🌎Currency: Euro €
🌎Zone: +1 GMT
🌎Phone Code: +32
🌎Best time to visit: April-September
🌎Must eat: Belgium Fries and waffles
🌎Must drink: Jenever (spirit)
🌎Don't miss: Manneken-Pis (pissing boy statue)
Belgium is located in Western Europe, bordering with The Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg and France. Making it a very accessible country from Europe thanks to high speed rail connections, numerous flights options and main highways connecting with the capital, Brussels. Because Belgium is also part of the Schengen agreement it means it has no boarders with it's neighbouring countries. Making travelling easier and giving the opportunity for those visitors to explore more of Europe.
Belgium is easy to get to by plane, train, bus or driving. However there are also ferry services linking it to the UK, thus the trip taking 12 hours, only suitable when driving across.
Air links are the best way to travel to Belgium from overseas and out of Europe. The main airline in Belgium is Brussels Airlines, also part of the Lufthansa Group. It flies to most European capitals as well as long haul routes to America and Africa, where it has a major presence.
It's possible to reach Brussels, the capital, with a one stop only from practically any corner of the world thanks to many major airlines flying into Brussels.
When travelling from Europe, many low cost airlines have regular daily flights to Belgium and Brussels, for example Ryanair or Easyjet. Specially when buying in advance flying can be cheaper than taking a train within Europe!
However taking the train is also a good option for proximity to Belgium, like Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Paris, London, Cologne or Dusseldorf which are very popular destinations and offer frequent services by rail. To check and buy your tickets by train check RailEurope.
Last but not least taking the bus from Belgium across Europe is very cheap and affordable for those wanting to see as many places as possible on a tight budget. Eurolines and Flixbus offer the best fares to travel to/from Belgium.
Once in Belgium, travelling around the country is easy thanks to a good network of local rail, busses and road infrastructure. The capital, Brussels, offers a good public transport system including metro, busses and trams as well. For more information about the Brussels transport system refer to the city guide on Brussels below.
The climate of Belgium is generally cool and wet, being influenced by the Atlantic Ocean, especially on the coast and the plain. The continental climate is noticed in Belgium with a big difference from Summer to Winter. The more inland you go from the Atlantic Ocean the less humid it gets but also more unstable and generally more cloudy. Precipitation is frequent, but not particularly abundant. The coastal area is less rainy and is also slightly more sunny than the interior:
Winter in Belgium is cold on the coast, but not freezing. Average temperatures in February can range from -5 to 10C and it's possible to see snow fall throughout the country except the coastal areas. Summer in Belgium is warm on the coast, with maximum temperatures reaching 25-30 °C in July and August. Cloudy and rainy days, are still common in the Summer, due to the Atlantic fronts. Spring and autumn are cool and cloudy seasons. It can be still cold in March and the first half of April, Spring, however, is less rainy than autumn.
The best time to visit Belgium is from April to June and September. However July and August is high season, and there can be hot days as well. Winter Christmas markets are also another reason to visit Belgium in December, but be prepared for more rain and the occasional snow falls.
For such a small country, it has rich local resources with fish and mussels being harvested from its North Sea coastline; pheasant, rabbit, and venison from the forested hills of the Ardennes; and first-class beef and lamb from the fertile Flemish lands. Butter, cream, beer and wine are used abundantly and feature regularly in the home cooking. It's easy to find Michelin-starred restaurants to the more humble fritkot (chip) stands. However if you are after the true street food and what Belgium is renowned for then, don't forget to try Belgium waffles, beer and chocolates!
Specialities in Belgium include: Moules frites, mussels and chips/French fries. Stoemp, mashed potato with leeks and carrots. Witloof en oven, endives wrapped in ham and covered in cheese sauce. Waterzooi, a fish/chicken and vegetable broth. Paling in ‘t groen, young eel cooked in a sauce of spinach, thyme, tarragon, sorrel, mint and white wine. Filet américain, raw mincemeat mixed with egg, onion and capers. Lapin aux pruneaux, rabbit cooked with prunes and beer. Faison à la brabançonne, pheasant cooked in butter with brussel sprouts and chicory. Salade liégeoise, salad containing boiled potatoes, bacon bits and green beans.
As for drinks, over 400 beers are brewed in Belgium. They range from the mass-produced lagers like Stella Artois through to boutique ales brewed by microbreweries. Some famous names are: Cantillon (microbrewed beer made in Brussels). Trappist beers (monastery-brewed). Hoegaarden (white beers). Kriek (cherry avoured beer). Lambics and Gueuzes (oak-aged beers). Chimay, Rochefort, Westmalle, Westvleteren, Orval and Achel (Trappist ales). Also for something stronger, try Jenever (a 20-40% spirit, similar to gin, unique to northern Belgium and Netherlands that was originally flavoured with juniper berries, but now appears in all manner of flavours such as chocolate, chilli and lemon)
Food and drink source: Worldtravelguide.net
Brussels, is the capital of Belgium, principal seat of the Belgian Royal Family, and capital of the European Union. Brussels is Belgium's main economic and educational hub, which gives the city a more work feel than other towns. However, in Brussels you can get a proper feel for Belgian life, especially its fantastic restaurant and café culture, the capital has more than enough things to do to keep visitors occupied, with world-class museums and art galleries, as well as more modern sights, such as the Atomium, and some wonderful remnants of old architecture in the old town quarter. Don't forget to stock up on Brussels' famous chocolate and try some Belgium specialities like fries and waffles!
