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Brussels is the capital city of Belgium and of Brussels Capital Region. It is entirely surrounded by Dutch-speaking Flanders and its constituent Flemish Brabant province. As headquarters of many European institutions, Brussels might also be considered something of a capital for the European Union. Being at the crossroads of cultures (the Germanic in the North and the Romance in the South) and playing an important role in Europe, Brussels fits the definition of the archetypal "melting pot", but still retains its own unique character. The population of the city of Brussels is 1 million and the population of Brussels metropolitan area is just over 2 million. (less...) (more...)
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Points of Interest in Brussels
A Brussels Card is available for discounts at many attractions:
- Brussels Card. Available in 24h (€24), 48h (€34) and 72h (€40) versions, it offers a free guidebook, free entry to many museums, free use of public transit, and discounts at various shops, restaurants and attractions. May not be worth it to those who already receive discounts (children, students, etc.). The card can be purchased online in advance for a discount, or at the tourist offices at: Grand-Place, Midi/Zui station, BIP. Some museums also sell the card.
- Grand Place-Grote Markt. Surrounded by the city tower and a range of beautiful 300 year old buildings. In the evening, surrounded by bright lumination, it is simply ravishing. Some evenings a music and light show is provided with the buildings serving as a canvas. Have a "gaufre de Liège-Luikse wafel" here (Belgian waffle with caramelized sugar)—the best ones are available from the little shops off the northeast corner of the Grand Place-Grote Markt.
- Manneken Pis. Just a short walk from the Grand Place-Grote Markt is the Manneken Pis, a small bronze statue thought to represent the "irreverent spirit" of Brussels. This statue of a child performing one of Nature's most basic functions. Belgians have created hundreds of outfits for this statue. There are many stories of the statue's significance. It is believed to have been inspired by a child who, while in a tree, found a special way to drive away invading troops. Another story goes that a father was missing his child and made a declaration to the city that when he found him he would build a statue of him, doing whatever it was that he was doing. It has also been said a witch turned him to stone for peeing on her property. Yet another story goes that Brussels was under siege and enemies had planted explosives in the city; a boy saw the lit fuse and urinated on it, preventing the explosives from bowing up thus saving the city. None is definitively true.
- Parc du Cinquantenaire-Jubelpark - Definitely check out the Arc de Triomphe-Triomfboog on the east side of town. It's in the Parc du Cinquantenaire-Jubelpark. It is possible to go up to the terrasse above the arch, from where you'll have a good view of the city. Entry is through the Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and of Military History and is free. Take Metro line 1 east, exit Schuman and walk east or exit Mérode and walk west.
- Atomium, Square de l'Atomium/Atomiumplein (Take Metro line 6 direction Roi Baudouin-Koning Boudewijn and get off at Heysel-Heizel - approximately 5 min easy walk from the station), ☎ +32 (0)2 475 4777. Open daily from 10:00 AM till 6:00 PM. Ticket Sale ends at 5.30 PM. Unavoidable icon of Brussels and Belgium, important place for international tourism, unique creation in the history of architecture and emblematic vestige of the World Fair in Brussels (Expo 58) the Atomium continues to embody its ideas of the future and universality, half a century later. In its cultural programme it carries on the debate of 1958: What kind of future do we want for tomorrow? Our happiness depends on what? Its recent renovation in 2006 gave its original brightness back, and the new equipments guarantee its durability. Five of the nine spheres are open to the public (so they say, but not really true). One of them is housing a permanent exhibition dedicated to Expo 58 (just some small models of some countries pavillions). Another sphere is dedicated to temporary exhibitions with scientific themes (often closed when there is no exhibition). The upper sphere offers spectacular views of the city of Brussels. When the sky is clear, the view reaches till Antwerp.
There is a "kids zone" sphere which staff will happily direct you to even though you can never go in, it is only open to touring schoolchildren, and there is nothing inside except places for kids to sleep. In truth there are only three spheres: the top (restaurant), middle (snack bar) and bottom; the only thing to see really is the view; rather expensive at 11 €. The restaurant, also situated at the top, is open every day till 11.00 p.m. At night, the nine spheres are lit up with 2,970 lights that offer a very special show. To enrich your visit: audioguides in EN (but also in F, NL, ES, IT and RU) are available at the cash desk for 2€. Visio-guides are also available (€2) for the deaf and hard of hearing people. In August 2010, a zip-line was available from the top of the tallest sphere (102m); the "Death Ride" (run by former members of the Belgian Special Services) is a separate 25€, and offers a rather unique view of the insides of the Atomium and the surrounding city. Children of less than 6 years, coach drivers, disabled persons: free, children as from 6 years till 11 years: 2 €, adults: 11 €, teachers showing their teacher card: 9 €, children as from 12 till 18 years, students showing their student card and seniors (as from 65 years): 8 €.
- Palais de Justice/Justitiepaleis (Law Courts of Brussels), Place Poelaert/Poelaert Plein, ☎ 02 508 64 10. 08:00-17:00 Mon-Fri. Larger than St. Peter's basilica in Rome, it cost 45 million Belgian Francs to construct in 1866. Free.
