Brussels Travel Blog: Table of Contents
Brussels on C&C
Best Time To Visit Brussels
Where to Stay in Brussels
Let’s Go For a Drink
What to See and Do
Tipping in Brussels
Common Scams & What to Avoid
C&C’s Google Map of the City
Brussels Travel Blog: Where, How?
Brussels, Belgium, Benelux, Europe
Population: 2.061 million (2016)
Currency: Euro (€)
The Brussels Airport is the main international airport serving the capital of Belgium. It is located approximately 12 kilometers north of the Brussels center city. The airport is one of the busier airports in all of Europe, with more than 23 million passengers annually.
The multi-level airport only has one terminal. It has two sectors, divided into Pier A and Pier B. There are plans to expand Pier A soon. Shops, bars, and restaurants are can be found throughout the venue. The airport offers complimentary unlimited Wi-Fi.
Many popular airlines operate in and out of the Brussels airport. Brussels Airlines has its corporate headquarters inside the airport. Other well-known airlines arriving and departing from Brussels include British Airways, Eurowings, Swiss International Air Lines, United Airlines, Turkish Airlines, Emirates, and many more.
The Brussels South Charleroi Airport is another option nearby for those looking to visit Brussels. The airport is in a town called Charleroi. It is approximately 46 kilometers south of Brussels. It is the second busiest airport in Belgium. The Brussels South Charleroi Airport is the main hub for the airline Ryanair. It is mainly served by budget airlines including TUI fly Belgium, Pegasus, and Wizz Air. Connections to Brussels are available via car, bus and railways. Buses are available every 30 minutes.
Transportation to-and-from the Airport:
The Brussels Airport offers public transportation in the form of buses, trains, shuttles, and taxis. The train station is located on the basement level. A short ride connects the airport to the center of Brussels. Connections to most major cities in Belgium are available. It is also possible to connect to other major European cities from the Brussels Airport. The train schedule runs frequently and with many options per destination.
The main bus station is located on level 0. The bus station has three levels, each with a specific purpose based on your desired destination. Quick and easy transportation to the center of Brussels is available. You can also find connections to other cities in Belgium.
Metered taxis service can be found directly outside the arrival gate. Licensed taxis drivers typically drive black or white cabs. Limousine and chauffeur services are offered at the airport. Directway and Modern Car are the names of the companies to choose from. Private car services, including airport pickup, are available throughout the city by using the Uber app on your smartphone. Several rental car options are available on-site at the airport.
Getting around the city of Brussels can be done via bus, tram, metro service, bicycle or walking. Public transportation in Brussels is overseen by STIB/MIVB. The system requires passengers purchase a ticket that can be used for the bus, metro, and tram. The most commonly purchased pass is the one-hour “jump” ticket. It is the best option for tourists. It allows travelers to board any transportation option for one hour from the time of validation. Group rates are also available. The overnight bus route is called Noctis.
The city’s metro system is one of the quickest and most convenient forms of travel when visiting Brussels. The Brussels Central Station is the main metro and railway station in the city. The city center offers four metro lines and two tram lines. The metro runs frequently, with new cars arriving every three to 10 minutes. Tickets can be purchased at the GO machines located in all stations. Platforms feature vending machines and mobile charging stations.
If you find yourself far from one of the metro stations, try hopping on the bus. Most bus stops will display the schedule and route map for reference. If you don’t have a pass, you can buy a “jump” ticket from the bus driver for approximately €3. Tram routes run in similar fashion. The trams often run along the same roads as cars. The tram schedule is less frequent than that of the bus system but still convenient and easy to navigate.
The train system in Brussels is operated by SNCB-NMBS. The Brussels Midi Train Station can be found on Avenue Fonsny. Trains are very convenient for day trips and travel plans outside of the city. Trains run frequently throughout the day. Tickets are available for purchase at any railway station in the city.
A Note on Taxis:
Taxi drivers in Brussels are generally fair and honest. The metered service allows passengers to verify their fare is accurate. Tipping a taxi driver is not customary in Belgium. Taxi drivers have a reputation for driving very fast and aggressively in Brussels. Don’t be afraid to ask them to slow down if you do not feel safe.
