Brussels (French: Bruxelles, Dutch: Brussel) is the capital city of Belgium and of Brussels Capital Region. It is entirely surrounded by Dutch-speaking Flanders and its constituent Flemish Brabant province. As headquarters of many European institutions, Brussels might also be considered something of a capital for the European Union. Being at the crossroads of cultures (the Germanic in the North and the Romance in the South) and playing an important role in Europe, Brussels fits the definition of the archetypal "melting pot", but still retains its own unique character. The population of the city of Brussels is 1 million and the population of Brussels metropolitan area is just over 2 million.
When Brussels became the capital city of a new country in the 19th century, many buildings in the old town were destroyed to make way for brand new ministries, palaces, schools, army barracks and office blocks constructed between 1880 and 1980. The historic Flemish town centers are better preserved in other cities: Antwerp, Bruges, Ghent, Courtray, Leuven and Mechelen.
Brussels operates as a bilingual city where both French (80%) and Dutch (Flemish) (20%) are official languages. Thus all the streets have two names, which can sound totally different. For example, the Main Square is called both la Grand Place and de Grote Markt. Although officially bilingual, French is undoubtedly Brussels' lingua franca. English is also widely understood, but not always widely spoken. Visitors should realize that language is a very divisive issue in Belgium (though this is not as noticeable in Brussels).
Historically Dutch-speaking, Brussels became more and more French-speaking during the 19th and 20th centuries. Today, most inhabitants speak French in daily life. Some numbers say that more than half of the inhabitants of Brussels do not speak French or Dutch at home. The Brussels dialect, a Brabantian dialect of Dutch, can be heard, especially in the outer districts of Brussels Capital Region. French speakers shouldn't have too much trouble understanding the local French. Dutch speakers may have some difficulty with the Belgian Dutch accent.
English has become a common spoken language because of the international institutions based in Brussels, such as the European Commission, the European Parliament and NATO. It is still relatively rare to find written tourist or general information in English, although the situation is improving greatly. One can expect public announcements in train stations to at least be said in French and Dutch, while larger train stations (such as Zuidstation/Gare Du Midi) typically include English and sometimes German. English is also used on metros, trams and buses, announced last for information such as line transfers and terminal stops. Do not hesitate to ask someone if you do not understand what has been said.
Brussels weather can often be grey and humid with a high and fairly evenly distributed annual average rainfall of 820 mm (32 in) and on average approximately 200 days of rainfall per year, both which are more than that of London and Paris. Summers tend to be hotter than London and winters colder. The daily and monthly temperature variations are quite small. Daily differences between average highs and average lows don't exceed 9ºC (16ºF).
In the summer, maximum temperatures often reach 30ºC (86ºF) but can feel much hotter due to high humidity. The summer visitor should be prepared for rain. Warm and sunny weather is not constant during that season or even to be expected.
After October, temperatures can drop off quite rapidly and winter months are often damp and chilly. However temperatures of 15ºC (59ºF) are not unusual into December. Snowfall is rare, and starts to melts fairly quickly, becoming slush on the ground. The winter visitor should be prepared for wet ground.
Brussels is split into nineteen communes or gemeenten (municipalities/boroughs):
Bruxelles/Brussel - Brussels encompasses many charming and beautiful attractions, with deeply ornate buildings on the Grand Place/Grote Markt, and a fish-and-crustacean overdose of St. Catherine's Square (Place St-Catherine/Sint-Katelijneplein). Stroll along, (and stop in for a drink) at one of the many bars on Place St-Géry/Sint-Goriksplein, or max out your credit card on the trendy Rue Antoine Dansaert/Antoine Dansaertstraat.
Marolles/Marollen - A neighborhood of Brussels close to the city's heart, one of the few places where the Brussels dialect of Dutch (Flemish) could still be heard. The area is best known for the flea market held daily on the Place du Jeu de Balle/Vossenplein as well as a plethora of shops selling everything from old radios and bent wipers to fine china and expensive Art Nouveau trinkets. Visit on Saturdays or Sundays.
Ixelles/Elsene - A vibrant part of town with a high concentration of restaurants, bars and other services to satisfy the good-looking or the heavy-spending. Some wandering around will reveal small bookshops, affordable ethnic restaurants or independent record shops tucked away in side streets. The Matongé district just off Chaussée d'Ixelles/Elsenesteenweg is the city's main African neighborhood. It is a large district in the South of Brussels spreading from newly gentrified immigrant neighborhoods off the Chaussée d'Ixelles/Elsenesteenweg near the town center to leafy suburbs close to the Bois de la Cambre/Ter Kamerenbos. The district is split in two by Avenue Louise/Louizalaan, which is technically part of the Bruxelles/Brussel district of the city.
Molenbeek-Saint-Jean/Sint-Jans-Molenbeek - Commonly known as Molenbeek. A commune with a very large Moroccan and, lately, Romani (Gypsy) population.
Saint-Gilles/Sint-Gillis - The city's bohemian epicenter with thriving French, Portuguese, Spanish, Maghrebi and Polish communities. The area around the Parvis de St-Gilles/St-Gillisvoorplein is the arty part, with the area around the Chatelain/Kastelein and the Church of the Holy Trinity being decidedly more yuppified. Like Schaarbeek, Saint-Gilles boasts several Art Nouveau and Haussmann-style buildings.
St-Josse/Sint-Joost - The smallest and poorest commune not only of Brussels, but of all Belgium, this commune might not always be too pleasing on the eye but does have a few small, welcoming streets. The mid-part of the Chaussée de Louvain/Leuvensesteenweg is also home to a relatively small Indo-Pakistani community, so this is the place to head to for a tikka masala. The Turkish community which was the largest community only a few years ago has declined rapidly, as they moved to relatively wealthier communes by St-Josse/Sint-Joost standards.
Uccle/Ukkel - Brussels' poshest commune. Green, bourgeois and starched like all posh communes should be. Uccle has retained many of its charming medieval cul-de-sacs, tiny squares and small townhouses as has nearby Watermael-Boitsfort/Watermaal-Bosvoorde.
Woluwé-Saint-Pierre/Sint-Pieters-Woluwe and Woluwé-Saint-Lambert/Sint-Lambrechts-Woluwe are two communes at the eastern end of the city. Mainly residential, with a mixture of housing blocks, quaint neighborhoods and green areas this place is well-loved by Eurocrats and other professional types. The enormous Wolubilis cultural complex is well worth a visit.
Brussels' main airport is Brussels Airport, (locally still commonly referred to as Brussels National or Zaventem) (IATA code: BRU). Several major carriers operate out of the airport, including the local Brussels Airlines, which is owned by Lufthansa.
Brussels Airport has a luggage locker service (Level 0) where you can leave luggage for a fixed duration. The lockers say that you will have to retrieve your bags within 72 hours or else they will be removed, but they are actually moved to the room next door and stored until you retrieve them. This is a useful facility for people wanting to stow away big suitcases somewhere safe. The rate is €7.50 per 24 hours. You need to pay in coins, a change machine is nearby.
To travel between the airport and the city:
Belgian Rail operates trains (2nd class: Single: €8,50; Weekend return: €14,60; 1st class: €10.30) every 15 min from the airport (Level -1) to Brussels' three main stations, with most trains continuing to other parts of Belgium. The journey to the Central Station takes 15-20 minutes. Tickets can be bought from vending machines (coins or chip credits only) or the train ticket office (notes accepted) located in the airport train station at Level -1. The trains are clean and well-maintained. To enter or exit the train, push the green button on the door, as the doors are not automatically opened at the stations as they are in other systems.
Alternatively, Brussels can be reached by train much more cheaply via Zaventem village (dorp) station, which is within easy walking distance from the airport. At €2,90, the fare is three times cheaper than the ticket from Brussels Airport Station to the city. This is because the expensive Diabolo Surcharge on airport trains does not apply here; therefore, you can also travel this way using Go Pass or Rail Pass without need to pay Diabolo Surcharge. Zaventem dorp station is served by frequent local trains to all Brussels stations, taking roughly the same amount of time as the airport trains (15-20 minutes to Central Station). In order to reach Zaventem dorp station from the airport, go to the bus parking on level 0 and walk towards the end of it, where the airport bicycle lane starts. Follow the airport bicycle lane (marked in red) through the small car park and along the highway for about 700 metres until the first crosswalk at the roundabout. Cross the road to the left and walk into the street leading into the village (Vilvoordelaan). Keep going straight ahead for another 800 metres until you reach the railway station's back entrance. Coming from Brussels, exit Zaventem station through the back entrance on the northern side (the left in the direction of driving from Brussels). Walk straight north on Vilvoordelaan for about 800 metres until you reach the airport highway overpass, where you cross under and turn right onto the airport bicycle lane indicated with 'Terminal'. Follow the 'Terminal' bicycle lane for about 700 metres along the highway until you arrive at the airport bus parking on level 0, where you can enter the Terminal.
STIB Buses #12 and #21 (#12 operates M-F before 8pm and is an express, serving only major bus stops (although it is not any faster); #21 operates after 8pm and on weekends, serving all stops on the route) run every 20-30 minutes via metro station Schuman (where you can transfer to metro lines 1 and 5) to the European district around Place du Luxembourg/Luxemburgplein (on the other side of the park from Gare Central). When boarding the bus make sure that the destination is Luxembourg, as some buses terminate at either the Schuman metro station or Gare de Bordet. The journey takes 30 minutes. The same ticket is valid for a total of 60 minutes on the trains (by SNCB), metro (by STIB), buses (by STIB, De Lijn and TEC) or trams (by STIB) from the moment it is validated. The buses depart from airport level 0. The ticket price is €4.50 from the vending machine next to the bus stop, or €6.00 on board. You can buy a Discover Brussels Card which costs €7.50 for a trip from the airport and unlimited metro usage for 24 hours. The card can be bought at the same "GO" ticket vending machine on the bus stop of #12/#21. Frequent travelers can buy a 10-trip ticket (€25.00), a monthly ticket (€49.00) or a yearly ticket (€514.00) for this line. The latter is valid on the entire STIB network.
De Lijn Buses #272 and #471 run every 30-60 minutes to Brussels' North Station (called Noordstation/Gare du Nord within the city or Brussel-Noord/Bruxelles-Nord in other places), 2 km north of Grand Place. Night bus #620 operates to/from the airport with a stop at the IJzer metro station (45 minute ride), 1 km north of Grand Place. The buses depart from level 0 of the airport. The ticket price is €3.00 on board. In contrast to the tickets sold by STIB, these tickets (sold by De Lijn) are not valid on other means of public transport within Brussels.
Taxis to the center cost around €35. Taxis bleus/blauw (blue): +32 2 268 0000, Taxis Autolux: +32 2 411 4142, Taxis verts/groen (green): +32 2 349 4949. Beware of "waiting" charges if your flight is delayed and you pre-ordered a cab, some companies charge you parking fees + €25-30/hour for waiting. Always confirm the final charge with your driver before getting in the car. It is not uncommon for drivers to rip you off and charge €80 to go to the center, especially if they realize that it is your first time in Brussels and don't know your way around.
