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Brussels

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Brussels

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Grand' Place-Grote Markt, Brussels

Brussels (French: Bruxelles, Dutch: Brussel; [45]) 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.

Districts

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Brussels is split into nineteen communes or gemeenten (municipalities/boroughs).

High-rise and construction in Brussels
  • 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.
  • 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 neighbourhood.
  • Marolles/Marollen - Not a municipality, but a neighbourhood (part of Bruxelles - Brussel) close to the city's heart. Although this was one of the few places where the Brussels dialect which is a dialect of Dutch (also called Flemish) could still be heard, it is more common in the outer districts of Brussels Capital Region. 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 trickets. Visit on Saturdays or Sundays.
  • Saint-Gilles/Sint-Gillis - The city's bohemian epicentre 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 Schaerbeek, 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 "standarts".
  • Schaerbeek/Schaarbeek - While there might be little interest in this commune to the casual visitor, it does host some very ornate Art Nouveau buildings. The Chaussée de Haecht/Haachtsesteenweg is also the heart of Brussels' vast Turkish neighbourhood. It has more Turkish restaurants than you can shake a pide at.
  • Jette - Jette, together with Koekelberg and Ganshoren, are three communes in the north-west of Brussels. These green(-ish), mainly residential communes house the Basilica of Koekelberg on their shared territory.
  • 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.
  • Molenbeek - Commonly known as Molenbeek-St-Jean or Sint-Jans-Molenbeek. A commune with a very large Moroccan and, lately, Romanian population. With a reputation for being unwelcoming, if not downright dangerous, this is a place few locals venture to - let alone tourists.
  • WSP/WSL - 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 neighbourhoods and green areas this place is well-loved by Eurocrats and other professional types. The enormous Wolubilis cultural complex is well worth a visit.

Understand

Brussels Historic Center

As Brussels became the capital city of a new country in the 19th century, the old town was destroyed to make way for brand new ministries, palaces, schools, army barracks and office blocks all built between 1880 and 1980. Unfortunately, that is why such a disappointingly small historic centre (one square and four adjacent streets) was preserved, and why most tourists only visit Brussels as an afterthought. Travellers concentrate on the classic top 4 of Belgium: Bruges, Ghent, Kortrijk and Oostende.

Brussels operates as a bilingual city where both French and Dutch 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.


Weather

Brussels deservedly has a poor reputation for its weather. Compared to other western European cities like London and Paris, the weather in Brussels is colder and more damp 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. Even in July and August, average daily maximum temperatures struggle to exceed 22 C (73 F). After October, temperatures drop off quite rapidly and winter months are damp and chilly, however snowfall is rare, generally occurring once or twice a year.

The summer visitor should always be prepared for rain in Brussels and that warm and sunny weather is not constant during that season or even to be expected.

The daily and monthly temperature variations are quite small. Daily differences between average highs and average lows don't exceed 9 C (30 F).

Get in

By plane

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 [46].

A train (€5.10) runs every 15 mins from the airport (Level -1) to Brussels three main stations taking 15-25 minutes with most trains continung to other parts of Belgium. Bus 12 and 21 run every 20 to 30 minutes via metro-station Schuman (where you can transfer to metro lines 1 and 5) to the European district around Place de Luxembourg/Luxemburgplein. The same ticket is valid for a total of 60 minutes on the metro, buses or trams into the centre from the moment it is validated as you get on the bus. The buses depart from level 0. €3 from the vending machine next to the bus stop, or €5 on board.

A taxi to the centre costs around €35. Taxis bleus/blauw (blue): +32 (0)2 268 0000, Taxis Autolux: +32 (0)2 411 4142, Taxis verts/groen (green): +32 (0)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/h for waiting. Always confirm the final charge with your driver before getting in the car.

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 day. You need to pay in coins, a change machine is nearby.

Several budget airlines, including Ryanair [47] and Wizzair [48] fly to Brussels South Charleroi Airport [49] (IATA code CRL). This airport is south of Brussels and one hour away from Brussels Midi/Zuid Station at the city centre by shuttle bus (€13 one way, €22 return). This shuttle bus only runs every 30mins, and unless you want to spend a good 40mins in the queue to purchase a ticket, it would be advisable to purchase your ticket online before you arrive [50] Otherwise you can go by train to Charleroi Sud station and then by TEC Bus A (€2.70 one way) direct from Station to the airport. (A combined train+bus ticket from or to Brussels can be obtained for €11.30 at the train station or from the TEC vending machine at the airport). You can also get a taxi from the airport to the city centre, but this will cost a fixed price of approximately €90.

Antwerp Airport (IATA code ANR) [51] also has a good train connection to Brussels.

