10 Things To Know When Traveling In Brussels, Belgium

Mont Des Arts | JoaquinAranoa/Pixabay
Mont Des Arts | JoaquinAranoa/Pixabay
Photo of Bridgette Gottwald
1 December 2017

Planning on traveling to Brussels? Good choice! Among the litany of things to see and do in the capital, it is also important to be in the know – and we’ve got the tips. Whether it’s finding more opportunities to discover different areas of the city to exploring the national cuisine, you may learn something that some visitors may not have considered before.

A small city with many communes

Although Brussels is a small city, it is composed of 19 municipalities, meaning there are plenty of areas waiting to be discovered. Whether it be checking out the trendy cultural scene of St.Gilles or the area of Ixelles, visitors should be sure to take a look beyond just the Grand Place.

🔑 #ontheroofs #saintgilles #hoteldeville

A photo posted by sebastien nagy (@ssnnas) on

The weather isn’t always perfect

The weather in Brussels is ever changing and not always ideal. It can easily go from sunny and gorgeous to a 30 minute spell of rain, and then back to sunshine. In fact, you will find that the weather is one of the hottest topics of conversation in Belgium. Rest assured, there are many unique cultural experiences in Brussels to take advantage of on these rainy days. Situated right near Mont Des Arts, there is the Musical Instruments Museum, which hosts an extensive collection and offers headphones for visitors to listen to extracts of the unique sounds for each instrument. Located near each other in the Cinquantenaire Park of Brussels are two museums also worth checking out: The Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History, and Autoworld. The former displays antique military uniforms, weapons, vehicles and military equipment from different time periods and countries. The latter, houses the treasures and history of the motor car.

Enjoy Brussels’ green spaces

Brussels is known for its vast green spaces. There are numerous parks worth exploring, as well as the gorgeous Sonian Forest. The dense and expansive Sonian Forest lies at the south-eastern edge of Brussels, consisting of mainly European beeches and oaks and is the perfect place to catch an afternoon sunset. Some of the most famous parks in Brussels are the Bois de la Cambre, the Petit Salon Square, the Mont Des Arts garden and the Park du Cinquantenaire. When the weather is nice, these are some of the best places to spend your time taking in the scenic views, fresh air, and local scene.

Bois de la Cambre à Bruxelles ,vue sur le lac depuis l'ile Robinson | Stephane Mignon/Flickr

Save up, the shopping in Brussels is exceptional

It’s worth knowing that there is a strong fashion culture in Brussels. The DNA of Belgian fashion is best described as explicit, surreal and avant-garde. So be prepared, because there are plenty of streets that are perfect for walking and perusing by all of the glorious shops – Avenue Louise being one of the most iconic and popular.

Take advantage of the local markets

When it comes to markets in Brussels, there is certainly no shortage of excellent options. Get a local experience by sampling delicious prepared food or hunting for antique treasures. Notable open-air markets include Flagey and Châtelain. Both host a number of stands that sell everything from homemade products to fresh produce, as well as a diverse sampling of international food ranging from Thai to Pakistani cuisine. Marche de Tanneurs is also a well-known market that sells organic products from sustainable producers. In addition to food markets, Brussels offers wonderful opportunities to buy local art, antiques or special treasures. Stop by the Jeu de Belle flea market where visitors can search through second hand shops and antique dealers for special pieces. Some of the best European antiques can also be found at the Petit Sablon. Don’t be afraid to negotiate in order to get a bargain.

The markets at Flagey | © Bridgette Gottwald

Delectable cuisine in the city

Beer in Belgium is no joke, each beer has a special glass that it is served with, allowing the liquid to obtain the proper amount of oxygen, and enhancing its natural flavors. Food wise, there are numerous Belgian specialties to try. Of course, many meals, no matter how fancy they are, are accompanied by a side of frites – a Belgian specialty on its own. Be sure to agree with the locals that frites originated in Belgium, not France! Not to be overlooked, Brussels also contains a vast number of locations to indulge in desserts. Whether it be snacking on a tasty waffle or savoring macaroons or chocolate, individuals can expect a rich experience – surprisingly, not always at a high cost.

Seasonal festivals

Brussels is the capital of Europe, so there is always something fun going on. Whether you’re looking for a music festival, chocolate event, or film festival, Brussels has a powerful cultural agenda for visitors coming to the capital.

Belgian Beer Weekend 2014 | © David Taquin/Flickr

Traveling in Belgium

Although there is plenty to see and do in the city to keep visitors busy, it’s no secret that Brussels’ location is also an ideal starting point when planning day trips. Here is where Belgium’s small size comes into play, as visitors can take full advantage of the proximity to the Belgian coast, the Ardennes, or another Belgian city.

Universiteitsbibliotheek Leuven | © Hühnerauge/Flickr

The Manneken Pis isn’t that big, so don’t be disappointed!

Situated in the Grand Place area, visitors will find the iconic Manneken Pis. Some may be expecting a large statue, but will be surprised to find there isn’t much to it besides for a little boy peeing into the fountain. Occasionally the Manneken Pis will be dressed in exotic costume.

The mannekin pis | ©Pixabay

You can survive without being able to speak French or Dutch

In Brussels and in the center of Belgium, most people speak French, while people within the Flanders region tend to speak Dutch. Visitors are able to get by with English, as it tends to be fairly common and accepted in Belgium. Because Brussels is such an international city, Belgians tend to be more understanding if individuals are not native speakers to either the Dutch or French language.

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