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Brussels

Photo © ErinDriver

Travel Guide Europe Belgium Brussels

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Introduction

It rained, with thunder and lightening, and ALL the fireworks ...

It rained, with thunder and lightening, and ALL the fireworks ...

© All Rights Reserved LucyLucey


Brussels, Belgium's capital without doubt and capital of the European Union in the minds of many, is a popular destination of diplomats and business people. But don't let that lead you to believe there is nothing more to Brussels than a cluster of office blocks, because you would be mistaken. Brussels is a historic city with a beautiful city centre, impressive museums, 19th century palaces, fine cuisine and chocolates and some of the best beer in the world. And who wouldn't want to visit a city where one of it's main claims to fame is Manneken Pis, a tiny peeing statue with a wardrobe of some 725 outfits.

Originally developed on the historic trade route from Cologne to Bruges, Brussels is still easy to reach over land from just about any Western European city. Amsterdam, Paris, London and Cologne are all 3 hours or less by (high-speed) train. This convenient location, and the fact that a lot of hotels lower their prices between Friday and Sunday, make Brussels especially popular as a weekend getaway.

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Sights and Activities

Manneken Pis

The statue of Manneken Pis that we see today was placed in 1619, and crafted by Jerome Duquesnoy. It replaced a statue that had stood on the same place, with a similar statue that was made of stone, and that had stood there since the middle ages. The statue was stolen no less than 7 times, during the years. On some days the little guy is peeing beer! that is served to the people that are passing. Another custom is to dress up the little guy. He has collected an impressive wardrobe during the years. The statue can be found on the crossing of the Stoofstraat and the Eikstraat (or in French: Rue de l'Étuve and Rue du Chêne). Since 1987 there is also a female counterpart, called Jeanneke Pis.

Other sights and activities

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Events and Festivals

  • Flower Carpet - The Flower Carpet, made of vibrantly colored flowers, is located in the square outside the Grand Palace. It is a massive display of begonias arranged meticulously to resemble the design of an ornate carpet. The carpet is on display during the third week of August during even numbered years.
  • [listing name=Czeck Street Party type=event url=http://www.czechrep.be/streetparty fromdate=2012-06-15]This free event features some of the most popular music artists in the Czeck music scene. This lively street festival attracts thousands of music lovers for this great night of performance and Czeck culture. This party occurs annually and is held in front of the building of the Permanent Representation of the Czech Republic to the EU.
  • Culinaria Square - Sixteen of the greatest chefs in Brussels (most of them Michelin starred) come together to create Culinaria Square. This is the biggest foodie event of the year in Brussels, where visitors can view cooking demonstrations and classes, sample from exclusive menus, and partake in delicacies offered at an excellent food market.
  • Brussels Jazz Marathon - Top jazz musicians from across Europe come to participate in this very popular event. This festival not only gets the local crowd buzzing, but some even travel all the way from Japan to hear the music at this festival! The musicians at this festival are top-notch, but best of all, the event is free to the public! Along with traditional and modern jazz, this festival also features great blues and Latin tunes.
  • Brussels Beach (15 Jul 2013 - 15 Aug 2013) - For this event, the beach is brought to the city - literally. Thousands of pounds of sand are dumped onto the streets lining the canal, where beach chairs and umbrellas are set up. Beach parties, barbecues, picnics, water sports, volleyball, and street concerts are held during this month. If a trip to the ocean is not in your travel plans, this event is a great way to enjoy the beach even when you're land-locked in the city.
  • Belgian Beer Weekend - A great festival that features the best Belgian beers in the region. For this festival over 50 brewers participate and bring their finest in production to the event. Visitors will have the chance to sample many different types of beer, and chat with their favorite beer-maker.
  • [/listing]

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    Weather

    The most popular time to visit Brussels is between May and September when weather is at its' best. Temperatures are generally around 22 °C during the day from June to August and nights around 15 °C. Like most of the European capitals, this is also the busiest time of the year so booking in advance is recommended, especially during July and August. The winter months are a much quieter time to visit Brussels, but you will have to come prepared for colder conditions with temperatures just around zero. Snow is possible but not really common. Most of Brussels' rain falls during these months as well, though summers can see heavy rainshowers after hot conditions during the day.

    JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
    Avg Max5.6 °C6.4 °C9.9 °C13.1 °C17.7 °C20 °C22.4 °C22.5 °C18.7 °C14.4 °C9.1 °C6.5 °C
    Avg Min0.7 °C0.6 °C2.9 °C4.8 °C8.9 °C11.5 °C13.6 °C13.4 °C10.8 °C7.6 °C3.7 °C1.9 °C
    Rainfall71.2 mm53 mm72.9 mm53.8 mm69.5 mm77.6 mm69.1 mm63.7 mm63 mm68.1 mm79.4 mm79 mm
    Rain Days13.110.113.110.811.311.39.68.99.910.512.813.2

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    Getting There

    By Plane

    Brussels International airport (BRU), located 11 kilometres from Brussels in Zaventem, is to the northeast of Brussels. The airport is well served by a number of airlines with flights across Europe and internationally.

