The name of Belgium’s capital is most often uttered in the same sentence as the European Union and therefore lends a misleading impression that Brussels is stiff and boring. Subsequently, this vibrant and eclectic city is a relatively undiscovered jewel in the crown of Western Europe and visitors will be more than pleasantly surprised.
Though Brussels may not have the sex appeal as the capitals of its more illustrious neighbours, the heavy influences of both France and Flemish Holland are prominent throughout the city, from the sweeping boulevards and stunning baroque architecture to quaint cobbled backstreets and fascinating designs of the Gothic age.
Steeped in history and culture, Brussels is an exceptional place to explore and travellers delight in visits to The Royal Palace, the Cathedral of St. Michel and gudule together with the fascinating history of the Places des Martyrs. Soak up the culture and enjoy the impressive Art Nouveau at La Maison Horta, or treat yourself on a shopping spree in the arcades of the Galeries St. Hubert where designer shops, exclusive jewellers and quaint boutiques are housed in the grandeur of 19th century baroque surroundings.
Whilst in Brussels, don’t be surprised to stumble across the unusual, from the confusingly surreal to the downright bizarre. Because of such enigmas, one favourite pastime of visitors and locals alike is to sit on the fringes of Grand Place in one of the many chic bars and cafes, watching the street performers wow crowds with tricks and acrobats – though it can be just as much fun people watching.
Like most European city’s, Brussels is cosmopolitan and has a glowing reputation as one of the best places for food and wine. There are many restaurants worth their salt dotted around the city and though the greatest concentration of places to eat can be found on the Rue des Bouchers-Beenhouwerstraat, they are geared towards tourists whereby the quality is low and the prices are high, therefore you are well advised to wander over to the Place Jourdanplein, Barriere de Saint-Gilles, or the Place Madou.
By day, Brussels is serene, beautiful and a pleasure to roam around. At night, the city is reinvented as it turns into a free-for-all of hedonistic clubbers racing for the dance floors. But what the Brussels nightlife has other city’s don’t, is class. A smattering of casual bars is outshined by cocktail bars and jazz clubs, though the truly adventurous should head for the Rue du Marche au Charbon where the exhibitionism is no sight for the narrow minded.
Things to sample whilst in Brussels are the delights that make Belgium famous; the beer is a given, the infamous ‘moules frites’ for the seafood lover and of course, who can resist Belgian chocolate!
Travelling to Brussels by Ferry
All three of the UK to Belgium ferries will get you within 70 miles of Brussels, then it’s an easy drive that wont take you much more than an hour. Brussels is even just a 2 hour drive from the main French port of Calais so you can even take one of the Dover Calais ferries and another French port even closer to Brussels is Dunkirk, So you could also catch a ferry from Dover to Dunkirk only 90 minutes drive to Brussels. If you prefer not to drive then there is train services connecting all ferry ports with Brussels.
If you would prefer to fly, Brussels Airlines, British Airways and BMI all operate flights into Brussels from Airports across the UK.