Just a short stroll from Brussels’ central sights, the Sablon district has long been one of the city’s most affluent and atmospheric neighborhoods. Renowned for its elegant architecture and lively antiques market, the area is crammed with terrace cafes, hip restaurants, contemporary art galleries, and fine chocolatiers.
Sablon is relatively compact, making it easy to tour on foot. At its heart is Place du Grand Sablon—a stop on the Brussels hop on hop off bus tour—lined with restaurants and cafes and host to a weekend antique market. From the square, it’s a short walk to the Place du Petit Sablon, where you find the late-Gothic church of Notre-Dame du Sablon, the district’s most notable historic landmark. Nearby, the Mont des Arts district is home to museums including Magritte Museum (Musée Magritte), Musical Instruments Museum, and Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Wear comfortable shoes—the best way to explore the cobbled lanes of Sablon is on foot.
- Place du Grand Sablon has plenty of cafes and restaurants, but for a better value, venture down the side streets.
- There are free Wi-Fi hot spots dotted throughout Brussels, including at Place du Jeu de Balle in Sablon.
How to Get to There
The Sablon district is about a 10-minute walk from the Grand Place to the north and the Parc de Bruxelles to the east. The closest metro station to the Place du Grand Sablon is Louise (lines 2 and 6) and trams 92 and 93 also stop nearby. Hop-on hop-off bus tours of Brussels stop right on Place du Grand Sablon.
When to Get There
The busiest time to visit Sablon is during the peak summer season (July and August), but the crowds add to the atmosphere. Tour Sablon on a weekend and experience one of Brussels’ most popular antique and book markets on the Place du Grand Sablon. If you visit at Easter or Christmas, check out area chocolate shops’ window displays filled with festive-themed chocolates and elaborate gift boxes.
Belgium is famous for its chocolates, and Brussels is home to a number of world–renowned chocolatiers, many of which have shops on and around the Place du Grand Sablon. Look out for Pierre Marcolini, famous for its pralines and macarons; sample indulgent handmade chocolates and truffles at Godiva; or tuck into decadent pastries, eclairs, and chocolates at Wittamer. Leonidas and Neuhaus chocolate shops are also located nearby.