Brussels is well connected by public transport and it's infrastructure is reliable and modern. There are metro, tram and busses for those who take public transport, they are the best way to travel around the city when visiting. However roads are not as crowded as other European capitals, so finding parking and driving in Brussels is also easy if you are renting a car.
First, when arriving by plane to Brussels, there are two main airports:
The city of Brussels counts with a spacious, modern and efficient transport network,one which is integrated under one system called the MOBIB card. This electronic card costs €5 and can be used on all metros, busses and trams in the city. However you need to register for it and you will need an ID to obtain it. For visitors and tourists it's easier to buy daily tickets which cost €7.50 (24H ticket), €14 (48h ticket) or €18 (72H ticket). Single tickets cost €2 when bought from vending machines. For the maps of the transport in Brussels please refer to the button links below:
Brussels is honoured to be 3 capitals at once, capital of Flanders, Belgium and Europe. The city started life as a fortress, then developed into a market square and eventually blossomed into the economic, political and social centre of the Flemish capital. Brussels, is a fascinating place with stunning architecture and fascinating history packed into every street and alleyway. The vibe of the city is sometimes very business and bureaucracy focused but at other times it feels laid back and relaxed.
You can find beautiful buildings like the Grand-Place, The Town Hall or Brussel’s Notre Dame Du Sablon as well as more more unusual attractions like the Manneken Pis and The Comic Strip Centre. Brussels has a lot to offer to visitors and locals alike, they all mix together in the many alleys and streets packed with European restaurants serving in particular Greek, Turkish or Italian cuisine. If it's business that brings you to the city then, going out in the evening and tasting some Belgian beer and enjoying some local gastronomy, relaxing after a hard day of work is a very rewarding experience! If you coming to Brussels to visit, check out the many curiosity shops around the centre, antiques, souvenirs, general shopping, parks, museums and other attractions waiting for you! It's definitely not a boring city at all! Below you can find some of the main things you can do to keep busy in Brussels:
Tip: The key time to visit the Grand-Place is every two years, (on even numbers) during the third week of August, Belgian begonia cultivators decorate the Grand-Place with a beautiful flower carpet using around 750,000 begonias. Visitors are greeted with 3,200 square feet of amazing plant tapestry depicting a different theme every year. The square is where daily business is done and where a flurry of local bars and cafés are a superb example of top quality café culture. There is also a daily flower market between March and October and often accompanied with concerts and a light show in the evening.
TIP: After taking pics with Manneken-Pis, walk around the streets and find excellent snacks and chocolates to taste and take away! The best waffles and chocolate displays can be seen and bought along rue de l’Etuve street!
TIP: You can see six dramatic and amusing cartoon murals painted on gable ends around the city. These were commission by the city itself. You can get the locations of them by getting a map located in the Town Hall tourist office.
For another kind of shopping, (designer fashion) head for the Galleries. There are three Galeries Saint Hubert, Galeries du Roi and Galeries de la Reine. They are worth popping into just to take a look at the amazing glass roof or sit around the elegant cafe's and taste some fine chocolates! Located between Rue du Marche aux Herbes and Rue de l’Ecuyer
TIP: See the Jeanneke Pis. If you enjoyed watching the Manneken Pis little boy fountain, then this other modern fountain will be a delight! Intended to form a counterpoint to the city's Manneken Pis. It was commissioned by Denis-Adrien Debouvrie in 1985 and erected in 1987. The half-metre-high statue of blue-grey limestone depicts a little girl with her hair in short pigtails, squatting and urinating. It is located on the east side of the Impasse de la Fidélité / Getrouwheidsgang (Fidelity Alley), a narrow cul-de-sac some 30 metres long leading northwards off the restaurant packed street of Rue des Bouchers / Beenhouwersstraat.
Going out in Brussels is also fun at night, specially at the weekends for a better vibe. The nightlife of Brussels is varied and entertaining. It has something to suit all tastes and budgets. One of the most worthwhile nights out is Madame Mustache, a club with waiters clad in sailors attire that plays a variety of different music. Entry is free on weeknights but not weekends. Additionally there are plenty of bars and clubs to keep the "young and wild" entertained during the night! In the city centre, the nightlife area is located at street Rue des Bouchers / Beenhouwersstraat.
Hotels in the city centre are generally expensive at around €100 per night, if not more, this is because Brussels is a very political and business type of destination, making prices always high. Also the Summer period sees prices increase. The trick is always to book in advance if you want to save money. There are other non-chain hotels which can cost €50 but need to book well in advance. Cheaper hotels and accommodation can be found in the outskirts of the city ensuring you are connected with some public transport. It is also possible to stay at private flats or shared accommodation via Booking.com or Airbnb respectively.
Brussels is a smaller city compared to other major capitals. Walking and exploring the city is pleasant and visiting the attractions it has to offer doesn't take much time travelling from one to another. The city itself is small enough to see it in a day or two. However, there is much more than meets the eye and if you want to travel to the outskirts and other cities around Belgium consider making Brussels your ideal base.