Walking - Brussels is a very walkable city: it's the best way of getting around the centre, and in more outlying areas it gets you up close to some lovely architecture, parks and gardens.
WHERE TO STAY IN BRUSSELS
Louise sur Cour is situated in Brussels, 100 m from Place Stephanie and Avenue Louise. The neighbourhood offers many quality restaurants and designer boutiques. Every room at this bed and breakfast is air conditioned and is fitted with a flat-screen TV. Some rooms feature a seating area to relax in after a busy day. You will find a coffee machine in the room. The rooms are equipped with a private bathroom. Extras include bath robes, slippers and free toiletries. Louise sur Cour is 1.1 km from the Magritte Museum and the Royal Museum of Fine Arts. The Horta Museum is 900 m away. Brussels Airport is 11 km away.
Located in the Vorst / Forest district of Brussels, Albert Molière features rooms with free WiFi. Around 1 km from Horta Museum, the property is also close to Avenue Louise. Every room is equipped with a flat-screen TV with cable channels. The rooms are equipped with a private bathroom and a shower, and selected rooms include a balcony. A continental breakfast can be enjoyed at the property. Egmont Palace is 2.5 km from Albert Molière, while Magritte Museum is 2.9 km from the property. The nearest airport is Brussels Airport, 13 km from the property.
Hooome is located in the Elsene / Ixelles district in Brussels, 300 m from Avenue Louise. The rooms feature a flat-screen TV. Rooms are fitted with a private bathroom with a shower. Extras include free toiletries and a hairdryer. Hooome offers free WiFi throughout the property. Horta Museum is 800 m from Hooome, while Egmont Palace is 1.9 km away. The nearest airport is Brussels Airport, 12 km from Hooome.
Located in the centre of Brussels, 200 m from Place Sainte-Catherine and less than 1 km from Place St. Gery, B&B BE IN BRUSSELS offers free WiFi, a shared lounge and air conditioning. The property features city views and is 1.4 km from Rue Neuve and 1.7 km from Royal Gallery of Saint Hubert. The bed and breakfast is equipped with a satellite flat-screen TV. Guests at the bed and breakfast can enjoy a continental breakfast. Popular points of interest near B&B BE IN BRUSSELS include Grand Place, Brussels City Hall and Museum of the City of Brussels. The nearest airport is Brussels Airport, 13 km from the accommodation.
Set in Brussels, less than 1 km from Place St. Gery and a 15-minute walk from Brussels City Hall, B&B Villa 36 provides accommodation with amenities such as free WiFi and a flat-screen TV. The property is 1.6 km from Mont des Arts and 1.7 km from Royal Gallery of Saint Hubert. Guests at the bed and breakfast can enjoy a continental breakfast. A sun terrace is available for guests to use at B&B Villa 36. Popular points of interest near the accommodation include Grand Place, Museum of the City of Brussels and Manneken Pis. The nearest airport is Brussels Airport, 14 km from B&B Villa 36.
Situated in Brussels, 5 m from Rue Neuve, All In One has a terrace, a shared lounge and on-site dining, as well as free WiFi. The property is around a 3-minute walk from Rogier Square and a 10-minute walk from The King's House. The property is 800 m from Grand Place and 900 m from Museum of the City of Brussels. At the bed and breakfast rooms are fitted with a patio with a city view. Each room is fitted with a coffee machine and a private bathroom with a bath, while certain rooms will provide you with a kitchen. All rooms have a desk. A continental breakfast is served every morning at the property. Brussels City Hall is 900 m from All In One, while Manneken Pis is 1.1 km away. The nearest airport is Brussels Airport, 20 minutes away from the accommodation by train.
Featuring a garden, Résidence18 is located in Brussels in the Brussels region, 600 m from Avenue Louise and 1.1 km from Horta Museum. The property is around 2.1 km from Palais de Justice, 2.2 km from Place du Grand Sablon and 2.2 km from European Parliament. The property provides a terrace, a 24-hour front desk, and free WiFi is available. Guest rooms in the hotel are equipped with a flat-screen TV. Each room is fitted with a private bathroom with a shower, a hairdryer and free toiletries. The units will provide guests with a fridge. Place Royale is 2.5 km from Résidence18, while Egmont Palace is 2.5 km away. The nearest airport is Brussels Airport, 15 km from the accommodation.
