Brussels Tourism

Brussels Belgium is essentially the capital of Europe because that's where the European Parliament is situated but Brussels is also famous for its delicious chocolate, Belgian beer, lace and the excellent food.

Brussels seems a much-unloved country, but spend a weekend there, and you'll want to come back time and again especially if you take a trip to Brugges or Leuven where they brew the strong Stella Artois lager.

About Brussels, Belgium

Brussels is a small capital city of Belgium and speaks four main languages.

Key Statistics

  • Belgium population: 10,666,866.
  • Brussels population: 1,048,491 in city and 1,975,000 in metro areas.
  • Languages Spoken: French, Flemish, German and English.
  • Country size: 30.528 KM2.
  • Currency: Euro (was Belgian Franc).

Where is Brussels?

Brussels is located in the middle of Belgium about 1 hours flight from anywhere in the UK and a 90-minute drive from the port of Calais.

Brussels Map

Below is a map of the surrounding areas in Brussels. The airport is located on the outskirts of the city but is only a 20-minute drive into town.

Brussels map

Things to see and do in Brussels

Being a tourist in Brussels is great. Make a stop off at the Grand Place which is the old town hall and surrounded by pubs, restaurants and shops. Although it looks a little touristy at times, all the restaurants serve excellent food, and you won't have a bad meal at all. Also, make sure you visit the TinTin shop located opposite the main town hall down one of the side streets.

Fresh fish is usually the order of the day and make sure you get a big pot of moules, fries and mayonnaise. During the summer months in July and August, there is a music and light show in the Grand Place normally to some classical music. So find yourself a table in one of the outside bars and grab a beer and relax.

Belgian beer is a must have if you are into your beers. Some of them have made it over to the UK but having them served on draft is much better. Try a blonde beer (a white cloudy beer) or Duval (a darker beer).

If you're into museums the Rene Magritte Museum contains some of the artist's surrealist paintings and work and is located at Rue Esseghem 135, Brussels.

Other places of interest include:

  • The botanical gardens.
  • The Atomium (which is a large atom shaped building you can go up inside and view the city from next to Heysel football stadium and...).
  • Mini-Europe which is an excellent outdoor downscaled overview of all the famous buildings in Europe.
  • St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral (a fabulous place).
  • Delirium Cafe in the old part of the city.
  • Manneken Pis - a 2 foot statue of a boy weeing - the locals dress this statue up in clothes depicting whatever event or festival is taking place. A short walk from the Grand Place and you can also buy your own miniature Manneken Pis to take home with you!
  • Royal Museum of Central Africa (Musee Royal de l'Afrique Central) - a 15 minute drive out towards Leuven is this monster museum of everything African. It has extensive gardens and lakes you can walk around.
  • Place du Grand Sablon - which has many antique shops but is an excellent place for restaurants and bars. In the summer this gets very busy with the locals.
  • Cinquantenaire Park is a massive arch celebrating 50 years of Belgium's independence and is above the main road tunnel that goes into Brussels city. A beautiful place to wander around with peaceful residential streets off each side.

The Sablon The Mannekin Pis The Atomium

Brussels Airport

Brussels Airport is located at the east side of the city and is called Zaventem Airport because that's the name of the town it resides. The airport links to Brussels by the train which is very cheap to access but will take about 40 minutes to get into the city because it's very slow - although very efficient and clean.

Perhaps the best way is to jump into a taxi.

The airport has two terminals. An international terminal including flights to the UK and a domestic terminal which is just a few years old and serves the rest of EU Europe.

Brussels Flights

The primary Belgium airline is Brussels Airlines which was the old Sabena before they went bankrupt and then merged with Virgin Express. Brussels Airlines have many code share agreements and also fly Airbus 330s into many parts of Africa because of the old links to the African Congo.

From the UK, there are many airlines that offer Brussels flights apart from the local airline. Flybe and BMI both fly from major airports including Heathrow and Birmingham.

Brussels Hotels

When staying in Brussels, you have a vast choice of excellent hotels to choose from for your visit. The hotels in Brussels are first-class and much better than you'll find in the UK.

The Hilton, previously the Le Meridien Hotel, is located just behind the Grand Place and offers excellent hotel bargains. One we have chosen is the Chocolate Weekend which provides an excellent room, a chocolate afternoon tea and free entrance into the Chocolate museum - yum. See the hotel site here.

Another excellent hotel just off the Grand Place at Place Jourdan is the Sofitel Hotel Brussels which offers luxury at a price you can afford in the European Quarter. The Sofitel official site is here.

Shopping in Brussels

There are great shops for tourist trash in and around the Grand Place. For more upmarket shopping where all the local residents go, head over to the Sablon or Avenue Louise for the famous fashion houses and has great coffee shops. For more conventional shopping head over to Rue Neuve which has regular and traditional department stores and street sellers selling hot Belgian Waffles. Mmmmm.

Of course there is the world's very first covered shopping mall just across from the Grand Place and next to the large Haagen Daaz ice cream parlour called Gallerie St. Hubert. It was built in 1847 and is under a glass roof and lined with coffee shops and boutique shops. Well worth a visit. More information can be found on the tourism website here.