- Basiliek van het Heilig Hart / Basilique du Sacré Coeur (Basilica Koekelberg), Basiliekvoorplein/Parvis de la Basilique, ☎ 02 421 16 60, e-mail: email@example.com. The fifth biggest church in the world, with an impressive interior and an amazing view over Brussels and its surroundings.
- Palais Royale/Koninklijk Paleis (Royal Palace), Place des Palais/Paleizenplein, ☎ 02 551 20 20. Royal Palace with a park out front. Free.
- The Bourse. Stock market building in Brussels. Locals like to sit on the steps, sometimes with fries.
- Mini-Europe, ☎ +32 (0)2 478 0550. Hosts a set of scale models of famous European structures. €12.90 Adults; €9.70 under 12.
- Scientastic (in the tram station Bourse/Beurs). 101 surprising and wonderful hands-on science exhibits. €7.90; children €5.30.
- Thieffry metro station. 24h open. Famous metro station named after Belgian WWI air ace Edmond Thieffry. Contains some interesting sculptures of modern art. €2.50 Adults; €0.80 under 12.
- Statue of Europe. Also referred to as Unity in Peace, this sculpture symbolises peace through European integration, while at the same time aiming to demonstrate the motto of the European Union (EU), United in Diversity. It is located in the garden of Convent Van Maerlant (the library of the European Commission) Van Maerlant street, in the European Quarter of Brussels.
- Red Light District. Just like Antwerp and Amsterdam, Brussels also has its own Red Light District. It is located mainly in Rue d'Aerschot/ Aarschotstraat, behind the North Train Station. Contrary to The Netherlands, prostitution is NOT legal in Belgium, they exploit a loophole in the local legislation presenting brothels as "bars". Do not expect to actually get a drink in there though. Despite heavy police presence, it still remains a fairly seedy area, not the kind of place where you'd want to walk alone at night.
Museums and Galleries
- Musées Royaux d'Art et d'Histoire (MRAH) - Koninklijke Musea voor Kunst en Geschiedenis (KMKG), Parc du Cinquantenaire-Jubelpark 10, ☎ +32 (0)2 741 7211. Open Tu-Fr 9.30AM-5PM, Sa-Su and holidays 10AM-5PM, closed Mo and various holidays, last entry 4PM. This museum has an important collection of art objects from different civilizations from all over the world. The museum was founded in 1835 and was located in the Hallepoort/Porte de Hal, one of the last remaining medieval city gates of Brussels. Adults €5.
- Musées Royaux des Beaux Arts de Belgique - Koninklijke Musea voor Schone Kunsten van België (Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium), Rue de la Régence-Regentschapstraat 3, at Place Royale-Koningsplein, ☎ +32 (0)2 508 3211. Museum of Historical Art: Tues-Sun 10AM-noon and 1-5PM; Museum of Modern Art (Magritte Museum) Mar: Tue-Sun 10AM-1PM and 2-5PM. Features both historical art and modern art in the one building. In a vast museum of several buildings, this complex combines the Musée d'Art Ancien-Museum voor Oude Kunst and the Musée d'Art Moderne-Museum voor Moderne Kunst under one roof (connected by a passage). The collection shows off works, most of them Belgian, from the 14th to the 20th century, starting in the historical section, with Hans Memling's portraits from the late 15th century, which are marked by sharp lifelike details, works by Hiëronymus Bosch, and Lucas Cranach's Adam and Eve. You should particularly seek out the subsequent rooms featuring Pieter Brueghel, including his Adoration of the Magi. Don't miss his unusual Fall of the Rebel Angels, with grotesque faces and beasts. But don't fear, many of Brueghel's paintings, like those depicting Flemish village life, are of a less fiery nature. Later artists represented include Rubens, Van Dyck, Frans Hals, and Rembrandt. Next door, in a circular building connected to the main entrance, the modern art section has an emphasis on underground works - if only because the museum's eight floors are all below ground level. The collection includes works by van Gogh, Matisse, Dalí, Tanguy, Ernst, Chagall, Miró, and local boys Magritte, Delvaux, De Braekeleer and Permeke. Don't miss David's famous "Death of Marat." €8.00 adults per museum or €13 combo ticket, €2.50 students/seniors/disabled visitors, €1.25 children 12-18, under 12 free. Also free on the first Wednesday afternoon of every month.
- Musées d'Extrême-Orient - Musea van het Verre Oosten, Avenue Van Praetlaan 44 (Tram: 3 or 23 (Araucaria stop). Bus: 53, De Lijn 230, 231 et 232 (De Wand stop)), ☎ +32 2 268 16 08. Tu-Fr 9.30AM-5.30PM, Sa-Su 10AM-5PM, closed Mo. Intriguing complex of three buildings in the Laaken area, not far from the Atomium. They comprise a Japanese tower, a Chinese pavilion, and a museum of Japanese art. The architecture and decor may seem over the top to today's tastes, but there are some outstanding examples of Chinese export porcelain, and rotating exhibitions of Japanese artefacts from the Edo period (1600-1868). €4 adults, €3 students, €1.50 children.
