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Belgium has three official languages – Dutch, French and German – but you’ll find that French is the most popular spoken language in Brussels.
When you go to Brussels for a city break, you can immerse yourself in the city’s beautiful sights, museums, parks and delectable treats. The stunning Grand Place is the heart of the city with its beautiful facades dating back to the 17th century. Take a leisurely stroll the city’s cosmopolitan districts, avenues and quirky market places, before sampling Belgian’s renowned beer, waffles and of course- chocolate! Brussels really is a spectacular city for a weekend break, a true city for all seasons.
What to see and do in Brussels
Brussels has a very strong “Café culture” lifestyle, with nearly every street in the city offering cosy bars with outdoor seating. Enjoy one (or two) Belgian beers in one of the many cafes this city has to offer whilst watching the world go by. Don’t miss out on visiting one of the showy Art Nouveau places and medieval survivors around the Bourse (Stock Exchange) area such as Café Belga, Le Cirio and the Falstaff and try a “demi/demi” (half sparkling wine/ half wine).
Why not book yourself on a three hour “Brussels Food Walking Tour”, where your guide will show you the best restaurants the city has to offer, sample Belgian specialities, plus learn about Brussels’ history and culinary traditions? Some of the dishes you’ll get to sample include Assiette Ardainaise (selection of ham, sausages, cheeses and steak tartare), North Sea shrimps, mussels, beef stew, endive and off course Belgian beer. The Belgian cuisine is highly respected throughout Europe, and this walking tour is a must for food and history lovers!
Our flights to Brussels are perfect for shopaholics – for shopping and cafes visit Les Galeries Saint Hubert – a glass roofed arcade, which was the first covered shopping arcade in Europe. www.galeries-saint-hubert.com
Brussels has many shopping areas such as the Rue Neuve. This long pedestrian street runs from the Place Rogiers to the Grand Place and offers international chain stores and shopping malls. If you’re looking for something more exclusive, then head to the Avenue Louise district (Brussels’ answer to the Champs-Elysées) for exclusive designer shopping. You’ll find most designer boutiques between “Trone” and “Louise” metro stations, so don’t forget your credit card. The Galeries Royales St-Hubert is Europe’s very first covered shopping centre and hosts the city’s most desirable stores such as Delvaux in the most ornate surroundings. The gallery is the perfect location to buy some delicious Belgian chocolates! Bear in mind that most retail shops are closed on a Sunday (with the exception of the shops around the Grand Place).
If you’ve ever wondered what actually goes on within the European Parliament, then don’t forget to visit the Parlamentarium. Interactive multimedia displays guide you through the history of Europe and allow you to further appreciate the impact parliament has on our lives.
Whether you’re visiting Brussels on business or pleasure, you can’t really miss the Grand Place or Grote Markt – the central square of Brussels. Surrounded by guildhalls, the city’s Town Hall and the Breadhouse, the square provides an ever-changing calendar of entertainment throughout the year and is one of Belgium’s most memorable landmarks.
For a slice of history in a modern Brussels, don’t miss the Horta Museum on Rue Americaine. Originally designed and built by Victor Horta, one of the founders of Art Nouveau, the museum is now one of the only places in the city where you can see his signature design style in all its stunning glory.
Visit the Atomium, is probably one of Europe’s most bizarre buildings located just north of Brussels. The iconic 335ft tall landmark consists of stainless steel tubes connected to spheres forming the shape of a “unit cell of an iron crystal”. The top sphere has stunning views overlooking the city. At night the spheres sparkle and the restaurant opens for business!
The Magritte Museum, located in the heart of Brussels at the Place Royale, displays more than 200 works of the surrealist Belgian Rene Magritte. The collection consists of oil canvasses, gouaches, drawings, sculptures and painted objects as well as advertising posters, musical scores, vintage photographs and films produced by the surrealist artist.
+ Information about Belgium
Below you can see some extra information and travel tips, you are welcome to leave comments if you have travel ideas you want to share.
The Dutch-speaking region in the Northern part of Belgium, Flanders, is home to the stunning cities of Bruges, Ghent, Ostend and Antwerp. Fly to Brussels and simply catch the train underneath the Brussels Airport terminal building to one of these amazing historic cities. Each of these cities are individual and distinctive in their own way and offer the perfect getaway for a break full of culture, art, architecture, art, shopping and gastronomy.
