Loading ...

8 Fun Ways to Experience Brussels Like a Local

Discover ways to experience Brussels like a local while visiting as a tourist. Learn about non-touristy things to do in Brussels Belgium.
Brussels is an international city meant to be experienced as a local rather than a tourist. Even if you only have time for a short layover in Brussels, go for it! The city is amazing. 

We spent a week in Brussels leading up to New Year's Eve.  Based in our Airbnb, we felt ideally suited to pretend to be locals and explore all that this great city has to offer.  Here are some of the highlights.

1. Eat Your Way Around the World Without Leaving the City

Brussels is home to the EU government and thus features a large expat population.  This coupled with immigrants from around the world means that you can find an amazing array of cuisine here. 

We sampled Lebanese hummus and falafel, spicy Ethiopian cuisine served on spongy ingera bread, and a piping hot dish of Tunisian couscous. If you prefer something even more local, consider seeking out the best waffles in Brussels
Experience Brussels like a local - Cuisines from Around the World

2. All that Jazz 

Brussels features an excellent jazz scene.  We caught a performance by the Daniel Willem Gypsy Jazz Band at the Music Village not far from the Grote Markt.  

I was simply mesmerized by the accordian player and the speed at which he played.  The performance was off the hook.  
Experience Brussels like a local: Daniel Willem Gypsy Jazz Band at the Music Village

3. Midi Farmers Market

How better to experience life as a local in Brussels than to go shopping at a Farmers Market.  We braced for the cold and explored aisle after aisle of produce and other goods for purchase at the Midi Farmers Market (nestled in the shadow of Bruxelles-Midi station).  

Lucky for me that I found a vendor selling gloves at 2 pairs for 1 euro.  It was freezing outside!
Brussels like a local: Midi Farmers Market

4. A Midnight Snack

What do locals do when they get the munchies in Brussels?  They stop for frites of course.  

We found ourselves queuing up for a savory snack on more than one occasion before heading home after an evening out.
Brussels like a local: Midnight Frites

5. Art Nouveau Spotting

Brussels is known for its Art Nouveau architecture.  We strolled along the ponds near Ixelles and thought about what it would be like to call one of these Art Nouveau stunners home.
Brussels like a local - Art Nouveau Buildings

SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: Looking for other cool things to do on a trip to Belgium? Why not:

6. Promenade around the Lakes

Going for a walk off the beaten path is also an excellent locals' pastime.  We visited the small lakes near Ixelles for a bit of bird watching.
Brussels like a local - City Lakes

7. Tram it

Hop on a bone-rattling tram as you make your way around the city.  This is how the locals do it.
Brussels like a local - Taking the Tram

8. Rent an Airbnb

The best way to experience Brussels as a local rather than a tourist is to stay in an apartment rather than a hotel.  We rented an Airbnb in Ixelles.  

By basing ourselves here, we discovered all sorts of delightful things (like this soda toting statue) in our own backyard.  
Brussels like a local - Statue with Soda Bottle

We really enjoyed the opportunity to spend an extended (for us!) period of time in Brussels and to experience the city like a local. 

However, if you are short on time, check out the DreamPacker's suggestions for things to see in Brussels in less than 24 hours. A short trip is better than no trip at all!

