The capital of Belgium AND of Europe! Known as the political center of Europe, but we found Brussels has a fantastic sense of humor, and some of the best food and drink you’ll find anywhere. If you’re planning a visit, let us show you what to do in Brussels..
What To Do in Brussels:
There is so much to see and do in Brussels, this city could keep you busy for days. Let’s get started with a few things you probably shouldn’t miss. Here’s what to do in Brussels!
What to do in Brussels? Eat. Drink. Be Merry.
The city is famous for beer, waffles, and chocolate and more. Here are some recommendations that will have you loosening your belt in no time.
Biere, Birra, Bier, Beer, Cerveza
In the “City of Beer” there’s no shortage of incredible breweries, pubs, and shops offering an amazing selection of bubbly goodness… Our favorite? Just southwest of the city center lies the famously wonderful Cantillon Brewery. Take a tour through this brewery/ Gueuze (a style of beer) Museum and enjoy a glass of the good stuff when you finish.
Waffles, Fries, Mussels, and Chocolate!
Brussels has you covered from breakfast to desert with their world-famous foods. Head to Vitalgaufre northeast of the city center for some authenticly yummy Belgium waffles. Next, find Maison Antoine for the best frites (aka French fries) you’ve ever had. Not to be outdone, grab a table at ‘Probably the most Brussels restaurant of the world”, Chez Leon, for some mouth-watering local mussels. Did we mention chocolate?? We did.. Finish up your Brussels food tour with a visit to Neuhaus Chocolatier, inventor of the praline! The only worry is which chocolate to choose! Really one of our favorite foodie days ever, check out the video here.
What to do in Brussels? Architecture. History. Grandeur.
When it comes to amazing architecture, Brussels is no slouch. Look up in any direction for views of some of Europe’s most magnificent structures.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site in central Brussels is where you can find the Brussels Town Hall and the Museum of Brussels.
Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert
The 170-year-old shopping arcade is home to chocolate shops, luxury boutiques, and restaurants.
St. Michael and St Gudula Cathedral
This gothic cathedral named after the patron saints of Brussels is one of the most visited sights in Brussels.
Located southeast of the city center, in Brussels Park, this grandiose palace should not be missed.
Basilica of the Sacred Heart
Located 3 miles northwest of the city center is where you’ll find the 5th largest Catholic basilica and largest Art Deco building in the world.
Created for the 1958 Worlds Fair, this funky and unique structure has become a symbol of Brussels.
Palace of Justice
Another world’s largest, this courthouse built in the late 1800’s measures 280,000 square feet!
What to do in Brussels? Look up. Look down. Look all around.
Brussels takes their artwork seriously. You’ll discover comic book murals and beautifully creative street art around every corner. You’ll need plenty camera space to take it all in!
Brussels’ Comic Book Route
You’ll find more than 50 incredible murals nodding to their famous Brussels comic book creators. Follow the path through downtown Brussels, and discover which famous comics call Brussels home. For more Brussels comics history, head to the Brussels Comic Book Museum in the city center.
Often hidden in unexpected and interesting places, you will find some unbelievable pieces created on walls, street poles, and even on the ground.
This 24-inch bronze statue located south of the city center is odd, to say the least. The famous fountain is of a naked boy peeing!
We’ve teamed up with GPSmyCity and converted our Brussels travel guide into a downloadable application that comes complete with a GPS map of our recommendations and operates offline without any need of data plan or Internet connection. You can check it out here.
Getting to Brussels:
Getting to Brussels: FLY
If planned in advance you’ll find very reasonable flights into Brussels from other major cities in Europe: From Berlin for $12, Milan for $19, Barcelona for $25, Prague for $25, and even Lisbon for $28 with our favorite flight search site, Skyscanner.
Brussels Flight Deals
Getting to Brussels: BUS
Buses are not our favorite mode of travel.. The seats are generally cramped, the ride is bumpy, and departure/arrival times can be unpredictable. This said, bus travel is generally the least expensive, in particular if you’re coming from Paris or Amsterdam. The 4-hour long ride from Paris will only cost you $10, and the 3-hour ride from Amsterdam is only $14.
Getting to Brussels: TRAIN
Trains throughout Europe are a great option; you’ll avoid lines at the airport, enjoy beautiful scenery, and can be very comfortable. Recommended departure cities include Cologne for 1 hour 43 minutes and $30 or Luxembourg for 2 hours 52 minutes and $20. If you’re in a hurry, get to Brussels from Paris in only 1 hour 22 minutes for $40. Fares & Schedules
Airport to Brussels City Center
Fly into Brussels Airport and head towards the city centre, about 9 miles away. How will you get there?
