Brussels Travel Guide

The capital of the European Union is abuzz with political activity and home to impressive architecture and cobblestones and fountains. A stately yet modest city, Brussels represents the quintessential 21st century European collision of modernity and history. Packed with lively squares and steely skyscrapers, breathtaking cathedrals in the old Town as well as bustling nightclubs, Brussels should enrapture you in no time at all.

Parc du Cinquantenaire in Brussels Travel Guide

Parc du Cinquantenaire in Brussels

Best Time to visit Brussels

The best time to visit Brussels is from April to June or from September to October. These are the shoulder seasons when the weather is mild and pleasant, the crowds are thinner, and the prices are lower. You can enjoy the spring flowers or the autumn colours in the parks and gardens, explore the historical and cultural landmarks, and sample the famous Belgian chocolate and beer.

The summer months of July and August are also popular times to visit Brussels, especially if you want to catch some of the festivals and events that take place during this period. For example, you can witness the Ommegang procession, a historical reenactment of a 16th-century parade that features costumes, horses, and fireworks. You can also join the fun at the Belgian National Day on July 21st or the Brussels Summer Festival in August. However, be prepared for higher temperatures, more tourists, and higher prices.

The winter months of November to March are the least favourable times to visit Brussels, unless you are looking for a cozy and festive atmosphere. The weather can be cold, wet, and grey, and some attractions might have reduced hours or be closed. However, you can still enjoy some of the winter activities and events that Brussels has to offer, such as the Christmas market, the ice skating rink, or the light show at the Grand Place.

Whatever time of year you choose to visit Brussels, you will surely find something to suit your taste and interest. Brussels is a city that has something for everyone!

Accommodation in Brussels

Brussels has a wide range of accommodation options, from budget-friendly hostels to luxurious hotels, and everything in between. Here are some tips to help you find the best place for your needs and budget.

First of all, you should consider the location. Brussels is divided into different districts, each with its own character and attractions. The most popular area for tourists is the Brussels Centre, where you can find the Grand Place, the Manneken Pis statue, the Royal Palace, and many museums and shops. This area is also well-connected by public transport and has many restaurants and bars to choose from. However, it can also be crowded, noisy and expensive.

If you want to stay close to the centre but in a quieter and more authentic neighbourhood, you can look for accommodation in Elsene / Ixelles, Saint-Gilles / Sint-Gillis, or Laeken. These areas have a more local vibe and offer some interesting sights, such as the Atomium, the European Parliament, or the Bois de la Cambre park. You can also find some charming guesthouses, apartments and boutique hotels here.

Another option is to stay near the Gare du Midi / Zuidstation, the main train station in Brussels. This area is convenient if you plan to travel by train to other cities in Belgium or Europe, as it has direct connections to Paris, Amsterdam, London and more. You can also find some affordable hotels and hostels here, such as Meininger Hotel Bruxelles Gare du Midi or Safestay Brussels Grand Place.

Secondly, you should consider the price. Brussels is not a very cheap city, but you can still find some good deals if you book in advance and avoid peak seasons. The average price for a hotel room in Brussels is around €100.00 per night, but it can vary depending on the location, the quality and the season. Generally speaking, the prices are higher in spring and summer (March to September), when the weather is warmer and there are more events and festivals. The prices are lower in winter (November to February), when it’s colder and rainier.

If you want to save money on accommodation, you can look for alternative options, such as hostels, apartments or homestays.

Some of the best-rated hotels in Brussels are:

Pillows City Hotel Brussels Centre: a four-star hotel located in the center of Brussels, only 100 meters from Brussels Central Station and the St Michael & St Gudule Cathedral. It has private parking, free Wi-Fi and a bar with Belgian drinks.
Hotel Made In Louise: a three-star hotel located in Elsene / Ixelles, a 5-minute walk from the Louise Metro Station. It has a spacious bathroom with free toiletries and hairdryer, a rain shower and some rooms have a bathtub. Some rooms offer courtyard views.
Radisson Collection Grand Place Brussels: a newly-renovated hotel located in the heart of Brussels, a 2-minute walk from the Grand Place and Brussels Central Station. It features free access to the fitness center and sauna.
Bedford Hotel & Congress Centre: a boutique hotel located in the historic center of Brussels, a quarter mile from the Grand Place. It has free Wi-Fi and a restaurant with international cuisine.

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Things to do in Brussels

Brussels is a vibrant and cosmopolitan city that offers plenty of things to do for visitors of all ages and interests. Whether you want to explore the rich cultural heritage, enjoy the gastronomic delights, or experience the nightlife, you will find something to suit your taste in Brussels. Here are some of the best tours and activities that you can do in Brussels:

Visit the Grand Place, the stunning central square that is surrounded by magnificent buildings and monuments. The Grand Place is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a must-see for any visitor to Brussels. You can join a guided walking tour that will take you through the history and architecture of this iconic place, or simply wander around and admire the beauty and atmosphere.

Explore the European Quarter, the heart of the European Union and home to many important institutions and landmarks. You can learn more about the history and functioning of the EU by visiting the Parlamentarium, the European Parliament’s visitor center, or the House of European History, a museum that showcases the development of Europe. You can also see the impressive Berlaymont building, the headquarters of the European Commission, and the Europa building, where the European Council and the Council of the EU meet.

