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Things to do in Brussels: sights, accommodation, restaurants and many other tips

The City Hall tower from Brussels

Brussels was the first Western capital I have ever set foot in. It was a cold and foggy December day yet the buildings in the Central Square were mysteriously looming through the thick fog. It was really cold and very humid so, I quickly decided to come back here again in order to really enjoy the capital of Belgium. And I went back tens of times…The head quarters of P&G was located in Brussels, a company I have worked for many years. And then I have come to know Brussels in detail, with its bad and goods. With charming buildings, with reasonable priced seafood, with Leonidas chocolate, with the luxurious districts or the sinister area around the train station, the filth in the European area, with the trademark Belgian strikes… And despite all that, as usual, the beauty and the pleasant memories won, that is why I want to wrote today some tips about Brussels!

When to go to Brussels

I have been there in all seasons, I think even every month of the year. During summer time, it is really sensational! While having a bitchy climate, with a lot of rainy and cloudy days during the summer you have more chances of having bright days. And it is really worth it!

How to get to Brussels

By plane. Although it is capital of Europe,Brussels is not the capital of the European skies. There are plenty of flights, but Belgium lacks a really big national carrier like KLM or Swiss. So, there are fewer intercontinental flights, but you shouldn’t have a problem to find a flight from any corner of Europe.Brussels has 2 airports – the National one which is served by national carriers and Charleroi, just south of the Capital, the airport of low-cost carriers like WizzAir, JetAirFly and especially Ryanair which has a huge hub in here.

By train:Brussels is connected to the major high speed railroads to Paris and London. Additionally, the widespread Belgian network can bring you almost everywhere in the country. However, the Belgian railways are notorious for their frequent strikes, so, check if there is any strike in case you want to take the train.

How to get from the airports to Brussels downtown

From Charleroi: There are 46 km between the low-cost airport Charleroi and the capital of Belgium. Best way is to take a bus of the Voyages L’Élan  company that leaves every 30 minutes from the airport to the Southern Train Railway Station of Brussels (from there on you can take a subway, train or bus). The price of a ticket is 13 euros (one way) or 22 euros (return ticket) and the trip takes about one hour.

From National Zaventham: there are numerous possibilities to get from the national airport to Brussels: buses, shuttle buses, taxi cabs, train etc. The airport is about 11 km North from the city.  Personally, each time I landed in Brussels, I took the train to the Central Train Station. The ticket costs 5,20 euros, trains are leaving every 15 minutes and the trip takes about 20 minutes to the Central Train Station. You can find all the possibilities here.

How to travel through Brussels

The big majority of places that are worth visiting are gathered around the Old Town, so they are reachable by foot. If you still need means of public transportation (and you will if you wish to visit the northern area attractions like the Mini-Europe park), you need to take the subway.

Top 5 things to do in Brussels

  1. Central Square – Grand Place/ Groote Markt. You will see numerous postcards where in the middle of the square there is a huge flower carpet. Do not get too excited, that carpet is shown only once every two years and only for a weekend. But even without the carpet, Grande Place is an architectonic marvel that is worth being enjoyed. You can visit the town hall, but do not forget to pet the statue named L’Ilot Sacre next to the hall. It is said that if you pet it you will return to Brussels. In my case it works, I keep going back to the capital of Belgium :).
  2. The streets from downtown – maybe Belgium is more chaotic than the Netherlands, lots of times things might not work properly, but there’s one thing nobody is complaining…food! Even if you will eat in the most forsaken dump on a corner of a street you will still find good food. If you take a stroll on the streets behind the Maison du Roi in Grande Place (no, that’s not the Royal Palace!) you will find the seafood area…for fans, you will enjoy excellent specialties.
  3. The Military Army and Military History Museum – it is probably one of the most comprehensive in Europe!
  4. Mini-Europe.Brussels is the capital of Europe, so if you come here it is like you would visit the entire Europe. Mini-Europe hosts hundreds of mock-ups of some monuments that are representative for the entire Europe Union.
  5. Oceade – is the aquatic park of Brussels, situated somewhere in the north. Obviously, taking the into account Brussels’ climate, it is a covered park, so you can enjoy the wallowing also in the middle of the winter!

It seems that Brussels didn’t have anybody till now to offer free tours. But the ones from Sandeman that organize free tours around numerous European cities also have Brussels on the list and probably they will start this autumn. Take a look on their site  for news regarding the starting of the tours.