The old city is build around the very impressive cathedral and was home to the great masters Rubens and Anthony Van Dyck. Nowadays the city is renowned as the starting place of many fashion designers like the famous Antwerp Six (including Dries Van Noten and Dirk Bikkenbergs). Antwerp offers a wide variety of bars, restaurants and clubs, antique shops and art galleries. The city has an impressive range of architecture on offer from medieval townhouses, Art Nouveau buildings to a very futuristic law court. Antwerp is also know as the Diamond Capital of the world, so for those looking to bargain hunt for a diamond, this city is the perfect destination.
Known as the “Venice of the North”, Bruges is one of Europe’s most-visited medieval cities. The city is surrounded by a ring of picturesque canals, perfect to explore by boat. Take a stroll through the stunning market squares and the tranquil Begijnhof, which is simply stunning if the sun is out! Whenever you go to Bruges, don’t forget your camera!
Ghent is Flanders’ hidden gem, and a real favourite amongst the Belgians. This medieval canal city offers nearly a thousand listed buildings but remains small enough to feel cosy but big enough to be vibrant. You’ll find some fascinating museums in the city but don’t miss out on viewing the world famous “The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb” – the beautiful representation of medieval religious thinking.
Good restaurants in Brussels
Brussels has a well renowned reputation for its excellent food. In recent years, local chefs have been experimenting on giving traditional Belgian dishes a new and unique gastronomic twist. For Belgians dining out is a way of life and each meal has to be a tasty good food experience with excellent customer service set in a beautiful décor. When you fly to Brussels from Newcastle or East Midlands, make sure you visit the world famous Rue de Bouchee area, location near the Grand Place – a maze a cobbled streets, full of quirky individual restaurants full of character. We really recommend you try some typical Belgian dishes such Moules Frites, Stoemp (bangers and mash), Flemish asparagus or stoofvlees (beef stew)! Although Belgium is often identified with waffles, chips, beer and chocolate, make sure you try something a bit more unusual on your trip!
Hotels in Brussels
You’ll find that accommodation in the capital during the weekend can be very inexpensive. The city offers a real mixture of B&B’s, hostels, budget hotels moving on to the more luxury boutique and chain hotels. If you’re just going to Brussels for a short break, we recommend you stop close to the Grand Place or the exclusive Avenue Louise.
The Made In Louise is a reasonably priced boutique hotel set in an historic 18th Century building on a quiet street in a residential area of Brussels. Just a few blocks from Avenue Louise, the area has superb transport links to and from the city centre via tram and Metro, and is situated near to museums, parks and shopping areas.
The award-winning Aloft Brussels Schuman is an ideal choice whether you plan to work or play while in Brussels. With its prime location in the heart of the European quarter, all major EU institutions are within walking distance and the hotel is just minutes from the city centre. All rooms feature comfortable beds, oversized spa showers and 42-inch flat-screen TVs.
Listed as one of the 65 most luxurious hotels by Condé Nast Traveller, one of CNBC Business Magazine’s top 25 business hotels in Europe and Tripadvisor’s Travellers Choice 2012 winner, Be Manos is undoubtedly one of the best hotels in Brussels. Its 60 rooms and suites are all decorated in timeless black and white with modern accents, while the restaurant, Be Lella, offers a taste of pure luxury.
Located in an exclusive area, in front of Metro St Catherine, near the Grand Place, the Brussels Welcome Hotel impresses with its original concept and its 17 rooms, each representing a different country, including destinations such as Bali, Kenya and Zanzibar. Buffet breakfast is included in all hotel rates and parking, free Wi-Fi and private airport transfers are available upon request. Luxury rooms and suites have the added bonus of a Jacuzzi!
Offering the ideal escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, you’ll find the Sofitel Brussels Le Louise just off the stylish Avenue Louise. Set in the European District and close to the Grand Place, the Sofitel Brussels Europe is an elegant five-star hotel within easy reach of many of the city’s main attractions.
Stylish and central, Hotel Amigo is a Rocco Forte Hotel, which claims to be the best luxury hotel in Brussels. Close to the financial and antiques districts, Hotel Amigo is located in Grand Place in the heart of Brussels. www.hotelamigo.com