How to survive Brussels Midi
Brussels Midi – Belgium’s busiest railway station – lies at the crossroads of Europe, with trains departing for France, Germany, the UK, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, including to some of the continent’s most cosmopolitan cities and exciting destinations. While it may not be Europe’s finest railway station, there are still plenty of redeeming qualities for you to discover. So whether you’re taking the Eurostar to London, a TGV to Paris, or an ICE to Frankfurt, here are our top 7 tips for in and around Brussels Midi.
In the station
1. Visit Tintin
If, like us, you grew up reading The Adventures of Tintin, the entrance hall at Place Horta is an absolute must-see. That’s because, tucked away in the corner, you’ll find a colourful work of art dedicated to everyone’s favourite Belgian adventurer. There’s also a black-and-white image of Beautiful colours in the Grotto by Niki de Saint Phalle, Hannover. The images are taken from the ‘Tintin in America’ series.
This little eatery serves honest feel-good food made from 100% plant-based ingredients, with delicious wraps, burgers, salads and desserts on offer. Try their popular kebab wrap – a tasty tortilla with Greenway’s own plant-based meat, tomato, onion, and homemade aioli. Fun fact: when the company launched a few years back, a panel of meat lovers were invited to taste-test Greenway’s plant-based meat against the real deal, and almost two-thirds couldn’t tell the difference. Located in the corridor closest to Place Victor Horta.
Stock up on super foods at this sustainable salad joint located conveniently inside the station’s main hall. Build your own healthy bowl or have the chef whip one up for you with seasonal ingredients. Or perhaps opt for one of their delicious granola bowls with yoghurt or chia pudding and fresh fruit. “Customers love it here. They come back every day,” says a friendly employee behind the counter. SuperBowl also boasts excellent coffees, pressed juices and homemade kombucha.
Opening its doors in 2019, this smart establishment attracts a more well-heeled clientele. Part of the adjoining Pullman Hotel, Baron offers good coffee but is only open from 7 AM to 3 PM on weekdays. Relax next to the (digital) fireplace or in their upstairs bar, another quiet spot for a relaxed coffee or drink (open until midnight).
5. La Belgique Gourmande
This is the best place in Brussels Midi to find some of Belgium’s greatest gastronomic exports. Indulge yourself on anything from chocolate truffles, Belgian waffles and speculoos biscuits to over 250 types of Belgian beer. You can even create your own customised box of chocolate pearls, sugar-coated almonds and more. Located in the middle of Brussels Midi in the shopping area next to the main corridor. For more information, visit www.labelgiquegourmande.be.
Around the station
Brussels Midi Sunday Market
If you’re ever passing through Brussels Midi on a Sunday morning, take the opportunity to visit the excellent Sunday market – Belgium’s biggest – located right outside the railway station. Prepare for a sensory overload of exotic smells and vibrant colours as the traders hawk their fresh fruit and vegetables, oriental spices, olives, cheeses, meats and fish. Fabrics and flowers also abound. Stop for a mint tea or a Moroccan crepe, or wait until after lunch when merchants start to drop their prices.
Brussels Chapel railway station
A 10-min walk from Brussels Midi lies the abandoned Brussels-Chapel railway station (Gare de la Chapelle). This area of disused tunnels has long been a hotspot for Brussels’ budding street art scene – simply look up and take in the creative ceiling artwork. It’s also a hub for urban renovation projects such as Recyclart. There’s a cool art centre and bar/restaurant a 20-min walk from Brussels Midi at Manchesterstraat 1080. For more information, visit www.recyclart.be/nl/agenda.