Brussels, the capital of Europe, is one of the smallest global centers in Europe, packed with a variety of cultures. It is only 62 square miles big, Belgium's capital, and officially bilingual (French and Dutch). This tiny and alluring city is the perfect city break for visitors and a treasure for any culture connoisseur. Architecture aficionados enjoy its medieval squares, and the combination of Baroque, Gothic, Neo-Classical and Art Nouveau architecture.
If this is your first trip to Europe, Brussels will give you the perfect cultural experience you're looking for, honing the feeling of what it's like to live in Europe. Not to mention the likelihood of you speaking one of the languages on the streets!
Brussels will certainly impress you in many ways, and we've listed a few of the ways below to help you to start planning your trip.
There is no better way to feel the Brussels effect than to walk through its historical, medieval city centre and through its cobblestone streets. You can sip a cup of coffee at one of its many cafes, or order a glass of a famous Belgian beer (Belgians claim to make beers like no other).
The Pentagon, a.k.a. Brussel’s historical city centre and the core of Brussels municipality, is the first area you should walk through in Brussels. This place is cozy and small enough to explore on foot, and you can see many landmarks and museums, along with shops, restaurants and bars. Wear comfortable shoes.
The Grand’Place (found in the Pantagon) is the birthplace and central square of Brussels - the most famous of all landmarks, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a must-see destination. Marvel at the surrounding historical buildings, including the Gothic City Hall, Baroque Guild Houses and Neo-Gothic La Maison du Roi. Notice the street- and comic book art throughout the city as you walk around.
Brussels Park (Parc de Bruxelles) is the perfect spot to take a break or have a picnic, located between the Palais de la Nation and Palais Royal. Then walk to the nearby Neo-Classical La Place Royale square. The renowned Magritte Museum is located there, among other remarkable buildings like the St. Jacques-sur-Coudenberg Church.
Take a stroll on Adolphe Max and Anspach and Maurice Lemonnier Boulevards, the most beautiful avenues of Brussels. Closeby is the famous Manneken Pis landmark, a statue on a fountain of a peeing little boy that has been famous for years (that is, if it hasn't been stolen). Head to Place Poelaert to watch the sunset, which is in front of the beautiful Palace of Justice, known as the most important court building in the city. Around there are wonderful places like the Place de l’Albertine and Rollebeek pedestrian areas.
Foods to Try in Brussels
Brussels is simply a culinary paradise for any local or visitor, let alone foodie-at-heart. The city is world famous for Belgian waffles, chocolates, beer, and... do Belgian fries also ring a bell? Brussels is indeed known for many famous delicacies, and the only challenge is to find which restaurant serves them best.
If seafood is up your alley, you’ve chosen the right city. Try Moules-frites (North Sea mussels) in the summer months. For a hearty meal option, order a big meatball or also taste the Carbonnades Flamandes (beef casserole) with fries. Don’t leave Brussels without purchasing - and savoring - a box of chocolates, of course. Shopping for the city's best chocolates at Galerie de la Reine (Queen’s Gallery) in the famous Galeries Royales Saint Hubert, a shopping arcade dating back to the mid 1800's. During winter months, stop by Pierre Marcolini’s La Manufacture and indulge in the best cup of hot chocolate you can find in Belgium.
Restaurants and Shopping in Brussels
Stroll along the medieval Old Town of Brussels, the Ilôt Sacré quarter (sacred little island), and just enjoy a seat outside in one of the restaurants in the narrow cobblestoned alleys for the perfect quaint meal. For a great Belgian beer experience, try Delirium, a famous cellar bar in Old Town that serves more than 2,000 beers (400 of which are Belgian). On Sunday, drop by the marché du midi, Brussels’ largest street market, and try a Moroccan pancake and sip on mint tea.
Brussels is a fashionista’s paradise. Rue Antoine Dansaert Straat and the surrounding shops and boutiques are the center of Brussels’ fashion industry. Avenue Louise hosts the biggest brands in fashion worldwide. If you’re looking for shopping deals, stroll through Rue Neuve in The Pentagon. Are you a fan of antiques? Head to the Sablon area on Sunday morning during the flea market! Finally, the lesser-known neighborhood Le Chatelain offers a quiet alternative for shopping. Walk through some of the art galleries around there, and then sit in Park Tenbosch to relax and wind down.
Flights to Brussels
The Brussels Airport is the main global gateway to Portugal and one of the largest airports in southern Europe. It is located less than 5 miles away from the city center.
Brussels is centrally located in Europe and easily accessible by air or train. Already in Europe? European regional flights to Brussels have never been easier with European carriers like Brussels Airlines, easyJet, Tuifly.be, Air Europa and many more. What are you waiting for? Visit FareCompare’s search site to compare, find and save on your perfect flight to Brussels.
Once you arrive, you have plenty of public transportation options to choose from to travel within the city. The metro is quick, but it only runs through a few of Brussels’ neighborhoods. Depending on the time of day and traffic conditions, opt for a bicycle that can actually be a quicker way to your destination (versus trams or buses). Take the Brussels high speed train to easily access other major European cities, like Paris, London, Amsterdam and Cologne.