By train

Brussels has three main train stations: Bruxelles Midi-Brussel Zuid, to the south of the city core, Bruxelles Central-Brussel Centraal, which is right next to the city centre, and Bruxelles Nord-Brussel Noord, to the north of the city center (at Place Rogier). Unfortunately, high-speed trains stop only at Midi/Zuid, so you need to take the tram (or an ordinary train) a few stops north to get to Grand Place. The ICE also stops at Nord/Noord.

  • Thalys, [1]. The high speed Thalys train connects Brussels with Cologne (1h52), Paris (1h20) and Amsterdam (2h00). There are numerous rebates for in advance, to over €150 single on the day. With your Thalys ticket you can also take a local train to or from Bruxelles Central-Brussel Centraal, Bruxelles Nord-Brussel Noord, Bruxelles Schuman-Brussel Schuman and Bruxelles Luxembourg-Brussel Luxemburg.
  • Intercity to the Netherlands, [2]. An hourly Intercity train from Brussels Midi/Zuid and Brussels Central to Amsterdam (via Antwerp, Rotterdam, The Hague, Schiphol Airport). A trip from Brussels to Amsterdam takes 2:28 hours. You don't need a reservation. A weekend return ticket costs €45.40.
  • Intercity to Luxembourg, [3]. An hourly Intercity train from Brussels Midi/Zuid, Central, Nord/Noord, Schuman and Brussels Luxembourg station to Luxembourg (via Namur, Libramont, Arlon). A trip from Brussels to Luxembourg takes 3:07 hours. You don't need a reservation. A weekend return ticket costs €41.60.
  • Eurostar, +32 2 528 28 28, [4]. The Eurostar train line links Midi/Zuid with Lille Europe (39m from €22), Ashford (1h38m from €40) and London St. Pancras (1h51m from €40). Some Eurostar tickets are also valid for internal train travel in Belgium (to and from any Belgian train station within 24h of the validity 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. The fee doesn't apply when booking over the internet.
  • ICE, [5]. German ICE connects thrice a day to Cologne and Frankfurt (€93 one way, "Europa Spezial Belgien" offer starting from €29).
  • TGV, [6]. French TGV's also connect from Midi/Zuid to Lyon, Marseille, Avignon, Bordeaux, Montpellier, Nice and many other French destinations.

By bus

  • Eurolines, +32 (0)2 274 1350 (UK +44 (0)8 705 143 219, fax: +32 (0)2 201 1140), [7]. 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 stations

Get around

By train & bus

Grand Place-Grote Markt, Brussels

Brussels revamped its metro at the start of April 2009 to boast six lines, and at the same time rescheduled several tram and bus routes. Most are run by STIB-MIVB [52] of the Brussels region except for some regional buses, which are run by De Lijn [53] of the Flemish region and TEC [54] of the Walloon region.

A card that can be used for ten rides on public transport costs €12.30. One hour tickets cost €1.70 if pre-purchased and are available from the driver for €2. One, five and ten ride tickets are available at almost all metro and train stations. 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. There are also one-day tickets available, for €4.50 and three-day tickets, for €9.50.

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. Other forms of transport are:

  • NMBS/SNCB, +32 (0)2 528 2828, [8]. The Belgian train service.
  • STIB-MIVB, +32 (0)70 232 000 (0,30€/min), [9]. The Brussels region (Bilingual) public bus, tram and metro service.
  • De Lijn, +32 (0)70 220 200 (0,30€/min), [10]. The Flemish region (Dutch speaking) public bus service.
  • TEC, +32 (0)10 23 5353, [11]. The Walloon region (French speaking) public bus company.

By bike

Since 2009, the city offers low-cost short-term "Villo" rentals at 180 locations near the central city. The system only accepts Smart cards (the ones with an electronic chip and activated by a PIN code), it does not accept the regular magnetic stripe cards. The first half hour is free, the next costs €0.50. Registration costs €1.50 for a day and €7 for a week. The year long ticket costs €30. It is advisable to wear a helmet and a fluo vest (not mandatory). The bikes are robust, but rather heavy. More detailed information can be found online at Villo (English, French and Dutch).[55].

  • Brussels Bike Tours [56]. They take you on an easy (no hills) ride that lets you discover the city in just 4 hours.

Talk

Brussels has two official languages: French (80%) and Dutch (20%). Historically Dutch-speaking, Brussels became more and more French-speaking during the 19th and 20th centuries. Today, most inhabitants are native French-speakers. The Brussels dialect, a Brabantian dialect of Dutch, can be heard, especially in the outer districts of Brussels Capital Region. English has become a common spoken language because of the international institutions based in Brussels, such as the European Commission and NATO. It is still relatively rare to find written tourist or general information in English, although the situation is improving very slowly. Public announcements in train stations are only in French and Dutch, but English is also used in the metro. Do not hesitate to ask someone if you do not understand what has been said.

