Brussels travel guide: Everything you need to know before you go!

brussels travel guide

There I was in Brussels, waiting for what it is world famous for: Waffles & Chocolates. Yes. The main reason why I had to go to Belgium was to gorge on waffles and chocolates as much as I could and also enlighten you all about the same. This brussels travel guide contains all the requisite information that you will need to visit this most amazing city filled with chocolate and waffle aromas all around you.

Belgium is a very small country and it’s capital Brussels is centrally located within the country. That is why it becomes a base for day trips to different places around Belgium. One unique feature about Belgium is that they speak different international languages in different parts of the country. The official languages used in the country are French, Dutch and German and also some are able to converse in English & Spanish as well. The eastern region mainly speaks German and the Northern and the southern part speaks Dutch & French respectively due to it’s proximity to the respective countries.

Started with a small settlement on the river Senne, Brussels is also the capital of European Union.  All the major institutions, parliament offices and a plethora of International Organizations are located in this city, which has paved the way for this city to become one of the most important cities in the entire Europe.

THINGS TO DO IN BRUSSELS:

1) Grand Palace

Located in the city center, Grand palace is the main square of the city of Brussels. It is an enclosed complex with different historical buildings. Within this complex one can find the beer museum, the town hall, King’s house and also the museum of the city of Brussels. Apparently, this square is a prominent landmark and is also acclaimed as a UNESCO World heritage Site. Also, it is one of the most beautiful squares in entire Europe. Hence, Brussels travel guide mentions 

2) Mannekin Pis & Jannekin Pis

The statue of two naked little pissing siblings are located in two different corners of Brussels. The original statue is inside the museum of Brussels. This statue is the highlight of the entire city which also depicts the weird sense of humor the locals have. These statues are located on a walking distance to the Grand Palace. However, the Mannekin Pis is quite popular as compared to it’s sister Jannekin Pis. Also, Mannekin Pis was created in 1451 – 1452, it’s female counterpart is a product of modern day architecture and was made in the 20th century. It is impossible to exclude these statues out of the the Brussels travel guide.

3) Atomium & Mini- Europe

The atomium is a modern architectural building which was originally constructed in the year 1958 for exhibitions and fair trade shows. However, now it is converted into a museum.  This museum also has a restaurant which gives a magnificent view of the city of Brussels. It is a one of a kind building and was also awarded as the Europe’s most bizarre building in 2013. Hence, this Brussels travel guide has incorporated this architectural marvel. Also. located at the foot of the Atomium is a huge park, named as mini-europe, which houses the replicas of the monuments in the European Union. The park has approx 80 cities and 350 buildings from all over Europe.

4) Cinquantenaire

Cinquantenaire is a large park of almost 30 hectares, located in the eastern part of the city. The park is a proper blend of architecture and nature. The arc of cinquantenaire is the highlight of this park and is formed in a U-shaped structure. This structure has several museums located inside like the military museum, the art & history museum and the auto world. This park is best place for nature lovers amidst the chaos of the city. It is great place for bird-watching, exercising or simply exploring.

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5) Belgian Comic Strip Center

A museum that every comic lover should visit in Brussels is the Comic Strip center which houses several original artwork from different artists who have contributed immensely towards the Belgium comics. This museum is a large building of 3 floors and each floor has something different to offer to the comic lovers. The ground floor has a restaurant along with a room dedicated to Victor Horta and a library with a reading room & study center. The first floor has different rooms dedicated to different comic artist and each has been designed in a unique way. One room out of it is for the world famous comic tintin. The last floor contains exhibitions and merchandise for people to buy. Don’t miss this!

6) Learn more from museums

Brussels has a lot many museums for people willing to dig deeper into it’s history and culture. Apart from the museums mentioned above, some museums worth visiting are the beer museum, royal museum of fine arts, museum of the city of Brussels, Musical instrument museum, Magritte museum, horta museum, Coudenberg museum, Belvue museum and the museum of natural sciences.

7) Stroll along different neighborhoods

When in Brussels, you need to stroll along the different neighborhoods in this city to understand the culture better. Sablon, Matonge, Mont des arts, Les marolles, European Quarter are some of the popular neighborhoods where the stark difference can be easily seen on comparison. The Sablon is one of the oldest neighborhoods of Brussels comprising of one neo-gothic church and many old streets and houses surrounding the squares. Today, it is the place to go for antiques, chocolate and pastries as well as art galleries. The Mont des Arts area is full of museums, centers for the performing arts and historical monuments.

