Brussels, the capital of Belgium, is a hub of European traditions and culture. Although it is one of the premier travel destinations in Europe, many people consider Brussels to be a dull and lifeless with nothing much to offer for the tourists. Well, this is far from the truth. The city boasts world-class museums, buildings that reflect the stunning architecture of the 17th century, a vibrant nightlife, and an out-of-this-world dining scene.
What Are The Visa Requirements?
Belgium is a part of Schengen Area so citizens of the USA, and many other countries, can enter Belgium without a visa. However, the visa-free travel in the EU should not exceed 90 days. If you intend to stay for a longer duration then you will need to apply for a longer duration visa. It is to be noted that visas are not required for citizens of countries in the EU. For more information or to inquire about a Belgian visa check out this site.
When Is The Best Time to Visit Brussels?
The best time to visit Brussels is between March and May as the room rates are cheap and the main attractions are rarely crowded. Spring is considered to be ‘shoulder season’ in western Europe and it’s a good time to visit before the summer crowds descend on the city!
The weather remains pleasant throughout the day and the maximum temperature usually hovers around 17 degrees Celsius. It is also a good time to get great deals on flights and hotels – but early reservations are recommended.
It is advisable to avoid the months of November to February as the winters in Belgium are very cold. The city often drops to sub-zero temperatures. However, you will see a lot of crowds at the Christmas and New Year markets. It is also a good time to attend the many holiday parties and events that are held at this time of the year. Winter in Belgium can be great if you can handle the cold!
Brussels City Tips
If you are in Brussels then you cannot leave the town without tasting some of their legendary chocolate! Or better, pack a couple of boxes for your friends and families back home! Just head to one of the many chocolate shops strewn across the city, sample one or two pieces and pack a box if you like the taste. For an authentic taste of Belgian chocolates check out the famed Pierre Marcolini chocolate shop at Place du Grand Sablon.
If you like shopping, then Brussels will not disappoint you! The best place to shop is along Rue Neuve, which boasts some of the biggest names in the fashion world. It’s worth a walk just for the atmosphere – even if you’re not into designer goods! You may also check out Galeria Inno which is a quaint little mall with wonderful surroundings.
Belgium is not known for its chocolates alone; after all, it is the birthplace of the most celebrated cartoonists in the world – Georges Remi. Georges Remi was the creator of Tintin the popular European comic. There are as many as 50 massive murals featuring the characters of Tintin scattered around Brussels. They will surely bring a smile on your face!
Don’t forget to check out the giant-sized Tintin adorning a particular wall of the city. We won’t tell you where to find it though, with a little bit of exploration you are bound to come across it!
Also, you shouldn’t miss a chance at the local cuisine in Brussels. One dish that is an absolute must-try is the Onion soup. There are many stalls that sell onion soup at the Marolles Flea Market. Or, you may opt to sample a bowl of this legendary soup from one of the stalls in the streets of Haute & Blaes.
Getting a Hotel in Brussels
Brussels is pretty small compared to other European capitals. This is actually pretty good as it means you can conveniently reach any location in the city. It’s actually possible to move from one point to another in just 40 min or even less by foot. If you are planning to choose a hotel in Brussels then do consider the neighborhood of Les Marolles. This area is perfect for those who want to explore the city like a local. This area is home to a diverse mix of cultures adding vibrant color to the city. There is a popular flea market here which sells clothes and antiques.
Another neighborhood that can be considered by tourists is the Sablon where double rooms are available from around EUR 100. This area in Brussels is known for its beautiful Gothic buildings and the legendary Belgian chocolate shops. The Eglise Notre-Dame du Sablon is a stunningly beautiful Gothic church that is famous for its architectural beauty. So if you choose a hotel in Sablon, you won’t be very far from this iconic landmark in Brussels.
The city of Brussels has a lot to offer. Visitors will appreciate the history that has seeped into Belgium’s art and architecture.
Here are the top things to see in Brussels
- The Grand Palace is listed among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites and once you are here you will understand why this building is so revered. The stunning architecture and sparkling grandeur will keep you captivated for hours.
- If you are a big fan of royal buildings and history then your next stop should be the Palais Royal. The doors are opened to the public during summer and the building is just a short distance from the Grand Palace. They can easily be seen together, with a quick lunch-stop in between.
- While you are in Brussels do not forget to the visit the famous Horta Museum. One of the forerunners of Art Nouveau, Victor Horta, lived in this house which has been converted into a very interesting museum.
What to Eat in Brussels
Belgium is known for its wide variety of chocolates and beer but there are plenty of other food items that might just compel you to stay longer. If you are still not convinced then you must try the Belgian waffles. Brussels cannot be fully enjoyed without taking the time to enjoy a waffle. Rather than being served with butter, most Belgian waffles are packed with generous portions of cream and sauce. They are very soft and crunchy and found throughout nearly every corner of the city.
If you want to eat like a local then you must try the Moules Frites which are very delicious to eat. It is one of the national dishes of Belgium and mainly consists of fried potatoes and cooked mussels. This dish is available in a number of variants such as beer or white wine sauce.
Do you want to try something different for lunch? Then simply order up a Dame Blanche. It looks like a large ice-cream sundae with multiple scoops of vanilla ice-cream cloaked in gooey Belgian chocolate. If you are traveling with kids, or have a sweet tooth, then this dish is a can’t-miss!
What to Bring in to Brussels
It is always wise to do location-specific packing and Brussels is no exception. Weather in Brussels can be unpredictable at times. It can range from very warm during the day, to very chilly at night. So do pack in a sweatshirt and an umbrella if luggage space permits. You will also need to bring a pair of comfortable walking shoes. Brussels, like most European cities, is walkable – but too much walking can be hard on your feet.
Brussels has 220v outlets and electrical plugs are 2 – pin. So, if you are planning to visit Brussels. Belgium from outside the EU, you will need an adapter. Power converters are readily available at the airport, or if you prefer to plan ahead you can pick up my favorite adaptor from Amazon.com
Another thing that I would recommend bringing to Brussels is a dependable power bank for your smartphone. It’s fun to walk around the city and explore, but getting stuck without Google maps is no fun!
Check out our other Travel Guides for information on travel around Europe!