Welcome to Brussels, the charming capital city of Belgium! Known for its delicious chocolate, famous beer, and beautiful architecture, Brussels is a must-see destination for any traveler. From the iconic Grand Place to the famous Manneken Pis statue, there is something for everyone to enjoy in this vibrant city. Whether you’re interested in history, culture, or just a good time, Brussels has it all. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some of the top things to see and do in Brussels, as well as some insider tips to help you make the most of your visit. So, pack your bags and let’s explore Brussels together!
Travel to Brussels
Traveling to Brussels is easy and accessible from many parts of the world. The city is served by two airports, Brussels Airport and Brussels South Charleroi Airport, both of which offer direct flights to major cities across the globe. In addition to air travel, Brussels is also well-connected by train, with high-speed rail links to Paris, London, and other European cities. Once you arrive in Brussels, you’ll find an efficient and extensive public transportation network, including buses, trams, and a metro system, making it easy to get around the city and explore its many sights and attractions. With a little planning and preparation, traveling to Brussels can be a stress-free and enjoyable experience.
Flights to Brussels-Zaventem Airport (BRU)
Brussels Airport (BRU) is Belgium’s largest airport and serves most international long-distance flights. The airport is located just 11km (7mi) northeast of the city center, and it’s easy to get from the airport to Brussels by train.
Once you land at Brussels Airport, you can take the train from the Brussels Airport Railway station, located underneath the airport. There are a minimum of 4 trains per hour linking to Brussels South Station, which is located in the heart of the city. This is a convenient and fast way to get to your hotel or other accommodations in Brussels.
Flights to Brussels South Charleroi Airport (CRL)
Brussels South Charleroi Airport (CRL) is Belgium’s second international airport and a hub for low-budget airlines like Ryanair and TUIfly. The airport is located 46km (29mi) south of Brussels, and while it is farther away, it is still possible to get to the city center by taking the shuttle bus (Airport Express) to the Charleroi Railway station and then taking a train to Brussels South/Midi railway station, which runs every 30 minutes. The total train ride to Brussels takes about 47 minutes, and you can buy a combi-ticket for the shuttle bus and train in the terminal of Charleroi Airport.
Brussels Railway Stations
- Brussels Nord station is close to the business districts and government institutions.
- Brussels Central station is located close the market square and city centre.
- Brussels South / Midi Station has an international terminal for TGV, Eurostar and Thalys trains
- Brussels Shuman is close to the Berlaymont building, in the centre of the European District.
Trains to Brussels
- Thalys trains between Paris and Brussels run twice per hour, connecting both capitals in 1h22
- Thalys trains between Amsterdam and Brusselsrun ever hour connecting both capitals in 1h50
- Eurostar trains between London and Brussels run 8 times a day, connecting both capitals in 2h
Where to stay in Brussels
The Brussels metropolitan area is quite large and contains lots of sighs and musea for you to visit. The historic centre of Brussels counts many hotels, hostels and apartments. Find your suitable accommodation in Brussels according to your specific travel style by using the map below.
Getting around in Brussels
Brussels Metro, Tram and Bus Network:
The public transport system in Brussels is operated by several companies. However they all share the same ticketsystem called the Brupass. With this ticket you can travel on all metro, busses and trams in the Brussels area. Single trip tickets cost 2.40€, daypasses cost 8,40€.
Taxi’s in Brussels:
Taxi’s in Brussels are most likely the most expensive in Europe. The Brussels taxi aren’t as distinctive as other taxi’s in the world. They are recognizable by the blue and yellow licence plates.
Taxis from Brussels Airport to the centre of Brussels cost about 45€
Brussels, heart of the Belgian and European Culture, has lots to offer. The grand market, statue of Manneke Pis and The Atomium are the most visited landmarks and almost as famous as Belgian chocolate. But there’s so much more to do in this true metropolitan city. Below is a small overview of the best things to see and do in Brussels. Scroll down for the complete Brussels Tourist Map.
Top things to see Brussels:
- Manneke Pis
- Grand Place
- The Atomium
- The Royal Palace
- Mont des Arts
- The Royal Galleries Saint-Hubert
- European district
- Royal Greenhouses of Laeken
- Botanical Gardens Meise
Brussels Comic book culture:
Belgian comics played a large role in the European comics culture. You’ve probably heard about TinTin and the Smurfs, but did you know Brussels was the birthplace of these and many other famous comics?
Brussels has not only a dedicated comic book museum, but also a comic book walking tour. Spread out across the city there are about 50 comic book murals to discover. This is a fun way to discover the hidden sights across the city. The Brussels comic book route map is available at the Tourist information desk.
The Brussels card (available from 29€) gives you unlimited access to 41 museums in Brussels. In addition, there is also a Brussels Card + STIB Public Transport available, starting from 37€. These cards are sold at the Visit.Brussels desk at the town hall or online.
Brussels tours, excursions and activities
Brussels Walking Tours
Discover Brussels on foot with a local guide:
Brussels tasting tours:
Brussels Tourist Map:
I’ve collected all major tourist destinations of Brussels in a map, so you can use it as your ultimate Brussels Travel Guide. Don’t forget to save the map for later use!
Brussels City Quarters
The Brussels Pentagon (or in dutch “Vijfhoek”) is the historical city centre of Brussels, within the contours of the old city walls of Brussels which is now the inner ring road. The Pentagon consist out of the following Quarters:
- Central Quarter
The Central Quarter is Brussels heart of tourism, where you can find must-see destinations such as The Brussels Grand Place, Manneke Pis, The Royal Galleries, Brussels Stock Exchange and Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula.
- The Royal Quarter
The name says it all, at the Royal Quarter you’ll find the Royal Palace facing Brussels Park. Other must-see’s are Mont Des Arts, Place du Musée/Museumplein, Royal Museums of Fine Arts, Academy Palace.
- Sablon / Zavel Quarter
This Brussels Quarter is home to the Egmont Palace and Royal Conservatory. The quarter is known for it’s antique markets and art dealers amongst other luxurious shops.
- Marolles / Marollen Quarter
The Marolles/Marollen is the most authenthic Brussels quarter, with a daily flea market, that’s been held since 1873. One of the must sees is the Palace of Justice, that’s been under renovation for decades.
- Midi Lemonnier / Lemonnier Zuidwijk Quarter
The quarter where Brussels Midi / Brussels South station is located. The neighborhood is sometimes also referred to as the Stalingrad Quarter.
- Central Quarter
- Eastern Quarters
- European Quarter
Located east of the Pentagon, this quarter hosts several European Institutions.
- Squares Quarter
This Brussels Quarter is named after what is has most: Squares.
- European Quarter
- Northern Quarters
Laeken is home to the Palace of Laeken where the Belgian Royal Family resides. The Royal Greenhouses of Laeken are open for visit. The Heysel/Heizel area is the former site of the World Fair in 1938 and 1958 and contains the King Baudouin Stadion, Bruparck, the Atomium and Mini-Europe.
Often referred to as the Pagoda-Quarter or Japanese Tower Quarter due to it’s Museums of the Far East.
Home of NATO’s headquarters