Brussels Travel Guide

Brussels has become a thriving cosmopolitan metropolis, where the bureaucratic, the peculiar, the hip and historic come together in one of Europe's great cities. Travellers will encounter a charming melting pot of Art Deco facades, 1960s concrete developments, regal 19th-century mansions and slick, glassy skyscrapers regarding architecture, with iconic sights including NATO's headquarters and the stately Hotel de Ville. The bizarre Manneken-Pis statue and the city's wonderful museums are other must-see attractions, and traditional souvenirs such as Belgian chocolate and lace wil delight shoppers.

Visitors will rarely lack for something exciting to see, do or admire within the 4th-century walls of the city centre. The National Opera House is certainly a favourite and many other theatres host a variety of events and concerts for those wanting to experience some high culture. There is also an array of restaurants offering memorable cuisines, and plenty of opportunities for a drink or two at one of the many lively bars located near the Grand Place.

An effervescent destination, Brussels offers something for everyone to enjoy, and is certainly worth an extended stay.

Best time to visit Brussels

Brussels's climate is fairly temperate, which means that the city enjoys fairly pleasant weather all year round, though the best time to visit is probably between March and May, and between September and October. During these months the weather is fair, room rates are cheaper and top attractions are less crowded, making it ideal. It's recommended that tourists pack an umbrella no matter the time of year, as Brussels can experience four seasons in a day, and rain is always a possibility.

What to see in Brussels

-Visit the awe-inspiring Grand Place. Its cobbled streets and magnificent Neo-Gothic buildings and museums are essential parts of the Brussels experience.

-Stop at the Manneken-Pis, a wonderfully irreverent sight and one not to be missed when in the city.

-See the beautiful pieces in the Royal Museums of Fine Arts, necessary viewing for any lover of fine art.

-Appreciate the early architecture of the ancient Hotel de Ville, a historic site with its foundations laid in 1402.

What to do in Brussels

-Tour the Palais Royal during the summer months when it is open to the public and see its fantastic State Rooms, the Throne Room and more.

-Check out The Museum of Cocoa and Chocolate and indulge in some of Belgium's finest and most adored chocolate treats.

-Take a trip to one of Brussels's water parks, such as Walibi Belgium, where dozens of slides and rides can be enjoyed in those warm summer months.

-Spend an afternoon at the Galeries Royales Saint Hubert, which is said to be the very first shopping arcade in Europe and opened in 1847. Here visitors can shop up a storm, and even catch some theatre or a film.

Beyond Brussels

Belgium is a small and densely populated country, and its efficient and accessible transport system makes getting around a joy. From Brussels, travellers can take a trip to nearby Antwerp, which is certainly a must-see for those in search of some culture in the form of Gothic and Baroque architecture, churches, museums and galleries. Bruges, Belgium's most popular tourist destination, is also a short trip from Brussels and considered Europe's best-preserved medieval city.

Getting there

International flights to the city will generally land at Brussels International Airport, located eight miles (13km) northeast of the city centre, while the alternative, the Brussels Charleroi Airport, is further from the city. From the airport, visitors can either hail a taxi, shuttle service or take an express train to the heart of the city and beyond. Brussels's extensive and efficient public transport means visitors should not experience much difficulty navigating the capital.

Did you know?

-Brussels occupies an area measuring 161.4 square kilometres (62.2 sq.mi) and a majority of its residents speak Flemish Dutch or French.

-About 27 percent of the city's residents aren't Belgium citizens.

-Brussels is a major trader of beer, waffles and chocolate. There are over 800 brands of beer on sale in Brussels alone.