    To/from the airport

    • Rail: The airport train station is located below the terminal. Trains run from the airport to Brussels North, Brussels Central and Brussels Midi stations, up to 4 an hour during busy times. Additionally there are direct train services to other locations in Belgium including De Panne, Ghent, Hasselt, Landen, Leuven, Liège, Nivelles and Quévy. There are bus services to other parts of Brussels as well, information on where they run can be found from the bus page at the Brussels Airport's website. For access to the "European District" close to the European parliament, the Airport-line provides access.
    • Car: Brussels Airport can be reached by car via the A201, which is directly connected to the R0 highway around Brussels. From there, the main highways of Belgium can directly be accessed, with links to Antwerp, Luxembourg and the coast.

    The second major airport is Brussels South Charleroi Airport (CRL), which is used primarily for Ryanair, and WizzAir flights, although in summer also other charters leave from this airport, which is actually nearer to Charleroi than Brussels. There are however buses going in a frequency of about once every 30 minutes to and from the airport, and to and from the Brussel-Zuid train station. For a complete shedule, check the website of the Airport.

    To/from the airport

    • Bus: Local TEC buses run between the airport and Charleroi train station. These buses leave the airport every 30 minutes on weekdays and every hour in the weekend and take approximately 18 minutes to get to Charleroi train station. Bus A takes you to the airport in about 10 minutes. Remember that you can get a 25% discount on the combined train/bus travel to the airport. The discount code you need to give is 814 for a single ticket, and 815 for a return ticket. These discounts are valid from every Belgian train station. If you arrive at the airport, and you need to go somewhere else in Belgium, you can buy a 'Billet Bulk', which also gives you a discount on the bus and trainticket to every Belgian train station. A coach runs from the airport to Brussels-South railway station every 45 minutes, 20 times a day, taking one hour. There are also buses to Lille in France and Bruges in West-Flanders. For a complete shedule, check the website of the Airport.
    • Car: The airport is accessible by the highway from Brussels, Liège or Lille and it's about 20 minutes south of the capital.

    By Train

    Brussels has multiple rail stations serving destinations across Europe. Brussels has three main train stations. Brussels South (Bruxelles Midi-Brussel Zuid, often referred to by English speakers as Brussels Midi) is in the south of the on Metro line 2. This station is the primary stop for high-speed trains from France, Amsterdam and England. The other two main stations are Brussels Central (Bruxelles Central-Brussel Centraal), which is right next to the city centre, and Brussels North (Bruxelles Nord/Brussel Noord), near Place Rogier. Brussels Luxembourg station, near the European Parliament has services to Luxembourg and Switzerland, though these trains can be caught at Brussels Midi station as well.

    For travelling to and from London check the Eurostar website for details, including connections to Paris. A Eurostar ticket is valid to any Belgian train station at no additional cost if travelling within 24 hours of your Eurostar trip.

    The Thalys has connections to Amsterdam, Paris and Cologne. From Brussels with the TGV you can travel further south to Bordeaux, Lyon, Marseille and Nice, some of them directly. Sometimes it is cheaper to go to Lille first, and connect there to the TGV southwards.

    The ICE connects Brussels with multiple German cities including Frankfurt and Cologne.

    Check the Deutch Bahn Timetable for all other destinations further away in Europe.

    By Car

    There are many roads including major European highways that link Belgium with France, the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium. The most important ones are (E numbers are generally used):

    By Bus

    Eurolines has services from multiple countries. In Brussels, they stop outside the Brussels North and Brussels Midi train stations. Gulliver's has services from Germany to Brussels.

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    Getting Around

    By Public Transport

    Brussels public transport is run by MIVB/STIB. Brussels has 6 metro lines, as well as an extensive tram and bus network. The tram network runs underground through the centre of Brussels.

    Fares are €1.70 (purchased from a machine) or €2 (purchased on the transit vehicle), you can get a JUMP ticket, allowing you 1 journey on the STIB metro, bus and tram network and also travel on the intra-city portions of the commuter trains run by DE LIJN and TEC and SNCB in Brussels. The Jump fares also exclude the special fares for the NATO-Brussels Airport section of lines 12 and 21 and the Noctis night network. Discounts can be had by purchasing multiple tickets at once. Note that in general the machines at metro and tram stops only take coins, and don't take credit or debit cards from outside Belgium.

