Brussels surprised me. Honestly, I wasn't expecting to love it, but I really did. In a National Geographic Travel piece, Finding the Beat of Brussels, I wrote that locals "instinctively know they are fortunate enough to live the “good life” daily in a city that feels more like an inviting village than an anonymous urban expanse." Indulge in decadent waffles and moules frites as much as you can - Brussels isn't undiscovered, but it's definitely underrated compared to other European capitals.
Galeries Royal St Hubert
La Taverne du Passage
The Magritte Museum
Royal Museums of Fine Arts
Belgian Comic Strip Center
Grand Sablon Area - Claire Fontaine
Wittamer, owned and operated by the same family since 1910, has a rich history in the Grand Sablon and a cheery second-floor cafe — the perfect place to duck in from the cold.
Laurent Gerbaud - I spent some time interviewing this talented chocolatier at his shop in Brussels. It's more like a Zan chocolate zone with a coffee counter, rather than a grand European cafe. Find my story on National Geographic Travel: Asian-Inspired Chocolate in Brussels
The original Le Pain Quotidien
Dansaert Area - fun neighborhood to discover local shops and restaurants
Stay: The Dominican Hotel
I might be the only person in the world that didn't fall in love with Bruges. I spent a day there and maybe I need to go back and spend the night after the day trippers leave. An area of Belgium that I did love was Wallonia, rather unknown to American travelers. I rented a car and explored this region of Belgium. Find my National Geographic Travel: Why Wallonia: Belgium's Unexpected Delight.