The City of Brussels is the largest municipality and historical centre of the Brussels-Capital Region, and the de jure capital of Belgium. Belgium is nick named the capital of Europe. Brussels is famous for its chocolate, beer, and has over 90 museums in its city as well as beautiful parks and architecture that fill the city. The vibe of Brussels is creative as they have a whole sub culture of people who show up to flash mob swims in the public fountains and canal swims which is illegal. There is a vibrant hip hip underground scene as well as a dumpster public free swimming pool. This city is a mix of modern and ancient historical architecture.
How to get there
Public Transportation from Airport to City Center
There are two airports close to Brussels city. Zaventem (12 km away) and Charleroi (55 km away). There are 4 main ways to get between the airport and the city center: train, bus, taxi and personal car. Renting a personal car is pretty rare, a taxi is highly expensive and unnecessary, really the main way to travel is by train or bus to the city.
There is a train from Brussels Zaventem Airport to Brussels Central Station every 10 minutes between 5am and midnight, 7 days a week. The train is 18 minutes and costs €12,70. Then you will need transportation from Central Station to your accommodations.
Every airport bus leaves and arrives at the bus station at Level 0.
The Airport Line is a public Brussels airport bus that takes you to the city centre. There are two buses: Line 12 and Line 21. Line 12 (Mon-Fri to 8pm) and only travels to main stations. The only metro stop is Schuman (EU Headquarters) and the last stop is Luxemburg station.
Line 21 (after 8pm on weekdays and weekends) has more stops and ends at Hertog/Ducale, the metro stops are Schuman and Trone. The last stop is close to the city just outside the Royal Palace, 10 minutes walk from Brussels Centrale.
De Lijn bus company runs from Brussels airport to Brussels city center. And also to the regional areas of Brussels such as Leuven and Kortenberg. The bus 471 goes to and from Brussel-Nord station and is 45 minutes. Number 659 takes you to and from metro station Roodebeek.
This gives you access to around 30 museums in the city for free, monuments, guided tours and money off at stores, restaurants and bars for 22 euros a card per person. This is the way to travel and save in Brussels.
- Free entrance to 39 museums and attractions around Brussels
- Free use of public transport system
- Discounts at many other attractions, shops, restaurants, bars and nightclubs
- A guidebook with information about museums and services participating
- There is a public transport version of the card that contains all of your public transit options unlimited
Things to do
Mont des Arts
This is a historical place in the city with geometrically designed museums that fill this area donated to the city as a space for art. There are manicured gardens with fountains and a huge outdoor space for the city to be outside. There are rows of trees planted artistically with cut shrubs in different patterns and shapes and colors. The whole garden is truly a work of art. This spot is close to the main square and one of the best places to feel outdoors in the city but inside nature as well. There is a lookout point as this spot in the city is on a hill and this is a superb spot to watch the sunset over the city. There are lots of local musicians who play here and benches for the public. This is a part of the historic hub of the city and is a hidden gem. This park is free and open to the public 24/7.
Hours: Open 24 hours
Price: Free Admission
Royal Gallery of Saint Hubert
This is an ornate shopping mall under an arched glass roof that has high-end shops, restaurants & theaters. There are lots of cafes with seating under the vaulted ceilings, and delicious baked goodies. The architecture is magnificent and feels like a grand spot for tea in the city. The mall is a 200-meter-long glass-paned hallway of light and historical beauty. Currently the structure is waiting to be added to the UNESCO World Heritage list, and is a luxurious Italian-style arcade from 1847. It reminded me a lot of Italy and the majesty of the architecture there. There are lots of clothing boutiques, as well as the Théâtre du Vaudeville.
Hours: Open 24 hours
Pool is Cool, Outdoor Dumpster Pool
There is a movement that happened in Brussels in 2017 with Pool is Cool, a group that was set on bringing pack public pools into Brussels City. They had disappeared and people were asking for a public pool. So there was a dumpster brought as an art installation project filled with water as a public pool space with a seating area, shower and trendy hangout area near Galerie Ravenstein Restaurant downtown. There is street art that says YO, YO, YO which is a part of Brussels hip hop movement. There are lots of cultural and art pieces in this area of town that are really cool and make it a trendy spot especially in summer. There is a skatepark as well as pallet wood furniture that was not fully constructed yet when I first visited in the photo above. This was such a cool spot of the city that was fun to hang out in.