Tinker offers bus transfers to the city center; prices are calculated by seat and they work with early booking discount. Transfers are available from €9,95.
Brussels City Shuttle operates buses (between €5-€14 one-way, €10-€28 return if bought online; €17 one-way if purchased from the machines at the airport or from the driver) every 30 minutes to Brussels Midi/Zuid station, with a journey time of 1 hour (less on the weekends). Buying online is cheaper and faster. The bus stops at Midi/Zuid station (Midi/Zuid station PDF map), on the Rue de France/Frankrijkstraat in the west. The metro and international trains (Eurostar, Thalys) are on the west side of the station, so upon entering the station from the bus stop, head left rather than straight. When traveling to the airport, it would be better to arrive at the Brussels Midi/Zuid stop far in advance of the bus departure time as the queue to board the bus could be very long (there are no ticket machines and people buy tickets on board). Therefore you might miss the bus and wait another 30 minutes. Also note that the traffic on the way out of Brussels can be heavy in peak hours, so the journey may take longer than planned.
TEC-bus A (€5.00 one way) operates service from the airport to the Charleroi South (Charleroi-Sud) train station, from where you can connect to an intercity train (€9.20 one way) to Brussels. A combined train+bus ticket to or from Brussels can be obtained for €14.20 from the TEC vending machine at the airport. The bus journey takes 20 minutes and the train takes an additional hour. Trains depart every 30-60 minutes.
Taxis from the airport to the city center cost a fixed price of €90. For the return trip to Charleroi you can book in advance a Charleroi-based taxi (€90). Taxis operating from Brussels use a higher fare and will take you to the airport for a fixed price of €120 or based on the meter up to €170.
Brussels has three main train stations: Midi-Zuid, to the south of the city core, Central-Centraal, which is right next to the city center, and Nord-Noord, to the north of the city center (at Place Rogier). High-speed trains stop only at Midi/Zuid, except the ICE also stops at Nord/Noord. There is a shower at Midi/Zuid located in the toilet near platforms 19-20 (between Origin'O and Quick).
Thalys, . The high speed Thalys train connects Brussels with Cologne (1h52), Paris (1h20) and Amsterdam (2h00). It is much cheaper to book further in advance. With your Thalys ticket you can also take a local train to or from Central-Centraal, Nord-Noord, Schuman and Luxembourg/Luxemburg stations. edit
Fyra, . A Fyra from Amsterdam (2h01, via Schiphol Airport, Rotterdam, Antwerp), connects to Brussels Midi/Zuid. You need a reservation. Weekend return ticket start at €50.00. The Fyra service is currently (August 2013) discontinued, and is not expected to resume any time soon. A replacement Intercity service, for which a reservation is not required, is running every two hours to Rotterdam and The Hague, though. edit
Intercity from Luxembourg/Luxemburg, . An hourly Intercity train from Luxembourg (3h07, via Arlon, Libramont, Namur) connects to Midi/Zuid, Central, Nord/Noord, Schuman and Luxembourg/Luxemburg stations. You don't need a reservation. A weekend return ticket costs €41.60. edit
Eurostar, ☎ +32 2 528 28 28, . The Eurostar train line links Lille Europe (0h39, €22+), Ashford (1h38, €40+) and London St. Pancras (1h51, €40+) with Midi/Zuid. Some Eurostar tickets are also valid for internal train travel within Belgium for 24h from the time of the Eurostar ticket), so once in Belgium travel is free for the day. Check in the bottom left hand corner of your ticket and confirm this before you get on the train. A €7 service fee will be added for both telephone and in-person bookings (doesn't apply when booking over the internet). edit
ICE, . German ICE connects four times a day to Cologne and Frankfurt (€39 one way, "Europa Spezial Belgien" offer starting from €29). edit
Eurolines, ☎ +32 2 274 1350 (UK +44 8 705 143 219, fax: +32 2 201 1140), . Offers bus travel from many countries to Brussels, for example 8 hours from London Victoria station at € 39. In Brussels, they stop outside the Gare du Nord-Noordstation and Gare du Midi-Zuidstation train stationsedit
Megabus, ☎ +44 871 2663333, . Offers cheap bus travel from London, Paris, and Amsterdam to Brussels. In Brussels, the stop is outside the North train station.edit
De Lijn, ☎ +32 70 220 200 (0,30€/min), . The Flemish region (Dutch speaking) public bus service.edit
TEC, ☎ +32 10 23 5353, . The Walloon region (French speaking) public bus company.edit
Most sights in Brussels are fairly close together, within reasonable walking distance of each other. The oldest part of town can have uneven cobblestone roads, but the rest of the city is fairly easy to walk. Many roads in the old town are closed to cars. Brussels has many wet days, and in winter small amounts of snow can make the ground slushy, so water-resistant footwear is a must if you will be out walking all day.
STIB-MIVB, ☎ +32 70 232 000 (0,30€/min), . The Brussels region (Bilingual) public bus, tram and metro service.edit
The metro in Brussels is quite clean and safe compared to most metro systems. Metro entrances are marked by big "M" signs in blue and white, with the station name underneath. All announcements are made in Dutch, French and English. There are 4 metro lines (1, 2, 5 and 6) and 3 "chrono" (fast) tram lines (3, 4 and 7). Single tickets, called Jump 1 cost €2.00 if pre-purchased and are available from the driver for €2.50 (only trams and buses, not metro).
You validate the ticket in the small orange machines located in buses/trams, or at the entrance to metro stations/major tram stops. The orange machines time-stamp the ticket, both in ink and magnetically, and it will be valid for one hour. You can interrupt your ride and interchangeably use any STIB/MIVB transport. You should revalidate your ticket for each new ride.
One, five and ten ride tickets (called Jump 1, Jump 5 and Jump 10 respectively) are available at all metro and bigger train stations. They can also be bought from vending machines near major bus and tram stops. A card that can be used for ten rides on public transport costs €13.50. There is also a 1 day pass (called Jump 1 jour/1 dag) available for €6.50. These tickets can be purchased either at staffed windows or from kiosks. However, the kiosks do not accept many credit and debit cards and will only accept cash payments in coins.
Be aware that the 10 ride ticket can be used by more than one person. Example, if two of you are traveling together, you can just buy one 10 ride ticket, and when you enter the bus, or metro or tram, you validate the ticket twice by entering the ticket on the small orange machine two times. As soon as the ticket is spit out, you enter it again, and the machine will say 2 person, and there will be two lines on the ticket to indicate this. if you know you're going to use public transport a lot, getting the 10 fare pass might be cheaper than getting individual tickets.
Tickets that bear the name Jump are also valid on all SNCB/NMBS-trains and on buses run by Flemish public bus company De Lijn and Walloon public bus company TEC within the Brussels Capital Region.
Villo runs a bike sharing network that has over 2,500 bicycles available at over 200 bike stations throughout the city. Users can take a bike from any station and return it to a different station. Membership fees are €1.60/day or €7.65 per week, payable by using a credit card with a smart chip at the automated kiosks attached to every station. On top of membership fees, usage fees vary, but the first 30 minutes are free. It is advisable to wear a helmet and a fluro vest (not mandatory). The bikes are robust, but rather heavy.
A Brussels Card is available for discounts at many attractions. Available in 24 hr (€24), 48 hr (€36) and 72 hr (€43) versions, it offers a free guidebook, free entry to many museums, free use of public transit, and discounts at various shops, restaurants and attractions. May not be worth it to those who already receive discounts (children, students, etc). The card can be purchased on-line in advance for a discount, or at the tourist offices at: Grand-Place, Midi/Zui station, BIP. Some museums also sell the card.
Grand Place-Grote Markt, . Surrounded by the city tower and a range of beautiful 300 year old buildings. In the evening, surrounded by bright illumination, it is simply ravishing. Some evenings a music and light show is provided with the buildings serving as a canvas. Have a "gaufre de Liège-Luikse wafel" here (Belgian waffle with caramelized sugar)—the best ones are available from the little shops off the northeast corner of the Grand Place-Grote Markt.edit
Manneken Pis, . Just a short walk from the Grand Place-Grote Markt is the Manneken Pis, a small bronze statue thought to represent the "irreverent spirit" of Brussels. This is a statue of a child urinating into a pool. Belgians have created hundreds of outfits for this statue. There are many stories of the statue's origins. It is believed to have been inspired by a child who, while in a tree, found a special way to drive away invading troops. Another story goes that a father was missing his child and made a declaration to the city that when he found him he would build a statue of him, doing whatever it was that he was doing. It has also been said a witch turned him to stone for peeing on her property. The most likely scenario is that it was the location of the market for urine, which was used for its ammonia content to tan leathers. None are definitively true. In 1747, Louis XV's soldiers stole the statue, upsetting many of the city's residents. Louis XV made it up to the city by giving the statue a medal of honor (so that he must be saluted when French soldiers pass by} and by giving him an outfit. He now gets dressed up on special occasions.edit
Jeanneke Pis, Impasse de la Fidélité / Getrouwheidsgang, Brussels, Belgium, . Jeanneke Pis is a modern fountain and statue in Brussels, which forms a counterpoint in gender terms to the city's trademark Manneken Pis at the Grand Place (Grote Markt). It was commissioned by Denis-Adrien Debouvrie in 1985 and erected in 1987 and endowed with its own instant legend, the better to amuse strollers. This half-metre-high statue of blue-grey limestone depicts a little girl with her hair in short pigtails, squatting and urinating, apparently very contentedly. It is located on the east side of the Impasse de la Fidélité / Getrouwheidsgang (Fidelity Alley), a narrow cul-de-sac some 30 metres long leading northwards off the restaurant-packed Rue des Bouchers / Beenhouwersstraat. It is unsurprisingly much less well known than its male counterpart, being a new addition instead of a centuries-old symbol of the city. The sculpture is now protected by iron bars from vandalismedit
Parc du Cinquantenaire-Jubelpark - Definitely check out the Arc de Triomphe-Triomfboog on the east side of town. It's in the Parc du Cinquantenaire-Jubelpark. It is possible to go up to the terrasse above the arch, from where you'll have a good view of the city. Entry is through the Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and of Military History and is free. Take Metro line 1 east, exit Schuman and walk east or exit Mérode and walk west.