    Single day passes cost €4.50, and 3 day passes cost €9.50. Both passes exclude the airport line and the night buses. The airport line fares are €3 for a single journey purchased outside transit vehicle in advance or 4,00 € if purchased on the bus. Tickets for the night buses are €3.

    Check the MIVB?STIB website for more information with a journey planner, maps and timetables.

    By Foot

    Most of the sights are located close to the Grand Palace, and are easy to walk to. The European Parliament is close to the Trône/Troon or Maelbeek/Maalbeek metro stops.

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    Eat

    • Belgium is famous for chocolate, and there are a number of excellent chocolatiers that you can visit in Brussels.
    • Moules frites is a Belgian speciality, mussels with french fries. Numerous restaurants serve the dish, and the mussels come steamed in a choice of sauces.

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    Drink

    Definitely try some Belgian beers! For example check the Beerparadise website.

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    Sleep

    Budget

    PropertyAddressTypePopularity
    2GO4 Quality HostelEmile Jacqmainlaan 99Hostel82
    Albert Inn176 Avenue Albertguesthouse89
    Aparthotel Wellington154 Chaussee de VleurgatHotel-
    Beau Site76, rue de la Longue Haie 1000Hotel80
    Brussels Hello HostelRue de l'Armistice 1Hostel80
    Brussels Royotel312 Rue Royale 1210 BrusselsHotel74
    Génération Europe Youth HostelRue de l'Eléphant 4HOSTEL79
    Gîte d'Etape - Youth Hostel Jacques BrelRue de la Sablonnière 30HOSTEL81
    Hostel Grand PlaceHaringstraat 6-8Hostel83
    Belmont HotelBoulevard d'anvers 10HOTEL80
    Hotel de FranceBoulevard Jamar, 21-23Hotel74
    Hotel des Colonies8 Rue des CroisadeHotel-
    Hotel du Congresrue du congres 38/42Hotel80
    Hotel FrancoisRue Borgval, 15HOTEL73
    Hotel La MadeleineRue de la Montagne 20-22 1000 BrusselsHotel75
    Hotel ManhattanBoulevard Adolphe Max, 132-140hotel67
    Hotel Mirabeau18 Place FontainasHotel-
    Hotel Mozart23 rue Marche aux FromagesHOTEL78
    Hotel OperaRue Gretry 53 1000 BrusselsHotel77
    Hotel Queen AnneBoulevard Emile Jacqmain 110 1000Hotel81
    Hotel Sabina **Rue du nord, 78Hotel79
    Hotel Saint NicolasMarche aux Poulets 32Hotel79
    Hotel the MoonRue de la Montagne 4 BISHotel81
    Hotel Van Belle39 Chaussée de MonsHotel72
    La Vieille Lanterne29 rue des grands carmesHotel76
    Le FrederiksborgAvenue Broustin 118hotel85
    Monty Small Design Hotel101 Boulevard Brand Whitloc 1200 BrusselsHotel83
    New Prince de Liege HotelChaussee de Ninove 664Hotel-
    Residence les EcrinsRue du Rouleau 15 B-1000 BrusselsHotel88
    Sleephere82 rue de la Source (Saint-Gilles) 1060Hostel90
    Sun HotelRue du Berger, 38Hotel79
    The Progress Hotel9 rue du progreshotel-
    Vanderstraeten-BryxisBeigemsesteenweg 320 BEIGEN-GrimbergenGuesthouse79
    Welcome to my PlacePlace Quetelet 1Guesthouse-
    Youth Hostel Van Gogh (Chab)rue Traversiere 8 1210 BruxellesHostel76
    Scandinavia HotelChaussee de Mons 115-117Hotel-
    Hotel L'Auberge du SouverainAvenue de la Fauconnerie, 1-5Hotel78
    Bed & Breakfast ValentineAv. Georges Eekhoud 5 BrusselsGUESTHOUSE-
    Housingbrussels HotelLouis Scutenairestraat 3Hotel78
    Auberge des 3 FontainesChaussée de Wavre 2057Hostel76
    B&B La CalmbreMidiZuidlaan 41 bus 2Guesthouse-
    Hostel Scandinavia115 Chaussée de Mons AnderlechtHostel-
    Hotel Auberge Van StrombeekTemselaan 6 Strombeek-BeverHotel77
    Le Lys d'Or96 Avenue Henri JasparGuesthouse79
    Studio Rempart1 and 2, 9 Rue du Rempart des MoinesApartment-
    Studio 3 Rempart du Sablon17 rue de Rollebeek 1000 Brussels BelgiumApartment-
    B&B Terre NeuveRue Terre-Neuve 30 1000 BrusselsGUESTHOUSE-
    La Villa Zarin53 Rue D'AnderlechtGuesthouse-
    B3 GuestHouse75 Rue d'andennne 1060 BruxellesGuesthouse82
    Hotel 322 LambermontBoulevard Lambermont 322HOTEL-
    Ambiorix B&B in Brussels EU Quarter88 rue Van CampenhoutGUESTHOUSE-
    Studio 45Rue des Drapiers 45APARTMENT-
    IZAN Avenue LouiseRUE BLANCHE N 4Hotel83
    The Theater Hotel BrusselsRue Van Gaver 23HOTEL79
    Hotel Cafe Pacific57, rue Antoine Dansaert / B-1000HOTEL78
    Villa delle OrtensieChaussée de Gand 324GUESTHOUSE-
    SOUBANAvenue de Tervueren 171APARTMENT-
    B&B Phileas FoggVan Bemmelstraat 6 BrusselsGUESTHOUSE-
    BrokantieKorte Kamstraat 32 Roosdaal, PamelAPARTMENT-
    Sablon AntiquesPlace du Grand Sablon 44 Brussels CenterAPARTMENT-
    Hotel De Fierlantrue de Fierlant 67HOTEL79
    Hotel ContinentalPlace de la constitution 18-BHotel79
    Sleep Well23 rue Damier 1000 BrusselsHOSTEL-
    Pantone Hotel1 PLACE LOIXHotel-
    MEININGER Brussels City CenterQuai du Hainut / Henegouwenkaai 33 1080 BrusselsHOSTEL85
    A Taste of BelgiumRue Nestor de Tiere, 17GUESTHOUSE-
    RentByNightRue des bouchers 61Apartment-
    Hotel Auberge AutrichienneAvenue Stalingrad 122,HOTEL78
    Hotel Iris AubepineRue de Rochefort 27HOTEL-
    Shelter StudioPallieterweidestraat 69 1501 BuizingenHOTEL-
    Appart AnspachBoulevard Anspach 145 BruxellesAPARTMENT-
    Hotel PhenixChaussée de Ninove 685 AnderlechtHOTEL79
    Hotel Les Bluets124 Rue BerckmansGUESTHOUSE-