Discover the comic book culture of Brussels, which is famous for being the birthplace of many popular characters such as Tintin, Asterix, and Smurfs. You can visit the Belgian Comic Strip Center, a museum that celebrates the art and history of comic books, or follow the Comic Book Route, a trail of colorful murals that depict scenes from various comics. You can also join a themed tour that will take you to some of the locations that inspired or featured in comic books.

Enjoy some chocolate and beer, two of the most delicious products that Belgium is known for. You can indulge your sweet tooth by visiting some of the best chocolate shops and factories in Brussels, where you can taste different varieties of chocolate and learn how they are made. You can also join a chocolate workshop and make your own creations. For beer lovers, you can sample some of the finest brews in Brussels by joining a beer tasting tour or visiting some of the traditional pubs and breweries in town.

Experience the Atomium, one of the most iconic landmarks in Brussels and a symbol of modernity and innovation. The Atomium is a giant structure that represents a magnified atom of iron, and consists of nine spheres connected by tubes. You can visit the spheres and enjoy panoramic views of the city, as well as exhibitions and attractions that showcase science and technology. You can also visit Mini-Europe, a park that features miniature models of famous landmarks from across Europe.

Top Tours and Activities in Brussels

Shopping in Brussels

Brussels is not only the capital of Belgium, but also a hub of culture, history and cuisine. If you are planning to visit this vibrant city, you might want to reserve some time for shopping. Whether you are looking for souvenirs, fashion, chocolate or antiques, Brussels has something for everyone. Here are some tips on where to go and what to buy in Brussels.

Souvenirs: If you want to bring home some typical Belgian products, head to the Grand Place, the central square of Brussels. Here you will find many shops selling lace, tapestries, ceramics, beer and waffles. You can also visit the nearby Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert, a 19th-century arcade with elegant boutiques and cafes.

Fashion: Brussels is a great place to discover new and emerging designers, as well as established brands. For trendy and affordable clothing, check out Rue Neuve, the main shopping street in Brussels. For more upscale and exclusive shops, go to Avenue Louise or Boulevard de Waterloo. For vintage and second-hand clothing, explore the Marolles district or the flea market at Place du Jeu de Balle.

Chocolate: Belgium is famous for its chocolate, and Brussels is no exception. You will find many chocolate shops in the city center, offering a variety of flavors and shapes. Some of the most renowned chocolatiers are Neuhaus, Godiva, Leonidas and Pierre Marcolini. You can also visit the Chocolate Museum or take a chocolate tour to learn more about the history and production of this delicious treat.

Antiques: If you are looking for unique and rare items, Brussels is a paradise for antique lovers. The best place to find antiques is the Sablon district, where you will find many shops and galleries specialising in art, furniture, jewelry and books. You can also visit the Sablon Antique Market on weekends or the daily flea market at Place du Grand Sablon.

Les Galleries Royales in Brussels travel guide

Where to eat in Brussels

If you are looking for a place to eat in Brussels, you are in luck. The capital of Belgium is known for its rich and diverse culinary scene, offering a variety of cuisines and dishes to suit every taste and budget. Whether you are craving some Belgian classics like waffles, fries, and chocolate, or you want to explore the flavours of other cultures and regions, you will find plenty of options to satisfy your appetite. Here are some of the best areas and restaurants to eat in Brussels.

Grand Place: This is the heart of Brussels, where you can admire the stunning architecture of the historic buildings and monuments that surround the square. It is also a great place to enjoy some traditional Belgian food, such as moules-frites (mussels and fries), stoemp (mashed potatoes with vegetables), and carbonnade flamande (beef stew with beer). Some of the popular restaurants in this area include Chez Leon, La Maison du Cygne, and Le Roy d’Espagne.

Sablon: This is a charming neighborhood that is famous for its antique shops, art galleries, and chocolate boutiques. If you have a sweet tooth, you will love indulging in some of the finest chocolates in the world, made by renowned chocolatiers like Pierre Marcolini, Neuhaus, and Wittamer. You can also find some cozy cafes and bistros that serve delicious pastries, sandwiches, salads, and soups. Some of the best places to eat in Sablon are Le Pain Quotidien, La Fabrique en Ville, and Au Vieux Saint Martin.

Ixelles: This is a trendy and multicultural district that offers a wide range of cuisines and restaurants to choose from. You can find everything from Italian to Thai, from Moroccan to Vietnamese, from Lebanese to Ethiopian. You can also enjoy some of the best seafood in town at the Place Flagey market, where you can buy fresh fish and shellfish or order them cooked on the spot. Some of the most popular restaurants in Ixelles are La Quincaillerie, Le Chou de Bruxelles, and Kokob.

Saint-Gilles: This is a vibrant and artistic neighborhood that is home to many creative and cultural venues, such as museums, theaters, cinemas, and galleries. It is also a great place to eat some authentic and affordable food from different parts of the world, especially from Africa, Asia, and Latin America. You can find some amazing street food stalls and markets that sell specialties like tacos, falafel, samosas, kebabs, and couscous. Some of the best restaurants in Saint-Gilles are El Vergel, Les Filles du Tram, and Le Damoiselle.

Le Roy d'Espagne restaurant in Brussels Travel Guide

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