Beautiful Brussels with its cobbled streets and chocolate shops is one of the most picturesque cities in Europe. From Parisian style boulevards to the ornate Flemish houses of the stunning Grand-Place, Brussels is more than deserving of its status as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Breathtaking medieval architecture lines the winding streets, revealing row upon row of antique shops, flea markets, art galleries and boutiques that reward the avid wanderer. Art-deco buildings dazzle in Sainte Catherine while St Gilles’s fame comes from its poker straight trees and grand imposing embassies. Pass the beautiful Hotel de Ville with its gothic facade and copper spire to reach the Musee de la Ville de Bruxelles, housed in the spectacular Town Hall.
Visit the Notre-Dame du Sablon, a magical church with the added bonus of a lively weekend book-market. To see the most iconic monuments of Europe all in one place, look no further than Mini-Europe, at the foot of the Atomium. Perfect miniatures of Big Ben, the Berlin Wall and the Eiffel Tower sit side by side in this quirky park.
A glance at the Atomium (a giant sculpture of an oxygen molecule) on Square de l'Atomium, is proof of the city’s cutting modernist edge. Surrealist humour also abounds in Brussels; just take a look at its most well loved landmark – the Manneken-Pis and its many and varied outfits. The Musee Magritte houses works by the master of Surrealism himself, Rene Magritte.
After a day of walking through the elegant squares and lush green parks, enjoy a relaxing break in one of the many wonderful cafes dotted around Brussels, serving sublime cuisine from mussels and waffles to some of the world’s best chocolate and beer. In fact, chocolate lovers can take their obsession even further with a visit to the Musee du Cacao et du Chocolate. Located in a magnificent 17th century building, here one can learn the history, art and technique of chocolate making.
As night falls and the stars come out, the European Quarter begins to fill with people and languages from all over the globe. Rub shoulders with diplomats in the trendy bars of the Place du Luxembourg for an unforgettable night out in one of the most diverse and cosmopolitan cites in Europe.
The following information is correct as of October 2014 and is subject to change. Please check with the airline directly for complete accuracy.
Brussels International Airport is located just 7 miles from Brussels city centre, just a 20 minute journey by car. Alternatively, there is an airport train which connects Brussels-Nord, Brussels-Centrale and Brussels-Midi to the airport. The Airport Line, Line 21 and De Lijn are bus services that run between the airport and the city centre. There is also a choice of taxi firms that operate services from outside the terminal building.
South Charleroi Airport is located further from Brussels than Brussels International but it is served by many budget airlines. The airport is connected to the city centre by train and bus services. Bus A transports passengers from the airport to Charleroi railway station in just 20 minutes.
What you need to know
Currency: The Euro (€)
Visas: British citizens and citizens of the European Union do not require a visa to enter Brussels. A valid passport or ID card is required for travel. Nationals of other countries may require a visa. More information can be obtained from a local embassy or the Foreign Office website.
Laws: The legal drinking age in Brussels is 16 at bars and 18 to purchase alcohol from a shop. Smoking is banned in all public indoor places including transport, cafes, bars, restaurants and clubs. When driving, note that vehicles turning right have priority – this is universal across the country unless stated otherwise.
Best Time to Visit
The weather in Brussels is changeable; however the summer is likely to be the busiest and most expensive time of year to visit, given the likelihood of sunshine and warm weather. Spring and autumn are still reasonable weather-wise and quieter in terms of visitor numbers. Winters are cold and windy but perfect for huddling in the quieter museums and cafes.
Spring sees the annual opening of the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken from April to May with some stunning rare plant species on display. Another reason to visit in spring is the Brussels Jazz Marathon with hundreds of free concerts. Summer brings warmer weather, crowds and plenty of exciting festivals including the European Film Festival in June and the Ommegang Festival with floats and puppet theatres processing from the Grand Sablon to the Grand Palace. From July to August the Bruxelles les Bains transforms the Quai des Peniches into a kilometre of beach using 400 tonnes of North Sea sand. August’s Meiboom folklore festival brings with it maypoles, dancing and folk traditions. The spectacular Tapis des Fleurs sees a carpet of beautiful flowers covering the cobbles in front of the Grand Palace. Brussels Beer Weekend livens up the autumn months while winter brings the gloriously cosy tradition of Christmas markets, selling aromatic mulled wine and delicious cinnamon scented treats.
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