Considering the city's location and that it markets itself as the capital of Europe, spoken English is less prevalent in Belgium than in its Dutch neighbor. However, even if it is not as widely spoken as one may expect, it is nonetheless widely understood. As is often the case elsewhere, success in finding someone who speaks English depends on several factors such as age (14-35 year-olds are most likely to speak English).

German is also an official language in Belgium spoken as a mother tongue by about 40,000 people in the east of the country bordering Germany, but you will very unlikely encounter German speakers outside the German-speaking region in Belgium.

See

Landmarks

Manneken Pis
  • Grand Place-Grote Markt, [12]. Surrounded by the city tower and a range of beautiful 300 year old buildings. In the evening, surrounded by bright lumination, 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.
  • Manneken Pis, [13]. 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 statue of a child performing one of Nature's most basic functions. Belgians have created hundreds of outfits for this statue. There are many stories of the statue's significance. 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. None are definitively true.
  • 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
  • Atomium, Square de l'Atomium (Take Metro line 6 direction Roi Baudouin-Koning Boudewijn and get off at Heysel-Heizel - approximately 5 mins easy walk from the station), +32 (0)2 475 4777, [14]. 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 equipments guarantee 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 pavillions). 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 €.
Bourse-Beurs, Brussels
  • The Bourse, [15]. Stock market building in Brussels. Locals like to sit on the steps, sometimes with fries.
  • Mini-Europe, +32 (0)2 478 0550, [16]. Hosts a set of scale models of famous European structures. €12.90 Adults; €9.70 under 12.
  • Statue of Europe, [17]. 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) in front of Maurice Schumann's place, "chaussée d'Etterbeek", in the European Quarter of Brussels.

Museums and Galleries

  • Musées Royaux d'Art et d'Histoire (MRAH) - Koninklijke Musea voor Kunst en Geschiedenis (KMKG), Parc du Cinquantenaire-Jubelpark 10, +32 (0)2 741 7211, [18]. 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.
  • 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 (0)2 508 3211, [19]. Museum of Historical Art: Tues-Sun 10AM-noon and 1-5PM; Museum of Modern Art: 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." €5.00 adults, €2.50 students/seniors/disabled visitors, €1.25 children 12-18, under 12 free. Also free on the first Wednesday afternoon of every month.
  • Musées d'Extrême-Orient - Musea van het Verre Oosten, Avenue Van Praetlaan 44,1020 Brussels (Tram: 3 or 23 (Araucaria stop). Bus: 53, De Lijn 230, 231 et 232 (De Wand stop)), +32 2 268 16 08, [20]. 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.
  • Musée BELvue - BELvue Museum, Place des Palais-Paleizenplein 7, 1000, Bruxelles/Brussel, +32 (0)70 22 0492, [21]. 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.
  • Natural Sciences Museum of Belgium, Rue Vautier-Vautierstraat 29 (near Luxembourg station), +32 (0)2 627 4238, [22]. 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)
Horta Museum
  • Horta Museum, Rue Américaine 25, Saint-Gilles/Amerikastraat 25, Sint-Gillis (tram 81, tram 92 (place Janson), bus 54), +32 (0)2 543 0490 (fax: +32 (0)2 538 7631), [23]. 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. Adults €7, students/seniors €3.50, guided tours available by appointment.
  • Royal Museum for Central Africa (RMCA), Leuvensesteenweg 13, 3080 Tervuren (Take tram 44), [24]. 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. €4 adults, €1.50 young people (13-17), free for children under 12.
  • Belgian Comic Strip Center (Centre Belge de la Bande Dessinée, Belgisch Centrum van het Beeldverhaal), Rue des Sables-Zandstraat 20, +32 (0)2 219 1980 (, fax: +32/2/219 23 76), [25]. 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. €7.50 adults, €6 students/seniors. (50.85098919304033,)
  • Musée du Cinéma-Filmmuseum, Palais des Beaux-Arts-Paleis voor Schone Kunsten, 9 rue Baron Horta-Baron Hortastraat 9, 1000 Bruxelles-Brussel (Walk from Gare Centrale-Centraalstation), +32 (0)2 507 8370, [26]. A history of film-making. Free to look around; classic and cult films are shown at low prices.
  • 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 (0)2 736 4165, [27]. 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 1970s including the earliest Mercedes, Renaults, 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)
  • 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 (0)2 737 7809, [28]. 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 onwards. The Brussels Air Museum's high point is its collection of original aircraft from World War I. Free. (50.83994866276926,4.393753769741267)
  • Musical Instruments Museum, Montagne de la Cour-Hofberg 2, +32 (0)2.545.01.30, [29]. Open Tu-Fr 9.30AM-16.45PM, Sa-Su 10AM-16.45PM. The mim 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 Brussel. You need around 3 or 4 hours to really enjoy the whole museum, make sure you have enough time! Adults €5; under 26 and over 60 €4; under 13 free.
  • Musée Magritte Museum, 1 Place Royale-Koningsplein 1, 1000 Brussels, +32 (0)2 508 32 11 (fax: +32 (0)2 508 32 32), [30]. Tuesday to Sunday: from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m, Wednesday until 8 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. Standard rate: €8, Combi with Modern & Ancient Art Museum: €13, Students 18-25 years and school groups min. 12 pers.: €2..

