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A Brussels travel guide – Art Nouveau grace, avant-garde Belgian fashion and indulgent dining

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Unwrap a capital passionate about chocolate, art and fine dining on a Brussels city break. Book a Brussels hotel to explore Victor Horta’s Art Nouveau interiors, or enjoy simple pleasures like mussels and beer in a wood-panelled brasserie.

Stylish shopping

Early risers browse for bric-a-brac at lively Jeu de Balle flea market. At the weekend, cobbled Place du Grand Sablon hums with antiques hunters and locals on café terraces. Buy melt-in-your-mouth truffles at chocolatier Pierre Marcolini before returning to your Brussels hotel. Glass-covered 19th-century arcade Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert shelters one-of-a-kind stores stocking everything from gloves to delicate handmade lace. Fashion-lovers find cutting-edge Belgian couture on rue Antoine Dansaert.

Belgian dining

Brussels’ cuisine blends French finesse with Flemish heartiness. The tangle of cobbled lanes near the city’s main square, Grand’Place, is peppered with Michelin-starred restaurants and wood-panelled Art Deco brasseries serving flambéed steaks, waterzooï (chicken stew) and steaming moules (mussels). Sablon’s intimate bistros invite romantic dining, while fashionable Avenue Louise serves fusion cuisine to a well-dressed crowd in lounge-style restaurants. No Brussels city break is complete without eating skinny frites (fries) or cream-topped waffles on the street.

Vibrant culture

The stately Royal Museums of Fine Arts showcase Rubens’ baroque paintings in the Museum of Ancient Art and Picasso’s canvases in the Museum of Modern Art. Enter the surrealist world of Belgian artist René Magritte at the nearby Magritte Museum, or admire graceful Art Nouveau interiors at the Horta Museum, architect Victor Horta’s curvy former home. Cartoon fans giggle at Tintin and the Smurfs at the Belgian Comic Strip Center, housed in the strikingly converted Waucquez Warehouse.