Atomium, Square de l'Atomium/Atomiumplein (Take Metro line 6 direction Roi Baudouin-Koning Boudewijn and get off at Heysel-Heizel - approximately 5 min easy walk from the station), ☎ +32 2 475 4777, . Open daily from 10:00 AM till 6:00 PM. Ticket Sale ends at 5.30 PM. Unavoidable icon of Brussels and Belgium, important place for international tourism, unique creation in the history of architecture and emblematic vestige of the World Fair in Brussels (Expo 58) the Atomium continues to embody its ideas of the future and universality, half a century later. In its cultural programme it carries on the debate of 1958: What kind of future do we want for tomorrow? Our happiness depends on what? Its recent renovation in 2006 gave its original brightness back, and the new equipment guarantees its durability. Five of the nine spheres are open to the public (so they say, but not really true). One of them is housing a permanent exhibition dedicated to Expo 58 (just some small models of some countries pavilions). Another sphere is dedicated to temporary exhibitions with scientific themes (often closed when there is no exhibition). The upper sphere offers spectacular views of the city of Brussels. When the sky is clear, the view reaches till Antwerp. There is a "kids zone" sphere which staff will happily direct you to even though you can never go in, it is only open to touring schoolchildren, and there is nothing inside except places for kids to sleep. In truth there are only three spheres: the top (restaurant), middle (snack bar) and bottom; the only thing to see really is the view; rather expensive at 11 €. The restaurant, also situated at the top, is open every day till 11.00 p.m. At night, the nine spheres are lit up with 2,970 lights that offer a very special show. To enrich your visit: audioguides in EN (but also in F, NL, ES, IT and RU) are available at the cash desk for 2€. Visio-guides are also available (€2) for the deaf and hard of hearing people. In August 2010, a zip-line was available from the top of the tallest sphere (102m); the "Death Ride" (run by former members of the Belgian Special Services) is a separate 25€, and offers a rather unique view of the insides of the Atomium and the surrounding city.Children of less than 6 years, coach drivers, disabled persons: free, children as from 6 years till 11 years: 2 €, adults: 11 €, teachers showing their teacher card: 9 €, children as from 12 till 18 years, students showing their student card and seniors (as from 65 years): 8 €. edit
Palais de Justice/Justitiepaleis (Law Courts of Brussels), Place Poelaert/Poelaert Plein, ☎ 02 508 64 10. 08:00-17:00 Mon-Fri. Larger than St. Peter's basilica in Rome, it cost 45 million Belgian Francs to construct in 1866.Free. edit
Basiliek van het Heilig Hart / Basilique du Sacré Coeur (Basilica Koekelberg), Basiliekvoorplein/Parvis de la Basilique, ☎ 02 421 16 60 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . 9:00-18:00,. The fifth biggest church in the world, with an impressive interior and an amazing view over Brussels and its surroundings. edit
Palais Royale/Koninklijk Paleis (Royal Palace), Place des Palais/Paleizenplein, ☎ 02 551 20 20, . 10:30-16:30. Royal Palace with a park out front.Free. edit
The Bourse, . Former stock market building. Locals like to sit on the steps, sometimes with fries. A local restaurant owner has proposed turning the unused building into a beer hall.edit
Mini-Europe, ☎ +32 2 478 0550, . Hosts a set of scale models of famous European structures.€12.90 Adults; €9.70 under 12. edit
Scientastic, (in the tram station Bourse/Beurs), . 101 surprising and wonderful hands-on science exhibits.€7.90; children €5.30. edit
Statue of Europe, . Also referred to as Unity in Peace, this sculpture symbolises peace through European integration, while at the same time aiming to demonstrate the motto of the European Union (EU), United in Diversity. It is located in the garden of Convent Van Maerlant (the library of the European Commission) Van Maerlant street, in the European Quarter of Brussels.edit
Red Light District. Just like Antwerp and Amsterdam, Brussels also has its own Red Light District. It is located mainly in Rue d'Aerschot/ Aarschotstraat, behind the North Train Station. Contrary to The Netherlands, prostitution is NOT legal in Belgium, they exploit a loophole in the local legislation presenting brothels as "bars". Do not expect to actually get a drink in there though. Despite heavy police presence, it still remains a fairly seedy area, not the kind of place where you'd want to walk alone at night. edit
Musées Royaux d'Art et d'Histoire (MRAH) - Koninklijke Musea voor Kunst en Geschiedenis (KMKG), Parc du Cinquantenaire-Jubelpark 10, ☎ +32 2 741 7211, . Open Tu-Fr 9.30AM-5PM, Sa-Su and holidays 10AM-5PM, closed Mo and various holidays, last entry 4PM. This museum has an important collection of art objects from different civilizations from all over the world. The museum was founded in 1835 and was located in the Hallepoort/Porte de Hal, one of the last remaining medieval city gates of Brussels.Adults €5. edit
Musées Royaux des Beaux Arts de Belgique - Koninklijke Musea voor Schone Kunsten van België (Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium), Rue de la Régence-Regentschapstraat 3, at Place Royale-Koningsplein, ☎ +32 2 508 3211, . Museum of Historical Art: Tues-Sun 10AM-noon and 1-5PM; Museum of Modern Art (Magritte Museum) Mar: Tue-Sun 10AM-1PM and 2-5PM. Features both historical art and modern art in the one building. In a vast museum of several buildings, this complex combines the Musée d'Art Ancien-Museum voor Oude Kunst and the Musée d'Art Moderne-Museum voor Moderne Kunst under one roof (connected by a passage). The collection shows off works, most of them Belgian, from the 14th to the 20th century, starting in the historical section, with Hans Memling's portraits from the late 15th century, which are marked by sharp lifelike details, works by Hiëronymus Bosch, and Lucas Cranach's Adam and Eve. You should particularly seek out the subsequent rooms featuring Pieter Brueghel, including his Adoration of the Magi. Don't miss his unusual Fall of the Rebel Angels, with grotesque faces and beasts. But don't fear, many of Brueghel's paintings, like those depicting Flemish village life, are of a less fiery nature. Later artists represented include Rubens, Van Dyck, Frans Hals, and Rembrandt. Next door, in a circular building connected to the main entrance, the modern art section has an emphasis on underground works - if only because the museum's eight floors are all below ground level. The collection includes works by van Gogh, Matisse, Dalí, Tanguy, Ernst, Chagall, Miró, and local boys Magritte, Delvaux, De Braekeleer and Permeke. Don't miss David's famous "Death of Marat."€8.00 adults per museum or €13 combo ticket, €2.50 students/seniors/disabled visitors, €1.25 children 12-18, under 12 free. Also free on the first Wednesday afternoon of every month. edit
Musées d'Extrême-Orient - Musea van het Verre Oosten, Avenue Van Praetlaan 44 (Tram: 3 or 23 (Araucaria stop). Bus: 53, De Lijn 230, 231 et 232 (De Wand stop)), ☎ +32 2 268 16 08, . Tu-Fr 9.30AM-5.30PM, Sa-Su 10AM-5PM, closed Mo. Intriguing complex of three buildings in the Laaken area, not far from the Atomium. They comprise a Japanese tower, a Chinese pavilion, and a museum of Japanese art. The architecture and decor may seem over the top to today's tastes, but there are some outstanding examples of Chinese export porcelain, and rotating exhibitions of Japanese artefacts from the Edo period (1600-1868). €4 adults, €3 students, €1.50 children. edit
Musée BELvue - BELvue Museum, Place des Palais-Paleizenplein 7, ☎ +32 70 22 0492, . Tuesday to Sunday, from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (June to September), from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (October to May). Features Belgium's history. Before it became a museum, the former 18th century luxury hotel was a royal residence.BELvue: €3, Coudenberg: €4, BELvue + Coudenberg: €5. edit
Natural Sciences Museum of Belgium, Rue Vautier-Vautierstraat 29 (near Luxembourg station), ☎ +32 2 627 4238, . Open: daily from 9:30AM to 4:45PM; Saturday, Sunday and during school holidays (except the Summer break), from 10AM to 6PM; during the Summer break daily from 9:30AM to 4:45PM daily and in weekends from 10AM to 6PM. . The museum is well-known for its famous collection of iguanodons (dinosaurs discovered in a coal-mine in Belgium). The dinosaur collection has been refreshed in October 2007 and includes discovery activities for the children. The other parts of the museum are also interesting, as an exhibit of all animals that live in our houses and a collection of mammals.Price between €4.50 and €7, free the first Wednesday of each month as of 1PM. (50.837505654430934,4.376206398010254)edit
Horta Museum, Rue Américaine 25, Saint-Gilles/Amerikastraat 25, Sint-Gillis (tram 81, tram 92 (place Janson), bus 54), ☎ +32 2 543 0490 (fax: +32 2 538 7631), . Open daily 2PM-5:30PM, closed Monday. The home of noted Belgian Art Nouveau architect and designer Victor Horta. Seeing where he lived and worked is a great way to get an introduction to the art nouveau style in Brussels. It is one of four Horta works to be inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. It can be very busy on rainy Sundays and the queue is outside, so don't forget your umbrella.Adults €7, students/seniors €3.50, guided tours available by appointment. edit
Royal Museum for Central Africa (RMCA), Leuvensesteenweg 13, Tervuren (Take tram 44 through at Montgomery and get off at terminus after a 20 minutes enjoyable trip through woodland patches. The museum is a 300 m walk away), ☎ +32 2 7695211 (fax: +32 2 7695242), . Tue-Fri 10-17, Sat&Sun 10-18. The Museum is home to some truly remarkable collections. Its collection of ethnographic objects from Central Africa is in fact the only one of its kind in the world. It also contains the entire archives of Henry Morton Stanley which are of great historical value. The actual state of the museum makes it some kind of "museum in the museum" Apart the new (or newish) sections about the Congo River and the colonial period (with some ambiguous statements about the Belgian role), the structure of the museum seems to have been "frozen" 50 years ago. Casing, labels (largely almost nonexistent or vanished), (dis)organization of the collection in homogeneous topics, especially in the ethnographic section, reflect those of a museum conceived a century ago and never updated since. Labels, where available, are in Dutch and French only in the permanent exhibition. In fact, the museum will close from 8/7/2012 to mend these issues and will reopen after major renovations of buildings and exhibitions about 2015. The audio-guided farewell tour "Uncensored" (7 €, including permanent exhibition access) temporary exhibition (largely embedded inside the permanent exhibition tour) digs deep in the history of the museum. In some ways, it is a pity that in the future we will get a more enjoyable and interesting museum, but we will soon loose this unique remainder of the old age of museums.€4 adults, €1.50 young people (13-17), free for children under 12. edit
Belgian Comic Strip Center (Centre Belge de la Bande Dessinée, Belgisch Centrum van het Beeldverhaal), Rue des Sables-Zandstraat 20, ☎ +32 2 219 1980 (email@example.com, fax: +32/2/219 23 76), . Tue-Sun 10AM-6PM. Located in Europe's earliest Shopping-Mall (a shiny Jugendstil/Art Nouveau palace). There is a permanent exposition featuring the early beginning of comics as well as it's development. There is enough room for other varying expositions. The bookshop at the ground floor sells many different comics. A readers' library operates on the ground floor, where, for a low entrance fee, you can read many different comic books and buy fries.€7.50 adults, €6 students/seniors. (50.85098919304033,4.360126883372743)edit
Musée du Cinéma-Filmmuseum, Palais des Beaux-Arts-Paleis voor Schone Kunsten, 9 rue Baron Horta-Baron Hortastraat 9 (walk from Gare Centrale-Centraalstation), ☎ +32 2 507 8370, . A history of film-making.Free to look around; classic and cult films are shown at low prices. edit
Autoworld, Parc du Cinquantenaire-Jubelpark 11 (Metro: Merode or Schuman Train Station (Line 1)/Train: Merode or Schuman Train Station/Bus: 20, 28, 36, 67, 80/Tram: 81), ☎ +32 2 736 4165, . 10:00 - 18:00 (4/1-9/30) 10:00-17:00 (10/1-3/31). Automobiles from the dawn of the motoring age to 1970's including the earliest Mercedes, Renault, BMW Isettas, Tatras, Ford T-birds, even a jeepney from the Philippines.Adults €6, children 7-13 €3, children 6 and under free. (50.83994866276926,4.393753769741267)edit