Breweries

  • Cantillon Brewery, rue Gheude - Gheudestraat 56, 02 521.49.28, [31]. 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). This museum-esque atmosphere is still a functioning brewery. The €5 tour includes two small glasses of lambic and gueuze - be warned - if you like the sweetness of Lindeman's - this may not be for you, as the beers are quite tart. The lambics and gueuzes are made in original style with no sweetners or syrups added. Only 100% bio (organic) and natural fruits are used creating a distinctly sour drink. € 5.

Do

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.

  • newvellind (n vnvnfjrgu;orhg;oh), #1 2345 k90m2b0 (go to the airport), 062929, [32]. 10. you get to hacve a night out $400000. (085uy6,hd524)

Cinema

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 1050.
  • Cinema Nova [57] 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, Brussels 1000.
  • Arenberg [58] 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, Brussels 1000.
  • Musée du Cinema/Filmmuseum [59] is part of the Centre 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, Brussels 1000.
  • Vendome, 18 Chaussée de Wavre-Waversesteenweg, Ixelles-Elsene 1050. Another arthouse cinema. It's located near the Porte de Namur (Naamsepoort) and acts as the metaphysical gateway to a lively african neighbourhood known locally as Matongé.
  • Flagey [60] is the old broadcasting headquarters and now houses the regional TV station TVBrussel [61]. 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 1050.
  • UGC De Brouckère [62] - 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, Brussels 1000.
  • Kinepolis [63] 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 [64] 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 [65] 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[66] and in collaboration with the Film Museum of the Royal Belgian Film Archive[67].

Events

Brussels has a good selection of year round events, many suitable for English speaking visitors. The following sites are are useful to check out whats on.

  • Classictic Concerts [68] a site selling classical tickets, but has an excellent rundown of all the upcoming classical concerts.
  • Wallonie Tourism [69] is brought to you by the French Speaking Tourist board.
  • Ancienne Belgique [70] for popular concerts, where the stadium bands stop in.
  • Brussels Events Listings [71] is a roundup of events for an English speaking audience, this is good for some of the the smaller and Expat focussed venues.
The BOZAR at the Rue Ravensteinstraat

The Bozar

The Paleis voor Schone Kunsten (Dutch) or Palais des Beaux-Arts (French) [72], Rue Ravensteinstraat 23, 1000 Brussels, 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 Centre 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 Centre 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 Centre’s educational service, operating as an artistic department in its own right.

Buy

Galeries Saint Hubert
Chocolate!

Very few shops in Brussels open before 10AM, and most kick off about 10:30-11AM. Many shops are closed on Sunday and Monday.

  • 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 cinema
  • 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.
  • Beer:
    • Beer Mania, 174-176 Chausse de Wavre, 1050 Ixelles/Elsene, [33]. 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.
    • 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 is approximately 33% of the price of the tourist shops.
    • Delhaize. Similar to GB/Carrefour, but a tad more expensive.
    • Match. Another store similar to GB/Carrefour, but has more of the unusual Belgian beers including Delirium.
  • Film :
    • Cinema Excellence, 94 - 96 Boulevard Anspachlaan, +32 2 502 84 68. A must for all movielovers. Great collection classics and rare dvd's, books, vintage movie posters, screenprints, postcards.
  • Books:
    • De Slegte, Rue des Grands Carmes-Lievevrouwbroersstraat. Second hand book shop.
    • Brüsel, 100 Boulevard Anspachlaan, [34]. Right in the center and one of the most up to date stores when it comes to contemporary comics.
    • Filigranes, 39 Avenue des Arts-Kunstlaan. open 7 days a week. the largest bookshop in Brussels, features a small bar/café inside and quite often live music.
    • Sterling Books. One of the most popular English bookshops in downtown Brussels.
    • Pele-Mele, Boulevard Maurice Lemonnierlaan, 55 & 59 (Metro Anneessens). maze-like, second-hand bookshop with huge selection of used books at bargain prices. A bookworm's haven.
    • Waterstone's, 71-75 Boulevard Adolphe Maxlaan (Metro De Brouckère). English-language books.
    • FNAC, City 2 commercial center, Rue Neuve-Nieuwstraat. A big book/CD/DVD/electronics shop.
    • Mediamarkt, 111-123 Rue Neuve-Nieuwstraat. This shop is at the uppermost level of the Galeria Inno department store. Sells CDs, DVDs and consumer electronics. Slightly cheaper than FNAC.