Just like anywhere, Uber is cheaper and safer. If you don’t already have an account, use this link and get 15 dollars off your first ride!
Brussels Travel Blog – Neighborhoods
Brussels is the capital of Belgium. It has 19 municipalities found within its city limits. Different neighborhoods offer unique experiences for every traveler. This Brussels Travel Blog will describe them all!
- Sainte Catherine is a lively neighborhood in the Belgian capital. Sainte Catherine’s Church qualifies as the districts main attraction. Its historic architectural and Gothic-style décor is truly one-of-a-kind. Also, this area offers several great places where to stay in Brussels. La Bellone is one of the city’s “cultural houses.” It regularly hosts theater and dance performances. Madame Mustache is a trendy bar with an eclectic atmosphere. It regularly features live music, games, cabaret-themed nights, and more. The famous Brussels Christmas Market is a must-see for travelers visiting around the holidays.
- Marollen is a hip and trendy district that is home to many techno clubs, popular pubs, and fashion boutiques. Old record stores and antique shops are fun destinations in this neighborhood. The Place du Jeu de Balle hosts a daily flea market. Modern galleries feature various pieces from local and international artists. The Palais de Justice, also known as the Law Courts of Brussels, is a prominent building that overlooks the area.
- Ixelles is an international-friendly neighborhood in the heart of Brussels with a lot of places where to stay in Brussels. Many expats in the city call Ixelles home. It has an upbeat and energetic vibe. You will find a lot of fun bars and popular eateries in this district. Enjoy the scenery at Tenbosch Park or visit The Flagey building, known for its unique design and shape. Le Tigre is one of trendiest bars to visit in the city.
- Molenbeek is an area to avoid located in the western region of the capital. It is not recommended for tourism. There are no identifiable landmarks worth visiting and overall lacks of good places where to stay in Brussels. And the neighborhood has dealt with an increasing rate of violence centered around political and religious issues.
- Uccle is an upscale neighborhood featuring many luxury homes where to stay in Brussels. It is relatively spread out and has large green spaces. The antique architecture is this area’s main attraction. Visit Au Vieux Spijtigen Duivel, Brussel’s oldest remaining pub. Wolvendael Park and the David and Alice Van Buuren Museum are other notable destinations. Stop by Chez Eugene for some of the best Belgian Frites in the city.
There are two relatively vague points of reference in the city, one being the old town in general – know where it’s located and you’ll know where, in the city as a whole, you are – and the European Parliament. Once you’re in the old town, though, navigation becomes difficult mostly because of the random medieval street angles.
More About Brussels on C&C – Brussels Travel Blog
- Eating and Drinking Your Way Through Foodie Brussels
- Hotel in Brussels – Thon Hotel EU: The Centre of Europe
- Bar Profile – Delirium Villiage: It’s a Beer Bar in Brussels…
- Hotel in Brussels – Le Chatelain: Because the Belgian Capital Can be Strenuous
- Resto Profile – Bistro Margaux, Starred Restaurant, Brussels: The Art of the Understatement
- Resto Profile – Bia Mara, Brussels – If You’re Tired of the Tourist Hordes…
- Seven Delicious Belgian Foods: When in Brussels, Do the Culinary Classics Right!
Best Time To Visit Brussels
Average Monthly Minimum And Maximum Temperatures
Average Monthly Hours Of Sunshine
Average Monthly Rainfall Or Snowfall
Brussels Travel Blog: Personal Notes
What’s This Place About?
Brussels is the capital of Belgium. The country is divided between the Dutch-speaking side and the Francophone side. Brussels sits on the Dutch side of the country, but it is mostly Francophone. It is easy to get confused by the location and the geography of Belgium, but Brussels is a pretty accurate representation of the rest of the country. The cobblestone streets and medieval feel are quite unique in the world and it truly is a beautiful place to visit.
Most tourists stick to the old part of town. While it is a beautiful place to visit, the real stuff happens outside of it. There are many beautiful museums and pleasant parks. One of my favorite museums is the Belgian Centre for Comic Strip Art (Centre Belge de la Bande Dessinée). Some of the most famous comics came out of Belgium. Tintin, Lucky Luke, and the Smurfs are three examples of very famous comics created by Belgian artists.
