A weekend in Hasselt • Part one
Hasselt is often referred to as the "Hoofdstad van de Smaak" (the capital of taste) and that's not without a reason. In the city famous for its jenever and speculaas, you'll find plenty of restaurants and coffee houses, but also great shopping spots. Because the city center is rather small, everything is on walking distance, which makes it a very pleasant city to wander in. Regardless of the city's size, you can fill an entire weekend with things to do. Therefore I hope you enjoy this two part city guide of Hasselt!
Start by having lunch at Quiche Café located in the center of the city. In this small, laid-back venue you can choose between a selection of quiches and bagels for a very reasonable price. The vegetarian quiche is the best I've ever had and the owners are lovely people. Reservation is not possible but there's a good rotation of clients so you should always be able to get a table.
After lunch, start discovering Hasselt's little streets. Walk towards the Grote Markt, and then into the Havermarkt. In this street you'll find historic buildings such as the old courthouse and the old post-office, but also great decoration stores. For example, there's a Salt & Pepper Outlet (where we bought a set of wine and cocktail glasses for almost nothing) but most importantly there's a Hay boutique, my all-time favorite brand for Scandinavian design items. I wished everything on my desk could come from here!
If you're looking for records, you should pass by Gigaswing in the Kapelstraat. If not, head to the Alderstraat where Oui is located. If you love Scandinavian design, you basically want everything displayed in this small boutique. Sheep skins, marble plates, pastel accessories, ... You name it, the charming owner has it!
Hasselt has some very beautiful street art so you should always keep your eyes open and look around you. A lot of that street art is concentrated in the "underground" part of the city, around the Dorpstraat. You'll find a few great alternative venues here, such as Shanti Beans for coffee and Paplou for clothes and accessories.
In the Paarsdemerstraat you can go shop until you drop at La Bottega (though it's not suitable for everyone's wallet) or you can enjoy one of the best things about Belgium at Boon - The Chocolate Experience. If you're looking for the popular shopping street, it goes right through the city from North to South (Demerstraat/Hoogstraat).
Towards the end of the afternoon you can have an aperitif at L'Aperi Vino, before heading to one of the many restaurants Hasselt has to offer! Head to BAR tre for Italian food, Café Latino for Spanish/Mexican cuisine or De Levensboom for vegetarian. If you have a car, you can go a little outside of the city to Kaai-Man. This restaurant is located along the water and has a great industrial interior. On the menu you'll find gin tonics and meat plates to be shared. There are also a few vegetarian options.
To end the evening in style, you can go for cocktails at Koks & Tales. In a small living room with 30's vibes, you can choose between a selection of original cocktails that is renewed every season. Every cocktail on the menu comes with a story to help you make a choice. Be aware that there are only 20 seats available so reservation is recommended.
How to get there:
If you come by car, know that there are a few free parking possibilities in Hasselt. On the Kolenkaai you have 100 free spots (but it's often full) and on the Vilderstraat you have 200 (a safer option). The train will take you from Brussels to Hasselt in about 1h30 and the station is just a 10 minutes' walk away from the center.
Discover part two of the Hasselt city guide right here!