  • Chocolate:
    • Leonidas, (branches across the city), [35]. very popular with the locals. Inexpensive and good quality, at €4.35 for 250g.
    • Neuhaus, (branches across the city), [36]. A bit more expensive than Leonidas and a bit higher quality. Very popular with the locals as well.
    • Marcolini, 39 Place du Grand Sablon-Grote Zavel Plein, [37]. Arguably the best Belgian chocolates and priced accordingly. The country-specific products are difficult to find and quite worth the price.
    • Wittamer, 6-12-13 Place du Grand Sablon-Grote Zavel Plein. Another excellent chocolate maker.
    • 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.
    • Maison Renardy, 17 Rue de Dublinstraat 1050 Brussel/Bruxelles, +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.
    • Godiva, (branches around the city). Not very popular and quite pricey.
    • 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
  • Shopping:
    • General shopping, (along Rue Neuve-Nieuwstraat). with GB supermarket at City 2 accessed from Rue Neuve-Nieuwstraat and Metro Rogier
    • Galeria Inno, 111-123 Rue Neuve-Nieuwstraat. Department store (fashion, cosmetics, etc.)
    • 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.

Eat

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 Vanderlinden) 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), fries (frites) and chocolate. A few more adventurous bruxellois 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 (gauffre), 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.


Budget

The matter over which establishment serves up the best frites (locally known as fritkots) 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.

FRITKOTS

  • 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.
  • 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 retiring on December 26, 2009, so the place will close after that date.
  • La Friterie de la Place de la Chapelle, rue Haute-Hoogstraat (near Les Marolles). 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, Rue du Parc-Parkstraat (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.

OTHERS

  • 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 €4-6.
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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.

Delivery

Brussels online delivery could be enhanced significantly with the acceptance of some services on the web, however local businesses seem reluctant to join such websites and are hesitant to commit themselves to specific delivery times and the enhanced business such services would provide. In the meantime actually going to restaurants in person remains the best option for hungry travelers.

Mid-range

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 bad reputation for waiters imposing themselves on passers-by, trying to lure customers into their restaurant. 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.

A few restaurants stand out from the crowd though:

  • Aux Armes de Bruxelles, Rue des Bouchers-Beenhouwerstraat 13, +32 (0)2 511 5550. Closed Mondays. Basic honest food, including some very decent moules. Crowded, although worth the wait.
  • Chez Léon, Rue des Bouchers-Beenhouwerstraat 18, +32 (0)2 511 1415, [73]. Now franchised into France as well, this is the original and while it's huge and looks like a tourist trap, the moules are excellent and it's packed every day. Moules, beer and a starter will set you back €25, and kids eat for free.
  • Scheltema, Rue des Dominicains-Predikherenstraat 7, +32 (0)2 512 2084. Specializes in fresh and tasty seafood.

Outside the Rue des Bouchers, you may try:

  • Au Pré Salé, 20, Rue de Flandre-Vlaamsesteenweg (near St Catherine square), +32 (0)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 (0)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 (0)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.

Close to the Bourse Jules Van Praetstraat (rue Jules Van Praet) is another rapidly developing street of restaurants and bars. Those of note include:

  • Lune de Miel, +32 (0)2 513 9181. Some very tasty Thai and Vietnamese dishes served in a fine decor.
  • Shamrock, +32 (0)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 (0)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 is also a popular area, and once the fishmongering centre 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 (0)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 (0)2 513 2762. An authentic old bistro, with a charming kitsch decor. Very good fish.
  • Viva M'Boma, Vlaanderenstraat-Rue de Flandre 17, +32 (0)2 512 1593. For real Belgian home cooking. Terrace in the summer.

It is outside the touristic centre 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 (0)2 217 3831. Closed Saturday noon and Sundays. Innovative southern French cuisine at affordable prices.
  • Chez Oki, 62, Rue Lesbroussart-Lesbroussartstraat, Ixelles-Elsene, [74]. French-Japanese fusion cuisine in a modern decor. The chef has worked for prestigious restaurants in Paris. Reasonable prices.

