Welcome to Brussels

Guide to Brussels, Belgium
"Everything we see hides another thing... we always want to see what is hidden by what we see." Rene Magritte

Brussels is the hidden city of Europe; its fairytale charm and sensual delights too often overridden by slick, international showpieces such as the European Parliament. But Brussels is two entirely different cities, overlapping like drawings on a magic lantern; the gleaming modern metropolis concealing an ancient place of rivers and markets, tapestries and guilds.

This duality even extends to the language- though French is largely spoken, the bilingual street signs and many older businesses insist on both French and Dutch. Meanwhile, Michelin-starred restaurants sit alongside hole-in-the-wall beer cellars, Medieval streets meander towards the cartoonishly futuristic Atomium, and cobbles, canals and Gothic spires abut glass-walled government hubs.

Brussels hides flea markets amongst designer stores and 19th century chocolatiers beside minimalist bars. Some beautiful old cities are content to fester gently, too proud of their past to risk evolving. Brussels changes and grows. But everywhere, a new boutique hides a Medieval doorway, an ancient passage conceals a thriving restaurant. Here, we always want to see what is hidden.

Guide to Brussels, BelgiumGuide to Brussels, Belgium


The Grand Place (Grote Markt)

Recently voted the most beautiful town square in Europe, The Grand Place, or Grote Markt, has been a public space since the 13th century more
Bruxelles Central / Brussel Centraal

Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert

Every shop is more charming than the last in this covered gallery, with original Art Deco signage more
Rue de Marche Aux Herbes Brussels Bruxelles Central / Brussel Centraal 94 / 92 / 51 / 3 / 4

The Atomium

When 1950s comics proffered visions of the future, the Atomium is exactly the sort of structure that sprang up on Planet Zarg more
Square de l'Atomium, 1020 Brussels 02 475 47 75 Heysel / Line 6



Dominated by a vast, twisting metallic sculpture that appears part gynaecological model, part whale, Kwint is unarguably modern; its interior a dynamic stage set for the food to come. more
Mont des Arts 1 1000 Brussels 02 505 9595 Botanique Line 2 / 6 Botanique 92 / 94

La Roue d'Or

The real draw of this venerable old brasserie is the dark, polished wood and glittering Art Nouveau mirrors which line the walls more
Rue des Chapeliers 26 1000 02 514 25 54 Bruxelles Central / Brussels Centraal

Comme Chez Soi

The name translates as 'just like home'. It is nothing like home, unless you live in a stained-glass, Art Nouveau mansion more
Place Rouppe 23, 1000 02 512 29 21 Anneessens

Guide to Brussels, BelgiumGuide to Brussels, Belgium


La Ruche

At the heart of the Turkish area near the station, and run by friendly Moroccans more
Boulevard Jamar 1B (Boulevard Poincaré), Bruxelles, 1060 Brussels 02 499 35 24 73 Midi

Le Cirio

Teleported directly from the 19th century, this is exactly the sort of bar one can imagine Degas using as inspiration for his painting, L'Absinthe more
Rue de la Bourse 18, 1000 Brussels 02 512 13 95 Bourse

La Brocante

So close to the flea market, customers virtually trip over a pile of 60s pots and old chairs on the way in more
170 Rue Blaes / Blaesstraat 1050 Brussels 02 512 13 43 Jeu de Balle (27 bus dir Midi)


Pillows Hotel

The word for this new, boutique hotel in a charming old building is 'soothing'. It's fresh and modern without being tiresomely edgy, and staying here offers as much substance as style. more
Place Rouppe 17 Rouppeplein 1000 Brussels +32 2 204 00 40 Anneesans

Sofitel Europe

If you crave respite from all the medieval facades and Art Nouveau swirls of Brussels, this is the solution more
Place Jourdan 1 1040 Brussels Shuman

The Dominican

After a day of wandering, subside into a place of ease and comfort more
Rue Leopold / Leopoldstraat 9 1000 Brussels 02 203 08 08 De Brouckere

Guide to Brussels, Belgium

In The Mood


Villette- Charlotte Bronte


Mood Indigo (forthcoming) dir. Michael Gondry


44 Grandes Chansons - Jacques Brel


Mannekin Pis is the famous statue of a small boy weeing. In reality, it's disappointingly small, and there will inevitably be tourists taking silly pictures of each other in front of it. Only bother if you genuinely find it hilarious.

Only get taxis if you really need to- walking is enjoyable in Brussels, and it can be hard to find a cab on the street.

St Gilles is the Bohemian 'left bank' area of the city and good for an afternoon's wander, away from the main tourist routes. Visit Rue Vanderchrick, an entire street designed by Art Nouveau architect Ernest Blerot in 1902.

Buy a Brussels Card, which offers discounts on attractions and galleries.

Getting Around



Public transport is popular in the city, as many streets are pedestrianised. However, parking is available at most Metro stations as well as in eighteen fee-paying car parks in the heart of the town, marked by a ‘P’ and costing around €4 per day- this varies as they are privately operated.


The public transport system – STIB-MIVB – operates a bi-lingual tram, bus and Metro service. The Metro, marked by ‘M’ around the town, offers tickets valid for any transport for up to an hour with a single ticket, which costs around €2. Packages are available for daily and weekly rates: €6.50 and €13 respectively. They can be bought from either stations or kiosks in the city.


There are 180 locations in Brussels that hire out ‘villos’, but only accept debit cards. The first half hour is free, and it's €0.50 for every subsequent half-hour.


With many cobbled and pedestrianised streets, Brussels is a city small enough to travel on foot – though in Winter, public transport may be a better option.

Tourist Information: Town Hall, Grand Place, to the right of the main entrance.

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