Musée Royal de l'Armée - Koninklijk Museum van het Leger en van de Militaire Geschiedenis (Belgian Army Museum and Museum of Military History), Parc du Cinquantenaire-Jubelpark 3 (Metro: Merode or Schuman Train Station (Line 1)/Train: Merode or Schuman Train Station/Bus: 20, 28, 36, 67, 80/Tram: 81), ☎ +32 2 737 7809, . 9:00 - 16:45. The Belgian Army Museum and Museum of Military History occupies the north wing of the Palais Cinquantenaire. It provides an overview of the development of military technology and of the major campaigns fought on Belgian soil. The museum has three principal sections: Belgian military history (documents, uniforms and weaponry from the Middle Ages to the present day, including a most comprehensive collection of medieval arms and armor); the Armored Vehicle Hall with artillery, tanks etc. from the two World Wars; and the Air Section (Brussels Air Museum) with a collection of aircraft from World War I onward. The Brussels Air Museum's high point is its collection of original aircraft from World War I.Free. (50.83994866276926,4.393753769741267)edit
Musical Instruments Museum (Musée des Instruments de Musique or Muziekinstrumentenmuseum), Montagne de la Cour-Hofberg 2, ☎ +32 2.545.01.30, . Open Tu-Fr 9.30AM-16.45PM, Sa-Su 10AM-16.45PM. The museum houses more than 7000 instruments, from all times and all over the world. The museum’s reputation is built on its extraordinary collection. The exhibits are displayed on four different floors featuring a wide range of instruments from all time periods and areas of the world. The MIM is a place to experience music. An infrared headphone system allows each visitor to enjoy the sound and melodies played by the instruments presented. The restaurant on the roof is also famous because of its panoramic view over Brussels. You need around 3 or 4 hours to really enjoy the whole museum, make sure you have enough time! The ornate façade of the building was decorated as such to promote the work of local tradesman and to protest the loss of jobs due to automation.Adults: €8; over 65: €6; under 26: €2. edit
Musée Magritte Museum, 1 Place Royale-Koningsplein 1, ☎ +32 2 508 32 11 (fax: +32 2 508 32 32), . Tuesday to Sunday: from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed Mondays, January 1st, 2nd Thursday of January, May 1st, November 1st and 11th, December 25th. This museum is dedicated to the life and art of the Belgian artist René Magritte. It holds a multidisciplinary collection containing more than 200 of Magritte's works. Note that signs and labels are in French and Dutch only so English speakers should consider getting the audio guide.Standard rate: €8, Combi with Modern & Ancient Art Museum: €13, Students 18-25 years and school groups min. 12 pers.: €2. Audioguide: €4. edit
Musée Juif de Belgique - Joods Museum van België, 21 Rue des Minimes-Miniemenstraat 21, ☎ +32 2 512 19 63, . Everyday except Mondays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.. Dedicated to the craft, folk art, culture and religion of the Jewish people in Belgium.Standard rate: €5, Concession 3€. edit
Brussels is considered to be the de facto capital of the European Union, having a long history of hosting the institutions of the European Union within its European Quarter. The EU has no official capital, and no plans to declare one, but Brussels hosts the official seats of the European Commission, Council of the European Union, European Council, as well as a second seat of the European Parliament.
European Parliament, Rue Wiertz/Wiertzstraat 60 (European Quarter), ☎ +32/2 284 21 11 (fax: +32/2 284 35 30), . Mon-Thu at 10.00h and 15.00h; Fri at 10.00h only; Closed official holidays. Multimedia-guided tours in all official EU languages. Don't forget to bring an ID card/driver License with you.Free. edit
European Commission, Rue Archimède/Archimesstraat 73, . Guided tours not available. Presentations available for groups of 15 or more, booked in advance.edit
European Council, Rue de la Loi / Wetstraat 175, ☎ +32 2 281 2140 (fax: +32 2 281 6609), . Guided tours not available. Presentations available for groups of 15 or more, booked in advance. edit
You can learn how to brew your own beer in Brussels
Cantillon Brewery, Rue Gheude - Gheudestraat 56, ☎ 02 521.49.28, . Monday to Friday from 8.30 AM till 5 PM; Saturday from 10 AM to 5 PM; Closed on Sundays and public holidays. The last traditional gueuze/lambic brewery in Brussels, Cantillon still uses natural yeast fermentation (not injected like almost every other beer). The lambics and gueuzes are made in original style with no sweeteners or syrups added. Only 100% bio (organic) and natural fruits are used creating a distinctly sour drink. This museum-esque atmosphere is still a functioning brewery. The tour includes two small glasses of lambic and gueuze, and if you've never had a natural beer before, then you will be (pleasantly) surprised by the taste. An absolute must for beer lovers, save room in your luggage to take bottles back with you! Tour with tasting € 6, tasting alone € 2. edit
BrewSpot, Various places in Brussels, ☎ 0479 56.47.23 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . See the calendar on www.brewspot.com for the dates of the upcoming brewing events. Ever wanted to learn how to brew your own Belgian beer at home? This is your chance! BrewSpot offers a Discovery course where you will directly brew a Belgian style beer using malts, hops and yeast. This happens on afternoons (between 1pm and 5pm) in little groups of 10 to 15 people. During the course, you will also get to taste 5 different beers to show you the influence of the brewing ingredients on the final beer. You also get to take a few bottles of home-made beers and a booklet with useful brewing information back home! For those who want more, BrewSpot also offer a BrewMaster course where you get additional brewing theory during a consecutive second afternoon. For groups, BrewSpot can organise a special course for you on demand. BrewSpot is also in Paris by the way! For bookings, you need to send an email to email@example.comDiscovery Course € 69, BrewMaster Course € 149, Incentives on demand. edit
Woluwé-Saint-Pierre is a commune in Brussels. It is mostly a well-to-do residential area, which includes the wide, park-lined, Tervuren Avenue (French: Avenue de Tervueren, Dutch: Tervurenlaan) and the numerous embassies located near the Montgomery Square (Square Montgomery, Montgomeryplein).
Bibliotheca Wittockiana, Rue du Bemelstraat 21, ☎ +32 2 770 5333, . A museum that is dedicated to the art of binding books, with one of the most prestigious bookbinding collections in the world. Quite interesting. A discovery of forgotten discipline. Amazing use of materials, that unexpectedly gives room to innovation. Open from 10am to 5pm; closed on Mondays and official holidays. 8€ adults, 4€ students, groups and senior citizens. Free on the first Sunday of the month.edit
Musée du Transport Urbain Bruxellois-Museum voor het Stedelijk Vervoer te Brussel (Transportation Museum of Brussels), 364 Avenue de Tervuren/Tervurenlaan (Take Metroline 1B (dir. Stockel). Step down at Metro M station Montgomery. There, take Tram 39 (dir. Ban Eik) or 44 (dir. Tervuren) from their terminus. Step down at 6th stop “Depot de Woluwe/Woluwe Remise”. Tram museum is just at your left.), ☎ +32 2 515 3108, . Open from 1.30pm to 7pm on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays from the first weekend of April until the first weekend of October. Old trams are regularly used to link the museum to one of Brussels suburbs, Tervuren, through a very nice wooded area. The trip is especially pleasant on a sunny day. From the end station in Tervuren you can go to a nearby old train station that has been converted to a bar and small restaurant named Spoorloos (literally "without tracks"). €5 Adults, €2 Children age 6-11, under 6 free. edit
Woluwe Park, Near Avenue de Tervuren (From center, take a tube (Stockel direction), step down at Montgomery station. Take tram 39 or 44. Step down at 4th station Chien vert. OR, by bus 36 if you take it at Schuman station area.). edit
The imposing modern city hall is open to visitors.
The town’s main church (Saint Peter) was erected in 1755 on the site of a much older building and perpendicular to it, with funds from the abbey of Forest. Traces of the older building can still be seen on the left of the current church.
Several turn-of-the-century houses and manors can still be seen today, such as the Stoclet/Stokkel House, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which was built between 1905 and 1909 on a design by Josef Hoffmann and contains mosaics and paintings by Gustav Klimt.
You can see what's going on in Brussels by picking up a copy of local free city newspaper Zone 02. Another good free listings paper is Agenda, which is distributed together with the Dutch-language weekly Brussel Deze Week and has the notable advantage of being published in three languages (English, Dutch, French). Both of these are distributed in cafés and bars around the city. If you're looking for a good party, online listing Net Events (French and Dutch) and Ready2Move, are a good place to start.
Brussels Agenda is the official cultural and entertainment agenda of the City of Brussels and the francophone Médiatheque has a website featuring the upcoming concerts in Brussels and the rest of Belgium. However, their listings page only features concerts Médiatheque staff are interested in.
The most widely read English magazine is The Bulletin which, apart from covering Belgian and EU news, also offers arts and lifestyle stories, as well as in-depth events listings and a TV guide.
Sandeman's Brussels Free Tours, meeting point right outside the City Hall at the Grand Place, . Daily tours at 11AM & 2PM. Informative 3 hour tour. Groups can be large due to the low price!Pay what you wish. edit
Brussels Bike Tours, meeting point right outside the Visit Brussels office (tourist information office) at the Grand Place, ☎ 0484 89 89 36 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . From April to November daily at 10am.. Daily bike tours in English allow you to see the main sights in just 3.5 hours. It includes a halfway stop for fries and beer (not included in price). Reservations mandatory.General 25€. edit
Brussels Chocolate Tours, meeting point right outside the Visit Flanders office, ☎ 0484 89 89 36 (email@example.com), . year-round at 2 PM. Reservations mandatory.General 30€. edit
Brussels Beer Tours, meeting point right outside the De Beertempel shop at 2 PM, ☎ 0484 89 89 36 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . year-round. Reservations mandatory.General 45€. edit
Visit Brussels Line. 10am-4pm. Hop-on/hop-off city open-deck double-decker bus tours with commentary. 12 stops around the city, bus departing every 30 minutes.€18. edit
Brussels City Tours, Grasmarkt-Rue du Marché aux Herbes 82, ☎ 02 513 77 44 (email@example.com, fax: 02/502.58.69), . Brussels City Tours is the main bus-tour company, with 2¾-hour tours of all the major sights.€25/€23/€12.50. edit
Architectural tours, Boulevard Adolphe Maxlaan 55, ☎ 02 219 33 45 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: 02 219 86 75), . Saturday mornings Mar-Nov, groups year-round. Atelier de Recherche et d'Action Urbaine, a Francophone Brussels heritage conservation group, runs tours of the city's architectural gems, offering a variety of theme tours to Art Nouveau buildings, Art Deco houses, the EU quarter, the Grand Place area and the Marolles/Marollen.2h walking tours €10; 3h bus tours €17 (under 26 €13). edit
Horse-drawn carriages, Rue Charles Bulsstraat. Horse-drawn carriages do circuits of the Lower Town starting from Rue Charles Bulsstraat, near Grand Place.€18 per carriage. edit
Brussels Pub Crawl, meeting point right outside the City Hall at the Grand Place, ☎ +32 478 236 032 (email@example.com), . Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays & Sat at 9PM. FREE beer, drinks discounts and a hell of a night for seven euro.7€. (50.846702,4.352101)edit
Brussels Waffle Workshop, meeting point right outside the City Hall at the Grand Place, ☎ +32 478 236 032 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Daily tours at 3PM. Prepare, bake & enjoy your own delicious Belgian waffles in 90 minutes.25€, student & family discounts. (50.846702,4.352101)edit
Brussels has a fair number of cinemas, if limited compared to most European capitals. French films are subtitled in Dutch, and vice versa, all other films are shown in the original version subtitled in French and Dutch (on cinema listings look for 'OV').
