Brussels shopping is not limited to chocolates, beer and lace, although these three are definitely worth checking out for their quality and craftsmanship. During your Brussels vacation, you can sample the highest quality boutique shops and the most eclectic mix of goods at Brussels markets!
Once you have located the best places to visit for each type of good, you may also want to have a look at how to buy the best Belgian chocolates, where to buy nice Belgian beer (without getting ripped off!) and also a few places to go for duty free and souvenir shopping.
Most Brussels people will shop on Saturdays because shops are closed on Sundays. So if you want to avoid overcrowded shops and messy clothes racks, then avoid shopping on Saturday afternoons. On Sundays the shops near the Grand Place are generally open and so are some of the Brussels markets.
Shopping Arcades (Malls)
Brussels has one of the oldest shopping arcades in the world and a variety of others. Unlike ordinary shopping malls, galeries or arcades offer high quality brands and luxury items. They are normally set inside old buildings, great for escaping the rain and shine to shop at leisure.
Luxury brands and boutique shops can be found on Brussels two renowned shopping streets – Boulevard de Waterloo and Rue Antoine Dansaert. The ‘regular’ shopping street is called Rue Neuve, a pedestrian only street with a large selection of shops and a large shopping mall called City2.
To all local Brussels people, Brussels markets are the place to be any day of the week. There are hundreds of open markets operating throughout the week in small squares all over the city. Usually serving up fresh vegetables, handmade cheese, freshly chopped meat and knick-knacks for the home. On the Sundays the biggest markets are open for eager shoppers with small trolleys.
Buying Belgian Chocolate
If you have ever bought Belgian chocolate, you will know that there is a fine quality about them that deserves mentioning. To ensure you bring home the best Belgium has to offer then read this short guide to the different varieties and shops that you should venture into to buy the best Belgian chocolates.
There are mainly two types of souvenirs to purchase in Brussels – food and beverage or novelty trinkets. The tourist area that will offer all of these is along the narrow pedestrian streets that lead to the Grand Place (Grote Markt) from all directions - . Most of the tourist shops are open, even on Sundays. In the novelty shops, you will find that most of the shops sell similar items such as Peeing boy statues and keyrings, shot glasses or mugs. The only tourist shops for novelty items in Brussels are located at the Grand Place.
However, for food and beverage, it pays to shop carefully so you do not pay €5 for a bottle of beer that you can purchase at the supermarket in the same area for €2. The classic Belgian beers that are great as a gift or to take home are available at all supermarkets, big and small. Brands include: Leffe, Chimay, all brands of kriek, and Duvel to name a few. As for the chocolate, read more about this in the Buying Belgian Chocolate section.
Duty Free Shopping
Buying Duty Free is no longer possible within the EU. Go to the airport section to find out more about duty free shopping available from the airports. This is why you will not find any duty free shops within Brussels city. You can still purchase duty free items before boarding international flights out of the EU after passing through customs into the international terminal. The shops are called Sky Shops.