- Musée BELvue - BELvue Museum, Place des Palais-Paleizenplein 7, ☎ +32 (0)70 22 0492. Tuesday to Sunday, from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (June to September), from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (October to May). Features Belgium's history. Before it became a museum, the former 18th century luxury hotel was a royal residence. BELvue: €3, Coudenberg: €4, BELvue + Coudenberg: €5.
- Natural Sciences Museum of Belgium, Rue Vautier-Vautierstraat 29 (near Luxembourg station), ☎ +32 (0)2 627 4238. Open: daily from 9:30AM to 4:45PM; Saturday, Sunday and during school holidays (except the Summer break), from 10AM to 6PM; during the Summer break daily from 9:30AM to 4:45PM daily and in weekends from 10AM to 6PM. . The museum is well-known for its famous collection of iguanodons (dinosaurs discovered in a coal-mine in Belgium). The dinosaur collection has been refreshed in October 2007 and includes discovery activities for the children. The other parts of the museum are also interesting, as an exhibit of all animals that live in our houses and a collection of mammals. Price between €4.50 and €7, free the first Wednesday of each month as of 1PM.
- Horta Museum, Rue Américaine 25, Saint-Gilles/Amerikastraat 25, Sint-Gillis (tram 81, tram 92 (place Janson), bus 54), ☎ +32 (0)2 543 0490, fax: +32 (0)2 538 7631. Open daily 2PM-5:30PM, closed Monday. The home of noted Belgian Art Nouveau architect and designer Victor Horta. Seeing where he lived and worked is a great way to get an introduction to the art nouveau style in Brussels. It is one of four Horta works to be inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. It can be very busy on rainy Sundays and the queue is outside, so don't forget your umbrella. Adults €7, students/seniors €3.50, guided tours available by appointment.
- Royal Museum for Central Africa (RMCA), Leuvensesteenweg 13, Tervuren (Take tram 44 through at Montgomery and get off at terminus after a 20 minutes enjoyable trip through woodland patches. The museum is a 300 m walk away), ☎ +32 2 7695211, fax: +32 2 7695242. Tue-Fri 10-17, Sat&Sun 10-18. The Museum is home to some truly remarkable collections. Its collection of ethnographic objects from Central Africa is in fact the only one of its kind in the world. It also contains the entire archives of Henry Morton Stanley which are of great historical value. The actual state of the museum makes it some kind of "museum in the museum" Apart the new (or newish) sections about the Congo River and the colonial period (with some ambiguous statements about the Belgian role), the structure of the museum seems to have been "frozen" 50 years ago. Casing, labels (largely almost nonexistent or vanished), (dis)organization of the collection in homogenous topics, especially in the ethnographic section, reflect those of a museum conceived a century ago and never updated since. Labels, where available, are in Dutch and French only in the permanent exhibition. In fact, the museum will close from 8/7/2012 to mend these issues and will reopen after major renovations of buildings and exhibitions about 2015. The audio-guided farewell tour "Uncensored" (7 €, including permanent exhibition access) temporary exhibition (largely embedded inside the permanent exhibition tour) digs deep in the history of the museum. In some ways, it is a pity that in the future we will get a more enjoyable and interesting museum, but we will soon loose this unique remainder of the old age of museums. €4 adults, €1.50 young people (13-17), free for children under 12.
- Belgian Comic Strip Center (Centre Belge de la Bande Dessinée, Belgisch Centrum van het Beeldverhaal), Rue des Sables-Zandstraat 20, ☎ +32 (0)2 219 1980, fax: +32/2/219 23 76, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Tue-Sun 10AM-6PM. Located in Europe's earliest Shopping-Mall (a shiny Jugendstil/Art Nouveau palace). There is a permanent exposition featuring the early beginning of comics as well as it's development. There is enough room for other varying expositions. The bookshop at the ground floor sells many different comics. A readers' library operates on the ground floor, where, for a low entrance fee, you can read many different comic books and buy fries. €7.50 adults, €6 students/seniors.
- Musée du Cinéma-Filmmuseum, Palais des Beaux-Arts-Paleis voor Schone Kunsten, 9 rue Baron Horta-Baron Hortastraat 9 (walk from Gare Centrale-Centraalstation), ☎ +32 (0)2 507 8370. A history of film-making. Free to look around; classic and cult films are shown at low prices.
- Autoworld, Parc du Cinquantenaire-Jubelpark 11 (Metro: Merode or Schuman Train Station (Line 1)/Train: Merode or Schuman Train Station/Bus: 20, 28, 36, 67, 80/Tram: 81), ☎ +32 (0)2 736 4165. 10:00 - 18:00 (4/1-9/30) 10:00-17:00 (10/1-3/31). Automobiles from the dawn of the motoring age to 1970s including the earliest Mercedes, Renaults, BMW Isettas, Tatras, Ford T-birds, even a jeepney from the Philippines. Adults €6, children 7-13 €3, children 6 and under free.