Actors Studio and Styx, run by the cooperative nouveau cinema. Both cinemas screen interesting films in their original version with French and Dutch subtitles. Actor's studio, Petite Rue des Bouchers - Kleine Beenhouwersstraat, Brussels 1000, tel: 025121696 or Cinéma Styx, Rue de l'Arbre Bénit - Gewijde Boomstraat 72, Ixelles-Elsene.
Cinema Nova is an independent-to-the-bone cinema showcasing the more esoteric side of cinema - films which would not be shown elsewhere are generally shown here. A Korean Ultraman rip-off, a Pakistani documentary or a bleak Chilean cinema vérité flick? Only at Nova. Nova Cinema, 3 rue Arenberg-Arenbergstraat.
Arenberg is a good arthouse cinema with a well-programmed selection of films. Especially good for the newer arthouse flicks. Cinéma Arenberg, 26 Galerie de la Reine - Koninginnegalerij.
Musée du Cinema/Filmmuseum is part of the Center for Fine Arts and features a carefully chosen selection of contemporary and classic arthouse films. The best thing about this isn't just the building (due to be restored soon) but also the fact that the entrance fee is cheap. So if you can't live without your dose of Werner Herzog or Jan Svankmajer fret not - this place won't cost you an arm and a leg. Royal Film Museum, 9 Rue Baron Horta - Baron Hortastraat.
Vendome, 18 Chaussée de Wavre-Waversesteenweg, Ixelles-Elsene. Another arthouse cinema. It's located near the Porte de Namur-Naamsepoort and acts as the metaphysical gateway to a lively african neighborhood known locally as Matongé.
Flagey is the old broadcasting headquarters and now houses the regional TV station TVBrussel . It labels itself 'the sound and images factory'. Quite an apt description - arthouse films, theatre pieces or world-renowned musicians are all featured here. Flagey, Place Sainte-Croix - Heilig-kruisplein, Ixelles-Elsene.
UGC De Brouckère - This is the most centrally located UGC in Brussels. Another UGC exists in Ixelles. As far as programming goes it's the usual Hollywood and mainstream European fare you'd expect from any other UGC in Europe. UGC De Brouckère, 38 Place De Brouckère - De Brouckèreplein.
Kinepolis was the first megaplex in the world. It's located at Heysel, near the Atomium, and has 25 screens showing a wide selection of mainstream films.
BIFFF is Brussels' international fantasy film festival (film fantastique in French). This two-weeks festival is scheduled yearly in March and is a must see for tourist and locals alike.
Offscreen is a showcase for unusual, independent and unreleased films, cult classics, extraordinary documentaries and offbeat genres from around the world. Takes place during the month of February and/or March in co-production with Cinema Nova and in collaboration with the Film Museum of the Royal Belgian Film Archive.
The Paleis voor Schone Kunsten (Dutch) or Palais des Beaux-Arts (French) , Rue Ravensteinstraat 23, tel: 02 507 82 0, is often referred to as "Bozar" or "PSK". Construction was completed in 1928 and includes exhibition and conference rooms, movie theater and concert hall which serves as home to the National Orchestra of Belgium. The complex contains a large concert hall, a recital room, a chamber music room, lecture rooms and a vast gallery for temporary exhibitions. Since 2002, the Belgian federal institution has chosen the brand name BOZAR. It has seven artistic departments: Bozar Expo, Bozar Music, Bozar Cinema, Bozar Dance, Bozar Theatre, Bozar Literature, Bozar Studios and Bozar Architecture.
Bozar Architecture is open to the public with exhibitions and lectures working in close collaboration with the Information Center for Architecture, Town Planning and Design.
Bozar Cinema has showings of quality films for the general public, a special series for Young Film Fans (in the Henry Le Boeuf Hall), and cross-fertilising events that explore connections between cinema, video, and the other arts (Terarken rooms, Horta Hall).
Bozar Dance hosts international contemporary dance productions.
Bozar Expo has many exhibitions every year, in cooperation with the most prestigious international institutions, alternating the great collections with contemporary art, various national heritages, and support for young artists.
Bozar Literature hosts meetings with Belgian and foreign writers.
Bozar Music - concerts in almost a dozen venues, both at the Center for Fine Arts and elsewhere in Brussels, with Western classical music from the Middle Ages to our times, as well as non-European classical music, traditional music, jazz, blues, rock, etc., in a great variety of line-ups and genres, from chamber ensembles to big bands, from recitals to concert performances of opera.
Bozar Theatre is oriented towards avant-garde theatre.
Bozar Studios is the Center’s educational service, operating as an artistic department in its own right.
Beer Mania, 174-176 Chausse de Wavre-Waversesteenweg, Ixelles/Elsene, . Claims to have a stock of over 400 beers, but has been overrun by beer tourists. The stock is extensive, but quite pricey in comparison to GB, Delhaize, or Carrefour. Beer Mania is a great place to find out of the ordinary beers.edit
GB/Carrefour. Branches around the city carry a wide variety of beers, including almost all Trappist beer. Selection varies by store. The GB in Grand Place has a large selection and offers prices that are approximately a third of the prices in tourist shops.edit
Delhaize. Similar to GB/Carrefour, but a tad more expensive.edit
Match. Another store similar to GB/Carrefour, but has more of the unusual Belgian beers including Delirium.edit
Cora, . Two very large supermarkets on the outer limits of Brussels. They have a much larger choice of beers than Carrefour/ Delhaize/ Match and some very nice gift boxes but still with reasonable supermarket prices.edit
Leonidas, (branches across the city), . very popular with the locals.Inexpensive and good quality, at €5.05 for 250g. edit
Neuhaus, (branches across the city), . A bit more expensive than Leonidas and a bit higher quality. Very popular with the locals as well. It is also possible to get good discounts by buying directly at the shop outlet outside of the factory (Postweg 2, 1602 Vlezenbeek, tel: 02/568.23.10) which is just on the outer limits of Brussels, just a short walk away from the Erasme/ Erasmus metro station. Prices can go as low as 10€ per kilo, however only the products that are specifically marked as having reduced prices are worth the trip, other products have the exact same price as in local shops.edit
Marcolini, 39 Place du Grand Sablon-Grote Zavel Plein, . Arguably the best Belgian chocolates and priced accordingly. The country-specific products are difficult to find and quite worth the price.edit
Wittamer, 6-12-13 Place du Grand Sablon-Grote Zavel Plein. Another excellent chocolate maker.edit
Chocopolis, 81 Rue du Marché aux Herbes-Grasmarkt (Between Grand Place and Central Station). Pick and choose your favorite type of chocolates, all at reasonable prices.edit
Maison Renardy, 17 Rue de Dublinstraat, ☎ +32 02 514 30 17. A great boutique shop with delicious chocolate and friendly service. Stop by for a cup of tea or coffee, and get one of their chocolates free with your tea. Still peckish? You're able to bring a whole box home.edit
Godiva, (branches around the city). Not very popular and quite pricey.edit
Chocolate bars. For the frugal, you can buy 100-200 gram gourmet bars of chocolate in grocery stores for about €1 each. Good brands to buy are Côte-d'Or and Jacques, both are Belgian.edit
Dandoy, 14 rue charles buls, 1000, Bruxelles, . Typical Brussels 'ginger buiscuits'. They have a tearoom and several shops throughout the city.edit
GB/Carrefour. Branches around the city carry a wide variety of beers, including almost all Trappist beer. Selection varies by store. The GB in Grand Place has a large selection and offers prices that are approximately a third of the prices in tourist shops.edit
Belgian Lace. among the best in the world. Several shops are located at the Grand' Place-Grote Markt itself. Beware of some shops that sell Belgian lace even though production was outsourced abroad. Ask for a country of origin if purchasing around Grand Place.edit
Galeries Saint Hubert-Sint Hubertusgalerijen. The world's first shopping mall, opened in 1847, is a light and airy triple-gallery enclosing boutiques, bookshops, cafés, restaurants, and a theater and cinemaedit
Galeria Inno, 111-123 Rue Neuve-Nieuwstraat. Department store (fashion, cosmetics, etc.)edit
General shopping, (along Rue Neuve-Nieuwstraat). with GB supermarket at City 2 accessed from Rue Neuve-Nieuwstraat and Metro Rogier.edit
Woluwe Shopping Center, Woluwe boulevard 70 (Roodebeek Metro station), . 10am till 7pm. Large shopping center in the east of Brusselsedit
Marché aux Puces - Vlooienmarkt (Flea Market), Place du Jeu de Balle-Vossenplein. every day from 7AM to 2PM. This flea market offers everything from the weird to the wonderful at rock-bottom prices.edit
Marché du Midi - Zuidmarkt, Midi/Zuid station. Sun 06:00 – 14:00. One of the largest markets in Europe, with a strong North African influence. A great source of fresh fruits and vegetables, and the prices drop to dirt cheap by 13:30. Also a wide selection of clothes and other items. edit
Christmas market, Grand Place, Boulevard Anspach/Anspachlaan and on Vissenmarkt-Marché aux Poissons. Late Nov-Early Jan. 240 wooden Christmas chalets line the streets looking like gingerbread houses, twinkling with fairy lights and covered with ‘snow-top’ roofs. The chalets sell a variety of Christmas items, decorations, gifts and Christmas season food (including "vin chaud/gluhwein" mulled wine). Activities include a skating rink, a Ferris wheel, and ice dinosaur monster (admission fees). Brass bands, free performances and ice sculptures are also on display.edit
Anderlecht Market, Rue Ropsy-Chaudron/Ropsy-Chaudronstraat, . Friday-Sunday 6:00-14:00. 100.000 visitors every weekend makes this market the biggest and most bustling in Brussels. The market is not yet influenced by tourists and may attract the visitor that search for the rough and authentic experience of Brusselsedit
Chocolate until you drop
Brussels is chock full of chocolates, but the ultimate indulgence for the chocoholic is Place du Grand Sablon-Grote Zavel Plein, where you will find three shops selling some of the best chocolate in the world: Neuhaus, Pierre Marcolini and Wittamer. Each store has its own specialties: Pierre Marcolini's take-away cakes and ice cream are reasons to be tempted, while Wittamer is the only one with a cafe on premises and also sells the ultimate hot chocolate. Passion Chocolat (20 Rue Vanderlindenstraat) is a bit out of the way but its artisan chocolate is worth a visit, and you can taste lots of it for free at the entrance.
