Brussels is such a dynamic city that there is certainly no shortage of great souvenir ideas to pack to take home. There are some excellent fashion shops and men’s tailors, as well as some really creative jewelry artisans and at the other end of the scale, there is an excellent Belgian chocolate liqueur Noire d’Ivoire and Nicarao cigars that are made in Nicaragua – but are a Belgian invention! Without wasting a moment, let us have a look at the top souvenirs to buy in Brussels.
1. A bottle or two of Brussels beer
Whilst taking some excellent Brussels beer home as a souvenir is good, the next level is to take some beer made in Brussels such as Cantillon and Brasserie de la Senne. If space permits, an extra special souvenir is one of either brewery’s’ stylish matching beer glasses.
2. A comic book
It is a little-known fact that Brussels is the comic center of Europe and that adults and children alike enjoy reading the comic strips. There are plenty of places to buy comics but the shop that is worth exploring is Brüsel which has a great selection of titles including Asterix, Tin Tin, and Lucky Luke – with quite a few titles available in English. Local comic creator Philippe Gatwick has an excellent series called Le Chat that is available in English, French, and German.
3. Tasty Speculoos
This delicious cookie made with brown sugar and spices is definitely a national treasure and much loved by everyone. As well as being a great tasting cookie, Speculoos have been mixed with delicious caramel to create a wonderful spread for toast and there are several restaurants in the city that add crumpled Speculoos to such heavenly desserts as Tiramisu! A box or two makes a tasty souvenir!
4. Beautiful Belgian Chocolates
This is very much a classic souvenir as the Belgians really know how to make good chocolate. Pierre Marcolini is a chocolatier in the city and his workshop can be found in Rue des Minimes. Apart from beautiful pralines, truffles, and chocolates that can be bought individually to create a personalized box, there is also a fabulous – and a totally irresistible- array of vividly colored macaroons. The macaroons taste unbelievably good and are sold in a luxurious red box containing 25 macaroons – well not for long anyway!
5. A life-size Manneken-pis!
This is not a souvenir option if you traveled with hand baggage only, but if you have a suitcase, you can buy a 55 cm version of the Manneken -pis modeled in polyester! They are available from the craft shop at the hotel La Vieille Laterne which stands close to the real thing. There are models that can be plumbed up to a water supply when you get home to be a fully working model!
6. Some Belgian lace
There are certainly plenty of shops in the city selling lovely Belgian lace from small coaster mats to large tablecloths. If you see something you like just check the label to ensure that the item is locally made as there are some imported (and cheaper) lace items on the market now too. The best shop to explore is Manufacture Belge de Dentelles which has some lovely gift ideas including bread baskets and pretty miniature umbrellas.
7. Some really delicious sweets
If you enjoy tasty sweets look out for the cone-shaped cuberdons. These sweets have a crispy brittle outside and a soft center, The classic flavor is raspberry, but cuberdons are now available in 25 different flavors. Bags of tasty Cuberdons can be bought in the various markets.
8. A good bottle of Belgian whiskey
It has to be said that the Belgians are not known as whiskey producers, but a fine single malt is made in Brussels that is held in such high esteem that it appears on the list of top whiskeys in the world. Etienne Bouillon has always appreciated a good whiskey and in 2008 he decided that he wanted to have a go at making a really excellent one in the capital. He uses top grade barley grown by a local farmer and now produces just 25,000 bottles of Belgian Owl Whiskey each year – which is on sale in some stores in Brussels.
9. A beautiful piece of crystal
Val Saint-Lambert crystal has been made in a small village near Brussels since the 18th century and a good display of these lovely crystal pieces can be seen in Galerie Royal Saint-Hubert which is situated close to the Grand Place. There are delightful bowls and vases, that are exquisitely made and colored with deep shafts of color. These pieces cost just under 200 euros a piece. Staff at the store will triple wrap pieces so that they travel safely.
10. Some Ginger Love!
Ginger Love is a very special herbal tea that has been created by the Chef of Lombardia, the vegan restaurant in Antwerp. This soothing brew is made from citrus fruit and ginger and is totally caffeine free and is said to be beneficial to the immune system. Ginger Love can be bought in Brussels from a wonderful shop called L’Herboristene Moderne which specializes in all sorts of herbal remedies, has a good stock of spices, essential oils, and health products.