By Vicky Anscombe on 18 March 2015

When it comes to a decadent weekend away, we're lucky to have loads of options available to us. 

If you're staying in the UK, there's the seaside (Hastings, Brighton, Wells-next-the-Sea, Bournemouth), or there's the countryside (take your pick - our favourites include The Cotswolds, Devon and Dorset). European destinations are also ridiculously easy to get to - Paris, Berlin, Madrid - but your best bet for a weekend you won't forget in a hurry is 48 hours in Brussels.

No, it's not the party capital of Europe, and if you're looking for haute cuisine that'll cost you an arm and a leg, you'll be disappointed - but Brussels should be on your bucket list. Here's why.

1. The drinking scene is phenomenal. Sorry for being turncoats, people of the UK, but the atmosphere in Brussels' bars on a Saturday afternoon and evening knocks your local into a cocked hat. Older people and teenagers, parents with babies and couples on quiet dates all drink together, and the vibe is friendly, fun and easygoing. The best bars to frequent are the Delirium Café (trust us - you'll love this place), Le Falstaff (it's the oldest 'art nouveau' cafe in Brussels) and À la Mort Subite.

Delirium Tremens Cafe

2. Hotel rooms can be booked for a song. Well, not literally, but you can find some terrific deals if you shop around. Hotels like Hotels Mirabeau may only be two stars, but their beds are soft, their showers are hot, and if your phone runs out of battery and you forget your charging socket, the friendly night staff will charge it for you.

3. The bar staff have a sense of humour. Unlike our grumpy pub owners ("A pint? That'll be £8.60"), Brussels' bar staff know that drinking time is important, and they'll basically bend over backwards to ensure you have a good time. Be warned - you may become a gentle figure of fun if you order a water with your beer.

4. The beer, full stop. In case you haven't already guessed, Brussels is the beer capital of the world; Belgium enjoys at least one beer festival on almost every weekend of the year. As the last resting place of beer saint Gambrinus and the home of the legendary lambiek beers, Brussels offers plenty to beer connoisseurs - if you want to delve deeper into Brussels' beer history, you may need the guiding hand of a local. Alternatively, pop into the most interesting working breweries in town, such as the century-old Brasserie Cantillon, which is near to the Station Gare du Midi.

5. The waffles. You'll realise fairly soon that Brussels is obsessed with these sweet treats - you can't move for waffle houses, especially around the Grand Place. Expect to pay around €4 for a freshly-made waffle with a frightening amount of cream, Nutella and banana. Be warned - don't attempt more than two of these in one day.

Belgian Waffles

6. Moules-frites: Do you like to moules-frites, moules-frites? After one of these dinners, you'll be raring to go. Belgium does two things very well - chips and mussels - and if you like seafood, a bucket (yes, bucket) of fresh mussels in a steaming broth, served with a plate of chips, will satiate your hunger. Popular dishes include moules marinières (the broth is made with white wine, shallots, parsley and butter) and moules à la bière; in this recipe, the mussels are cooked in a sauce containing beer, instead of white wine. Try Aux Armes De Bruxelles for the best moules in town.

7. The Manneken Pis: It's probably the most sought-after tourist attraction in Brussels, but it's probably only worth seeing to gawp at the number of people staring at this tiny statue of a boy taking a leak. The statue has been vandalised and kidnapped many times since it was created in the 17th century, but these days, he's well guarded, and you may well find him wearing a costume when you visit. Prepare to be disappointed if you're expecting something spectacular.

8. The chocolate: You didn't think we'd forget the chocolate on offer, did you? If you visit around Easter, prepare to board the Eurostar about five pounds heavier and in a cocoa coma. Forget Godiva et al; if you really want to get your endorphins racing, try artisan chocolate makers who know what they're doing. Laurent Gerbaud, Wittamer and Zaabar take the art of chocolate making very seriously; in the latter, you can enrol on a chocolate-making workshop where you'll be taught how to spread hot mixture on to marble tabletops, work it to a glossy consistency, and then roll truffles and pour bars.

Belgian chocolate

9. Musée-Magritte: If you've got a hangover and you're feeling like the world's slightly askew, what you need is an afternoon of surrealist art to put things to rights. This installation is the biggest Magritte archive in the world and most of the work is directly from the collection of the artist's widow, Georgette Magritte. 

10. Absinthe: Just across the impasse from the Delirium Cafe, next to the statue of Jeanneke Pis, is the ultimate absinthe bar. Forget what Paris taught you and re-learn some drinking skills in this young, friendly hideaway. Staff here know their stuff and there are hundreds of bottles of absinthe to choose from; each drink is prepared properly, with a sugar cube on a slotted spoon balanced over your absinthe shot. Iced water trickles over the sugar, mixing with the absinthe, and turning your drink cloudy. You won't hallucinate after one or two; that's a given; but be careful - absinthe's not a drink for the faint at heart.

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