Brussels is a historic and culturally rich Belgian city that seems to have undergone a transformation from 10th century small town into a city that contains over a million inhabitants in a relatively short timescale, and is now one of the main sights to see in Europe.
Brussels is rapidly gaining a reputation as a tourist destination in Europe, due largely to its small-town appeal, stylish bars, wonderful nightlife and numerous museums which are major attractions. But now Brussels is also becoming a center for style, art and design and is attracting more and more of the big names in international fashion to its rapidly expanding shopping districts and home-grown Belgium designers are quickly gaining international notoriety.
Historically Flemish speaking, Brussels became increasingly French-speaking over the 19th and 20th centuries and now, both languages have official status. English has become more widespread due to the EU influence but it is still relatively difficult to find written tourist information in English, and outside of the institutions it is not widely spoken.
However, you can always find good food in Brussels, and no-one can visit without trying the (very) famous chocolate. You will find it everywhere but THE place to go is the Place du Grand Sablon-Grote Zavel Plein; here you’ll find three stores selling the most delectable chocolate on the planet! Of course, one cannot mention the food without talking of Belgian fries (frites) – apart from the standard mayonnaise, some of the other dips/sauces really must be sampled. And of course, one cannot go to Brussels without trying Belgian waffles, dusted with powdered sugar and a choice of bananas, whipped cream and a host of other toppings.
It’s not difficult to find out what’s going on in the area and it is easy to get hold of a free copy of the city newspaper, Zone 2 or Agenda which is affiliated with the Brussel Deze Week or Dutch- language weekly paper – all of these can easily be found at local cafes and bars around the city.
Aside from being a haven for galleries and museums, it wouldn’t do to miss other culturally rich and historical attractions in Brussels such as the Grand Palace, The Royal Saint Herbert Galleries, the Town Hall, the Cathedral of Saints or the Royal Palace when making the journey to this part of Belgium, mainly due to the fantastic architecture and art on display which provides insights into the city’s past.
There are many tours available, including bike tours, city tours and architectural tours, and by train or car you could also easily venture out of the city to surrounding areas like Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague or even Utrecht if you wished.
So if visiting European cities with culture, history and flavor is your thing, make sure to add the scintillating Brussels to your list of ‘must see’ destinations.
Main attractions: Place du Grand Sablon-Grote Zavel Plein, Grand Palace, Royal Saint Herbert Galleries, Cathedral of Saints
Budget for one week: €1,200
Taxes and gratuity: Tipping is recommended
Official languages: Flemish/French
Area: 62.2 sq mi
Population: 1.83 million
- Voltage: 220-240 Volts (U.S./Canada are 110-120 Volts)
- Primary Socket Type: Schuko
- Multi-voltage appliances (laptops, etc.): Plug adapter
- 110-120V electronics: Plug adapter + step-down transformer
- Hair dryers, curling irons, etc.: Plug adapter + voltage converter
Images Vase Petrovski, Redvers and www.atomium.be via Wikipedia