More than that, as you well know, Belgium is the land of beer… So it is worth joining a beer tour in Brussels. For further details take a look on this site .

Where to sleep in Brussels

Brussels is the capital of Europe so the majority of the visitors that come to Brussels are either on business trips or have some work to do at the European Union, so you won’t have trouble in finding a luxurious hotel…they are everywhere. On the other hand it will be harder to find something more affordable.

Personally, I have only stayed at hotels that were paid by the companies I have worked for or at some friends’ houses so it is probably not relevant to recommend them here where I only give “smart” tips. Taking a look though on forums it seems that one of the best rated guesthouses is called Caravan’serail  and a room costs over 60 euros. Its location isn’t quite downtown, but in the Ixelles district, however, the public means of transportation are working very well in Belgium!

For hostels Jacques Brel seems to be recommended by many people. A bed in a 6 unisex bedroom costs 26 euros and it is located around 15-20 minutes walking from downtown.

Where to eat in Brussels

As I said it is actually really hard to find a place in Brussels where you will eat badly. But, for better prices, look for the ethnic restaurants like Greek or Turkish. Being such an international and cosmopolite city,Brussels is full of foreigners and some of them opened up restaurants. You will be able to find reasonable prices even in the center. From Grand Place, pass by the Ilot Sacre and then turn left and you will reach an area full of Greek, Turkish, Lebanese restaurants. You will find really good prices there. Not even the seafood area has outrageous prices so you can give it a try. A bit further up from the oysters and crawfish area is an area with Italian restaurants in case you feel like having a pizza!

In case you have other tips about the capital of Belgium, hotels, restaurants and what else you can see I would be grateful if you will add them here, as a comment.

Images of  Brussels:

  Charleroi Airport - Brussels South

WizzAir low cost carrier on the Charleroi Airport

Brussels: Charleroi Airport - Southern Railway Station (Bruxelles Midi)

The bus from the Charleroi Airport

Brussels by night - the City Hall Tower

Brussels by night

Brussels by day - the City Hall Tower

And sort of the same image, only during day time :)

Things to do in Brussels: enjoy Grand Place

Grand Place

Things to do in Brussels: visit Grand Place

Things to do in Brussels: visit Mannekin Pis

And the incontestable symbol of the city, Manekin Pis

Things to do in Brussels: its gothic towers

Towers and turrets in Brussels

Things to do in Brussels: visit Notre Dame de Sablon Church

Notre Dame de Sablon Church

Things to do in Brussels: just stroll the neighborhoods from Ixelles

Through the good neighborhoods of  Brussels

Where to eat in Brussels: Greek fast food

The Greek restaurants are among the cheapest in Brussels

Brussels: sea food street

But lots of people prefer to go on the streets with sea food

Things to do in Brussels: eat some sea food

With all its great wonders nicely arranged

Touristic menu in Brussels Old Center

And the tourist menus don’t have such bad prices!

Până acum există "5 comentarii" la acest articol:

  1. Excellent and thorough article on Brussels. It is often over-looked by other popular European destinations such as Berlin or Barcelona but I think it is well worth the visit for the variety available.

  2. As someone who spends a significant amount of time in the city, I have to say that you have some good selections in this post. The Military Museum is also where the staircase to the top of the Triumphal Arch start from. Well worth the hard climb for the views over the city. This arch makes the Brandenberg Gate look like a toy, but then it doesn’t quite have the same iconic status its German cousin.

    As for food and restaurants I’d recommend buying the ‘Brussels: Sized for Typical Food’ map. (0.50 euros from the Brussels Information Point or Brussels Capital Tourism in Grand Place. Having sampled a great deal of the establishments in the publication I would give it a 5 Star recommendation. I generally stay away from the restaurants near Grand Place, though there are some I would rate. Get out to Ixelles, place St Boniface or some of the other quarters.

    Look up the volunteer Greeters to discover Brussels: http://www.brussels.greeters.be/Bienvenue.php

  3. RandySFO says:

    I was in Brussels in ’89, and a taxi driver took us to a street outside of downtown, near a train station, I think, where there were 8 or 10 Greek restaurants on one street. He said a lot of business travelers go there. We were Invited to the kitchen, where the waiter opened the oven door, so we could choose our food. I see online there is a street of Greek Restos downtown, but I think this was a different area? Do you know about this?

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