There is plenty of good eating to be had in Brussels. Most people concentrate on the three classics: mussels (moules in French and mosselen in Flemish), fries (frites in French and frieten in Flemish) and chocolate. A few more adventurous Bruxellois/Brusselse dishes include anguilles au vert/paling in 't groen (river eels in green sauce), meat balls in tomato sauce, stoemp (mashed vegetables and potatoes) and turbot waterzooi (turbot fish in cream and egg sauce). For dessert, try a Belgian waffle (wafel in Flemish and gauffre in French), also available in a square Brussels version dusted with powdered sugar, and choices of bananas, whipped cream and many other toppings. Although many prefer the round, caramelized version from Liège.
One shall however always bear in mind that it is important to check the prices of food items before ordering, just like what people should do when visiting pubs in France and Soho, London. Beware especially when servers make choices for you. It has been reported that tourists have to pay up to €7 for a litre of sparkling water, costing less than €0.70 in local stores.
Visitors should also beware of the 'Italian Restaurant Streets' in the tourist and shopping districts. These streets are lined with small Italian restaurants, some offering "3 course meals" for just €12 or 13. They are all run by just a few shop owners and serve unappetizing store purchased food. They will not 'include service' as most all restaurants in Brussels do, and many tourists have reported getting scammed here, especially when not paying with exact change. A common practice is to present you a menu where prices aren't anything near the ones advertised in the windows. Be sure you ask why there is such a price difference BEFORE ordering and do not hesitate to leave if you do not agree with the price. If you were offered a drink and already sipped from your glass before receiving the menu (as is often the case) then just pay for the drink and leave.
The matter over which establishment serves up the best frites (locally known as fritkots in Flemish and "friterie" in French) remains a matter of heated debate. Some argue that the best frites in Brussels are served at the fritkot near the Barriere de Saint-Gilles, while others defend St-Josse's Martin (Place Saint-Josse/Sint-Joostplein) as the prime purveyor of the authentic Brussels frite just as others claim Antoine (Place Jourdan/Jourdanplein) remains the king of the local french fry. No matter which fritkot you're at, try to be adventurous and have something other than ketchup or mayonnaise on your fries. Of the selection of bizarre sauces you've never seen before, "andalouse" is probably the most popular with the locals.
Maison Antoine, Place Jourdanplein - tasty fries with a large collection of sauces situated on a square close to the European Parliament. You can eat your fries (frites) in one of the several bars/cafés that carries the sign frites acceptés. Vegetarians be careful. Fries are cooked in Beef fat. Although this place has a very good reputation which can be guessed from the long line of people waiting to be served, purists will tell you that is is certainly not the best place in town to get your fries.
Chez Martin. The small nondescript fritkot plonked on Place Saint-Josse/Sint-Joost (Saint-Josse-ten-Noode/Sint-Joost-ten-Node) and run by the calm and affable Martin is a serious contender for the best friterie in Brussels. You can eat your frites at the nearby Cafe Gambrinus and wash them down with a pintje or two. Martin is closed since December 26, 2009.
La Friterie de la Place de la Chapelle, Rue Haute-Hoogstraat (near Les Marolles/Marollen). Another personal choice for the best frites in Brussels: the big chunks of potato, fried golden, and served with the usual dazzling array of sauces.
La Friterie de la Barrière, Avenue du Parc-Parklaan (just off the Barrière de St-Gilles/Bareel van Sint-Gillis). Golden and crispy frites - just the way they should be. This exterior of this fritkot also serves as mini-museum with several tracts, articles and other literature on the fronts and sides of the shack on the good ol' Belgian frite.
Friterie Tabora, Rue Taborastraat 2 (near the Bourse). All natural frites with the widest selection of sauces available. It's open almost 24/7 and is a favourite among locals.
Arcadi, Rue d'Aremberg-Aremberglaan 1B, just at the exit of "Galleries de la Reine", in the direction opposite to the Grand-Place - a quirky combination of old and new, the menu ranges all over the place but the reason people flock here is the selection of over 30 sweet and savoury pies (tartes). A slice big enough for a meal, served with salad, costs €7-7.50. Also current special of cafe & slice of pie for €5.
Mamma Roma, 3 shops: Flagey (Chaussee de Vleurgat-Vleurgatsesteenweg 5), Chatelain/Kastelein (Rue du Page-Edelknaapstraat 5) and Place Jourdan/Jourdanplein.  Small pizzeria for eat-in (bar-style seating) or takeaway, sold by weight. Delicious crunchy base and some unusual toppings (one was spicy with walnuts, very tasty). Long queues but speedy service, deals available for pizza + drinks.
Food Box, Rue Gretry/straat 47 (Brussels centrum)  Youthful, clean, no-fuss eatery with a selection of healthy and tasty dishes whipped up fresh using quality local ingredients by the establishment's friendly crew. Best time to drop in is after the lunch-hour rush.
Sel et Sucre Creperie - Glacier, Avenue des Celtes-Keltenlaan, 4, near Merode subway station, Parc du Cinquantenaire-Jubelpark and the Arc de Triomphe-Triomfbloog. The fantastic crepes and friendly service makes up for the ordinary decor and just around the corner from the Arc de Triomphe-Triomfbloog. Open 12:00 - 22:00.
Snack Pizzeria Porte de Halle, Avenue Henri Jaspar-Henri Jasparlaan, 134, directly across the city ring from Porte de Halle-Halsepoort. The gentlemen running the place speak a little bit of English and serve the best donar kebap and pizza in the neighborhood. The #39-Pizza Porte De Halle is probably their best pizza. Tel. 02/534 0051; Open 11:00 - 23:00 w/free delivery on orders over €10
Tapas Locas, Rue Marche au Charbons-Kolenmarktstraat 74. Crazy tapas, sensible prices. Some tapas include miniaturised Belgian favourites as well as the usual Spanish suspects.
Rue des Bouchers-Beenhouwerstraat, bustling on a Saturday night
Brussels' tourist restaurant gauntlet can be found in Rue des Bouchers-Beenhouwerstraat, just to the north of Grand Place. The place has a very bad reputation for waiters imposing themselves on passers-by, luring customers into their restaurant and then cheating them. The authorities are aware of this, and are trying to take measures. Some restaurants may also tempt you with cheap prices for the menus, but when seated, the item on the menu happens to be unavailable, and you're forced to accept another, noticeably more expensive dish. Often, the exaggerated price of the wines will also compensate for the attractive menu. Knowing this however, you may be able to negotiate a better deal before entering. However, while you may feel that you have struck a clear deal, be extremely wary: the waiters have a wide range of tricks that will inflate the price. If you pay what you think you owe and then leave, a waiter will run after you. The best thing is to avoid the Rue des Bouchers; Brussels has many very good restaurants, with passable to good service, so there is no reason to visit this street.
If fatigue keeps you in the Rue des Bouchers area, these are restaurants that are recommended:
'Restaurant Vincent, Rue des Dominicains 8-10, 1000 Brussels. A very attractive, old-style restaurant popular with Belgians themselves, with the cooking done in full view of the customers. The tiling adds to the ambiance.
Scheltema, Rue des Dominicains-Predikherenstraat 7, +32 2 512 2084. Specializes in fresh and tasty seafood.
Aux Armes de Bruxelles, Rue des Bouchers-Beenhouwerstraat 13, +32 2 511 5550. Closed Mondays. Basic honest food, including some very decent moules. Crowded, although worth the wait.
Beyond Rue des Bouchers, some restaurants stand out from the crowd:
Si Bemol, Bloemenstraat-Rue aux Fleurs 20, +32 2 219 63 78. Open from 7PM on till usually 5AM. Closed Sundays. Small but nice, friendly, of the beaten path local place. Lots of dedicated pictures on the wall from French and Belgian performing artists from the 60s and 70s. Basic honest Brussels and Belgian fare.
Au Pré Salé, 20, Rue de Flandre-Vlaamsesteenweg (near St Catherine square), +32 2 513 6545. A former butcher shop, locals flock here for some of the best moules in town, sold by the kilo (figure on €24) and served up in half a dozen ways. Also serves the full range of other Brussels favorites.
Falstaff, 19, Rue Henri Mausstraat 19 (by the Bourse-Beurs). Has cheap and decent food and is open every day until 2AM, around €20-30.
Le Beau Soleil, Rue Joseph Lebeaustraat 7 (Sablon area). This tiny restaurant (approx. 14 seats) looks like a violin workshop, so you sit next to all the tools and half finished violins. Unlike other Belgian restaurants, it is open from 9AM to 5PM (Mo-Fr), 9AM to 6PM (Sat,Sun), closed on Wednesday. The menu is small but really delicious. The atmosphere is informal and friendly.
Les Brassins, Rue Keyenveld-Keienveldstraat 36, Ixelles-Elsene, +32 2 512 6999.  Its crowd is mostly made out of young couples or students. Rich choice of beer, with more than 50 varieties on the menu, and good quality of food.
'T Kelderke, Grand'Place, 15 Grote Markt, +32 2 513 7344. €9-19 main courses. €8.50 Plat du jour. Well-made typical Belgian fare. Try the carbonnades à la flamande (Flemish beef stew) & mussels. Note that this place can feel cramped when full of diners.
Les Chapeliers, Rue des Chapeliers 1-3 Hoedenmakersstraat, +32 2 513 6479. Just off the Grote Markt with reasonable prices and excellent food. Seems to be popular among the locals without full of tourists.
Close to the Bourse Jules Van Praetstraat (rue Jules Van Praet) is another rapidly developing street of restaurants and bars. Those of note include:
Buddhasia, +3225129541. Nice place to eat Thai food. Also has a few dishes for vegetarians. at Jules Van Praetstraat/Rue Jules Van Praet, 16 1000 Bruxelles. Opposite the Bourse. With the Bourse to your back and McDs road on the right. Its in the lane on left email@example.com  Open from Monday to Sunday, food served from noon to midnight Saturday and Sunday, Lounge Bar open till 2 a.m. Reasonably priced. €5(for Soups) - 10€ - 13€ (for Main dishes). For detailed prices see the site.
Lune de Miel, +32 2 513 9181. Some very tasty Thai and Vietnamese dishes served in a fine decor.
Shamrock, +32 2 511 4989. Its exterior and misleading name belie a great range of individually cooked Indian food. Get to know the owner and he'll treat you like an old friend.
Thanh-Binh , +32 2 513 8118. The restaurant is very popular amongst the Euroworkers and business types common in Brussels and serves good Thai food. It can get crowded and is often noisy but is well worth a try.
Place Saint Catherine-Catherinplaats is also a popular area, and once the fish-mongering center of Brussels. While many of the fish shops have moved elsewhere, it is still home to many good seafood restaurants featuring lobster as a specialty.
Restaurant Vismet, Place Sainte-Catherinplaats 23, +32 2 218 85 45. A small bistro that really gets busy after 19:00. Very good seafood. The handwritten menu can throw foreigners off, but everything on the menu(s) are top notch. Appetizers: around €15; Main dishes: €18-30
Jacques, Quai aux Briques-Baksteenkaai 44, +32 2 513 2762. An authentic old bistro, with a charming kitsch decor. Very good fish.
