Guide to Brussels in the summer

Brussels may not scream Speedos and sunscreen, but when the big ball in the sky is ablaze and the city’s thermometers are on the up, the Belgian capital has plenty of places to cool off.

From sun-drenched terraces and rooftop parties to pop-up al fresco food events, here’s how enjoy the sunshine in Brussels.


Swimming in the city

When the mercury begins to bubble and dreams of a crystal-blue swimming pool start appearing like a mirage in front of your sunglasses, fear not: the hippest (and perhaps the most hidden) spot in Brussels right now is the Jam Hotel’s rooftop bar – which comes complete with its own pool. The bartenders are gratifyingly gallant with the ice in their legendary gin and tonics, so soak up the sun in a deckchair or kink and coil into a sweet summer submission thanks to one of their pop-up yoga sessions.


It’s hip to be square

Sun seekers will fall in love with Saint-Géry Square, it’s a crowd-pleaser with plenty of choices between sunny and shady areas. Keep cool with a fresh juice from the Zebra Bar or get a beer in Le Roi des Belges. You can’t miss the Halles Saint-Géry – a stunning Flemish Neo-Renaissance style building bursting with history that now houses a café and hosts various exhibitions and concerts. Once you’ve finished exploring inside, get a stoemp (Brussels’ richer version of a stamppot, mashed vegetables usually served with sausages) at Be my Stoemp and bask in the cool of the hall’s impressive shadow.


Local’s choice

If you start to overheat, try a chose (a house mocktail made with grapefruit juice and tonic water), an iced latte or a local ‘Bruxellensis’ beer from Chez Franz. One of the most Belgian cafés in town, this is where locals come to mingle in the cosy atmosphere over long brunches, sophisticated jazz evenings or an Italian aperitivo.

Café Belga is home to one of the capital’s largest terraces, overlooking the Place Eugène Flagey and the shimmering Ixelles Ponds. Mixing tables and loungers, it is busiest when the sun is out. At weekends, a market invades the square selling everything from trinkets to bed sheets as well as a beautiful range of foods such as oysters, rotisserie chicken and heaps of fresh fruit and vegetables. The market is also right next to the iconic Frit Flagey fritkot (a traditional fast food kiosk often serving fries), which is well worth a visit. Belga also hosts seasonal events including tastings, exhibitions and concerts.