Located in Brussels, less than 1 km from Grand Place and an 11-minute walk from Brussels City Hall, Maison Jamaer provides accommodation with free WiFi and a garden with a terrace and garden views. The bed and breakfast offers a flat-screen TV and a private bathroom with a hairdryer, free toiletries and shower. A fridge is also provided, as well as a kettle and a coffee machine. A continental breakfast is available daily at Maison Jamaer. Popular points of interest near the accommodation include Museum of the City of Brussels, Place St. Gery and Manneken Pis. The nearest airport is Brussels, 17 km from Maison Jamaer, and the property offers a paid airport shuttle service.
Situated in Brussels, within a 4-minute walk of Avenue Louise and 1 km of Horta Museum, Canopée guesthouse features free WiFi. The property is located a 16-minute walk from European Parliament. Set in the Elsene / Ixelles district, the bed and breakfast is within a 17-minute walk of Egmont Palace. Canopée guesthouse is equipped with a shared kitchenette with a microwave, fridge, coffee machine and electric kettle. All guest rooms include a desk. Guests at Canopée guesthouse can enjoy a continental breakfast. Magritte Museum is 1.8 km from Canopée guesthouse, while Film Museum is 1.9 km from the property. The nearest airport is Brussels Airport, 11 km from the property.
- Guest House Dasos Kynthos
Situated in Brussels, 3.6 km from European Parliament, Guest House Dasos Kynthos features views of the garden. Among the facilities at this property are a 24-hour front desk and a shared lounge, along with free WiFi throughout the property. The guest house has family rooms. At the guest house, rooms are equipped with a wardrobe, a flat-screen TV and a private bathroom. At Guest House Dasos Kynthos all rooms include a seating area. Continental and Italian breakfast options are available each morning at the accommodation. Mont des Arts is 5 km from Guest House Dasos Kynthos, while Magritte Museum is 5 km from the property. The nearest airport is Brussels Airport, 12 km from the guest house.
THINGS TO DO & PLACES TO GO IN BRUSSELS
The capital of a tiny country, Brussels often draws the short end of the stick when it comes to city trips and quick getaways. All the while, this multicultural underdog is alive with historic highlights, buzzing flea markets, and indulgent cuisine. Even though the weather in Belgium is not always compatible with outdoor activities, on the rare occasion when the sun is shining, this country offers many activities that adults will enjoy as much as children.
- Ride A Cuistax By The Seaside
If you are going to the seaside, you cannot miss the experience of riding a cuistax. The cuistax is a combination of a car and a bike. To ride this car down the coastal boardwalk without any engine, roof, or doors, is a very popular activity in Belgium. You can easily find stores like, Cyclo - Karts, that rent them for one hour or more. You can find cuistax for one person and up to groups of six people.
Near the city of Durbuy, which is considered one of the smallest cities in the world, a giant maize labyrinth offers a unique experience for children and adults. The labyrinth is actually a theme park open during the summer, and includes various activities with actors that adhere to that year’s theme. For instance, in 2015 the labyrinth was designed around the story of Peter Pan.
Paira Daiza is more than a traditional zoo; it is a real travel experience that takes you on a trip around the world. You can discover the architecture, ecology and animals from various regions, all within Belgium. The park has won several prizes including three stars from the famous Michelin green guide.
- Marvel at the steel ball oddity that is the Atomium
Ever since the World Fair came to town in ’58, the Brussels skyline has been defined by a bizarre 102-meter-tall creature hovering over its horizon. Quite the feat of balance and technical prowess, the Atomium was modeled after an elementary iron crystal. Its nine steel-clad balls are all held together by tubes that house the elevators and staircases that allow visitors to get around in this massive oddity. Five of the spheres are open to the public as they house the permanent exhibition on Expo ’58, other temporary exhibits, and a panorama restaurant with an unequaled view of Brussels by night.
- Sample local brewskis at Moeder Lambic
The mother hen of all Brussels beer cafés, Moeder Lambic has over 400 beers on offer that range from the most obscure Belgian draughts to international bottled specialties. The Saint - Gilles establishment has been an institution among local and international beer lovers since 2006 thanks to its highly knowledgeable and helpful staff and has even opened a second venue on the Place Fontainas due to popular demanded. With 40 Belgian beers on tap in an authentic red brick décor, Moeder Lambic is the ideal place to discover what your favorite Belgian beer is by sampling the night away.