Viva M'Boma, Vlaanderenstraat-Rue de Flandre 17, +32 2 512 1593. For real Belgian home cooking. Terrace in the summer.
Brussels Resto, Place Sainte Catherine-Catherinplaats 3, +32 2 502 35 73. bet for quality food especially for its steak at acceptable prices. The menu is in Dutch and French which can cause difficulty in deciphering the specialties.
It is outside the touristic center that the best deals can be found. Here are a few addresses in the Upper Town and Louise Area:
Madou's Provence, Rue de la Presse-Drukpersstraat 23, +32 2 217 3831. Closed Saturday noon and Sundays. Innovative southern French cuisine at affordable prices.
Chez Oki, Rue Lesbroussart-Lesbroussartstraat 62, Ixelles-Elsene, . French-Japanese fusion cuisine in a modern decor. The chef has worked for prestigious restaurants in Paris. Reasonable prices.
L'Ultime Atome: Increasingly chic, but still just about affordable brasserie, serving tasty food and drink from breakfast till late. Place St Boniface-Bonifatiusplaats (off the Chausée d'Ixelles-Elsensesteenweg).
Mano a Mano: Italian restaurant on Place St. Boniface-Bonifatiusplaats; Good food, not too expensive.
L'Amour Fou: Similar to above located on Place Fernand Coqplaats.
Dolma: Buddhist cafe/wholefood shop on Chausée d'Ixelles-Elsensesteenweg (It is on the right hand side, just before Place Flagey, on your way out of town).
Yamato: Small Ramen shop.
Les Brassins , Belgian-French cuisine, tasty and a real bargain.
Belga Queen, Rue du Fossé aux Loups-Wolvengracht 32. A restaurant within an old, restored bank building. Has an oyster bar, gorgeous bathrooms (with strange stall doors), and a cigar bar housed in the old bank vaults. A good looking younger crowd seem to enjoy this place, and don't miss the offbeat restrooms.
La Belle Maraichere, Place Sainte-Catherineplaats 11, +32 2 512 9759, closed We-Th. A classic fish restaurant. Very fresh fish and good old traditional cooking.
Comme Chez Soi, Place Rouppe/Rouppeplaats. +32 2 512 29 21. Classic Michelin-starred restaurant.
Les Larmes du Tigres (Tears of the Tiger), Justitiepaleis, de Wynantsstraat 21, +32 2 512 1877, closed Tu, . Upmarket and stylish Thai restaurant found just behind the Palais de Justice and better than most food found in Thailand.
De Gulden Boot (la Chaloupe d'Or), 24 Grote Markt (Grand Place) - One of the most famous restaurants in Brussels, situated on Grand Place. Beautiful old building, but too much of a tourist trap. And even after a €200 dinner, you will get charged €0.50 to visit the toilet.
Forget about eating out if you're strictly vegan(maybe at EXKI). There are some vegetarian restaurants that might cater without animal products though. Some small snack joints do make up vegetarian sandwiches on request.
EXKI - Located all over the city mostly near the Metro stations. Like opposite the Bourse, at De Brouckere, near the Parlamentarium, Schuhman. Has good range of food for both vegetarians and non vegetarians. Nice soups and juices. Offers "Take away" too.  Take away is cheaper than sitting in.
Dolma - A very nice vegetarian buffet Monday till Saturday from 19 till 21h . Chaussée d'Ixelles-Elsenesteenweg 329. Reservation 02/6498981.
La Tsampa - An organic/vegetarian shop annex restaurant , closed on Saturday and Sunday. Rue de Livourne-Livornostraat 109.
L'Element Terre - Located in Ixelles-Elsene, L'Element Terre features an eclectic menu and wonderful, attentive service. Chaussée de Waterloo-Waterloosesteenweg 465.
Belgium is to beer what France is to wine, it is home to one of the greatest beer traditions in the world, and Brussels is a great place to sample some of the vast variety on offer. Typical beers of Brussels are gueuze (rather sour) and kriek (rather sweet, cherry based).
Smoking is prohibited in all bars.
A special drink only found in Brussels is the "half-en-half" ("half and half"). It's a mixture of white wine and champagne.
À La Bécasse, Rue de Taborastraat 11, +32 2 511 0006. Serves a typical Brussels product this slightly sweetened Lambic beer, white beer based on Lambic, Kriek Lambic and so on. The entrance is not that easy to find.
À La Mort Subite, rue Montagne-aux-Herbes Potagères-Bergstraat 7, . This is the Brussels cafe par excellence. Opened since 1927, the decor remains unchanged but still retains its charm. A warm welcome greets the eclectic clientile of which La Mort remains a firm favorite.
Bier Circus, 57, Rue de l'Enseignement-Onderrichtsstraat, +32 2 218 0034, . Has an impressive selection of beers, including some extremely hard to find beers. Examples of rare beers they have in stock, are Lam Gods (a delicious beer brewed from figs) and the rarest of the Trappist beers, winner of the Beer of the Year 2005, Westvleteren. Also offers meals with beer as an ingredient. Open Tuesday to Friday, 1200-1430 & 1800-2300; Saturday 1800-2300.
BXL Cafe/Bar, Place de la Vieille Halle aux Blés-Oud Korenhuis 46, +32 2 502 9980. Open daily noon-midnight (Fri/Sat until 1AM). A stylish, friendly internet cafe in the center of Brussels. Offering high speed internet access, occasional live music/DJ, latest movies shown on video screens around the bar, regular art exhibitions. Gay friendly space with women's night every Wednesday from 8PM.
The Floris, Right across from Delirium Cafe, famous for its absinthe.
Bizon Cafe, Rue Pont de la Carpe-Karperbrugstraat 7, . A relaxed blues/rock bar in St Gery area. Excellent place for a beer or five.
The Monk, St Katelijnestraat-Rue St. Catherine 42, . A large proper brown bar with walls covered in dark wood and mirrors. Lots of young people from the neighborhood, cool music and a decent Malt whiskey selection.
Delirium Cafe, Impasse de la Fidelité-Getrouwheidsgang 4A (on a pedestrian only side street), +32 2 514 4434, . Right in the center of Brussels within five minutes walk of the Grand Place. This bar is all about the beer, offering 2004 different beers from all over the world. They even hold the Guinness world record for most beers available! Popular amongst foreigners. Check if they have your own local beer. View their website for more info. There are some smoke-free areas. Also next door are three different alcohol themed bars specialising rum, tequila, and absinthe.
Chez Moeder Lambic, Rue Savoiestraat 68 (behind Saint Gilles-Sint-Gillis city hall) or 8 Place Fontainas (a short walk from the Manneken Pis) . Has a huge list of different beers, with several hundred obscure beers not likely found anywhere else. This cafe is one of the last remaining old-fashioned brown cafes in Brussels.
Le Greenwich, Rue des Chartreux-Kartuizerstraat 7, +32 2 511 4167. Another wood-paneled brown cafe where the only sound is the sound of the chess pieces on the chess board. Shh!
Brasserie Verschueren, Parvis de St-Gilles-Sint-Gillisvoorplein 11-13, 02/539 40 68. Something of an institution in hip Saint-Gilles. Under the watchful eye of the portly, bearded deep-voiced owner, hipsters, starving artists and local poodle-brandishing ladies mingle and drink endless beers and coffees. A beautiful woodwork football tableau shows the scores of some long lost second and third division teams from yesteryear.
Cirio, Rue de la Bourse-Beursstraat 18 (near the Bourse). A traditional café where time has come to a stop. Also offers some simple meals. Don't forget to visit the bathroom, with the original tiles and porcelain.
Le Corbeau, Sint-Michielsstraat 18 (North of Debrouckere, near City2 and Inno) +32 2 219 5246. A bar with a strong selection of beer, Edgar Allen Poe themed, hence the name (The Raven). Known for the clientele who dance on the tables all around the bar. Reasonably priced, well trafficked.
"Brasserie De l'Union", 55 Parvis De Saint-Gilles - Sint-Gillisvoorplein. This is a place with a true "atmosphere", wooden chairs and tables, big old wooden bar, a crowd that reflects the diversity of Saint-Gilles. When the sunny days are coming, the terrace is one nice to sit in.
The Big Game, Rue Henri Mausstraat 5, 1000 Brussels (next to the Bourse, 2 minutes from the Grand Place). Longest Happy Hour: 12 hours every day!! They organize live concerts and DJs, show all sports on more than 20 screens (including one giant one), there are 2 floors for different atmospheres, free wifi, a great selection of Belgian beers and numerous different rums, tequilas, vodkas and whiskeys.
De Walvis is one of the very few hip and non-smoking bars in Brussels. Dansaert street.
Crystal Lounge Inside the Sofitel hotel, in the the Louise district. Trendy, modern bar with restaurant and outdoor terrace.
Mappa Mundo, Place Saint Géry-Sint Goriksplein 2, +32 2 514 3555. One of the many trendy bar/cafés located on the popular Place Saint Géry-Sint Goriksplein. You are assured good drinking in at least one of these establishments, which are very popular with younger Eurocrats, foreigners and interns, giving them a rather friendly cosmopolitan character.
Le Tavernier, 445 Chaussée de Boondael-Boondaalsesteenweg, While all the above locations are situated downtown in central Brussels, this location is the most popular bar on a strip of bars right by the Cimétière d'Ixelles-Begraafplaats van Elsene. It's location right off the student campus make it extremely popular with students who just want to kick back and have a few relaxed drinks. Note on certain nights there is also live music (making the establishment a lot more hectic). Worth a look especially towards the beginning and end of the academic year and in the summer (especially for their Jazzbreaks nights).
Hydra-breaks organises "Hydra Sessions" and also "Next Level" and "Caliente" drum and bass parties at various locations. Hydra Sessions are major D&B nights with international headliners such as Pendulum, Spor, or Raiden, along national djs.
Bulex nights is a monthly night out for many locals since more than 10 years, blending all kind of music in unexpected venues. Come as you are.
The FuseRue Blaesstraat 208 is a nightclub where it all started and is a Brussels institution. Be sure to check it out. Popular among the young people for it´s Electronic scene, often having Dubstep and Drum & Bass nights, such as Rockme On Electro, Cartel, F*ckin Beat or other parties. (Watch out for these other parties in nights spread out in other smaller clubs in Brussels).
The Botanique is the place for rock and pop. They do, on occasion, bring more experimental acts.
The Botanique's Flemish counterpart, the Ancienne Belgique features the same mix of rock and pop with the occasional excursion into more unchartered, experimental territory.
Recyclart - For electronica, noise-rock, electroclash, minimal techno as well as art exhibitions, social projects and installations.
Le You - For young clubbers who just want to party, 2 minutes walking due South-East from the Grande Place.
Gays and Lesbians: the two biggest monthly gay clubs remain at La Demence at the Fuse. 100% House & Trance. Don't miss the crowded (but super small) Le Belgica bar, which plays house music. There are quite a lot of gay bars easily recognisable by their flag around the Grand Place area, especially on the street Marché Au Charbon/ Kolenmarkt.