Hours: Open to the public
Jat’ Cafe Janson
This coffee shop was one of our favorite in the city. This is a quiet, trendy modern cafe. The cafe has huge windows, lots of warm wood and modern colorful decor. They are known for their delicious bagel sandwiches, salads and are a popular brunch spot. They have fresh and local ingredients on display and make juices and amazing meals. This spot has amazing breakfast and brunch.
Hours: 7:30am-7pm daily
Grand Place Market
Grand Place Market is a massive city square completely surrounded by elegant historic buildings dating back to the 14th century. The square is an architectural beauty, and one of my favorite spots in the city. There are many cafes and restaurants surrounding the plaza and it is a great spot to eat dinner overlooking the plaza. There are many charming historic streets surrounding the Grand Place. This part of town feels like an Old Town historic area. This square is a beautiful spot to enjoy in the city.
Hours: 9am-8pm daily
St Michael and St Gudula Cathedral, Brussels
This grand cathedral is Belgium’s national church, host to royal weddings & funerals, built in the Brabant Gothic style. This is a beautiful historical building in the downtown of Brussels and so peaceful inside with gorgeous stained glass windows. The inside of the cathedral is just as grand and stunning. There are grand sculptures inside and it truly is a work of art. It is said in the spring that the cathedral is home to nesting falcons and you can watch and see them flying around the cathedral. Mass is held everyday twice a day at 7:45am and 12:30pm.
Hours: 7am-6pm daily
Price: Free entrance
This cafe/juice bar sits at the top of the hill of the Brussels park city and Mont des Arts overlook across the street from the top of the mont de arts city overlook. It has a patio outside with a lot of seating. They have fresh pastries, baked goods and homemade juice that is a popular place with amazing sandwiches. This is a hip trendy spot with big windows and lots of plants in the windows with comfy pillowed window seating. This was our favorite lunch spot for sure! Everything is fresh, home made, local ingredients and healthy amazing food.
Hours: 9am-7pm daily
Royal Palace of Brussels
The Royal Palace is the Palace of the constitutional monarchy, with throne & other state rooms open for tours each summer. There are beautiful manicured gardens surrounding the whole palace as well. Brussels Park is across the street and is a free open park and garden space to the public. This is where the seat of the monarch of Belgium resides. Entry is free but only for a few weeks a year.
Hours: 10:30am-3:45pm daily business hours. Open from Saturday 22 July to Sunday 3 September 2017, from 10.30 am, last admission at 3.45 pm (closing at 5 pm). Closed on Monday.
Price: Free entrance
Brussels Park is the gorgeous gardens and space across the street from the Royal Palace of Belgium. This is a lush royal park on the site of a former hunting ground, with statues, a fountain & outdoor theaters. There are free concerts all throughout the summer as well as food festivals with lots of different vendors and stands to buy delicious things. We stumbled across a free summer concert that was in a fun gazebo stage in the central portion of the park. This is a great spot to run, yoga groups meet here as well as a hub of the city for picnics and a central hangout spot. We took one afternoon after a busy morning touring to lay out in the grass and rest in the spacious park and it was so peaceful.
Hours: 6am-10pm daily
Price: Free admission
Atomium Art Structure
This is a giant sculpture of a stainless steel atom, that has particles connected by escalators, with exhibitions & views from 92m. There are 3-4 accessible balls with different themes. The sculpture is nearby many beautiful gardens and parks. This is a great city viewpoint and spot to try to watch the sunset.
Hours: 10am-6pm daily
Price: An adult ticket is €15 a person. Book here.
This is a famous bar in Brussels with more than 2000 types of beer, brewery memorabilia & live music on Thursday evenings. This spot is in the center hub of the city 5 minutes from the Grand Palace. The ambiance is so unique in Delirium with lots of activity, noise and big wooden communal tables with eccentric decor covering the walls. This is a cool spot to hang out in the city with several floors and cozy spots.
Hours: 10am-4am daily, Sundays closes at 2am
Where to Stay
The hostel is decked out in cartoon drawings which the city is known for with a fun huge communal hangout space in brick and huge windows and light. This is an artistic space with a bar and restaurant in house with tons of seating. This is a street art upscale hostel.
Price: $115USD/night, book here
Villa Botanique Guesthouse
This is a historical 17th century townhouse to capture some of the charm and character of the city. There is a wooden rooftop terrace that has beautiful views of the city and is more a boutique hostel that is vintage charm.
Price: $105USD/night, book here