- Musée Royal de l'Armée - Koninklijk Museum van het Leger en van de Militaire Geschiedenis (Belgian Army Museum and Museum of Military History), Parc du Cinquantenaire-Jubelpark 3 (Metro: Merode or Schuman Train Station (Line 1)/Train: Merode or Schuman Train Station/Bus: 20, 28, 36, 67, 80/Tram: 81), ☎ +32 (0)2 737 7809. 9:00 - 16:45. The Belgian Army Museum and Museum of Military History occupies the north wing of the Palais Cinquantenaire. It provides an overview of the development of military technology and of the major campaigns fought on Belgian soil. The museum has three principal sections: Belgian military history (documents, uniforms and weaponry from the Middle Ages to the present day, including a most comprehensive collection of medieval arms and armor); the Armored Vehicle Hall with artillery, tanks etc. from the two World Wars; and the Air Section (Brussels Air Museum) with a collection of aircraft from World War I onwards. The Brussels Air Museum's high point is its collection of original aircraft from World War I. Free.
- Musical Instruments Museum, Montagne de la Cour-Hofberg 2, ☎ +32 (0)2.545.01.30. Open Tu-Fr 9.30AM-16.45PM, Sa-Su 10AM-16.45PM. The mim houses more than 7000 instruments, from all times and all over the world. The museum’s reputation is built on its extraordinary collection. The exhibits are displayed on four different floors featuring a wide range of instruments from all time periods and areas of the world. The MIM is a place to experience music. An infrared headphone system allows each visitor to enjoy the sound and melodies played by the instruments presented. The restaurant on the roof is also famous because of its panoramic view over Brussles. You need around 3 or 4 hours to really enjoy the whole museum, make sure you have enough time! Adults €5; under 26 and over 60 €4; under 13 free.
- Musée Magritte Museum, 1 Place Royale-Koningsplein 1, ☎ +32 (0)2 508 32 11, fax: +32 (0)2 508 32 32. Tuesday to Sunday: from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m, Wednesday until 8 p.m. Closed Mondays, January 1st, 2nd Thursday of January, May 1st, November 1st and 11th, December 25th. This museum is dedicated to the life and art of the Belgian artist René Magritte. It holds a multidisciplinary collection containing more than 200 of Magritte's works. Standard rate: €8, Combi with Modern & Ancient Art Museum: €13, Students 18-25 years and school groups min. 12 pers.: €2. Audioguide: €4.
- Musée Juif de Belgique - Joods Museum van België, 21 Rue des Minimes-Miniemenstraat 21, ☎ +32 (0)2 512 19 63. Everyday except Mondays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.. Dedicated to the craft, folk art, culture and religion of the Jewish people in Belgium. Standard rate: €5, Concession 3€.
Brussels is considered to be the de facto capital of the European Union, having a long history of hosting the institutions of the European Union within its European Quarter. The EU has no official capital, and no plans to declare one, but Brussels hosts the official seats of the European Commission, Council of the European Union, European Council, as well as a second seat of the European Parliament.
- European Parliament, Rue Wiertz/Wiertzstraat 60 (European Quarter), ☎ +32/2 284 21 11, fax: +32/2 284 35 30. Mon-Thu at 10.00h and 15.00h; Fri at 10.00h only; Closed official holidays. Multimedia-guided tours in all official EU languages. Don't forget to bring an ID card/driver License with you. Free.
- European Commission, Rue Archimède/Archimesstraat 73. Guided tours not available. Presentations available for groups of 15 or more, booked in advance.
- European Council, Rue de la Loi / Wetstraat 175, ☎ +32 (0)2 281 2140, fax: +32 (0)2 281 6609. Guided tours not available. Presentations available for groups of 15 or more, booked in advance.
- Cantillon Brewery, Rue Gheude - Gheudestraat 56, ☎ 02 521.49.28. Monday to Friday from 8.30 AM till 5 PM; Saturday from 10 AM to 5 PM; Closed on Sundays and public holidays. The last traditional gueuze/lambic brewery in Brussels, Cantillon still uses natural yeast fermentation (not injected like almost every other beer). The lambics and gueuzes are made in original style with no sweetners or syrups added. Only 100% bio (organic) and natural fruits are used creating a distinctly sour drink. This museum-esque atmosphere is still a functioning brewery. The tour includes two small glasses of lambic and gueuze, and if you've never had a natural beer before, then you will be (pleasantly) surprised by the taste. An absolute must for beer lovers, save room in your luggage to take bottles back with you! Tour with tasting € 5, tasting alone € 2.
Woluwé-Saint-Pierre is a commune in Brussels. It is mostly a well-to-do residential area, which includes the wide, park-lined, Tervuren Avenue (French: Avenue de Tervueren, Dutch: Tervurenlaan) and the numerous embassies located near the Montgomery Square (Square Montgomery, Montgomeryplein).
- Bibliotheca Wittockiana, Rue du Bemelstraat 21, ☎ +32 (0)2 770 5333. A museum that is dedicated to the art of binding books, with one of the most prestigious bookbinding collections in the world. Quite interesting. A discovery of forgotten discipline. Amazing use of materials, that unexpectedly gives room to innovation.
