Brussels: Where to stay and what to see!
I was living in Brussels for 7 years in total and did all of my studies there, this is therefore a hard blog post for me to do as I love so many places in Brussels. Although it really wasn't one of my favourite cities in the beginning, with time and experience, I was able to find amazing places making it today one of my favourite places to go to. Brussels has a lot of culture, artsy places, delicious restaurants and a fun nightlife. It is such an international city, making it so easy to meet new people.
It is definitely a must to visit Brussels -- so here is my guide to a trip in Brussels
Getting to Brussels is really easy. There are great train and bus connections between all capitals of European countries. The main train stations are Gare Centrale, Gare du Midi, Gare du Luxembourg, and Gare du Nord. Gare Centrale and Gare du Luxembourg for me are the safest. The buses also usually go to the train stations.
If you arrive by plane, there are two airports:
Brussel Charleroi: this airport is further away, about 1 hour to get there, but it usually serves off more destinations.
Brussel Zaventem: is the closest airport. The drive only takes about 15 minutes.
Both airports are very well connected with public transport and trains.
Brussels has many amazing areas to stay at, so it really depends what you come to do in Brussels. There are however, also some not so good places to go to, where you can feel unsafe at night time, so it is probably best you avoid these. Here is a list of my favourite places to stay in Brussels.
Avenue Louise: This is one of the main shopping streets of Brussels. It is also located next to one of the main club of Brussels: Bloody Louis, next to the Cinema: UGC, and at a walking distance from touristy attractions. Walking distance from the center! My personal favourite!
Chaussée D'ixelles: This street is parallel to the Avenue Louise. It is also a shopping street -- cheaper shops than on Avenue Louise. Avoid Matongé though, opt for a place closer to the Ixelles town hall. It is also closer to very good restaurants and bars. Walking distance from the center!
Flagey: A fun and lively square in Brussels. Very close to Avenue Louise and Chaussée D'ixelles, but also close to the University area. You can be in the center within 15 minutes by bus (Bus 71). It is also located next to the ponds of Ixelles, which is great to chill at if the weather is nice.
The center: Although the center is not my favourite place to stay at, this is where people tend to want to stay at. If you do, I would recommend you to stay around Place St. Catherine or Place St. Gery. I never felt very safe anywhere else in the center to be honest, however, it is close to everything.
Sablon: Located ideally between the center and Ixelles. Very nice place to stay at, however, the surroundings are pretty expensive. It is mostly known for its antique shops!
By the university: This is filled with students, obviously. It's a great safe place for partying! Also close to the big Bois de la Cambre - woods :)
My advice if you are on a budget is to stay at Hostels or Airbnbs. On average you will pay 27 euros per night in a hostel and for an airbnb from 40 to 70 euros per night.
Grand Place: The main square of Brussels! This is a beautiful place, actually, for me, it is the most beautiful I have seen out of all the countries I have visited. The architecture is simply amazing. On this square you can see the town hall but also the king's house, and the Brussel museum. This is a UNESCO world heritage site. It is also beautiful to see during the night time as they have amazing lighting -- you can't miss it!
Manneken Pis: Once you are at the Grand Place, the Manneken Pis is super close! Follow the signs or simply ask -- it's in a small street filled with chocolate shops, you will find the best belgian waffles here.
Jeanneke Pis: Yes, there is a female version! It is located in the same street as the famous delirium cafe (see description below).
Place St. Catherine: This is a great little place to see if the weather is nice. A lot of people hang out here to grab a drink or chill by the water.
Atomium: The landmark sculpture of Brussels. Inside there is a museum as well as a restaurant. The Atomium is located 30 minutes away from the center of Brussels if you use public transport. Take a bus or metro to Heizel, this is bus number 6 towards Roi Baudouin if you take it from Gare du Midi.
The royal place: Go see the royal palace! This isn't actually where the King and Queen live, but it is great to see it. During the summer they also have open doors to see inside! Next to the palace, you have the royal park, which is a great place to take a stroll.
Mont des arts: This is a nice place to walk around. You have a very nice view over the city!