- Bargain your way to antique treasures at the Place du Jeu de Balle Flea Market
To immerse yourself in the local atmosphere of the Marolles, head to the Place du Jeu de Balle at the heart of this authentic neighborhood. Turning the corner, you’ll face a glorious chaos where bric-a-brac is king, and haggling your way to a good deal is mandatory. A sea of old silverware, used clothing piles, skis, coffee grinders, old posters, jewelry, and just about everything else presents you with the challenge of finding the treasures buried within. The market is open every day of the week, and while the early bird might uncover a hidden gem during the quieter weekdays, weekends are bustling with locals as it’s the better time to hunt down antique treasures.
- Munch on a delicious gaufre
Walking around the city center, you’re bound to catch a full-on whiff of Belgian - or Brussels - waffles. Their sweet fragrance makes it impossible to resist, and most visitors end up caving when they bump into one of the signature yellow waffle trucks. Crunchy on the outside and doughy on the inside, this street treat often comes with a snowy layer of sugar or even strawberries and cream on top.
- Discover the city’s comic book riches
Brussels has no qualms about calling itself the comic book capital of the world, and when paying a visit to the Belgian Comis Strip Center, it’s hard to disagree. Housed inside of the last semi-industrial building designed by Belgium’s Victor Horta, of Art Nouveau fame, the museum honors the small country’s paper heroes with fervor. And not only are the Smurfs, Tintin, Lucky Luke, Marsupilami, and many others hailed in the BCSC, they are painted proudly on the streets of Brussels in a project the museum launched only two years after opening its doors. Today over 50 cartoon murals can be discovered all over the city, and the Comic Strip Route has become a whimsical game of a treasure hunt ideal for discovering the lesser-known nooks and crannies of the capital, even for locals.
- Become a flâneur at the Galeries Royales
A relaxing stroll underneath the 200-meter-long glass-paned Galeries Royales Saint - Hubert – it’s the 19th-century flâneur’s ideal pastime. Currently waiting to be added to the UNESCO World Heritage list, the luxurious Italian-style arcade from 1847 was one of the first of its kind. The historical passage is still home to clothing boutiques, watchmakers, a cinema, and the Théâtre du Vaudeville.
- Experience the best of the melting pot at Matonge
Brussels is about as multicultural a capital as they come. Case in point is Matonge, an eclectic meeting point alive with varying tastes, flavors, and fragrances. The bombastic neighborhood – in between the European Quarter with its suited men and women and the posh Avenue Louise – originated in the ’60s, when Congolese students moved to Belgium in the wake of their country’s independence. To wander around in Matonge is to discover fruits you never knew in exotic grocers, to hear laughter drift out of African barbershops, and to treat your taste buds to unknown delights at Indian, Japanese, and Vietnamese restaurants.
- See the craftsmanship of Art Nouveau pioneers
Belgium conquered a prominent place on the early Art Nouveau scene, and this is mostly due to innovators Victor Horta and Paul Hankar. Horta’s town mansions in which he pioneered the architectural movement’s rounded lines, floral patterns, and cast iron embellishments are still spread throughout Brussels, and most of them can be visited. Among them is the artist’s former atelier, and the flamboyant Maison Saint-Cyr by his apprentice Gustave Strauven is more than worth a visit. Other Art Nouveau gems include the MIM, Maison Cauchie, and Villa Empain.
- Travel back in time at the Grand Place
There’s a reason the Grand Place often overflows with tourists. Much like with Bruges‘ Grote Markt, following the cobbled paths up to the medieval market is like stepping into a time machine set to Belgium’s merchant heyday. Think away the flashlights, and the Gothic City Hall, Broodhuis (the Museum of the City of Brussels), and gold-adorned guild houses create the impression that Charles V and entourage could come parading through at any second (a 16th-century event that’s still commemorated annually by the folkloric parade De Ommegang).