- Musée du Transport Urbain Bruxellois-Museum voor het Stedelijk Vervoer te Brussel (Transportation Museum of Brussels), 364 Avenue de Tervuren/Tervurenlaan (Take Metroline 1B (dir. Stockel). Step down at Metro M station Montgomery. There, take Tram 39 (dir. Ban Eik) or 44 (dir. Tervuren) from their terminus. Step down at 6th stop “Depot de Woluwe/Woluwe Remise”. Tram museum is just at your left.), ☎ +32 (0)2 515 3108. Open from 1.30pm to 7pm on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays from the first weekend of April until the first weekend of October. Old trams are regularly used to link the museum to one of Brussels suburbs, Tervuren, through a very nice wooded area. The trip is especially pleasant on a sunny day. From the end station in Tervuren you can go to a nearby old train station that has been converted to a bar and small restaurant named Spoorloos (literally "without tracks"). €5 Adults, €2 Children age 6-11, under 6 free.
- Woluwe Park, Near Avenue de Tervuren (From center, take a tube (Stockel direction), step down at Montgomery station. Take tram 39 or 44. Step down at 4th station Chien vert. OR, by bus 36 if you take it at Schuman station area.).
- The imposing modern city hall is open to visitors.
- The town’s main church (Saint Peter) was erected in 1755 on the site of a much older building and perpendicular to it, with funds from the abbey of Forest. Traces of the older building can still be seen on the left of the current church.
- Several turn-of-the-century houses and manors can still be seen today, such as the Stoclet/Stokkel House, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which was built between 1905 and 1909 on a design by Josef Hoffmann and contains mosaics and paintings by Gustav Klimt.
Brussels deservedly has a poor reputation for its weather. Weather in Brussels is very damp with a high and fairly evenly distributed annual average rainfall of 820 mm (32 in) and on average approximately 200 days of rainfall per year, both which are more than that of London and Paris. The dampness makes the weather feel much colder than it is. The daily and monthly temperature variations are quite small. Daily differences between average highs and average lows don't exceed 9°C (16°F).
In the summer, average daily maximum temperatures rarely exceed 22°C (72°F). The summer visitor should always be prepared for rain in Brussels. Warm and sunny weather is not constant during that season or even to be expected.
After October, temperatures drop off quite rapidly and winter months are damp and chilly. Snowfall is rare, and starts to melts fairly quickly, becoming slush on the ground. The winter visitor should be prepared for wet ground.
You can see what's going on in Brussels by picking up a copy of local free city newspaper Zone 02. Another good free listings paper is Agenda, which is distributed together with the Dutch-language weekly Brussel Deze Week and has the notable advantage of being published in three languages (English, Dutch, French). Both of these are distributed in cafés and bars around the city. If you're looking for a good party, online listing Net Events (French and Dutch) and Ready2Move, are a good place to start.
Brussels Agenda is the official cultural and entertainment agenda of the City of Brussels and the francophone Médiatheque has a website featuring the upcoming concerts in Brussels and the rest of Belgium. However, their listings page only features concerts Médiatheque staff are interested in.
The most widely read English magazine is The Bulletin which, apart from covering Belgian and EU news, also offers arts and lifestyle stories, as well as in-depth events listings and a TV guide.
- Brussels Bike Tours, meeting point right outside the Tourist Information Office at the Grand Place, ☎ 0484 89 89 36, e-mail: email@example.com. From April to October daily at 10am. From July to September daily at 10am and 3pm. Daily bike tours in English allow you to see the main sights in just about 3.5 hours. It includes a halfway stop for fries and beer (not included in price). Reservations recommended. General 25€ - Full-time students 22€.
- Visit Brussels Line. 10am-4pm. Hop-on/hop-off city open-deck double-decker bus tours with commentary. 12 stops around the city, bus departing every 30 minutes. €18.
- Brussels City Tours, Grasmarkt-Rue du Marché aux Herbes 82, ☎ 02 513 77 44, fax: 02/502.58.69, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Brussels City Tours is the main bus-tour company, with 2¾-hour tours of all the major sights. €25/€23/€12.50.
- Architectural tours, Boulevard Adolphe Maxlaan 55, ☎ 02 219 33 45, fax: 02 219 86 75, e-mail: email@example.com. Saturday mornings Mar-Nov, groups year-round. Atelier de Recherche et d'Action Urbaine, a Francophone Brussels heritage conservation group, runs tours of the city's architectural gems, offering a variety of theme tours to Art Nouveau buildings, Art Deco houses, the EU quarter, the Grand Place area and the Marolles/Marollen. 2h walking tours €10; 3h bus tours €17 (under 26 €13).
- Horse-drawn carriages, Rue Charles Bulsstraat. Horse-drawn carriages do circuits of the Lower Town starting from Rue Charles Bulsstraat, near Grand Place. €18 per carriage.
Brussels has a fair number of cinemas, if limited compared to most European capitals. French films are subtitled in Dutch, and vice versa, all other films are shown in the original version subtitled in French and Dutch (on cinema listings look for 'OV').
