Millennium Iconoclast Museum of Art (MIMA) showcases hot contemporary art © Analia Glogowski / Lonely Planet

When I want to check out some art… I see what’s on at Tour & Taxis as they often have art fairs and interesting exhibitions. MIMA’s take on contemporary street art also gives me the perfect excuse to stroll along the canal and have coffee in one of the nearby cafés, such as the Walvis.

If the weather calls for a day at the beach… I take a day trip to Ostend or Knokke-Heist for a breezy sunbathing and ice cream galore! I love the tiny striped beach houses dotting the shoreline where locals store their sunshades and sunbeds.

If I’m after regional produce… I usually go to BelgoMarkt or one of the Färm shops around the capital, as they sell locally sourced, sustainable products usually manufactured by small farmers and artisans. To keep their environmental footprint to a minimum, consumers are encouraged to bring their own containers.

The exterior of Hortense & Humus serves delicate vegetarian restaurant in Brussels
Hortense & Humus serves delicate haute vegetarian cuisine © Analia Glogowski / Lonely Planet

For a special occasion… I think award-winning La Villa in the Sky is the place to dine. Overlooking Brussels from the top of a tower, chef Alexandre Dionisio serves a tasting menu to a maximum of 24 guests. For an equally delicate but less pricey option, Hortense & Humus in the Flagey area offers botanical creations paired with exquisite cocktails.

To stock up on chocolate... I go to Pierre Marcolini for a box of truffles du jour, a discovery box with ganache-filled chocolates or the iconic Palets Fins box with caramel-filled treats. If you’re on a budget, you’ll find Dolfin’s delicious scented chocolate bars at most supermarkets. For about 4 euros a bar, you can choose from a wide selection of recipes, including candied orange, caramelised pear and puffed rice.

For cheap eats… I love having a bite at a fritkot, one of the many street kiosks selling fried goods, especially the world-famous Maison Antoine on place Jourdan. The Belgian fries are triple fried in pork fat and a mitraillette (a baguette filled with meat and fries) is a street food must.

Woman in sunglasses at an Aperos Urbains event in Brussels, Belgium
Analia enjoying an Aperos Urbains event in Brussels © Analia Glogowski / Lonely Planet
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