Once temperatures start to rise, Belgians flock to their café terraces en masse to soak up as much sun as possible. Luckily, Brussels has plenty of options for those who love to have an al fresco drink in a cosy setting.
The 7 best cafe terraces to catch the summer sun in Brussels
1) Bar Gisèle
Dotted around the Brussels parks, seven pop-up summer cafes (or guinguettes) opened a few weeks ago. First introduced by the Brussels environment minister in 2017, these stylish modern pavilions are inspired by Lisbon’s romantic kiosk cafes. One of the loveliest, Bar Gisèle, is located in the forgotten grounds of the Abbaye de la Cambre. With long wooden tables set out under a wavy canopy, it’s the perfect spot to head with a group of friends or a mob of kids on a Sunday afternoon. The menu includes Sunday brunch, beers from the Brussels Beer Project and Portuguese pasteis de nata (little custard tarts). Other guinguettes are located in the Parc du Cinquantenaire and Parc Duden. Every day until September.
2) Café Tulipant
Admire the spectacular new look of Place Fernand Cocq from the pavement terrace of Café Tulipant. The neighbourhood has endured months of noise and dust as the square is turned into a people-friendly urban space. Now it’s time to relax in this sunny spot with a Belgian craft beer. The cafe interior has kept traces of the past including an ancient tiled floor and faded green wallpaper. Check social media for DJ concerts, cocktail nights and other events.
The centre of Brussels is starting to look like Copenhagen as the pedestrian zone nears completion. The new Nordic look has now reached as far as Place Rouppe where coffee bar Kaffabar has installed an outdoor terrace. Owner Marc quit a well-paid job in finance to set up his bohemian coffee bar. His coffee is lovingly made with beans from some of the best roasting firms in Europe. And resident bulldog Marcel adds to the mood.
4) Café Velvet
This tiny downtown café has a few round tables set out on the old fishmarket square. Launched by Ilse Geyskens after she spent some years running a coffee bar in Medellin, it serves fantastic coffee made from beans imported in big white sacks from Colombia, along with food by the Peck restaurant team.
5) BELvue Museum
Not many people know about the secret cobbled courtyard next to the royal palace. Hidden behind the BELvue Museum, it’s a quiet spot shaded by ancient trees in the heart of the upper town. The kitchen, located inside the museum, is run by the friendly Les Filles team.
6) Au Soleil
The name sounds promising and the location is perfect – a quiet cobbled square overlooked by a baroque church. Formerly a tailor’s shop, this corner café has kept its old business name and advertising signs. Surrounded by vinyl stores and used bookstores, it’s a friendly, relaxed spot to stop for a coffee or a Belgian beer.
7) La Fabrique en ville
One of the loveliest terraces in the city is located in the hidden Parc d’Egmont. Not the easiest spot to find, it is reached by three obscure entrances including an old cobbled lane. The restaurant occupies a former orangerie that once belonged to a nearby aristocratic residence. The city seems a long way away as you sit under the ancient trees in the dappled shade. Closes at 17.00.
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The 500 Hidden Secrets of Brussels reveals off-the-beaten-track places and interesting details for anyone who's keen to explore Brussel's best-kept secrets.
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