Brussels may have the stuffy reputation of the centre point of the European Parliament, but that aside, Brussels is the perfect place to explore, with it's vibrant, energetic nightlife, aswell as an impressive array of architecture and museums. Most of Brussels is walkable and if you are into drinking then the Brussels bar scene won't disappoint. Prices are a little less than that of London, although eating out can be expensive unless you hunt out a bargain. Realistically, you'll only need 2-3 days in total to see all of Brussels, but it also acts as an excellent base to explore the rest of Belgium.
The national currency of Belgium is not surprisingly, the Euro and if you want to be understood the language is almost a 50:50 split between Walloons (French Speaking) and Flemish (Dutch Speaking), however, English is understood in most places. Crime in Brussels is like that of any other city, but be particularly vigilant around the station areas at night.
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Most people arrive in Brussels by train, the Eurostar runs direct to Gare du Midi. From there you can either jump on the Metro or catch a connecting to the Gare du Nord if you are staying in the north part of town, however, it is only a 20-25 minute walk from Midi to the Gare Du Nord, so if you fancy a walk it is also a viable option. If you are arriving by air then the airport is 13km away and served regularly by trains running from 5am till 12am. After this time a taxi will probably set you back 45-50 Euros.
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Sleep Well Youth Hostel - Highly recommended youth hostel with lots of rooms depending on budgets in a good location just north of the grand place. Make sure you confirm your booking in advance a few times.
Rue du Damier 23 - 1000 Brussels
Tel : 0032/126.96.36.199
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Things to do
Manneken Pis - This small statue of a boy pissing seems to draw the tourists, as disappointing as the little mermaid in Copenhagen
Parc de Bruxelles - Beautiful park in the centre perfect for a nice summer's day
European Parliament - Surrounded by a large buidling site, the centre of the EU also has a Science Museum.
Grand Place - A good place to hang out at any time of the day or night
Basilique du Sacre Coeur - A huge structure with a 90m tall dome which gives impressive views of the city
Atomium (Parc des Expositions) - Model of a molecule expanded 165 billion times which now houses a science museum.
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Le Cirio (Rue de la Bourse 18) - Beautifully decorated brasserie selling average food from a limiting menu, but nevertheless, a great place to get a cup of tea and read the paper
'tKelderke (Grand Place 15) - Tucked away down some steps off the Grand Place this homely cellar restaurant is one of the best value restaurants in this area. Make sure you try the Stoemp (a mixture of mashed carrot and potato) and the Flamande a la Biere.
In t'Spinnekopke (Notre Dame du Sommeil) - Excellent traditional restaurant with outdoor seating well away from the tourist enclaves. Delicious mussel dishes and great seafood mains, on the downside the service can be a bit testing.
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Bars & Clubs
Le Corbeau (Rue St. Michel 18) - Bar with split personality, very quiet during the day but can get raucous at night, popular with students
Le Falstaff (Rue Henri Maus 17-23) - Slightly expensive Art Nouveau bar/cafe in the centre, free bar snacks
DNA (Rue Plattesteen 18-20) - Wild Indie Rock bar which attracts a hip young crowd, expect the beer to flow!
Goupil de Fol (Rue de la Violette 22) - French bar covered in Chanson Francaise memorabilia and a jukebox that plays Edith Piaf. You'll be sure to get a warm welcome from the bar's friendly owner you seems to make it his mission to get to know everyone who drinks here. One of Brussels' best bars is also very popular so get there early if you want a seat and don't forget to try the potent fruit wines!
L'Ultime Atome (Rue St.Boniface 14) - Modern breezy bar in a nice part of Ixelles, the refreshing fruit drinks are perfect for a hot day
De Ultieme Hallucinatie (Rue Royale 316) - Just past the botanical gardens, this bar is art nouveau through and through. The bar itself is made out of an old train carriage, and there is also an outside seating area. The food menu is limited but they have impressive beer menu.
Au Bon Vieux Temps (Rue du Marche aux Herbes 12) - Tucked away through an alley, this bar reflects a bygone age and looks like it hasn't changed much since the war including the ageing bar staff. The building also has an impressive stained glass window dating back to 1695. This is a perfect place for a few quiet beers away from the hustle and bustle of the centre.
La Becasse (Rue du Tabora 11) - Old drinking bar with long wooden tables serving Lambic beer that comes served in earthenware jugs (3.7 Euros per person). This place, not surprisingly, can get very busy and also gets quite hot in the summer
Cafe Dada (Rue Fosse aux Loups) - Deep, dark bar popular with younger clientelle. Cheap drinks and punk/indie rock
Le Greenwich (Rue des Chartreaux 7) - Spacious Art Nouveau bar famous for it's hordes of chess players and interesting unisex loos!
Kafka (6 Rue de la Voge Noire) - Musky cool jazz/Zappa bar popular with locals. Very Cheap.
Spoer Pot (Ave Emile de Beco) - A small local bar, away from the city centre, with reasonable food, and a
friendly local atmosphere at reasonable prices. It has been known to welcome occasional acoustic musicians/singers for
an impromptu evenings entertainment. (George Arrol)
Day Trips :
Due to the cheap cost of rail travel and the relatively short distances in Belgium, day trips make a good alternative to the bustle of Brussels.
By far the most popular day trip is Bruges and if you have an aversion to camera wielding tourists then it's best to avoid. But if you can get past the tourist crowds, Bruges is a wonderful place to visit with well preserved Medieval architecture set atop of canals.
Things to do:
Straffe Hendrik Brewery (Walplein) - Just 4 Euros gets you on a tour on this interesting brewery and a free beer at the end. Although they only now brew the one beer, the tours and informative and interesting, and tours are available in a range of different languages
Heilig Bloed Basiliek (Burg) - Touch or kiss one of the most holy objects in Western Europe. A silver tabernacle contains a rock crystal phial allegedly containing the blood and tears of Christ, check listings for opening times.
Belfry - Climb the belfry to get an excellent view of Bruges, last admissions to the tower are at 3.15pm.
Oude Vlissinghe (Blekerstraat) - Old authentic wood panelled bar which has an excellent selection of beers including Westmalle Trappist. There is also a beer garden out the back to cope with the custom.
t'Brugs Beertje (Kemelstraat) - Very popular cosy bar in the centre with great atmosphere.
Chocolate Shops - Ask at the brewery which shops to buy from as the family run shops offer much better deals and much better chocolate!
Please also see our guides to Antwerp and Ghent
Info compiled by Andy Webb
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