Place Poelaert: For the best view over all of Brussels. You even see the Atomium from here! On the same place is located the law court of Brussels. Although it has been under construction for the past years, it remains one of the main landmarks.
Place du Petit Sablon: Great place to discover little antique shops, nice restaurants and cafés. There is also a little park located on the other side of the road.
There are so many good restaurants and bars to go to, and probably many, even after 7 years, that I don't know about.. but here are my recommendations:
Let's start with places to have drinks:
Delirium: If you are a beer lover, this is your place. At Delirium Café you can try more than 2000 beers -- it actually holds the Guinness World record for having the most beers to taste! Delirium is also a very touristic place. It is great to meet people, especially travellers. On Thursday they have jam sessions with a great ambiance. You definitely need to go here to say you have really visited Brussels. For hard alcohol lovers or big party people, just in front of the Delirium Café, there is an Absinth bar. Be aware! They are super strong ;) Located right in the city center, so this is a great place also for pre-drinks.
Place St. Gery: This place has many bars for you to choose from. My personal favourite is "les Halles de St. Gery" or "Le roi des Belges". Located right in the center. If you want to dance a little, there are some dancing bars such as "Mezzo".
Via Via: On place St. Catherine. A pretty big bar that is usually packed on the weekend. Also has a terrace!
Pop-Up Sablon: Located on the place du petit Sablon. A great place to stop for a little drink or a quick bite!
Play Label Rooftop Bar: If you are visiting Brussels during the summer and the weather is nice, take advantage of the play label rooftop. This is a pop-up bar located on the top of the Crosly bowling, but has nothing to do with bowling. You will be able to enjoy electronic music, good cocktails and comfy chairs. It is really a great place to go to with friends, or even alone to meet some people!
Rooftop bar of the Jam Hotel: Beautiful rooftop bar with a great view. Try their cocktails, they are really good! Make sure to go when the weather is good. There is also a swimming pool :)
Le petit Insolent: great place with an amazing ambiance! Here you can get typical Corsican food. They also have a wide selection of wines. It is located a little further from town, but very close to the bois de la camber and from the night club "Les Jeux d'hiver"!
Belga: Located on place Flagey. This is where I would go when the sun was out. It has a huge terrace and a great ambiance. A lot of locals go to this place!
La Fabrique: located in the Egmont park! Nice little place for brunch or to enjoy a fresh juice.
Now let's see some Places to eat:
Vinomania: If you are looking to eat typical Spanish food, this is your place to be. Vinomania offers tapas and other spanish dishes as well as great drinks -- try their sangria! Reserve if you want to go during the weekend. Vinomania is only open for dinner and also has a small terrace :) It is located right next to the Ixelles town hall, on square Fernand Cocq.
Yaki: Vietnamese/thai restaurant in the center of Brussels. Very often people just walk past this restaurant, but if you know about it, I can assure you, you will want to go back! The soups are great!
Dam Sum: If you are a dim sum freak like me, you most go to Dam Sum. They have a big list of different dim sums as well as soup dumplings!! They do also have other dishes that are very good :) You cannot reserve so try to go early. Also, I would recommend not going on Sunday, as they do not propose the whole menu on this day. It is closed on Monday.
Belga Queen: This is a very known restaurant in Brussels and a very good venue for a special occasion. Located in an old bank building, you have the choice between a cosy oyster bar to eat fresh seafood or the traditional menu. Both are really delicious. Everything of the Belga Queen restaurant is special, even the toilets -- don't forget to lock the toilet door, or else you will be exhibiting yourself to the others ;)
Aux Armes de Bruxelles: Typical Belgian restaurant with typical Belgian food of course! Located right next to the Delirium Café. This is a great place if you want to eat Moules or beer meatballs :)
Ellie's Burger: There are a few Ellis's burger in Brussels. This restaurant is great if you are craving a good burger!
Makisu: For my sushi lovers! This is a sushi fast food type of restaurant. You can take it away or eat there. For take away, just order online and pick it up. The waiting line is usually long to order. It is always super fresh and they have a lot of choice. You can even create your own sushis and donburi. It is relatively cheap for a sushi restaurant.
Hope you enjoy it!
Comment if you have any questions or if you need more recommendations.