What’s Great and Fun?
Beer, beer, and more beer! Belgium is one of the three or four world capitals where you can taste the unique Belgian-style beers at their fullest. There is a bar in Brussels that ranks in my personal top 10 in the world called the Delirium Café. The Delirium Café is a place where you can have a conversation with friends while tasting some of the best, most unique beers in the world. They actually hold the Guinness World Record for the number of different beers. The place is large, relatively inexpensive, and is at the end of a dead-end cobblestone street, basically making it an open-air bar.
Brussels Travel Blog – Personal Anecdotes
All of my personal anecdotes revolve around meeting people at the Delirium Café. I have had drinks with people that I will remember for the rest of my days and a few that I may have forgotten due to overindulging in the products of Belgium.
Brussels Travel Blog: Where to Stay in Brussels
Brussels is a small town and the area of the “old city” is where the large majority of tourist attractions are. It’s also where expensive hotels where to stay in Brussels tend to be.
Yet you’re probably best stepping out of the center, simply because this isn’t where people from Brussels actually live.
When looking where to stay in Brussels, stay away from the area around the main train station.
Hotel Thon EU is ideal for people who are in town for European Union business.
Hôtel Le Châtelain is of course very nice place where to stay in Brussels, and the price tag comes with it!
The Hotel Brussels and Steigenberger Wiltcher’s located in Ixelles are great places where to stay in Brussels. This area is one of the most central municipalities in Brussels and also one of the most international ones.
The vibrant Sainte Catherine is a must-go area of Brussels. It’s a well-suited match of old style and new vibes. Aparthotel Adagio Brussels and Citadines Sainte Catherine Brussels Aparthotel are luxurious places where to stay in Brussels. They can be a little expensive though.
Eurostars Montgomery, B&B Capitaine Piret and Casa Terlinden offer great accomodation and luxuries where to stay in Brussels. Located in Sint-Pieters Woluwe, this residential municipality offers a perfect and more laid-back approach to discovering the city.
Strolling through Saint-Gilles is like taking a trip around the world, both literally and figuratively: Moscow Street, Denmark Street, Bosnia Street, African Street, Bethlehem Square. Also great hotels where to stay in Brussels are located here: Jam Hotel, Pentahotel Brussels City Centre and Citadines Toison d’Or Brussels Aparthotel.
Finally, there aren’t many hostels where to stay in Brussels. Remember to avoid the area around the Bruxelles-Midi train station! My favorite hostel is MEININGER Hotel Brüssel City Center.
Brussels Travel Blog: Let’s Eat!
Famous Foods and Specialties:
- Moules Frites – also known as mussels and fries. This is a classic Belgian dish! The mussels are cooked in a flavorful broth and served with crispy hand-cut fries and toasted bread. You will find many variations of sauces available throughout Brussels.
- Carbonnade Flamande – a hearty dish that features diced, sweet-sour beef and onions cooked in a stew flavored with beer. The type of beer used is typically a brown ale or darker beer. The stew is seasoned with mustard and thyme. Often accompanied by fries.
- Belgian Chocolate – chocolate is an important part of the culture and economy of Belgium. There are over 2,000 chocolatiers in Belgium. Belvas, Wittamer, and Côte d’Or are three of the most recognizable.
- Belgian Waffles – distinctly known for its large size and lighter batter, the waffle is one of Belgium’s most famous foods. Waffles in Brussels are usually topped with diced fruits, chocolate sauce, and whipped cream. You will find many waffle shops along the streets of the city. Top-rated waffle eateries including Mokafé Taverne and Le Funambule.
- Waterzooi – is a Flemish stew dish. The stew is made of the fish or chicken, butter, carrots, leeks, potatoes, herbs, eggs, and cream.
- Speculoos – a spiced shortbread biscuit popular around the holidays. It is often served for dessert or to accompany hot beverages like tea or coffee. It is often served jarred in a spreadable form where it is referred to as “cookie butter.”
The Best Drunk Food:
- Belgian Frites – better known as fries or chips. You will find street vendors and frite shops all throughout the city. It is the perfect snack on the go. Variations of dipping sauces add unique flavor combinations. Frit Flagey and Maison Antoine are two of the most popular frite destinations in Brussels.