#DrJSabbatical,38,Adriatics,5,Africa,12,Americas,52,Argentina,7,Asia,40,Asia Pacific,25,AUNZ,21,Australia,13,Austria,5,Baltics,4,Barcelona,1,Belfast,1,Belgium,13,Berlin,3,Best of,390,Best of Europe,2,Beyond Dublin,31,Bologna,3,Boston,2,Brazil,2,Bruges,2,Brussels,2,Bucharest,2,Budapest,1,Buffalo,3,Bulgaria,2,California,13,Cambodia,6,Canary Islands,1,Canterbury,2,Cardiff,1,Central America,3,Central Europe,67,Chile,7,China,5,Christmas Market,4,Copenhagen,1,Cork,3,Costa Brava,3,Costa Rica,2,Croatia,2,Cyprus,1,Czech Republic,1,Denmark,3,Dresden,1,Dublin,51,Dusseldorf,1,Eastern Europe,8,Edinburgh,3,El Calafate,1,England,18,Essen,1,Estonia,1,Europe,221,Faversham,1,Featured,5,Financial District,1,Finland,3,Fisherman's Wharf,1,Flanders,1,Florida,3,France,17,Galway,2,Gdansk,1,Germany,18,Girona,1,Granada,1,Greece,4,Greece and Cyprus,5,Hamburg,1,Hangzhou,1,Hanoi,3,HCMC,2,Helsinki,1,Ho Chi Minh City,2,Hobart,1,Hoi An,2,Hungary,1,Hurling,1,Hyderabad,2,Iceland,5,India,5,Ireland,92,Ireland & UK,120,Ireland Road Trips,16,Italy,13,Itinerary,3,Jackson Square,1,Japan,12,Kaunas,1,Kilkenny,1,Kuala Lumpur,1,Kyoto,1,Languedoc,2,Lanzarote,1,Latvia,1,Leipzig,1,Liechtenstein,1,Lima,1,Limerick,1,Lisbon,17,Lithuania,2,Ljubljana,1,Lloret de Mar,1,London,9,Los Angeles,2,Louisiana,1,Lucerne,1,Luxembourg,2,Machu Picchu,1,Madeira,3,Malaga,1,Malaysia,1,Malta,1,Marrakech,1,Marrakesh,1,Massachusetts,2,Mendoza,1,Menton,1,Miami,1,Midwest,3,Modena,2,Monaco,1,Montpellier,1,Morocco,1,Muenster,1,Munich,1,Naples,1,Netherlands,4,New England,3,New Orleans,1,New York,9,New Zealand,8,Nice,2,Noe Valley,1,Nordics,19,Norrkoping,1,North America,43,North Beach,1,Northern Ireland,1,Norway,5,Nuremberg,2,Ollantaytambo,1,Osaka,1,Palafrugell,1,Panama,1,Paris,1,Parma,2,Patagonia,3,Pennsylvania,6,Perth,1,Peru,5,Philadelphia,1,Pingyao,1,Piran,1,Pittsburgh,5,Poland,8,Porto,1,Portugal,35,Puerto Natales,2,Punta Arenas,1,Queensland,1,Recent,87,Regensburg,1,Reykjavik,1,Riga,1,Rio de Janeiro,1,Rochester,1,Romania,3,Rotterdam,1,Rovinj,1,Russia,2,San Francisco,4,San Sebastian,1,Santiago,1,Scandinavia,10,Scotland,5,Seattle,3,Segovia,1,Seoul,2,SF - Further Afield,7,Sicily,3,Siem Reap,2,Singapore,1,Sligo,3,Slovakia,1,Slovenia,2,South Africa,1,South America,19,South Beach,1,South Korea,2,Southeast Europe,14,Southern Europe,66,Spain,17,St. Petersburg,2,Stockholm,2,Strasbourg,1,Stuttgart,1,Sweden,3,Switzerland,12,Sydney,3,Taipei,2,Taiwan,3,Tallinn,1,Tasmania,4,TBEX,1,Telegraph Hill,1,Texas,3,Thailand,1,Tipperary,1,Tokyo,2,Top World Destinations,4,Torres del Paine,1,Transylvania,1,Trieste,1,Uganda,10,UK,28,Union Square,1,United States,46,Uruguay,1,Valparaiso,1,Vietnam,9,Vilnius,1,Wales,2,Warsaw,2,Washington,3,Western Australia,1,Western Europe,37,Westfield,1,Whitsundays,1,Wicklow,2,Wroclaw,1,WWI,1,Xi'an,1,Zurich,5,
Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog: 8 Fun Ways to Experience Brussels Like a Local
8 Fun Ways to Experience Brussels Like a Local
Discover ways to experience Brussels like a local while visiting as a tourist. Learn about non-touristy things to do in Brussels Belgium.
Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog