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Brussels At Night: A Guide For First Time Visitors

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If you’re wondering what it’s like in Brussels at night, then let me tell you.

It’s beautiful.
It’s lively.
It’s safe.

Let’s just pause on that last one for a moment longer though as it’s important.

Brussels At Night Safety

Brussels is – first and foremost – a city, so caution must always be exercised, especially at night. For instance, don’t linger in darkened alleyways, keep an eye on your belongings, don’t walk around on your own at night and remember to keep to the well-beaten path unless you’re clued up on where all the crime spots are.

That said, we think Brussels is about as safe a city as they come.

Best Brussels Nightlife Areas: Where To Go Out In Brussels

Right… now onto the fun part! Brussels nightlife and evening entertainment is quite scattered throughout the city, so it’s a little difficult to pinpoint just one specific area that you must head to.

So… here are seven Brussels nightlife areas we recommend for the best night out!

For Atmospheric ‘Estaminets’ (aka Café-Bars): Grand-Place

Many first time visitors stay near Grand-Place as it’s the most central area, the most active area at night and is home to most of the top tourist attractions in Brussels.

When going out in the city centre, you’ll see lots of estaminets, which come from the French and refers to a small café that sells alcoholic drinks. Some have even nicknamed this type of establishment as a café-bar.

Recommended bars in Grand-Place include:

  • Delirium Café – Over 2000 different types of beer await!
  • L’Archiduc – Home to a pretty art deco-style cocktail bar, which opened as early as 1937.
  • MEzZO – Delicious cocktails and a thriving happy hour are on the cards here.
Brussels cafe bar

For Wild and Lively Clubs (+ Gay Bars): Saint Jacques

The mini district of Saint Jacques, particularly along Rue du Marché au Charbon, is the heart of the gay scene in Brussels and is home to some of the hottest and liveliest bars and clubs in the city.

This is where to come if you’re after a wilder night out in Brussels… free from all inhibitions!

Recommended bars in Saint Jacques include:

  • La Réserve – Where the locals go for great beer and even better conversation.
  • Le Baroque – A friendly and relaxed atmosphere awaits!
  • Le Belgica – Lively bar, popular with locals and tourists alike.

For Budget Bars: Anneessens

For students, backpackers and budget travellers, the area of Anneessens is the perfect match – particularly along Rue de Chartreux and heading into the fashion district of Danseart.

This area isn’t too far from the popular Grand-Place, but usually results in a cheaper night out.

Recommended bars in Anneessens include:

  • Lord Byron – The place to be if you love hipster and cosy atmospheres.
  • Cobra bar-gallery – Another cozy bar, which takes its name from the 1950s avant-garde art movement.
  • Greenwich Modern – A stunning café-bar to rival those in the nearby Grand-Place district.

For Live Music and Budget Booze: Ixelles and Matongé

Similarly to Anneessens, Ixelles and the nearby district of Matongé are very popular with students and budget travellers.

But these are also the areas to come if you love live music – particularly jazz!

Recommended bars in Ixelles and Matongé include:

  • Tavernier – Oh so popular and oh so jazzy!
  • Sounds Jazz Club – A local institution since the mid-eighties and also offering the very best in live jazz music.
  • Le Café Floréo – Less jazz, more DJ… but great live music all the same!

Did you know? Brussels is famous for jazz music and has a festival in May to celebrate the fact!

Brussels Jazz Club

For Old-World Grandeur: Saint-Gilles

The charming district of Saint-Gilles is awash with cocktail bars and café-bars housed in stunning Art Deco and Art Nouveau townhouses that this area is most famous for.

This is where you should come for a relaxed approach to drinking; with fruity cocktails, trendy craft beers and fine wines being the usual drink of choice in this district.

Recommended bars in Saint-Gilles include:

  • La Belladone – Found inside a stunning Art Deco townhouse and stocked full of Eastern-European spirits.
  • Cipiace – Cozy seating and delicious cocktails await!
  • La Porteuse d’Eau – Styled around Art Nouveau splendour and old-world grandeur, trendy craft beers are on the menu here.

For Serious Clubbing: Les Marolles

Even though Brussels is quite a small city, it has serious dance clubs scattered throughout. That said, some of the very best clubs are found fairly close to each other within the Les Marolles district.

