Brussels Nightlife Guide
Having lived in Brussels for 9 months and frequenting pubs and bars nearly every weekend (sometimes two nights in a row) I like to think myself a connoisseur of Brussels after dark. Some of the best places for a drink can be found conveniently located around the city centre and for some you might have go the extra mile, but it will be worth it. Whether you’re in the hunt for the best margarita or just a place to dance until your legs feel like jello, Brussels will deliver.
Good for: Dancing on tables
If you go to one place in Brussels, go to Le Corbeau. Get there before 10pm and you will see people casually enjoying their dinner with a few drinks in a charming old-Brussels setting. Stick around and you will be surprised. At approximately 11pm the bartender goes around removing lamps from tables, the volume goes up and suddenly you will see someone scrambling onto the table they just had their dinner on – soon the whole place is up on tables, grooving to the music and you have no choice but to try it yourself. I’ve never had a bad night here even though the fight for the best table spot can sometimes get a bit heated. Wearing heels is not recommended, you will need all the balance you have!
Good for: Pre-drinks
Mappa Mundo is one of the many gems of the Saint Gery area. In the summer the cobbled St. Gery streets are filled with the sound of chatter and clinking glass as tables are spread outside and the bars open their windows wide to let some of the cool air in. Mappa Mundo has a wonderfully cosy, warm atmosphere. The lights are dim, the seats and setting comfortable and the music varied. Here you can have a quiet drink and catch up with friends or gear up for a night out in the livelier bars of the area.
Good for: Cocktails
This Cuban place is superb for cocktails; here is where I fell in love with margaritas. They make them super tangy and sweet, and during happy hour you get 2 for 1! If you’re into Latin music you can easily spend the whole night dancing here, but you can also catch the last bus into central Brussels at around 11pm if you’re looking to explore the city more.
Good for: Beer
This place is incredible. Even if you're not into beer you have to appreciate the fact that when you ask for the drinks menu, you will receive a book as heavy as The Lord of the Rings. As you leaf through the pages you will realise that the best option is to just close your eyes and poke your finger at the menu at random to choose your beer. They come in all tastes here, in over 2400 varieties from smoky to deliciously fruity. If you're finding the surplus of choice overbearing just ask the bar staff to recommend you something: they will give you a taste first before filling up the glass.
Good for: Late, late hours
After all other bars in central Brussels close, there is always Bonnefooi. A favourite among nighthawks, this is where the party's at – even at 7 in the morning. The place gets a bit grubby in the early hours of the morning, but if you're hell-bent on not retiring to bed, Bonnefooi is there for you. Seen as it will probably be about 5 or 6 in the morning once you get here, have your wits about you and keep an eye on your belongings. I once had my bag stolen here right under my nose within the space of 5 minutes even after having carefully hidden it under a pile of jackets and keeping vigil right next to it.
Good for: Cheap drinks
If you’re out to find that laid-back Irish pub feel and your main goal of the evening is to get sufficiently intoxicated, Celtica is your place. The drinks are cheap and the dancefloor upstairs crowded and pumping out the latest tunes to grind to. The place will become packed so be prepared to stand around with your drink. Certain nights kick off with live music, and you will most definitely hear a drunken singalong rendition of Wonderwall. Celtica is nothing fancy but it does the trick with the added bonus that the doors stay open til very late.
Good for: Clubbing
One of the (very) few clubs in Brussels, this is where you can come all dolled up to bust a move.
The set-up is spacious and the music loud, providing all the essentials of a club night. The place lacks the great atmosphere you will find in smaller Brussels bars, but if clubbing is your thing, this is where you need to be. Be sure to bring change: every time you want to use the loo, you will need to pay.