Hotel rates in Brussels can vary widely (especially at the upper end) depending on how many EU bigwigs happen to be in town. Good deals are often available on weekends and during the summer when the bureaucrats flee on vacation.
2Go4 Hostel, Rue Emilie Jacquinstraat 99 (Metro De Brouckere), ☎ +32 2 219 30 19 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +32 2 219 30 09), . Near the city center. Very clean and very modern and chic. Free wi-fi (ask at reception for a code).€20+. edit
Hostel Jacques Brel, Rue de la Sablonnière-Zavelputstraat 30 (Metro Botanique), ☎ +32'' 2 218 01 87 (fax: +32 2 217 20 05), . Centrally located and within walking distance of the Beer Circus, and has a reputation for being unclean and chaotic which may not be deserved. Reception closes early and there's a curfew between 1 and 6 AM.edit
Youth Hostel Sleep Well, Rue du Damierstraat 23 (Metro Rogier), ☎ +32 2 218 50 50 (fax: +32 2 218 13 13), . Centrally located, very clean. Available double rooms with private facilities (about €60). No ATM.€20+. edit
Génération Europe Youth Hostel, Rue de l'Eléphant-Olifantstraat 4 (Molenbeek-Saint-Jean), ☎ +32'' 2 410 38 58 (fax: +32 2 410 39 05), . Offers beds for budget traveling. A bit farther from city center, not as safe area.€22.50+. edit
Youth Hostel Van Gogh (CHAB), Rue Traversière-Dwarsstraat 8 (Saint-Josse-ten-Noode), ☎ +32 2 217 01 58 (fax: +32 2 219 79 9), . Good location, near Brussels North Station, quick access to all train stations via metro and airport. Very clean reception, friendly staff, and lively bar with good ambiance which stays open late. Rather basic double rooms (toilets in rooms with no doors).€19.00+. edit
FunKey Hotel Brussels, Rue Artan 116 (Place Dailly, Bus 61), ☎ +32 2 733 23 53, . Seriously Cool Brussels Hotel. The FunKey Hotel is a vibrant, colourful boutique hotel located close to the EU quarter. Ideal for cool business travellers on a budget during the week, perfect for cool families during the weekend. Rates are full prepay, all inclusive (room, breakfast, beverages, snacks, WiFi, parking, telephone, etc.) €59 - €129 per room. edit
Meininger Hotel Brussels City Center, Quai du Hainaut-Henegouwenkaai, ☎ +32 (0) 2 5881 474 (email@example.com), . checkin: 3 pm; checkout: 11 am. 150 3-star rooms with 719 beds over 4 storeys.edit
Citadines Sainte-Catherine Brussels, Brandhoutkaai-Quai au Bois à Brûler 51, ☎ (32 2) 221 14 11 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: (32 2) 221 15 99), . The residence is complete with an indoor garden and fountain. All 169 studios and apartments have a bathroom with separate toilet, a fully-equipped kitchen area with stove and WiFi. 5 apartments are equipped for people with reduced mobility.edit
Citadines Toison d'Or Brussels, Gulden Vlieslaan-Avenue de la Toison d'Or 61-63, ☎ (32 2) 543 53 53 (email@example.com, fax: (32 2) 543 53 00), . Located south of the capital, the residence offers two types of stay: a rented flat or the prestige option. Each studio and apartment in the self-catering accommodation houses a bathroom with a separate toilet, a fully-equipped separate kitchen area edit
Hotel Bloom, Rue Royale-Koningsstraat 250, ☎ +32 2 220 66 11 (fax: +32 2 217 84 44), . A bloomy hotel with clean rooms. Free internet and breakfast.€100+. edit
Hotel Cafe Pacific, Rue Antoine Dansaertstraat 57, ☎ +32 2-213 00 80 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +32 2-213 00 83), . Clean, small, cozy, romantic, great location.€120+. edit
Hotel NH Atlanta, 7 Boulevard Adolphe Max, ☎ +32.22.170120 (email@example.com, fax: +32.22.173758), . Four star. Traditional Hotel situated in business and shopping central area next to Place de Brouckereplaats, half a kilometer from airport & Central station. Conveniently located, reasonably priced, and very nice.€82+. edit
Louise Hotel Brussels, Rue Veydtstraat, 40, . 3 star. Budget boutique hotel with 49 rooms in the commercial area of Louise Avenue-Louizalaan, steps from European Parliament and Downtown. €60+. edit
Martin's Brussels EU Hotel, Boulevard Charlemagne 80, ☎ +3222308555, . Martin’s Brussels EU is a trendy hotel, ideally located in the middle of Brussels’ European district and five minutes by metro from the historic city centre. edit
Sweet Brussels, 78, Avenue de Stalingradlaan, ☎ +32 486 259 137, . Boxspring bed and breakfast.€85+. edit
Thon Hotel Brussels City Centre, Avenue du Boulevard-Boulevardlaan 17, ☎ +32 2 205 15 11 (fax: +32 2 201 15 15), . Major 4-star hotel in the center of Brussels with 454 rooms. Close to the new business district, next to the World Trade Center, the Belgian government area and the European Parliament.€69+. edit
Leopold Hotel Brussels EU, rue de luxembourg 35 luxemburgstraat, ☎ +32 (0) 2 511 18 28 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . checkin: 3 pm; checkout: 11 am. 107 4-star rooms renovated in 2014 and 2015.edit
Hotel Manos Stephanie, . Centrally located, just meters away from the most fashionable shopping and business district.€325. edit
Sofitel Brussels Le Louise, Avenue de la Toison d'Or-Guldenvlieslaan 40; Metro: Louise-Louiza. Tel: +32 2 514 22 00, email: H1071@sofitel.com . Fully refurbished in 2008 and located in the Avenue Louise-Louizalaan area. Parking nearby. Eurostar station 5 minutes away. Prices from €129.
Hotel Metropole Brussels  - As the city's only 19th-century hotel still in operation, this 5-star landmark is in the historic center. 313 rooms and suites, fitness center, 12 meeting rooms, award-winning gourmet restaurant l'Alban Chambon.
Stanhope Hotel Rue du Commerce-Handelsstraat 9, tel +32 2 506 91 11, fax +32 2 512 17 08, email@example.com. In the European district. Within walking distance you can find the main tourist attractions. 108 including 2 apartments.
Radisson Blu Royal, Rue du Fosse-aux-Loups/Wolvengracht 47, +32-2-2192828, . Three minutes' walk from the Grand Place and the Central Station. Free Wifi, fitness center with sauna and solarium, restaurant "Sea Grill" has two Michelin stars.
Le Chatelain All Suite Hotel, Rue du Châtelain-Kasteleinsstraat 17, +32-2-646-00-55, . This luxury hotel offers spacious suites, a beautiful garden and a rooftop health and fitness center. Located in the Avenue Louise-Louizalaan area. Rates at this 5 star hotel start at €89 per night.
Although Brussels is the political capital of the EU, petty crime is quite common and these crimes don't make the statistics as either the victims don't report it, or the police don't take them seriously (A rather common occurence). There is little violent crime, particularly as far as tourists are concerned. It is important to be aware of your belongings and be aware of your surroundings. Many suburban neighborhoods have a very poor reputation, but most travelers are unlikely to visit them. The neighborhoods of Schaarbeek, Brussels North, St-Josse, Marollen, Anneessens, Molenbeek and Anderlecht are neighborhoods that should be avoided at night if possible, most often by inhabitants that do not live there.
Pickpockets - by far the biggest issue - can be found in many areas of the city, especially in train and metro stations, and warmer days when tourists and locals love to sit outside to eat or have a coffee. You just need to take normal precautions against bag snatches.
When traveling to Brussels by car, ensure to not leave any valuables while visiting various sites - particularly the Atomium, mini Europe and the Oceade area. Cars are common targets, and foreign license plates or goods on the (back)seat increase the risk of attracting undesired interest.
In the evening and at night, dark areas such as parks attract drug dealers and addicts, pickpockets, and various other shady types. Travelers should avoid these areas after sunset, and be particularly alert for distractions aimed at diverting attention from their hand or shopping bag. Particularly popular at the moment seems to be the "soccer move distraction", when they suddenly stick their foot between your legs as if they are playing an imaginary soccer game.
Be careful with laptops and lectronics like smart phones, mp3 players and tablets on public transport. These items can be snatched out of traveler's hands during the short interval the doors are open at a stop, eliminating the chance for a pursuit. Or they will be taken from your pocket without you realizing it.
The Main stations such as the North Station (Gare du Nord), Central Station, and the South Station (Gare du Midi), which probably has the worst reputation among the local residents, are hot zones for pickpockets.
In the Parc de Bruxelles/Warandepark, between the Royal Palace and the Belgian Parliament, criminals have been noted threatening their victims with violence. Do not leave your bags unattended but keep them close to your body. If you are robbed, there is a police office right next to the gate in front of the Belgian Parliament (on the right side when leaving the park, hidden in the bushes) where experienced policemen will help you. Most of them speak French, Dutch and English well. However, police can do little to recover your goods, and will most likely provide you with a report for your insurance company. Due to the large number of daily cases, the Belgian police is not known for being the most helpful when it comes to recovering stolen goods, especially if these events occurred in areas known to be dangerous.
In addition to the above advice be aware of Brussels Midi-Zuid train station, one of the poorest areas in the city. In other train stations, especially the North station, scam artists show up in groups trying to distract you with some questions and steal your belongings. They are professionals, and business travelers are often targeted, although anybody is a potential victim, especially if they have electronic valuables (smartphones), that can be easily snatched. Outside the central station, there are men with red vests asking for donations, or signatures, or trying to sell you some community paper. Ignore them if they approach you, or walk away from them. These individuals are very persistent and they will try to show you a badge to show that they are "legit", but if you stop to sign papers or give them a donation, another one will empty out your pockets. This type of scam is very common in many European cities.
Like any city Brussels is home to a number of infamous street gangs, with the notorious Black Wolves being one of them. These groups operate outside the law, and employ violence against individuals as well as police officers.
You will see women in stations like Porte de Namur-Naamsepoort, or Place De Brouckère-Brouckèreplein, holding babies and asking for money. Do not give money to these beggars as they are managed by "begging gangs." If you come early enough to these stations, you will see them being dropped off by their handlers in fancy cars. Save your money for legit charities.
Another overlooked issue regards driving. Because of the often confusing urban planning of Brussels, most Brussels streets are small for a major city. What would be labelled a one-way street in Paris and London is usually a two-way street in Brussels. This leads to some of the worst traffic jams in Europe and aggressive drivers. It is not uncommon for people to not indicate when they are changing lanes or turning. Pedestrians always have the right of way.
Visit the following Belgian cities, all within a two hour drive of Brussels:
Waterloo - About 15 km South of Brussels. Visit where Wellington and Bluecher faced Napoleon for an ultimate battle that changed Europe's face forever. Further South, don't miss the Abbey of Villers-la-Ville.
Sint-Pieters-Leeuw - About 10 km South of Brussels. Visit the nature reserve with Galloway cattle (not in winter) so near to Brussels
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