- Treat your ears to smooth jazz
Sounds Jazz Club, Jazz Station, The Music Village, and L’Archiduc – don’t ever say the hometown of Toots Thielemans is short on great jazz bars. One to count itself amongst the best in the world is L’Archiduc, an Art Deco rendezvous point for businessmen and their assistants that pianist Stan Brenders turned into a jazz temple when taking over the reigns in the ’60s. Miles Davis jammed here with local musicians when in town, and the old school jazz tunes still linger during its Jazz after Shopping sessions.
Belgium is one of the countries that hosts the highest number of summer festivals, which are a great way to listen to musical performances outdoors. One of the more internationally renowned festivals is Tomorrowland, which is one of the biggest electronic music festivals in the world. Every year, thousands of people travel from all over to witness incredible live music from a range of established DJs and performers. However, Tomorrowland is not the only festival you can enjoy in Belgium; there are many more, such as the Brussels Summer Festival, Rock Werchter and the Dour Festival.
Dinner in the Sky is a wonderful experience that combines discovering Belgium cuisine and the capital of Europe from above. More than 10 years ago, the first edition of the Dinner in the Sky was organized in Belgium, showcasing the best of Belgian cuisine with leading Michelin rated chefs serving guests who were suspended above Belgium. For the 10th anniversary of the concept, Dinner in the Sky had ten tables hovering in the sky right next to the Atomium.
Topiary art consists of cutting a plant in order to create a particular form. The Topiary Park of Durbuy offers a walk dedicated to viewing these beautiful and original topiaries over one hectare of land. In the park, you can see animals in plant version, and also the famous Belgian Manneken Pis.
If you want to travel around Europe in a few hours, Mini Europe in Brussels is the perfect place to go. Here, you can walk around 350 of the most famous monuments of Europe in miniature version. This offers you the opportunity to see the Eiffel Tower and Big Ben in the same day.
- Comic Strip Murals In Brussels
Many Belgian comic artists are well known around the world, and some of their comics remain on the walls of Brussels. For instance, you may have the chance to find a Tintin or an Asterix drawing when walking about. It is almost impossible to walk around the city without seeing any of these.
- Flower Carpet Of The Grand Place
Every two years since 1986 a huge flower carpet covers the Grand Place in Belgium during the summer. Brussels’ Grand Place hosts over 600,000 flowers that together represent a detailed drawing. The flower carpet takes four hours to make by a hundred dedicated volunteers.
- The Lion’s Mound Of Waterloo
This mound is the symbol of the Waterloo battle of 1815. It was built on the place where the Orange prince, the next king of the Netherlands, was injured. The mound is 40 meters high and the lion that has been placed at the top represents victory. If you are brave enough to go up the 226 steps, you will have the chance to have a beautiful view of the surroundings.
Thought-provoking and highly interactive, this museum has far more than the usual selection of stuffed animals. But the undoubted highlight is a unique ‘family’ of iguanodons – 10m-high dinosaurs found in a Hainaut coal mine in 1878. A computer simulation shows the mudslide that might have covered them, sand-boxes allow you to play dino hunter and multilingual videos give a wonderfully nuanced debate on recent palaeontology. The bus here departs from next to Gare Centrale in the direction of Homborch, stopping at De Meeus on Rue du Luxembourg.
Lace making has been one of Flanders’ finest crafts since the 16th century. While kloskant (bobbin lace) originated in Bruges, naaldkant (needlepoint lace) was developed in Italy but was predominantly made in Brussels. This excellent museum reveals lace’s applications for underwear and outerwear over the centuries, as well as displaying other luxury textiles in beautifully presented exhibitions. There's a new focus here on Belgium's ahead-of-the-curve fashion industry, with changing exhibitions of contemporary textiles.
Wonderful old engines gleam in the low light of this imaginative and beautiful museum, located in the renovated 1887 Schaerbeek station: exhibits include Le Belge, the country's first locomotive. You can climb on board the engines, wander into a historic station cottage and walk over a railway bridge. A train simulator is an added bonus.
RESTAURANTS IN BRUSSELS
Using locally sourced and organic ingredients, award-winning chef Damien Bouchéry puts his own twist on French cooking with veal tartare and grilled nectarines, and chickpea fries, among the delicate dishes to grace the four- to eight-course evening menus. Almost everything is homemade, from the bread and butter to the lacto-fermented goods. Weekday lunches are a vegetarian buffet.
