A personal selection of some interesting pubs in Belgium
Whenever you’re exploring a new country, it pays to know where to grab a pint or a cocktail. Naturally you can always look up the highest rated places in whatever town you happen to be staying in. And in some places in Belgium you can even find recommendations for a pub crawl. For a personal dip into the drinking scene in Belgium though, read on for five top bars around the country (in no particular order).
Den Engel, Antwerp
Den Engel, or more accurately Café Den Engel, is a traditional bar in Antwerp that’s all about authenticity. (You’ll notice this is a common thread for most of this list). The history of the building dates back to the 14th century. It’s as if the bar hasn’t changed a lot since then; you can feel its age. Basically, it’s a nice place to enjoy some local beer, solid comfort food, and a beautiful setting in the main city square in Antwerp.
Café Vlissinghe, Bruges
If you make it to Bruges, you’ll likely be drawn to the old, narrow medieval streets that snake away from the main areas. Indeed the main charm of Bruges is its old world setup, complete with canals, cobblestones, and a vaguely haphazard layout. Café Vlissinghe fits right in with this image. It’s located off a side street and has been an operational bar since the early-16th century. Now it’s actually quite a beautiful little bar, complete with a walled in courtyard where you can try your hand at a game of boules.
The Big Game Brussels Sports Bar
This is one of the real go-to sports bars in the country, which is particularly relevant in a World Cup year. The match schedule for the Cup shows Belgium’s group stage matches on June 18th, 23rd, and 28th. This is helpful to know if you’re planning in advance and want to see (or miss) the matches. However, a bar like this will probably be showing all the World Cup matches. Located in the middle of the city at Rue Henri Maus 5, 1000 Brussels, it’s a high-class but casual bar with plenty of televisions. So expect a noisy crowd for the world’s biggest football event.
A La Mort Subite, Brussels
A La Mort Subite made it onto a list of Belgian establishments for beer lovers, which was primarily devoted to breweries rather than bars. It earned the honor through a strong reputation for local beers, a 100-plus year tradition, and an almost fascinating decor. It comes complete with high ceilings, tightly packed tables, orb-like lighting, and giant mirrors. It’s a curious place, but an intoxicating one to look upon.
If you can get past the name that’s likely to tie your tongue in knots, this is one of the best beer bars in Brussels. The Poechenellekelder is known for being located next to the city’s unusually famous statue of a peeing boy. It thus tends to draw a large and enthusiastic crowd of tourists. It’s still worth a trip to check it out though as the atmosphere is cheery and the selection of well over 100 beers you may not have heard of can keep you busy.
Coming soon …
I attended a press event recently in a pub that has been voted the Best Beer Destination in the World! Was I impressed? Or underwhelmed? Read my account here.