Great Escapes

European Travel Blog


Exploring Belgium, from its capital to the seaside.

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Today I’d like to introduce you to Giulia, an intern assistant for Sardinian Places, a sister company of Great Escapes. At the end of last year she finished her degree in tourism and is now enjoying adding to that knowledge and putting it in to practice. She’s lived in a number of countries and although she was born  in Italy and was brought up there, she considers herself a citizen of the world. She loves travelling and learning about new cultures. As she says ” Italy is only my starting point, I don’t know where I will end in a future!”

Over to Giulia...

I have spent quite a lot of time in Belgium, over the years, a small but amazing country. That’s why I want to share with you one of my trips I had 2 years ago: Brussels, Bruges and Knokke Heist. I went with a couple of friends who I met during my stay in Spain and we couldn’t have had such a great time anywhere else!

First stop – Brussels

Brussels, the capital,  is a vibrant and cosmopolitan city. I was astonished by its architecture, its style and nightlife. It is a city which can offer everything, you can’t be disappointed. It’s always crowded with businessmen in their suits and ties, walking in a rush everyday. Brussels is definitely the heart of business and the European Parliament.


Here’s my recommendations for places to visit and things to eat when you visit Brussels.

Grand Place: it is the heart of the city and one of the most outstanding squares in the North of Europe. It is a great example of the architecture and style of Brussels.

Gran Place Grandplace4

Dèlirium Cafè: Fancy a beer? You shouldn’t skip this traditional bar known for its long list of beers, about  2004 different brands from over 60 countries! Quality guaranteed, as it is one of the pubs recorded in “The Guiness Book of Records”. The whole pub is decorated with colorful trays stuck everywhere. Find it by looking out for a pink elephant at the main entrance, the symbol of the bar.


The Manneke Pis: if you drink lots of beer,  it is obvious you’ll need a toilet. This is what Manneke Pis is doing. It is undoubtedly a landmark and a tourist attraction. You’ll find him across the street from the entrance of Delirium Café.  A legend says that many year ago,  invaders planned to blow up the city walls using explosives and this young boy urinated on the fuse, saving the city.


Brussels Christmas Market: Why don’t you visit the capital during Christmas time? You will feel a cosy and magic Christmas atmosphere. I remember the city full of shining lights, the smell of hot chocolate and hot wine plus happy  music from all the corners. Whatever time of year you go there are some great markets including the daily flower market in Grand Place (every morning, except Mondays) .

xmas market1

Gaufres: or better known as waffles, are a traditional Belgium delicacy. You can have sugar or chocolate on top. We couldn’t resist and we tried one (not only one to be honest..)  at Leonidas.

Croque-monsieur: we were so hungry at the end of day and definitely needed something to recharge our batteries, ready for a night out. A croque-monsieur (grilled ham and cheese sandwich) at “Au bon pain plaisir” and a massive cold beer restored us.

Next stop – Bruges

In Italy, I live near Venice and in Bruges I definitely felt at home, among the canals and the romantic, medieval atmosphere. It was a shame that we spent just one day here, on our way to Knokke Heist. The city is worth more days to discover every wicked corner.


Last but not least – Knokke Heist

A friend of ours has a home in Knokke Heist which is on the coast, about 11 miles from Bruges near Belgium’s border with Holland. So we decided to spend our last few days there, even though we knew nothing about the town.  We ended up having a lots of fun and totally loving it. It offers every kind of sports, from water sports to golf and tennis.  Have you ever tried sailing a catamaran before? Have a go! We really had a great time sailing in the North Sea.


It’s also a town perfect for girls who have a passion for shopping. We really loved the great shops along the lively Lippenslaan, also known for its art galleries and luxury cars!

It is not because we like gambling, but in the Casino Knokke the atmosphere was so wicked and I would recommend it as a great night out.

Author: Guest blogger

If you would like to contribute to the Great Escapes blog with photographs, recipes or articles from France or Belgium please email We'd really love to hear from you and we'll share the best on the blog.

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