Splurge

  • Belga Queen [75], 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 (0)2 512 9759, closed We-Th. A classic fish restaurant. Very fresh fish and good old traditional cooking.
  • Les Larmes du Tigres (Tears of the Tiger), Justitiepaleis, de Wynantsstraat 21, +32 (0)2 512 1877, closed Tu, [76]. 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.

Vegetarian

Forget about eating out if you're strictly vegan. There are some vegetarian restaurants that might cater without animal products though:

  • Dolma - A very nice vegetarian buffet Monday till Saturday from 19 till 21h [77]. Chaussée d'Ixelles-Elsenesteenweg 329. Reservation 02/6498981.
  • La Tsampa - An organic/vegetarian shop annex restaurant [78], closed on Saturday and Sunday. Rue de Livourne-Livornostraat 109.
  • L'Element Terre - Located in Ixelles-Elsene, L'Element Terre features an ecclectic menu and wonderful, attentive service. Chaussée de Waterloo-Waterloosesteenweg 465.

Drink

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).

Beware that Belgium is still way behind: smoking is still allowed in bars that don't serve food, meaning most 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.

Pubs

  • "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. Everybody is welcome and come as you are. This is a bar that just oozes human warmth and a comfortable ambiance. When the sunny days are coming, the terrace is one of the best in Saint-Gilles.
  • À La Bécasse, Rue de Taborastraat 11, +32 (0)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, [79]. 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 (0)2 218 0034, [80]. 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, 1200-14300 & 1800-2300; Saturday 1800-2300.
  • BXL Cafe/Bar, Place de la Vieille Halle aux Blés-Oud Korenhuis 46, +32 (0)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, great absinthe bar!
  • Bizon Cafe, Rue Pont de la Carpe-Karperbrugstraat 7, [81]. A relaxed blues/rock bar in St Gery area. Excellent place for a beer or five.
  • The Monk, St Katelijnestraat-Rue St. Catherine 42, [82]. 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 sidestreet), +32 (0)2 514 4434, [83]. Right in the centre 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 Lambiek, Rue Savoiestraat 68 (behind Saint Gilles-Sint-Gillis city hall). 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 (0)2 511 4167. Another wood-panelled 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 (soccer) 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 (0)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.

Bars and clubs

  • De Walvis is one of the very few hip and non-smoking bars in Brussels. Dansaert street.
  • CRYSTAL LOUNGE(http://www.crystallounge.be) This prestige location, nestling in the heart of the Louise district in Brussels, offers a new style of Lounge Bar – Restaurant entirely dedicated to the well-being of its guests. The service, the musical atmosphere and the lighting… everything has been carefully thought out to offer a unique experience depending on the time of day: if the client chooses a table at midday, he will discover a totally different Crystal Lounge from the one he would find sitting at the bar in the evening, or in a salon in the middle of the afternoon.
  • Mappa Mundo, Place Saint Géry-Sint Goriksplein 2, +32 (0)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. 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). They also have a website. 445 Chaussée de Boondael-Boondaalsesteenweg.
  • 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 Fuse (Rue Blaesstraat 208) is a nightclub where it all started and is a Brussels institution. Be sure to check it out.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Sleep

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.

Budget

  • Hostel Scandinavia [84], Chaussée de Mons-Bergensesteenweg 123, Anderlecht, Brussels, Belgium 1070. Great location close to the historical center of Brussels. Prices from €24 a night
  • 2Go4 Hostel Rue Emilie Jacquinstraat 99 near the city centre. its cheap around €20 a night. very clean and very modern and chic. Free wi-fi (ask at reception for a code).
  • Youth Hostel Van Gogh (CHAB) [85], Rue Traversière-Dwarsstraat 8, +32 2 217 01 58 (Fax +32 2 219 79 95). 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 ambience which stays open late. Rather basic double rooms (toilets in rooms with no doors).
  • Hotel Chaochow Palace‎, Brabantstraat 80 1210 Sint-Joost-ten-Node, +32 2 223 07 07. Only 200 meters from Brussels North Station. Nice reception. Doubles and triples for only €28/night/person, including a delicious buffet breakfast. A three star hotel which doesn't seem like, but anyway, affordable accommodation. Next to the red light district, so may not be suitable for solo women travelers.
  • Hostel Jacques Brel[86], Rue de la Sablonnière-Zavelputstraat 30, +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.
  • Bedford Hotel [87], Rue du Midi-Zuidstraat 135, +32 2 507 00 00‎ (Fax +32 2 507 00 00‎). Privately owned hotel with a professional staff.
  • Youth Hostel Generation Europe, Rue de l'Eléphant-Olifantstraat 4, +32 2 410 38 58 (Fax +32 2 410 39 05). Offers beds for budget traveling.
  • Hotel A La Grande Cloche, Place Rouppeplein 10, +32 2 512 61 40 (Fax: +32 2 512 65 91) [88]. Cheap rates, decent rooms, and a central location halfway between Gare du Midi-Zuidstation and the Grand Place-Grote Markt (about a 10-minute walk to either). Price around € 70.
  • Youth Hostel Sleep Well[89], Rue du Damierstraat 23, +32 2 218 50 50 (Fax +32 2 218 13 13). Centrally located, very clean. Available double rooms with private facilities (about €60).
  • Hotel Abberdeen, Rue du Colombierstraat 4, +32 2 223 52 58 (Fax +32 2 223 12 33), [email protected] Very centrally located (Rue Neuve), clean and comfortable, but quite noisy at night.

