July 12, 2024

15 Tips for Getting the Most Out of a Weekend Shopping Trip to Brussels

Brussels is known for its amazing shopping opportunities, from high-end luxury brands to funky boutiques and flea markets. The city is very walkable, and each neighbourhood has its own unique vibe and shopping appeal. To make the most of your weekend shopping trip to Brussels, here are 15 helpful tips.

1. Do Your Research

Before your trip, spend some time researching the different shopping areas around Brussels. That way, you can hit the areas that sell the things you want to buy without delay since a weekend isn’t very long, although there is nothing wrong with browsing!

Here are some of the top shopping neighbourhoods in Brussels:

  • The Sablon – This historic district is home to upscale boutiques, antique shops, art galleries, and high-end chocolate shops. The Sablon is known for its luxury goods and is located in central Brussels.
  • Avenue Louise – This tree-lined avenue contains numerous high-end fashion boutiques from top international brands like Chanel, Gucci, and Louis Vuitton. It runs through one of the wealthiest parts of Brussels.
  • Rue Antoine Dansaert – This is Brussels’ main fashion and shopping street, with a mix of Belgian designers, chain stores, vintage shops and concept stores. It’s a good spot for trendy clothing, accessories and design items.
  • Rue Neuve – This is Belgium’s busiest and most famous shopping street, filled with mainstream chain stores, department stores like Galeria Inno, and shopping malls. It’s where locals go for mass market and high street shopping.
  • Place du Grand Sablon – This picturesque square is ringed by chocolate shops, antique stores, designer boutiques and cafés. It’s especially known for its quality Belgian chocolatiers.
  • Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert – These elegant 19th century glass-covered shopping arcades house luxury boutiques, patisseries, and chocolate shops. It’s one of Brussels’ most beautiful shopping destinations.
  • Passage du Nord – A wonderful historic shopping arcade and one of the oldest in the city. It has a gorgeous glass roof and Baroque statues as well as a host of designer stores.
  • Quartier Saint-Jaques – Another area well-known for fashion and designer boutiques, as well as independent retailers. Make sure you visit the 200-year-old cutlery store where the Royal Family loves to shop.
  • Docks Bruxsel – Explore the dockside area and check out the many fashion boutiques and eateries. This is a great place for the family, as there are numerous entertainment outlets too.
  • Boulevard de Waterloo – An upscale shopping area where everything comes with a hefty price tag.
  • Antiekmarkt van de Zavel – This is the go-to market for anyone interested in antiques and collectables. You’ll find all the best dealers here at weekends selling a range of items, including ceramics, porcelain, glassware, furniture, silverware, and more.

Focus on areas like the Sablon, Avenue Louise, Dansaert, Rue Neuve and the Galeries Royales for the best shopping in Brussels across high-end fashion, artisanal goods and Belgian chocolates, but try and visit the other areas too for a fuller experience.

2. Make a List

It’s easy to get overwhelmed browsing all the shops in Brussels. Make a list ahead of time of any specific items you want to look for or shops you don’t want to miss. This will make sure you don’t miss out on anything important to you. Plus, a list can help focus your shopping efforts.

The best things to shop for if you’re travelling to Brussels are:

  • Chocolate
  • Lace
  • Cheese
  • Artwork
  • Crystal
  • Miniature Houses

3. Wear Comfortable Shoes

With all the walking you’ll be doing between shops and neighbourhoods, comfortable footwear is a must. Don’t just bring your nicest looking shoes. Be sure to have supportive shoes that won’t leave your feet aching at the end of the day.

4. Pack Lightly

Don’t weigh yourself down with bulky luggage or bags, especially if you plan on shopping a lot. Be prepared with a roomy, sturdy, lightweight bag or backpack that lets you manoeuvre easily and carry purchases hands-free.

If you want to purchase many things, ask the store to deliver the items to your hotel. Most will be happy to do this for a price. You may even be able to have your purchases shipped back to your home country. This is the best option if you fall in love with a piece of furniture or a painting.

Interior of chocolate shop in Brussels, Belgium near Grand Place. Belgium is known for its chocolate delicacies.

5. BYOB (Bring Your Own Bottled Water)

Hydration is key when you’ll be on your feet all day. Bring some bottled water from your hotel to stay refreshed. It will save money too since buying water around tourist spots can get pricey.

6. Have Cash on Hand

Many smaller shops and flea markets in Brussels only accept cash payments. Save yourself hassle on your shopping trip to Brussels and keep some Euros on you for when plastic won’t work. Research costs ahead to know how much to carry.

7. Look for Souvenirs

If you want to take home gifts or mementos from your shopping trip to Brussels, keep an eye out for things like chocolate, lace, beer, designer fashions, artisan crafts, and more. These items make classic Belgian souvenirs. Everyone loves Belgian chocolates and the most famous chocolatier in Belgium is Leonidas on Rue de L’Etuve. Handily, it’s only a short walk from the Choco-Story Museum.

8. Ask for Tax Refunds

Some larger retailers in Belgium offer tax refunds on purchases over a certain amount made by foreign tourists. Be sure to ask shops about their tax refund policies and get the proper documentation for refunds later.

9. Comparison Shop

Don’t impulse buy the first thing you see. Many items like chocolate, antiques, fashion, etc., can be found at multiple shops around the city. Compare quality and prices between vendors to find the best deal.

10. Learn Bartering Basics

At flea markets and second-hand shops, bartering for the best prices may be expected. Brush up on your haggling skills before shopping in these spots to drive a better bargain and don’t be afraid to walk away if the retailer won’t offer you a price you’re happy with.

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - FEBRUARY 17, 2019: lot of people enjoy a sunny winter day at the Flea market from de Place du Jeu de Balle on february 17, 2019 in Brussels. The market takes place daily and is popular among local people and tourists.

11. Take Breaks

When your energy starts flagging, take a breather at a café. Have a coffee or light snack to recharge before hitting the shops again. Avoid shopping when overly tired or hungry. No trip to Belgium is complete without a delicious meal of moules-frites followed by Belgium waffles!

Grabbing bites at food carts, sandwich shops, and chocolate stores will fuel you up between shopping stops.

12. Seek Local Recommendations

Ask hotel staff, your Brussels tour guide, or friendly locals for their shopping spot suggestions. They may point you to some hidden gem boutiques or markets. If you catch a taxi in from one of the suburbs, ask the driver to drop you off in the best shopping areas, so you don’t have to walk too far to find what you are looking for.

13. Allow Time for Browsing

Don’t rush through shops – leave time for leisurely browsing and soaking up the experience. You never know what unique finds you might discover. Shopping is more fun when you take your time rather than dashing between shops in search of the next big thing. If you rush, you might miss the perfect item.

14. Budget Accordingly

Decide how much you want to spend beforehand and stick to it. It’s very easy to overspend in a city loaded with incredible shopping. Determine your budget and shop smart. Take credit cards with you for bigger ticket purchases but remember to factor in exchange rates and currency conversion fees. Some cards charge more than others.

With an array of shops, boutiques, markets, neighbourhoods, and cuisine, Brussels offers a diverse, world-class shopping experience. Following these handy tips will ensure you make the most of your shopping-focused weekend in this amazing city. You’ll return home with great purchases, wonderful memories, and ideas for your next visit. Enjoy your Brussels shopping adventure!

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