Part of the thrill of travelling, for me anyway, is the nerves and excitement that come from visiting a new place. I love arriving in a new country, with no clue on what there is to see or do while I’m there. Instead of heavily researching the area I try to rely on speaking to local recommendations while I’m away but in this day and age, it can be all too easy to simply rely on a Google search.
But what happens when you don’t know where you’re going until you arrive at the airport? You have to go back to the basics and simply explore, or ask locals for tips. And you know what? That’s when you normally find the hidden gems that Google wouldn’t have told you about anyway.
The only problem is that, in reality, turning up at an airport with no destination in mind is quite difficult. Logistically, last-minute flights would probably end up being stupidly expensive or fully booked, and you wouldn’t have anywhere to stay when you landed, or the right clothes to wear while you’re away.
Luckily, for both you and me, it is actually possible to enjoy a surprise trip away, without the stress or expense you would imagine it would result in, thanks to the travel company, WowTrip! Which is exactly how I ended up enjoying a weekend in Belgium.
How does WowTrip Work?
WowTrip is a travel company that specialises in surprise trips. They fly from the UK, Germany, Spain, and Switzerland, to destinations all over Europe. You simply select the airport you’d like to fly from, the number of travellers and your preferred travel dates. WowTrip then does the rest for you.
48 hours before your due to fly, you will be able to find out the weather forecast for your destination. If you’re feeling a bit jittery, then you can also access your boarding pass, hotel information, and a destination guide, but for the full experience, it’s better to wait until you get to the airport (which is exactly what we did!).
Exploring Brussels with WowTrip
I was sat on the coach to Heathrow airport with a real mixed bag of emotions. I’m still not sure if I was more excited or nervous, but upon walking through the doors of the airport, I finally opened my phone and downloaded my boarding pass.
After weeks of anticipation, I was finally able to find out that I was going to Brussels! I had never been to Brussels before, so, despite a few mixed opinions when I shared the destination of my trip, I was still excited to explore somewhere new.
I breezed through security and met Nienke, Larch, Michelle, and Gemma before boarding the plane using the ticket on my phone. We were all heading to Brussels to meet up with Monica, Anne, and Jen, as we were jetting off together as members of Monica’s ‘The Blogger Course’. Just one hour later, the five of us were in an uber on our way to our hotel in Brussels, ready to meet up with the others and begin our weekend in Belgium!
How to Spend a Weekend in Belgium:
Day One: Exploring Brussels
Our Uber dropped us off directly outside the front doors to our hotel, so after running up to our rooms to dump our bags and have a quick freshen up, we met back up downstairs and headed out to do some exploring.
We had only been walking for a few minutes before we found ourselves in the heart of Brussels. The walking is one aspect of city breaks that I do really enjoy. I rarely book myself a city break because I tend to favour a countryside or beach-based destination, but I can, and do, appreciate the beauty of city breaks and the fact that you can normally walk between each of the main attractions.
Brussels is a surprisingly small city, but it has a big food scene (as do many of Belgium's other cities), so it is safe to say you will definitely be spoilt for choice on places to eat and drink while away for a weekend in Belgium. We spent a majority of the first day (well the entire weekend in all honesty) working our way through the menus at the many restaurants, cafes, and bars that we passed by.
I sampled my first waffle (of many) and went for the particularly Instagrammable bubble waffle which was quite honestly delicious but incredibly messy to eat (the not-so-Instagrammable-side). As well as some Belgium beer and meatballs on the first day.
We spent the afternoon sitting and chatting in the Grand Place (which is definitely the highlight of a trip to Brussels), and wandering through the streets that come off from it.
Things to do in Brussels:
Visit the Grand Place
The city is quite small but there are a few particularly touristy things to do in Brussels. First up on my list of recommendations would be to visit the Grand Place, it’s a market square surrounded by the most beautiful buildings and it’s the perfect place to begin your tour of Brussels as it has so many beautiful streets leading off from it.
Find the Mannekin Pis
While you’re walking the streets, make sure to search out the Manneken Pis, a 17th-century statue of a little boy weeing, and the Jeanneke Pis, known as the sister monument to the little boy. Don’t ask me why they exist, but you can’t head to Brussels and not visit them. Next up would be to visit the Atomium, an iconic steel structure that Brussels has become known for.
Sample a Belgium Waffle!
Finally, be sure to search out a waffle shop (there tends to be one on every corner), as you absolutely cannot come to Belgium without giving a bubble waffle a taste!
Day Two: One Day in Bruges
Brussels Central – Bruges: 1hr 10 (approx.) – €14.80
The great thing about Brussels isn’t even really the city itself (although that is beautiful), it’s how easy it is to get to the surrounding cities for a day trip. Which means, if you're up for doing a little bit of travelling, you can really make the most of a weekend in Belgium by visiting Brussel's surrounding cities.
On day two of our weekend in Belgium, a small group of us decided to hop on the train to Bruges. I had actually been to Bruges a few years back, but I had gone for the Christmas markets so visiting in June was a completely different experience.
Bruges is known for its gorgeous cobbled streets and medieval buildings that sit adjacent to the many canals. So, naturally, we spent most of our day doing nothing more than walking through the beautiful streets, admiring just how beautiful every corner of the city is, but in my opinion, that’s the perfect way to spend a day in Bruges. In the afternoon, we opted for a different view and joined one of the many boat trips. It was a gorgeously sunny day, so it was great to kick back and see the city from the canal. And as the day started to come to a close, we sat giggling, sipping on glasses of rose in a beautiful bar with a rose-filled garden until it came to time to catch the train home.
