Brussels

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Belgium’s capital is one of the most misunderstood—and underrated—major cities in Europe. Indeed, travellers who look beyond Brussels’ occasional architectural eyesore and ignore its undeserved reputation as a staid centre of governance will find a dynamic multicultural hub of arts, food, and fashion.

The city undoubtedly puts its best foot forward in its sweeping La Grand-Place, one of the most spectacular squares in all of Europe. World-class arts and cultural institutions like the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium showcase the cultivated side of the city’s personality, while its famous unofficial mascot, the endlessly urinating Manneken Pis—and his lesser-known sister, Jeanneke Pis—hint at its good humour.

Among the many markets, lively Marché du Midi is big enough to spend full days browsing, while hip Saint-Gilles is but one of many municipalities flush with cool cafés, boutiques, and bars.

Staid and stodgy? Not Brussels; not even close.   

Getting Around

The de facto capital of the European Union, Brussels is well-connected by a linked network of trains, buses, and trams operating on the same fare and ticketing system. There are currently four metro lines, 17 tram lines, and 50 bus routes available, with an additional 11 bus routes within the city centre operated on Friday and Saturday nights until 3am.

Public transportation is the most efficient way of getting around town, but taxis are plentiful, as well, and relatively affordable for short journeys. Brussels suffers from some of the worst traffic problems in Europe, however, so keep that in mind if you’re in a hurry and travelling during morning or early-evening rush hours.

The central tourist areas can be covered on foot, while the convenient Villo! self-service bike rental system is another popular option. However, long-distance bicycling is not recommended for amateur cyclists who are unfamiliar with urban environments.

By Taxi

Usually white or black, taxis are abundant and most easily hailed at one of the many designated taxi stands around the city centre. You can flag one down in the street as well, as long as it’s more than 100 metres from the nearest stand.

Fares start at €2.40 (US$2.70) and increase by up to €2 (US$2.20) every kilometre within the city centre (more for outside of it). In general, expect to pay up to €15 (US$16.80) for most rides, and note that an additional €2 (US$2.20) fee applies from 10pm to 6am. Tips are not expected.

Taxis can be an effective way to get around town, but are best avoided at rush hour and for longer journeys given the city’s notoriously clogged traffic.

By Walking

Generally safe and well-suited to afternoon strolls, Brussels’ city centre is relatively compact and a pleasure to explore on foot, so be sure to pack some comfortable shoes. For example, walking from La Grand-Place—a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the architectural jewel of Brussels—to the European Quarter takes just 15 minutes or so; it’s another 30 minutes from there to grand Avenue Louise.

A number of thematic guided and unguided walking tours, from the historical to the food-focused, are offered by various tour companies to help give your wandering some direction. Ask your Citadines concierge for recommendations and booking assistance.

Tips & Articles

Brussels Travel Advice for First-Time Visitors

Brussels Travel Advice for First-Time Visitors

Handy tips to help prepare you for a visit to Belgium’s capital

Must See-Sights in Brussels

Must See-Sights in Brussels

Key attractions to visit in Brussels

Brussels Food and Shopping Cheat Sheet

Brussels Food and Shopping Cheat Sheet

Here’s where to shop for some of Brussels’ best souvenirs

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