Mid-range

  • Progress Hotel,Rue du Progres-Vooruitgangstraat 9, 1210 Brussels Belgium Tel: +32 (0)2 205 17 00, (http://www.progresshotel.be). Progress is a new 4 star boutique business hotel, located in Brussels Center, walking distance from North Station, a few meters from Rogier Metro Station and a few minutes walk from Grand Place and other attractions. The hotel has 57 modern, well appointed rooms and offers a stylish lobby lounge, bar and a wide array of meeting rooms. Room rates from € 69 per night.
  • Husa President Park, Boulevard du Roi Albert II-Koning Albert II laan, 44, +32-2-2032020, (http://www.husapresidentpark.com). A 4 star hotel in central Brussels with 297 rooms and 17 meeting rooms. Close to North Station, 10 minute's drive from Brussels Exhibition Center (Heizel), 5 minute's drive from the historical Grand Place, the Atomium, The European Institutions and the Square Meeting centre. From €60 per night.
  • Hotel Floris Ustel Midi, Square de l'Aviation-Luchtvaartsplein 6-8, 00 32 (0)2 520 60 53, [38]. The 3 stars Floris Ustel Midi Hotel, that consists of 114 rooms, is situated near the South Station "Gare du Midi/Zuidstation", well-known for its direct trains to London (Eurostar), Paris (Thalys) and Amsterdam (Thalys).
  • La Madeleine [90] Rue de la Montagne-Bergstraat 20-22, tel +32-2 513-29-73, fax +32-2 502-13-50, [email protected] Just off the Grand' Place and a short walk away from Central Station. Room rates range from € 52 to over € 100. Breakfast included. The rooms are quite small but have the basic amenities such as phone, TV. No airconditioning however.
  • Thon Hotel Brussels City Centre [91] Avenue du Boulevard-Boulevardlaan 17, tel +32 2 205 15 11, fax +32 2 201 15 15, [email protected] Major 4-star hotel in the centre of Brussels with 454 rooms. Close to the new business district, next to the World Trade Centre, the Belgian government area and the European Parliament.
  • Hotel Opera [92] is centrally placed on Rue Grétrystraat 53. Quoted price of €73 may be negotiated downwards if booking a off-peak weekend or 3 or more days.
  • Villa Primavera [93]. Rue de la Presse-Drukpersstraat, 18, tel +32.475.501856. Fully-furnished studio-type, 1 & 2 bedrooms apartments from 1 night to 1 year. 5 minutes from the Central Station. Just behind the Belgian Parliament and Park of Brussels. Close to EU district. Room rates from € 60 for 4 guests for one-month stays (€ 15 per person). Free cable TV and Wi-Fi Internet access in every apartment.
  • The Phileas Fogg Hotel [94]. Boutique hotel housed in a typical Brussels townhouse. Walking distance from the Grand Place, Botanical Gardens, The Brussels Jazz Station, Art Deco and Art Nouveau and the Cathedral.
  • Hotel NH Atlanta [95]. Traditional Hotel situated in business and shopping central area next to Place de Brouckereplaats, half a kilometer from airport & Central station.
  • Hotel Scandinavia, Chaussée de Mons-Bergensesteenweg 115-117, [39]. checkin: 15.00; checkout: 11.00. This 3-star hotel is situated just 750 meters from the Midi/Zuid Station and 1,5 km from Brussels’ historic Grand Place. price around 100.00€.
  • Louise Hotel Brussels, Rue Veydtstraat, 40 1050 Brussels, [40]. Budget boutique hotel with 49 rooms in the commercial area of Louise Avenue-Louizalaan, steps from European Parliament and Downtown
  • Cosy Room B&B, [41]. [email protected] . Budget Bed & Breakfast in Brussels located in a trendy surrounding, a few steps from European Parliament, the SQUARE-Brussels Meeting Center' and Downtown.
  • Hotel BLOOM, Rue Royale-Koningsstraat 250, +32 (0)2 220 66 11 (fax: +32 (0)2 217 84 44), [42]. A bloomy hotel in the heart of Brussels, close to the Botanical Garden, and 1 block from train. Spacious, clean rooms with free internet. Friendly staff, lovely bar, beautiful rooms & delicious breakfast. € 65 - 125.

