Book Flights to Brussels (BRU)

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Book Flights to Brussels (BRU)

Interesting facts about Brussels

Brussels, the unofficial capital of Europe, is a bilingual beauty, which has a lot more to offer than just its infamous EU bureaucracy. The city's magnificent architecture is a mix between Gothic, Neoclassical, Jugend and modern styles. It is also home to one of the most picturesque squares in all of Europe. Whether you’re planning a trip for business or for pleasure, uncover the city’s best bits with this Finnair travel guide to Brussels.

Sights in Brussels

Many first-time visitors to Brussels start their trip at the impressive Grand Place (Grote Markt). The statuesque square is surrounded by beautiful buildings, some of which date back more than 300 years. The former guildhalls are especially striking when seen illuminated at nighttime. Brussels has several fountains, with three of the most interesting also some of the city’s quirkiest sights. No trip to Brussels is complete until you’ve seen the urinating statues of Manneken Pis, Jeanneke Pis and the newest canine addition, Zinneke Pis. Other major landmarks include the gleaming Atomium, with some of the orbs open to members of the public, the enormous Basilique du Sacré Coeur, the Statue of Europe, the Bourse and the Law Courts of Brussels. The Royal Palace is also well worth a visit. Take a guided tour of the European Parliament to learn more about the workings of this famous institution.

Mini Europe, with its scale models of iconic European landmarks, is especially popular with children. Younger visitors are also often fascinated by the displays in the Natural Sciences Museum of Belgium. Brussels boasts many museums dedicated to various topics and themes. BELvue Museum is a top place to get an overview of Belgium’s history. Art lovers have plenty to please, including the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Magritte Museum and the Royal Art and History Museum. Others include the Royal Museum for Central Africa, Autoworld, Horta Museum, the Belgian Jewish Museum and the Belgian Comic Strip Center. Additionally, you can have a taste of the famous Belgian beer at the unique bars or brewery museums of, for example, St-Gilles (Sint-Gillis) and Ixelles (Elsene). Parc du Cinquantenaire (Jubelpark) is a pleasant place to relax for a while, and the top of the Arc de Triomphe-Triomfboog provides sweeping views over the city. Brussels' other attractions include the lively cafes and trendy spots for an evening out.    

Things to See and Do Near Brussels

  • Woluwé-Saint-Pierre – This commune on the outskirts of the city has an impressive city hall, the leafy Woluwe Park, the historic Stoclet House, which contains art by the renowned Gustav Klimt, and a couple of interesting museums.
  • Waterloo – A must for people who are interested in wartime history, visit Waterloo Battlefield where Napoleon was defeated for the very last time.
  • Sint-Pieters-Leeuw – This rural area is mainly interesting for the nature reserves of Zuunvallei. Many migrating birds pass through the wetlands and meadows, and springtime sees lots of colourful wild flowers. There’s also a traditional old town that dates back to the 16th century.
  • Leuven – Within easy reach of Brussels, this youthful university city has diverse attractions including the Castle of Arenberg, the Gothic-style City Hall, the UNESCO-listed Beguinage, the botanical garden, and the Museum M.

Shopping in Brussels

As the nation’s capital city and a major meeting point of cultures, Brussels offers a fairly exciting shopping scene. There are markets and malls, and local specialities include Belgian beers, chocolates and lace. Do note that many stores don’t open on Sundays and Mondays.

  • Les Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert – One of the oldest shopping centres in the world, dating back to the 1840s, shopping here combines touches of historic elegance with modern conveniences. The three areas feature clothing boutiques, cafes, bookshops and other retail and leisure outlets.
  • Grand Place (Grote Markt) – Many souvenir shops can be found around this famous square. In December, the square is transformed into a winter wonderland with a large Christmas market.
  • Galeria Inno – This large department store is dedicated to fashions for both men and women, with clothing, footwear, accessories, cosmetics, perfumes and aftershaves, toiletries and other personal items available.
  • Neuhaus – A top place to source a range of fine Belgian chocolates.
  • Beer Mania – Stocks a huge selection of national beers and is popular with tourists.
  • Anderlecht Market – A weekend market that sees relatively few tourists, this is a great place to experience traditional Belgian shopping.
  • Marché du Midi (Zuidmarkt) – This is one of the largest markets in Europe. You’ll find an extensive assortment of goods here, with traders from around the country, different places in Europe and even North Africa.

Food and Drink

  • Beer – With many breweries in and around the city, not to mention the fact that Belgium is world-famous for its beers, trying locally produced lagers and ales is something of a must-do when in Brussels. Interestingly, most beers are served in their own special glass!
  • Mussels – These seafood treats are incredibly common around Belgium. They are often served with French fries.
  • Waffles – Found all around the country, the Belgian waffle is sweet and filling. The local version in Brussels is square, topped with powdered sugar and a choice of other toppings, including cream, banana, chocolate sauce, strawberries and others.
  • Chocolate – There are numerous chocolatiers around the city, selling the very best quality Belgian chocolates.
  • Stoemp – A hearty comfort food, consisting of mashed potatoes and vegetables.
  • Anguille au vert – Although the presence of river eels may deter you at first, do try this local dish when in Brussels. While generally a dish cooked at home, you can still find it on the menus of some speciality restaurants. River eels are cooked in a green herb sauce, creating a dish that is somewhere between a stew and a soup.

Transport in Brussels

Brussels has excellent public transportation options, though the heart of the city is reasonably compact and easy to walk around. Tourists can also take advantage of the numerous speciality tours, including those that focus on local gastronomy, chocolate, beer, history, architecture, nightlife and more.

  • By foot – Exploring Brussels on foot is fairly easy, with many sites located close to each other and plenty of pedestrianised areas in the old part of the city. Do make sure that you wear suitable footwear, though, to cope with cobbles and wintertime slush, snow and ice.
  • By bike – Brussels is a bike-friendly city, with many Belgians opting to cycle from place to place when going about their daily business. There are numerous bike rental stations around the city, and you can return bikes to a different station than the one you took the bike from. Prices are reasonable and you can pay by credit card at machines at each rental station.
  • Metro – Clean, efficient, safe and reasonably priced, Brussels’ metro system is a good way to get around the city. There are four lines and you can purchase tickets at the stations. Day passes can be cost effective and they also allow people to use local buses and trams.
  • Trams – Three tram lines cross the city.
  • Buses – Brussels is served by a large network of buses. Most services stop running in the evenings, though there are some limited night buses too. Tickets can be bought from machines at larger bus stops or you can pay the driver. Hop-on hop-off bus tours can be ideal for people who want to cover a lot of ground in a short space of time.
  • Taxis – Taxis are plentiful in Brussels. Fares are calculated by the meter and standard charges apply. Surcharges apply for journeys at night.
  • Horse-drawn carriage – Mainly used for sightseeing rather than an actual way of getting from one place to another, horse-drawn carriage rides are available in the Old Town.

*Fares include all applicable taxes and surcharges.

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Weather in Brussels

12°C 29.02.2020
9°C 01.03.2020
6°C 02.03.2020
6°C 03.03.2020
7°C 04.03.2020
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