Also on the list of most expensive cities in the world, Brussels is home to all the cobblestone streets, medieval landmarks, and fine cuisine you’d expect from a European city -- just with a lower profile.
WHERE TO STAY
The sleek, minimalist Pantone Hotel, opened by a company that specializes in color matching for graphic designers, encourages guests to select their room color based on their mood at check-in. You might opt for “daring, fiery” red or “fresh, eager” spearmint green (from $89, PantoneHotel.com, 32. 2. 541. 48.98). There’s also The White Hotel, which is just what it sounds like: a peaceful place draped in white (so try not to track in dirty after renting bikes and scooters on-site). Bonus: The public tram stops right outside, taking you to the Grand Place, the city’s main square and a UNESCO World Heritage site, or the magnificent former palace, Coudenberg, in a matter of minutes (from $97, TheWhiteHotel.be, 32. 2. 644 29. 29).
WHAT TO DO
You’re in Belgium, so give in to the craving for chocolate. In fact, spend an entire afternoon at the Museum of Cocoa and Chocolate, where you can see the sweet stuff made and maybe even have a few bites (tickets $7, Mucc.be, 32. 2. 514. 20. 48). Don’t worry, you’ll walk it off as you explore the city’s quaint streets and striking architecture. Some of the best examples of the Art Nouveau style can be found in the grand hotels or among the European Union buildings. Even the Palais des Beaux-Arts (Centre for Fine Arts) was built in the style and hosts guided tours of the building. For pretty things you can wear, head to Rue Antoine Dansaert, where top Belgian designers like Ann Demeulemeester and Dries Van Noten hawk their wares. Got a sweet tooth? Stop in Pierre Marcolini, the world-famous chocolate shop where you can indulge in champagne truffles, violet ganache, macaroons, and more (Marcolini.be, 32. 2. 514. 12. 06).
A pound of handmade chocolates at Pierre Marcolini
Last Year: $60