The European Quarter is a modern and one of the richest neighborhoods built in the last decade which has deeply transformed the landscape and community life in the area. It is home to the rich expatriates & the Government employees. The Berlaymont building and the new modern headquarters of the European Commission are the new landmarks of this neighborhood. Matonge is the most typical & unique neighborhood in Brussels. It is home to an important African community (mainly from the Democratic Republic of Congo, a former Belgian colony). One can even see a huge difference in the lifestyle as compared to the other neighborhoods with  its African shops, hairdressers, cafes and restaurants.

SHOPS FROM WHERE YOU SHOULD BUY CHOCOLATES:

  • Neuhaus
  • Godiva
  • Galler
  • Leonidas
  • Maison Pierre Marcolini
  • Passion Chocolat

HOW TO REACH:

BY TRAIN: Brussels has several high speed trains arriving from different cities of Europe at it’s main train station. These trains are high speed trains and hardly take few hours to reach this city. As the train station is located in the city center, it is quite convenient to walk from the train station to all the main places in Brussels. It is the most convenient and fastest option if you are travelling through Europe. 

BY AIR:  Brussels Airport connects to all the countries within and outside Europe. Right outside the airport one can find trains going from Brussels Zaventem Airport to Brussels Central Station every 10 minutes between 5am and midnight, 7 days a week. This ride takes 20 minutes to reach the city center. However you will need to deal with public transport from the central station to your hotel.

BY ROAD: Brussels has an excellent road network. Regular buses ply  between all major towns. Eurolines is the main international bus service. However, there are many others as well. Not just that, there are many ways to commute inside this city. They have local buses, rails that take you from one location to another. Mostly, you will not need any transport to experience the city of Brussels. Walking usually is the best option throughout. Local buses are only useful if one wishes to explore Brussels outside the main city.

brussels travel guide

WHERE TO STAY IN BRUSSELS:

I stayed at the a la grande cloche (click here to book) in Brussels and absolutely loved it’s proximity to the city center. It was only 2 minutes walking to the grand palace.

You can also book here after comparing different sites & prices: Accommodation options in Brussels

NOTE: I would recommend you to at least allot 3-4 days for exploring the city of Brussels as per this Brussels travel guide.

HOW MUCH DOES EVERYTHING COST & HOW TO BUDGET:

ACCOMMODATION

Brussels falls within the mid-range as far as accommodation charges are concerned for a normal budget traveler. Hostels start from 20 euros per person whereas mid-ranged hotels will start from as low as 50 euros for 2 persons. Hence, if travelling in pairs it is convenient and reasonable to book hotels whereas hostels are a safe bet for solo travelers on a budget. Also, there are plenty of luxury options for persons wishing to live a luxurious life and lot’s of hotels are located right in the city center. The cost for luxurious hotels start anywhere from 200 euros. 

FOOD

Food outside is mid-ranged. The cost in any restaurant for a complete meal can start anywhere from $15 – $25. If cooking by yourself then this cost can be brought down to almost half. You will find supermarkets almost everywhere and that is definitely the best way to decrease the overall cost on the food. 

TRANSPORT

The best way to travel within Brussels is to walk. Public transport is available but is not required as all the sights are located within walking distance from each other. Also, this is the part where one can save a lot of money. All you need is good shoes to walk & you are good to go!

ACTIVITIES

As per this Brussels travel guide, there are plenty of things to do here some of which I have already mentioned above. Most of the places doesn’t require you to pay any entrance charges. The entire country is more about nature and street art and monuments which is free of cost. Therefore, you need to pay only to enter the museums and also if you take any other tours. Hence, you can end up saving money on the activities as well.

CONCLUSION TO THE BRUSSELS TRAVEL GUIDE:

Brussels is a wonderful city and has a lot to offer in terms of history, culture and of course chocolate! It definitely has to be on every traveler’s European itinerary. This Brussels travel guide gives a great overview on everything and will be quite helpful in exploring one of the most important city in Europe.

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