Five Top Bars to Visit in Belgium

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 four 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.

Cafe Vlissinghe Bruges
Café Vlissinghe claims it is the oldest bar in Bruges, dating back to 1515

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.

Its name comes from Mort Subite (Sudden Death), the name given to the loser of a card game that was played here

Poechenellekelder, Brussels

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.

Poechenellekelder Brussels
Belgian bars and cafés are always much more interesting inside than appears from outside!

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.

Categories: Miscellenea

19 replies »

  1. Great Post, did you hear about ‘Zeegeuzen’ or ‘ t’Botteltje ‘ in Oostende?:)

    • No I haven’t, although I’ve stayed in your town for a few weekends and enjoyed my time there. Perhaps it’s time for me to return and write a “How to spend a day in Oostende” blog post?

  2. I like the architecture or decor of the bars and hope the glue used to attach the beer bottles to the pink ceiling is really strong. Den Engel is extraordinary. My sons would love these places.

    • Yes, otherwise it will be another way that a bottle of beer can give you a headache. I hope you are well, and that your quiet time is proving beneficial Sharon

  3. Visited Poechenellekelder yesterday after reading your post, thanks for sending us there. Love finding out about cute bars in Belgium with good beer lists. In Gent there is the Dulle Griet if you haven’t been!

    • Great. Always good to hear from folk who read and implement! I will check your recommendation when next in Gent. Thanks!

  4. Looking forward to reading that–since I have never developed a taste for any type of beer (American, British, German, Belgian, Japanese, Thai, Mexican)

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