Our Suggestions – Dishes and Restaurants
I have written a full blog post about the must-have culinary treats of Brussels, namely fries, mussels, chocolate, beer, eel and carbonnade flamande. It’s all in here, check it out!
If you’re in a bind and looking for a quick lunch in the Old Quarter, check out Bia Mara, a delicious fish & chips shop in the middle of horrendous tourist attractions. It’s an island of good food surrounded by disgusting overpriced restaurants!
What Do the Locals Drink?
Beer, beer, beer and more beer!
The most commonly consumed drink in Brussels is beer. Wine and cocktails are regularly available; however, they do not come close in popularity compared to beer. The Belgian culture offers many styles and flavor profiles of beer. Therefore, it is easy to find something you like as there are so many varietals.
Beer halls in Belgium are referred to as “brasseries,” which is also the French word for brewery. Some of the most popular styles of beer you will find include Trappist beers, fruit-flavored lambics, wheat ales, sour ales, and oak-aged beers. Jenever is a Belgian spirit similar to gin. The original flavor is juniper berries, although today you will find other styles.
Drinking in Public
Responsible drinking in public is permitted in Brussels. The legal drinking age in Brussels is 16 for beer and wine, and 18 for spirits.
Our Suggestions – Bars and Pubs
Here is a list of the bars and pubs you might want to give a try:
Don’t forget the most important beer bar in the world, Café Delirium, and the surrounding bars which are specialized in offering a maximum of different bottles of vodka, tequila, rums, and absinthe. If I’m in Brussels, you’ll find me there.
Mappa Mundo, Place Saint Géry-Sint Goriksplein 2
Le Tavernier, 445 Chaussée de Boondael-Boondaalsesteenweg
Bizon Cafe, Rue Pont de la Carpe-Karperbrugstraat 7
Bier Circus, 57, Rue de l’Enseignement-Onderrichtsstraat
À La Mort Subite, rue Montagne-aux-Herbes Potagères-Bergstraat 7
As regular readers of this column know, I don’t know anything about clubs. Sorry!
Brussels Travel Blog: What to see and do
I wrote a complete guide on visiting Brussels solo in 24 hours. Check it out!
The Grand Place-Grote Market is a handy place to find a tasty Belgian waffle and stroll around a neighborhood of 300-year-old buildings. There you can enjoy music and the occasional street performance. The market is said to be one of the most beautiful squares in the world.
Manneken Pis, just a short distance from the Grote Market, is a well-known fountain. The small bronze statue depicts a young boy urinating into the fountain. It is located two blocks south of the town hall.
The Cinquantenaire Park and the Arc de Triomphe is a landmark of cultural and historical significance in Brussels. You can visit the Royal Museum of the Army and Military History. The top of the arc offers a scenic view of the landscape below. You can see the Basilica of the Sacre Heart building from here, or count planes departing from the Zaventem Airport. Also, nearby you will find the Parc de Bruxelles and the Berlaymont building.
The Belgian Comic Strip Center is a museum dedicated to comedy and comedic actors. It features a library, reading room, and permanent exhibits. The museum displays a collection of original comedic work. The museum is closed on Sundays and Mondays.
There are a variety of tours available throughout Brussels. Bike tours, chocolate tours, brewery tours, architectural tours, and horse-drawn carriage rides are some of the most popular daytime tourist activities found in the city.
Tipping in Brussels
Just like in most of Belgium, tipping is not expected but it’s a nice gesture. Workers are paid well so if you’ve received very good service, a few Euros is a good amount.
Brussels Travel Blog: Common Scams & What to Avoid
I am not aware of any common scams. There are a couple of neighborhoods around the main train station northwest of the old city where you need to be aware of where you are and where you are going.
There are a lot of pickpockets, so make sure you keep your wallet in your front pocket and make don’t flash money or expensive items around.
I have personally never witnessed, nor been a victim of, a crime in Brussels.
Taxies are quite safe, as is all public transportation in the city.
The only problematic neighborhoods are probably the ones in the northwest. Everything north and west of the main train station should be avoided.
READ MORE: Travel Canada Advisory for Belgium.