So if it’s a wild night of dancing, house music and drum ‘n’ bass that you’re after, this should be your first stop!

Recommended clubs in Les Marolles include:

  • Bazaar – A huge variety of events and music genres await!
  • Fuse – Frequently voted the best nightclub in Brussels and even has its own record label.
  • Bloody Louis – Where young club-goers, pink neon lights and top DJs collide.

For Risqué Promiscuous Fun: The Red Light Districts

Just like in Amsterdam, prostitution is legal in Belgium.

But unlike Amsterdam, Belgium doesn’t really have one particular area of the city devoted to the red light district as street prostitution occurs throughout the city.

That said, if this is how you plan on spending your night out in Brussels, it would be best to head to the main red light district where you will find several sex shops and prostitution windows.

The main red light district in Brussels is found north of Gare du Nord in the Brabant Wijk Quartier district, along Rue d’Aerschot, Rue de Brabant and surrounding side streets.

Find out more about Brussels red light districts in this blog post from Brussels.info >>

Best Things To Do In Brussels At Night

Besides drinking, pubs and clubs, here’s a list of some other best things to do in Brussels at night and top evening entertainment options!

1. Late-night chocolate binge

Chocolate and confectionery is one of Belgium’s greatest draws. In fact, the praline was invented right here in Brussels!

What this means is that several chocolate shops stay open late to pull in more chocolate lovers, both local and foreign alike.

By visiting one of these chocolate shops late at night, you’ll see fewer crowds and a more relaxed approach to souvenir shopping.

  • La Belgique Gourmande – Most stores throughout the city stay open until 11pm.
  • Corné Port-Royal – Their Galeries Royal Saint-Hubert branch stays open as late as 11.30pm, while their Rue au Beurre branch and Rue de la Madeleine branch stay open until 10pm and 9pm respectively.
  • Leonidas – Its Galeries Royal Saint-Hubert branch also stays open until 11pm.

And if you’re visiting Brussels at Christmas, then you should know that Neuhaus in Galeries Royal Saint-Hubert also usually stays open late until around 11pm.

READ NEXT: Self-Guided Brussels Chocolate Walking Tour

Meert's Shop Display

2. Evening markets

If you’re partial to a bit of late-night shopping (and haggling), then you may be pleased to know that Brussels is home to a myriad of evening markets!

Here are a few of the most well-known ones:

3. Grand-Place light shows

Although the light show at Grand-Place is most synonymous with Christmas in Brussels, this light show actually happens at other times of the year as well.

As an example, you’ll often see a light show to accompany the Brussels annual flower carpet, which draws in large crowds during the summer months.

But even if you miss seeing a light show, you’ll still see Grand-Place lit up every night… making the buildings look silver and even more stunning than usual.

Grand-Place At Night

4. La Bellone events and performances

La Bellone is a stunning event space. It has an opulent baroque façade, which opens onto a glass-domed courtyard… much like the most picturesque conservatory you can imagine!

Throughout the year, there are theatre, dance, circus and opera performances here, making for a truly spectacular night out in Brussels. Keep an eye on their website for event dates and times.

5. Late-night photographs of pretty shopping galleries

Both Galeries Royal Saint-Hubert and Passage du Nord stay open late. Galeries Royal is open at all hours, while Passage du Nord is open until 8pm.

This allows you to photograph these stunning shopping galleries, complete with their marble and gold detailings, free from crowds and selfish selfies.

Galerie de la Reine

We hope you’ve found this guide to Brussels at night super helpful! If there’s anything else you want to know, then just pop a note down in the comments below and we’ll get back to you asap…

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Justine Jenkins

Justine is one half of the married couple behind the Wanderers of the World travel blog. She lives in Bristol, UK and has travelled extensively within Europe and beyond since 2013. After her trips, she shares detailed travel itineraries, helpful travel guides and inspiring blog posts about the places she's been to. When she's not travelling overseas, you'll find her joining her husband, Scott on various day trips, weekend getaways and walks within the UK, which she also writes about on Wanderers of the World. Aside from travelling and writing, she also loves reading, crafting and learning about nature.

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