It was another relaxing day, but the thing about visiting Bruges (and Brussels) is that much of the charm comes from the buildings themselves, so you can really get a feel for the place just by walking around it.
How to Spend One Day in Bruges:
Start by visiting the Markt
You’re best to start your day in Bruges off in the Markt. It’s in the heart of the city, and is surrounded by an array of gorgeous buildings and a few historical highlights, such as the Belfry!
Climb to the Top of the Belfry of Bruges
If it’s a quiet day in Bruges, then make your way to the Belfry. After climbing 166 stairs to the top, you’ll be able to look out across the city and gain a birds-eye view of the Markt. The only downside is that there is wire mesh around the top, so you can’t really get any good photos but it’s not always about that, is it? We queued for well over an hour and in all honesty, I wouldn’t say it was worth waiting that long but if you arrive and there isn’t too much of a wait, then definitely stop for a visit to the top of the Belfry of Bruges.
Take a walk to the Bonifacius Bridge
If, like us, you’re planning to just walk around and find some of Bruges’ hidden gems then searching out the Bonifacius Bridge is a must. The early 20th-century bridge is a quaint little pedestrian bridge, nestled behind one of the Cathedrals with beautiful views down the canal.
Relax on a Boat Trip through Bruges
Otherwise, take a boat trip down one of the canals (there are various points along the canal, and a huge number of different tour companies to go with).
Pick up some Chocolate at Home Sweet Home Bruges
Finally, make sure you visit Home Sweet Home Bruges – a chocolate shop with a huge array of (you guessed it) chocolates, and a make your own hot chocolate section! Top tip, make sure that you put a little bit of dark chocolate into your drink to avoid creating the slightly sickly one that I did!
Day Three: Exploring Ghent
Brussels Central – Ghent: 40 minutes (approx.) – €9.30
After realising just how simple it was to catch a train to Bruges on day two of our trip to Brussels, for the final day of our weekend in Belgium, we decided to continue with our day trip excursions by visiting Ghent. Getting from Brussels to Ghent was just as cheap, and as simple, as getting to Bruges had been, so in around 40 minutes we found ourselves wandering around our third city of the weekend.
Ghent was, in my opinion, a little bit underwhelming but I think that was simply because we had been to Bruges the day before, and I’m not sure that anything quite compares to that city. Had we done our day trips the other way around, I probably would have loved Ghent a little bit more. That’s not to say that Ghent doesn’t have plenty to offer, however, as it definitely does!
We spent our day in Ghent in a similar fashion to our day in Bruges, simply wandering around and stopping off when something caught our eye. Nienke showed us to an alleyway covered from top to bottom in incredible street art, and then took us to Holy Food Market, where we sipped away on our drinks inside the stylish venue. If you’re planning to visit Ghent while you’re in Belgium, then I definitely recommend seeking out the Holy Food Market – it was full of locals (which is always a good sign!) and it was entirely different to anything else we had seen that weekend.
Things to do in Ghent:
Visit Gravensteen Castle
Located in the heart of Ghent and surrounded by beautiful streets, and lovely cafes is Gravensteen Castle. For a small entry fee, you can explore the inside of the castle, before heading out to enjoy some waffles and a drink at a nearby café.
Take a stroll down Ghent's Graffiti Street
You can’t walk around Ghent and not take a stroll down the Graffiti street. The alley itself is washed over twice a year, with the intention being that people will avoid graffitiing the historic buildings nearby as they have somewhere specific to paint. It’s a colourful area that is constantly being painted over by street artists, so the wall can change on a near-weekly basis!
Go for a Drink at the Holy Food Market
When you’re ready to have a little sit-down, stop off for a drink (or a bite to eat) at the Holy Food Market. It’s a modern food hall, located inside a 17th-century chapel and upon entering, you will honestly feel as though you’ve stepped into another world! It’s stylish, with tables downstairs and an upstairs lounge, and has an array of food outlets, and bars, to pick from.
Our WowTrip Hotel
Normally when I’m booking my own holiday, I like to find a place to stay that has a bit of character. Even though I rarely spend much time in the accommodation, I always find that a nice hotel or AirBnB can really complete your trip away.
That said, however, the 4* Hilton Brussels City Hotel that WowTrip put us up in wasn’t all that bad. It may not have had much character to it but it was perfectly located and had incredibly friendly staff, who were more than happy to give us recommendations on things to do in Brussels, places to eat and plenty of directions.
Would I travel with WowTrip again?
The simple answer is, 100%. It was nerve-wracking in the build-up, but not having to spend hours deciding on a destination or having to search for flights and accommodation was a welcome change. Logistically, booking a trip away for eight people who live in different cities, and needed to fly from two different airports, would have caused a lot of headaches, so for us, WowTrip made planning a group trip so easy. And if I were ever to go away with a group of friends again, I would definitely turn to WowTrip as it means that one person doesn’t get lumbered with all of the stress of planning a big group holiday!
*I was invited along on this trip with seven other bloggers from Monica Stott’s ‘The Blogger Course’. Flights and accommodation were paid for by WowTrip but all other costs were covered by myself and all opinions remain entirely my own.
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