Splurge

  • Hotel Manos Stephanie, [43]. Centrally located in the heart of Brussels, just meters away from the most fashionable shopping and business district, the Hotel Manos Stephanie is a reflection of Brussels genuine hospitality. €325.
  • Sofitel Brussels Le Louise, [96]. Fully refurbished in 2008 and located in the Avenue Louise-Louizalaan area. Shoppers will find a selection of boutiques nearby. The Sablon area and its numerous antique dealers is also nearby, leading on to the Grand Place. Parking nearby. Eurostar station 5 minutes away. Tel: +32 2 514 22 00, email: [email protected], Adresse: Avenue de la Toison d'Or-Guldenvlieslaan 40, 1050 Brussels Metro: Louise-Louiza. Prices from €129.
  • Hotel Metropole Brussels [97] - As the city's only 19th-century hotel still in operation, this 5-star landmark is in the historic center of Brussels. Short walk from Grand Place, the Royal Theatre de la Monnaie and the Bourse. 19th-century palace, 313 rooms and suites, fitness center, 12 meeting rooms, award-winning gourmet restaurant l'Alban Chambon.
  • Stanhope Hotel [98] Rue du Commerce-Handelsstraat 9, tel +32 2 506 91 11, fax +32 2 512 17 08, [email protected] In the European district. Within walking distance you can find the main tourist attractions in Brussels like the Royal Palace, the Grand Place and the Sablon. 108 including 2 apartments.
  • Radisson SAS Royal, Rue du Fosse-aux-Loups/Wolvengracht 47, +32-2-2192828, [99]. 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. Rates from €95 per night.
  • Le Chatelain All Suite Hotel, Rue du Châtelain-Kasteleinsstraat 17, +32-2-646-00-55, [100]. With the perfect balance between traditional hospitality and state-of-the-art facilities, this luxurious hotel offers spacious suites, a beautiful garden and a rooftop health and fitness centre. located in the trendy Avenue Louise-Louizalaan area, rates at this 5 star hotel start at €89 per night.

Stay safe

Brussels is generally a safe city. Some suburban neighborhoods have a poor reputation, but travellers are unlikely to visit them. The neighborhoods of Schaarbeek, Brussels North, Brussels Center, Molenbeek and Anderlecht should be avoided at night if possible.

However, pickpockets, sometimes in teams, operate in crowded tourist areas, and the train and metro stations (particularly at night) as well as parks (even in daytime) attract drug addicts and other shady types. Travellers should be particularly alert for distractions such as being asked for the time or directions and having attention diverted from their hand or shopping bag. Travelling with laptops--at any time--is strongly discouraged.

Be aware especially of the Parc de Bruxelles-Warandepark, situated between the Royal Palace and the Belgian Parliament, where criminals do not shrink from threatening their victims with violence: never leave your bags unwatched and keep them always close to your body! In case you should be robbed, though, 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 policemen experienced in this kind of 'accident' will help you, in addition speaking good French, Dutch and English.

In addition to the above advice be aware of Brussels Midi-Zuid train station. There is rarely a time when a traveler will not see a shifty drunk peeing in some corner near the tram stop or the odd vagrant brandishing some strange gash upon their face. The adventurous traveler is certainly in for a curiously steady stream of offending characters who seem to exist in no place more appropriately than a shady corner with a half bottle of whiskey in their left hand, fecal matter smeared on their right hand and a growing pool of urine at their feet.

Cope

Embassies

  • Ca-flag.png Canada, Avenue de Tervurenlaan 2, 02 741 0611.
  • Us-flag.png United States, Boulevard du Régent-Regentlaan 27, 011-32-2-508-21-11 (fax: 011-32-2-508-20-49), [44].

Get out

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
  • Mechelen - About 35 km NE of Brussels.
  • Leuven - About 30 km East of Brussels.
  • Antwerp - About 55 km North of Brussels.
  • Bruges - About 100 km NW of Brussels.
  • Ghent - About 60 km NW of Brussels.
  • Namur - About 60 km SE of Brussels.
  • Tournai - About 90 km West of Brussels.
  • Mons - About 70 km South of Brussels.

You can also get to any of the following 'foreign' cities from Brussels within 3 hours without the use of a plane:

Amsterdam/Rotterdam/The Hague/Utrecht (train or car), Luxembourg (car or train), Paris (train - longer by car), London (by train), Aachen (train or car), Lille (less than an hour by train or car), Cologne/Bonn (train or car)

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