- Actors Studio and Styx, run by the cooperative nouveau cinema. Both cinemas screen interesting films in their original version with French and Dutch subtitles. Actor's studio, Petite Rue des Bouchers - Kleine Beenhouwersstraat, Brussels 1000, tel: 025121696 or Cinéma Styx, Rue de l'Arbre Bénit - Gewijde Boomstraat 72, Ixelles-Elsene.
- Cinema Wellington. Located in downtown Waterloo with French, Flemmish and English spoken films as well as French and Flemmish subtitles. - Screencasts most mainstream American films as well as French movies. The Wellington Passage - Chaussée de Bruxelles 165, 1410 Waterloo, tel: 023549359/023549359
- Cinema Nova. Is an independent-to-the-bone cinema showcasing the more esoteric side of cinema - films which would not be shown elsewhere are generally shown here. A Korean Ultraman rip-off, a Pakistani documentary or a bleak Chilean cinema vérité flick? Only at Nova. Nova Cinema, 3 rue Arenberg-Arenbergstraat.
- Arenberg. Is a good arthouse cinema with a well-programmed selection of films. Especially good for the newer arthouse flicks. Cinéma Arenberg, 26 Galerie de la Reine - Koninginnegalerij.
- Musée du Cinema/Filmmuseum. Is part of the Centre for Fine Arts and features a carefully chosen selection of contemporary and classic arthouse films. The best thing about this isn't just the building (due to be restored soon) but also the fact that the entrance fee is cheap. So if you can't live without your dose of Werner Herzog or Jan Svankmajer fret not - this place won't cost you an arm and a leg. Royal Film Museum, 9 Rue Baron Horta - Baron Hortastraat.
- Vendome, 18 Chaussée de Wavre-Waversesteenweg, Ixelles-Elsene. Another arthouse cinema. It's located near the Porte de Namur (Naamsepoort) and acts as the metaphysical gateway to a lively African neighbourhood known locally as Matongé.
- Flagey is the old broadcasting headquarters and now houses the regional TV station TVBrussel . It labels itself 'the sound and images factory'. Quite an apt description - arthouse films, theatre pieces or world-renowned musicians are all featured here. Flagey, Place Sainte-Croix - Heilig-kruisplein, Ixelles-Elsene.
- UGC De Brouckère. This is the most centrally located UGC in Brussels. Another UGC exists in Ixelles. As far as programming goes it's the usual Hollywood and mainstream European fare you'd expect from any other UGC in Europe. UGC De Brouckère, 38 Place De Brouckère - De Brouckèreplein.
- Kinepolis. Was the first megaplex in the world. It's located at Heysel, near the Atomium, and has 25 screens showing a wide selection of mainstream films.
- BIFFF. Is Brussels' international fantasy film festival (film fantastique in French). This two-weeks festival is scheduled yearly in March and is a must see for tourist and locals alike.
- Offscreen is a showcase for unusual, independent and unreleased films, cult classics, extraordinary documentaries and offbeat genres from around the world. Takes place during the month of February and/or March in co-production with Cinema Nova and in collaboration with the Film Museum of the Royal Belgian Film Archive.
Brussels has a good selection of year round events, many suitable for English speaking visitors. The following sites are useful to check out what's on.
- Classictic Concerts. A site selling classical tickets, but has an excellent rundown of all the upcoming classical concerts.
- Wallonie Tourism. Is brought to you by the French Speaking Tourist board.
- Ancienne Belgique. For popular concerts, where the stadium bands stop in.
- Brussels Events Listings. Is a roundup of events for an English speaking audience, this is good for some of the smaller and expat focused venues.
The Paleis voor Schone Kunsten (Dutch) or Palais des Beaux-Arts (French) , Rue Ravensteinstraat 23, tel: 02 507 82 0, is often referred to as "Bozar" or "PSK". Construction was completed in 1928 and includes exhibition and conference rooms, movie theater and concert hall which serves as home to the National Orchestra of Belgium. The complex contains a large concert hall, a recital room, a chamber music room, lecture rooms and a vast gallery for temporary exhibitions. Since 2002, the Belgian federal institution has chosen the brand name BOZAR. It has seven artistic departments: Bozar Expo, Bozar Music, Bozar Cinema, Bozar Dance, Bozar Theatre, Bozar Literature, Bozar Studios and Bozar Architecture.
- Bozar Architecture is open to the public with exhibitions and lectures working in close collaboration with the Information Centre for Architecture, Town Planning and Design.
- Bozar Cinema has showings of quality films for the general public, a special series for Young Film Fans (in the Henry Le Boeuf Hall), and cross-fertilising events that explore connections between cinema, video, and the other arts (Terarken rooms, Horta Hall).
- Bozar Dance hosts international contemporary dance productions.
- Bozar Expo has many exhibitions every year, in cooperation with the most prestigious international institutions, alternating the great collections with contemporary art, various national heritages, and support for young artists.
- Bozar Literature hosts meetings with Belgian and foreign writers.