A bright and welcoming cafe with big picture windows that’s perfect for lunch, coffee or hot chocolate if you’re between museums. Don’t leave without trying the wonderful chocolates, which count as healthy eating in the world of Belgian chocs because they have no alcohol, additives or added sugar. Friendly owner Laurent also runs chocolate-tasting and -making sessions.
The name evokes cooking just like ‘at home’, but unless you have a personal chef crafting North Sea lobster salad with black truffles and potatoes, sole fillets with Riesling and shrimp mousseline or perhaps spicy lacquered pigeon breast with wild rice, it’s nothing of the sort. This is extraordinary food from master chef Pierre Wynants’ son-in-law, Lionel Rigolet.
Just off Place du Grand Sablon, this is a tiny but atmospheric tile-floored épicerie, fragrant with spices and home-cooked dishes – there’s a small kitchen at the back. It's perfect for a nutritious and filling takeaway sandwich or quiche, or you can stock up on oils, wine and boxes of pain d’épices (spiced biscuits).
ÖTAP chef Paul-Antoine Bertin serves small seasonal plates with natural wines and expertly presented cocktails. Expect anything from Iberico ham rolls to smoky, stuffed courgette flowers and warm Breton artichokes with a mustard dip. In warm weather there's street seating outside the attractive whitewashed building. Bookings recommended.
The jars of preserves, beautiful cakes and fruit tarts at this classic and charming bistro entice plenty of Brussels residents, as do well-priced meals such as lasagne and steak, all served nonstop by courteous staff. With a nice location on the edge of the Galeries St-Hubert, this is a great spot for an indulgent, creamy hot chocolate.
Standing at a culinary crossroads, Kitchen 151 offers a whole world of flavours from the Middle East. Drag thick, fluffy pitas through velvety hummus, or gorge on a veggie burger made with pumpkin, Portobello mushrooms, tahini and almonds. If you’re sharing a mezze, be sure to try the smoky baba ganoush.
You’d be hard pressed to find a more unlikely setting for Brussels’ finest seafood than this '80s-styled place. But at the Michelin-starred Sea Grill, Yves Mattagne and his team create just that in the open kitchen. Try the Brittany lobster, crushed and extracted in an antique solid-silver lobster press (one of only four in the world) and prepared at your table.
WHERE TO SHOP IN BRUSSELS
- Place du Châtelain Market
Fabulous food stalls cluster around an elongated, leafy square at this market. It's a true foodie heaven, featuring cheese, charcuterie, fresh fruit and veg, seasonal fodder – truffles, mushrooms, berries and so on – a Middle Eastern food van, Turkish bread, vats of Congolese stew, a wine bar and cake stalls. Well worth a special trip.
- Place du Jeu-de-Balle Flea Market
The quintessential Marolles experience is haggling at this chaotic flea market, established in 1919. Weekends see it at its liveliest, but for the best bargains, head here early morning midweek.
A top address, Stijl is well stocked with Antwerp Six classic designer ware (Ann Demeulemeester, Dries Van Noten) but also features up-to-the-minute designers, including Haider Ackermann, Gustavo Lins (www.gustavolins.com) and Raf Simons. It’s a hip place but not unduly daunting to enter, and unlike many such boutiques, prices are clearly labelled. Has fashion for men and women.
Said to be the biggest market in Europe, this sprawl of colourful stalls next to the railway lines has an international flavour, with North African and Mediterranean spices, cheeses, meats, clothing, leather goods and much more. Its food stands, selling Moroccan crêpes with cheese and honey along with mint tea, are a favourite with clubbers winding down from Saturday night.
Belge une fois is a concept store selling creations by the eponymous designers’ collective. It also sells artefacts, accessories and light fixtures by other Belgian designers. Expect everything from simple postcards and concrete cactus holders to large photographic prints.
A wondrous cellar stocking over 190 Australian wines (the most comprehensive selection in Europe). Look out for rare drops from Tasmania and deliberate over dozens of Margaret River reds. There are daily tastings and tapas and regular wine events; call ahead for the schedule of Saturday openings.
Belgium’s original – established in 1857. This stunning flagship shop has stained-glass windows and sumptuous displays. It is the home of the praline, a chocolate-filled bonbon invented here in 1912.