From Brussels Airport
Leaving from Level 0 of the Brussels Airport-Zaventem station, just downstairs from the Arrival area, catch the 17 minute train to Brussel-Central Station. Purchase tickets from the vending machines for 8.80euros or online.
MIVB/STIB Express Bus
Also leaving from Level 0 is the Airport Express Bus, which will have you to the city center in about 30 minutes. Purchase tickets from the GO ticket machines for 4.50euros or for 6euros from the driver. Look for the #12 Bus Mon-Fri before 8pm or the #21 Bus after 8pm or on weekends.
Several Brussels hotels offer free shuttles to/from the airport, so make sure to check with your hotel before making other arrangements.
Find taxi stand just outside of the arrivals of area and expect to play a flat fare of 45euros for the 30 minute ride to Brussels city centre. UBER is also available in Brussels, running slightly cheaper than metered taxis at 27-36euros from the airport to the city center.
Getting around in Brussels
The Brussels public transportation system in the city center consists of the four underground Metro lines, two overground Tram lines and several bus lines that can easily connect you from station to station. Purchase a 1 hour “jump” ticket for 2.20euro from any GO ticket machine or for 2.50euro aboard a tram or bus, allowing rides on any inner-city public transportatin for one hour. To make things easy, you might consider purchasing a Brussels Card. Starting at about $40 for 24 hours the Brussels Card gives unlimited public transportation, as well as free entry to 39 Brussels museums, and discounts at several shops and restaurants throughout the city. Tickets can be purchased at any city tourist center or online.
Expect to pay 2.40euros between 6am and 10pm( 4.40euros for late night hours), plus 1.80euros for each kilometer. Hail taxis with their vacancy light on or find one of many taxi stands throughout the city. UBER is also available in Brussels, and seems to run slightly less expensive.
Walkscore.com gives Brussels city center a score of 99, calling it a “Walker’s Paradise”. We also found this to be true and highly recommended exploring Brussels by foot.
Where To Stay in Brussels:
Where To Stay in Brussels: HOTELS
As Europe’s capital, Brussels offers a vast range of hotels to choose from. Options span from high-end hotels like My House Brussels or Odette en Ville Hotel for $300 a night to more reasonable hotels like The Atlas Hotel or Hotel Chambord for around $75 a night. When it comes to hotels, we recommend shopping Agoda.com, far and away the most competitive resource when searching for hotels in Brussels.
Brussels Hotel Deals
Where To Stay in Brussels: HOSTELS
While there aren’t may hostels to choose from in Brussels, they tend to be less expensive, compared to other major cities in Europe. Prices generally range from $20-$30 a night for a dorm room, while a private room will cost quite a bit more at around $40-$60 per night. Hostelworld is our recommended resource when searching for hostels in Brussels.
Brussels Hostel Deals
Where To Stay in Brussels: AIRBNB
We love Airbnb! From private rooms to entire homes, there are plenty of choices when visiting Brussels. If you’re a first-timer with Airbnb, use this coupon and enjoy $35 off of your stay.
Where To Stay in Brussels: NEIGHBORHOODS
Choosing a neighborhood is an important part of trip-planning that should not be overlooked! Here’s some neighborhoods worth considering when deciding where to stay in Brussels.
Located just south of the city center, these quirky neighborhoods are home to vintage furniture shops, flea markets, the giant Palace of Justice, and the beautiful Church of Our Blessed Lady of the Sablon.
East of the city center and full of expats, this modern neighborhood is where you’ll find the European Parliament building.
This neighborhood, known as the African quarter of Brussels, is located southeast of the city center. Full of authentic African restaurants, groceries, and hairdressers.
Known previously for cabbage cultivation, this neighborhood located about 2 miles south of the city center is home to artists, writers, and hipsters.
Brussels Travel Tips:
Brussels travel tips: Tipping
Tipping is not very common in Brussels, however 10%-15% service charges can usually be found on your restaurant bill.. This fee generally goes to the restaurant, so a Euro or two for the server is always appreciated. Tipping for Taxi drivers and tour guides is not at all expected.
Brussels travel tips: Money
Belgium’s national currency is the Euro, and is currently exchanging at $0.90EUR to $1USD. Credit cards are accepted at most places and ATM machines are readily available.
Brussels travel tips: Insurance
Traveling through Brussels is exciting and safe, but you never know when some good travel insurance could come in handy. World Nomads offers the best coverage in the business, is affordable, and is quick to act should something go wrong. For more info, check out our recent World Nomads blog post.