- Bozar Music - concerts in almost a dozen venues, both at the Centre for Fine Arts and elsewhere in Brussels, with Western classical music from the Middle Ages to our times, as well as non-European classical music, traditional music, jazz, blues, rock, etc., in a great variety of line-ups and genres, from chamber ensembles to big bands, from recitals to concert performances of opera.
- Bozar Theatre is oriented towards avant-garde theatre.
- Bozar Studios is the Centre’s educational service, operating as an artistic department in its own right.
There is plenty of good eating to be had in Brussels. Most people concentrate on the three classics: mussels (moules in French and mosselen in Dutch), fries (frites in French and frieten in Dutch) and chocolate. A few more adventurous Bruxellois/Brusselse dishes include anguilles au vert/paling in 't groen (river eels in green sauce), meat balls in tomato sauce, stoemp (mashed vegetables and potatoes) and turbot waterzooi (turbot fish in cream and egg sauce). For dessert, try a Belgian waffle (wafel in Dutch and gauffre in French), also available in a square Brussels version dusted with powdered sugar, and choices of bananas, whipped cream and many other toppings. Although many prefer the round, caramelized version from Liège.
One shall however always bear in mind that it is important to check the prices of food items before ordering, just like what people should do when visiting pubs in France and Soho, London. Beware especially when servers make choices for you. It has been reported that tourists have to pay up to €7 for a litre of sparkling water, costing less than €0.70 in local stores.
Visitors should also beware of the 'Italian Restaurant Streets' in the tourist and shopping districts. These streets are lined with small Italian restaurants, some offering "3 course meals" for just €12 or 13. They are all run by just a few shop owners and serve unappetizing store purchased food. They will not 'include service' as most all restaurants in Brussels do, and many tourists have reported getting scammed here, especially when not paying with exact change. A common practice is to present you a menu where prices aren't anything near the ones advertised in the windows. Be sure you ask why there is such a price difference BEFORE ordering and do not hesitate to leave if you do not agree with the price. If you were offered a drink and already sipped from your glass before receiving the menu (as is often the case) then just pay for the drink and leave.
The matter over which establishment serves up the best frites (locally known as fritkots in Dutch and "friterie" in French) remains a matter of heated debate. Some argue that the best frites in Brussels are served at the fritkot near the Barriere de Saint-Gilles, while others defend St-Josse's Martin (Place Saint-Josse/Sint-Joostplein) as the prime purveyor of the authentic Brussels frite just as others claim Antoine (Place Jourdan/Jourdanplein) remains the king of the local french fry. No matter which fritkot you're at, try to be adventurous and have something other than ketchup or mayonnaise on your fries. Of the selection of bizarre sauces you've never seen before, "andalouse" is probably the most popular with the locals.
- Maison Antoine, Place Jourdanplein - tasty fries with a large collection of sauces situated on a square close to the European Parliament. You can eat your fries (frites) in one of the several bars/cafés that carries the sign frites acceptés. Vegetarians be careful. Fries are cooked in Beef fat. Although this place has a very good reputation which can be guessed from the long line of people waiting to be served, purists will tell you that is certainly not the best place in town to get your fries.
- Chez Martin. The small nondescript fritkot plonked on Place Saint-Josse/Sint-Joost (Saint-Josse-ten-Noode/Sint-Joost-ten-Node) and run by the calm and affable Martin is a serious contender for the best friterie in Brussels. You can eat your frites at the nearby Cafe Gambrinus and wash them down with a pintje or two. Martin is closed since December 26, 2009, but a new fritkot will be opened beginning of 2011 at the same location.
- La Friterie de la Place de la Chapelle, Rue Haute-Hoogstraat (near Les Marolles/Marollen). Another personal choice for the best frites in Brussels: the big chunks of potato, fried golden, and served with the usual dazzling array of sauces.
- La Friterie de la Barrière, Rue du Parc-Parkstraat (just off the Barrière de St-Gilles/Bareel van Sint-Gillis). Golden and crispy frites - just the way they should be. This exterior of this fritkot also serves as mini-museum with several tracts, articles and other literature on the fronts and sides of the shack on the good ol' Belgian frite.
- Friterie Tabora, Rue Taborastraat 2 (near the Bourse). All natural frites with the widest selection of sauces available. It's open almost 24/7 and is a favourite among locals.
- Arcadi, Rue d'Aremberg-Aremberglaan 1B, just at the exit of "Galleries de la Reine", in the direction opposite to the Grand-Place - a quirky combination of old and new, the menu ranges all over the place but the reason people flock here is the selection of over 30 sweet and savoury pies (tartes). A slice big enough for a meal, served with salad, costs €7-7.50. Also current special of cafe & slice of pie for €5.
- Mamma Roma, 3 shops: Flagey (Chaussee de Vleurgat-Vleurgatsesteenweg 5), Chatelain/Kastelein (Rue du Page-Edelknaapstraat 5) and Place Jourdan/Jourdanplein. Small pizzeria for eat-in (bar-style seating) or takeaway, sold by weight. Delicious crunchy base and some unusual toppings (one was spicy with walnuts, very tasty). Long queues but speedy service, deals available for pizza + drinks.