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    Keep Connected

    Internet

    Internet is widely available in Belgium, but internet cafés are not common, because most people have internet access at home or through wifi. There are multiple internet access points in all cities and it is free in most libraries. Also in multiple gas stations, train stations and diners on the highways there is Wi-Fi available. Many cafés offer free Wi-Fi nowadays and if you can't find any you can always fall back on Quick or McDonalds which both offer free Wi-Fi.

    Phone

    See also: International Telephone Calls

    The country calling code to Belgium is: + 32. To make an international call from Belgium, the code is 00.

    Belgium has a modern telephone system with nationwide cellular telephone coverage. Belgium uses the GSM standard of cellular phones (900 MHz and 1800 MHz bands) used in most of the world outside of the U.S. There are three main companies (Proximus, Mobistar and Base, and a large number of MVNOs) offering wireless service. The country is almost totally covered. If you stay for some time, it may be advisable to buy a pre-paid cell phone card that you can use in any phone that supports the GSM standard on the 900/1800 MHz bands. Then incoming calls and SMSes are free. You can get sim cards for the three main companies in dedicated phone shops. Sim cards from the MVNOs are readily available at supermarkets (Carrefour, Aldi, Colruyt to name a few all have their own brand). All networks provide UMTS and HSDPA (3G) mobile internet coverage, and are rolling out a 4G network, mainly in the big cities and eventually in the whole country.

    Post

    De Post is the national postal service of Belgium, with Dutch, French and German versions. They offer generally fast, reliable services. It's a relatively expensive service though, with normal domestic post (cards, letters etc) up to 50 grams costing €0.61. To other European countries it costs €1.03 and outside Europe it's €1.34. At the post offices, you can buy stamps and they have other services as well, including international money transfers. The opening times of post offices are 9:00am or 10:00am until 4:00pm or 5:00pm, depending on whether it's the main central one or a smaller branch or in towns. Some of them might be open on Saturday mornings, and remember that quite a few still close for lunch break! De Post also offers the sending of parcels, but you could also use private international companies like UPS, TNT or DHL, as they offer roughly the same services and prices, but are generally faster.

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    Quick Facts

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    Coordinates
    • Latitude: 50.848385
    • Longitude: 4.349685

    Contributors

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    Brussels Travel Helpers

    • Someguy FC

      I am born and raised in the capital of Èurope.
      I know all (well, almost) the ins and outs of this great city, the bars, the museums, the cool spots off the beaten track.

      I know Brussels doesn't always have a good reputation, and it's true that it's not a city that shows its true beauty at first sight, but I can help with that!

      Contact me for info


      Gijs

      Ask Someguy FC a question about Brussels

    This is version 44. Last edited at 8:47 on Dec 30, 13 by Utrecht. 246 articles link to this page.

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