You can ask anyone who knows us and they will tell you that we love the sun. As a result we try to travel to the Caribbean at least once per year to escape the cold Canadian winter. But this year we thought we would do something a little different. We decided to cross off a longstanding bucket list item and go explore some European Christmas Markets over the holidays. All it took was finding a good flight deal and we were off! Brussels here we come!
We knew we would enjoy ourselves, I mean, it is Europe after all. But we definitely didn’t expect to enjoy ourselves as much as we did. Nor did we expect to find ourselves dreaming about returning before we even got back home. Here are 5 reasons you should book a trip to Brussels next December!
- The Food & Drink: To say that we ate (and drank well) on our trip was an understatement. From the more traditional “Belgian” staples of gaufres, frites and bière (waffles, fries and beer) to decadent new (to us) foods like Tartiflette Savoyarde (read: potatoes, bacon and melted cheese), Raclette Sandwiches (read: more melted cheese in a sandwich) and Mitraillette from Fritland (read: hamburger sub topped with fries and spicy melted cheese), we couldn’t get enough. Even better, December in Brussels means an unlimited supply of Glühwein and hot chocolate spiked with Baileys around very corner.
- The Holiday Spirit: Whether you celebrate Christmas or not it’s hard to visit Belgium in December and not feel immeasurably festive. Plaisirs D’hiver runs throughout the month of December and boasts hundreds of market stalls, illuminated buildings, Christmas trees around every corner, light shows and holiday music playing in the background. Teeming with holiday spirit, Brussels is no different. They even have the most magical light show every night after dark at Grand Place sure to wow any parent or kid around!
- The proximity to countless other cities: We have learned that traveling with a little one in tow is usually best served by slowing down. We also have limited vacation time each year and therefore try to maximize our experience wherever we go. Basing yourself in Brussels allows you to satisfy both of these needs. By staying in one place you don’t have to pack up and move every couple days and yet you still have easy access to beautiful cities like Ghent, Bruges, Leuven and Antwerp! Even better, in December these cities also have their own Christmas Markets to explore! Win-win!
- The European charm: We can’t forget about the European charm that Belgium boasts 365 days a year. With the Grand Place in Brussels, the postcard perfection that is Bruges, the magnificent Gravensteen Castle in Ghent and the Town Hall in Leuven; Belgium has to be one of the most charming countries in all of Europe.
- The mild winter weather: The winters are mild in Belgium (at least compared to Canada) and so we had no problem spending the whole day outside exploring. Expect that its going to rain on and off during your stay, but don’t let that deter you. It sure didn’t stop us! Rain is the price that Belgium pays for its mild winters. Make sure you’ve packed your rain gear (including waterproof footwear for those slushy sidewalks) and a warm sweater to layer underneath! Don’t forget the rain cover for your stroller!
Tips for Parents:
- If you choose to base yourselves in one location, consider booking an apartment to give yourselves space since you will be there a while. During our time in Brussels we stayed in a beautiful 1-bedroom apartment at SmartFlats Premium Palace du Grand Sablon. The apartment was chic and well-equipped with plenty of space for our toddler to run around. Even better, it was a short 10 minute walk to the central train station.
- Most subway stations that we visited had elevators so don’t hesitate to bring your stroller along.
- Check out Delhaize or Carrefour for affordable takeaway meal options, snacks or any other supplies you will need during your stay. Both grocery stores are within a 10 minute walk of the Central Train Station.