When I hear Brussels all that comes to my mind is beers, waffles and chocolates. I’ve been in Brussels seven times (all of them for business) most of the times visiting the European Commission. The first time I visited Brussels was in 2010 and since then I go there every year. It’s the capital of the European Union which hosts the European Commission (my previous job was related to the EC), Council and Union.
Getting to Brussels
The city has two airports, Brussels airport and Charleroi (flights at this airport tend to be cheaper since it’s not in the center of Brussels). From Brussels airport you can take the train to the city center which is about 30 minutes and costs 8.50. If you get off at Charleroi there’s a bus shuttle (10 euros) which takes about an hour to midi station from there you can get the metro to anywhere you wish within the city. Don’t get a taxi from Charleroi to Brussels city center, it will cost you around 150 Euros.
If you are reading this and you are from Cyprus then you might know that Ryanair has cheap and direct flights to Brussels from Larnaca airport.
I’ve stayed at five hotels including:
My top choice is of course Hotel Bloom! Amazing rooms, very near the shops, they provide you with a coffee machine in the room. Loved it and stayed there twice. Pantone and Chelton are my next two top choices compared to Alma (centrally located but you cannot control the central heating yourself, you have to call reception all the time) and Theatre (in a rough area near the Red Light District so avoid although it’s relevantly cheap and nice).
Beers, Chocolates and Waffles
Brussels is about beers, chocolates and waffles. There are many stores selling a variety of chocolates each of them with its own special tastes. Marcolini is a famous for its chocolates and it’s located at the grand place.
Delirium is my favourite bar which offers more than 2000 different beers from all over the world. They even have beer from Cyprus. Here you can have beers with the taste of cheery, chocolate and even banana. If you are in Brussels you have to go there. Check out their Facebook page for more information. I’ve even bought the menu with all the beers since I’m a fan.
There’s a variety of options of places to eat all soft of cuisines such as Belgian, French, Italian Greek etc. The classics dishes to have are mussels and fries (frites as you’ll see them on the ads). I’ve tried mussels once but I didn’t found this dish to be special. To be honest my favourite spots for food in Brussels in Hard Rock Brussels and 9 Et Voisins (really, this place is amazing).
I would recommend you avoid having lunch or dinner near the tourist and shopping districts (its very easy to spot these places since the people working there are ‘begging’ you to go inside for food). They will indicated that with a fixed price you can has a 2 or 3 course meal but service is not included and at the end you will be disappointed by the price and service. Also consult TripAdvisor about a place to see what others have said.
Things to see and do
Grand Place-Grote Markt is the main attraction area of Brussels. It’s surrounded by the city tower and beautiful old buildings.
Manneken Pis is a bronze statue of a child urinating into a pool. Everywhere you go you will see this, on outfits, chocolate figures etc. This is near the Grand Place. Apparently there’s also the female version of this statue called Jeanneke Pis. You’re guessing right, it’s a little girl urinating. This is located on the east side of the Fidelity Alley. As far as I know Jeanneke Pis is quite a new addition to the city.
Atomium is one of the icons of Brussels. I’ve been here once when I had some free time but to be honest there’s not much to see apart from the views. You can enjoy spectacular views of the city from the upper sphere. You can see Mini-Europe which is a set of scale models of famous European structures such as Big Ben, Eiffel Tower erc.
Tip: If you’ve heard of the Red Light District in Brussels you should know that it’s totally different from the one in Amsterdam and it’s a waste of time (the area is illegal and these places are said to be ‘bars’ but in reality they’re not. Avoid.
Photos I’ve taken in Brussels since 2010