- Sel et Sucre Creperie - Glacier, Avenue des Celtes-Keltenlaan, 4, near Merode subway station, Parc du Cinquantenaire-Jubelpark and the Arc de Triomphe-Triomfbloog. The fantastic crepes and friendly service makes up for the ordinary decor and just around the corner from the Arc de Triomphe-Triomfbloog. Open 12:00 - 22:00.
- Snack Pizzeria Porte de Halle, Avenue Henri Jaspar-Henri Jasparlaan, 134, directly across the city ring from Porte de Halle-Halsepoort. The gentlemen running the place speak a little bit of English and serve the best donar kebap and pizza in the neighborhood. The #39-Pizza Porte De Halle is probably their best pizza. Tel. 02/534 0051; Open 11:00 - 23:00 w/free delivery on orders over €10
- Tapas Locas, Rue Marche au Charbons-Kolenmarktstraat 74. Crazy tapas, sensible prices. Some tapas include miniaturised Belgian favourites as well as the usual Spanish suspects.
Brussels' tourist restaurant gauntlet can be found in Rue des Bouchers-Beenhouwerstraat, just to the north of Grand Place. The place has a bad reputation for waiters imposing themselves on passers-by, trying to lure customers into their restaurant. The authorities are aware of this, and are trying to take measures. Some restaurants may also tempt you with cheap prices for the menus, but when seated, the item on the menu happens to be unavailable, and you're forced to accept another, noticeably more expensive dish. Often, the exaggerated price of the wines will also compensate for the attractive menu. Knowing this however, you may be able to negotiate a better deal before entering.
A few restaurants stand out from the crowd though:
- Si Bemol, Bloemenstraat-Rue aux Fleurs 20, +32 (0)2 219 63 78. Open from 7PM on till usually 5AM. Closed Sundays. Small but nice, friendly, of the beaten path local place. Lots of dedicated pictures on the wall from French and Belgian performing artists from the 60s and 70s. Basic honest Brussels and Belgian fare.
- Aux Armes de Bruxelles, Rue des Bouchers-Beenhouwerstraat 13, +32 (0)2 511 5550. Closed Mondays. Basic honest food, including some very decent moules. Crowded, although worth the wait.
- Chez Léon. Rue des Bouchers-Beenhouwerstraat 18, +32 (0)2 511 1415. Now franchised into France as well, this is the original and while it's huge and looks like a tourist trap, the moules are excellent and it's packed every day. Moules, beer and a starter will set you back €25, and kids eat for free.
- Scheltema, Rue des Dominicains-Predikherenstraat 7, +32 (0)2 512 2084. Specializes in fresh and tasty seafood.
- Au Pré Salé, 20, Rue de Flandre-Vlaamsesteenweg (near St Catherine square), +32 (0)2 513 6545. A former butcher shop, locals flock here for some of the best moules in town, sold by the kilo (figure on €24) and served up in half a dozen ways. Also serves the full range of other Brussels favorites.
- Falstaff, 19, Rue Henri Mausstraat 19 (by the Bourse-Beurs). Has cheap and decent food and is open every day until 2AM, around €20-30.
- Le Beau Soleil, Rue Joseph Lebeaustraat 7 (Sablon area). This tiny restaurant (approx. 14 seats) looks like a violin workshop, so you sit next to all the tools and half finished violins. Unlike other Belgian restaurants, it is open from 9AM to 5PM (Mo-Fr), 9AM to 6PM (Sat,Sun), closed on Wednesday. The menu is small but really delicious. The atmosphere is informal and friendly.
- Les Brassins, Rue Keyenveld-Keienveldstraat 36, Ixelles-Elsene, +32 (0)2 512 6999. Its crowd is mostly made out of young couples or students. Rich choice of beer, with more than 50 varieties on the menu, and good quality of food.
- 'T Kelderke, Grand'Place, 15 Grote Markt, +32 (0)2 513 7344. €9-19 main courses. €8.50 Plat du jour. Well-made typical Belgian fare. Try the carbonnades à la flamande (Flemish beef stew) & mussels. Note that this place can feel cramped when full of diners.
- Les Chapeliers, Rue des Chapeliers 1-3 Hoedenmakersstraat, +32 (0)2 513 6479. Just off the Grote Markt with reasonable prices and excellent food. Seems to be popular among the locals without full of tourists.
Close to the Bourse Jules Van Praetstraat (rue Jules Van Praet) is another rapidly developing street of restaurants and bars. Those of note include:
- Lune de Miel, +32 (0)2 513 9181. Some very tasty Thai and Vietnamese dishes served in a fine decor.
- Shamrock, +32 (0)2 511 4989. Its exterior and misleading name belie a great range of individually cooked Indian food. Get to know the owner and he'll treat you like an old friend.
- Thanh-Binh , +32 (0)2 513 8118. The restaurant is very popular among the Euroworkers and business types common in Brussels and serves good Thai food. It can get crowded and is often noisy but is well worth a try.
Place Saint Catherine-Catherinplaats is also a popular area, and once the fishmongering centre of Brussels. While many of the fish shops have moved elsewhere, it is still home to many good seafood restaurants featuring lobster as a specialty.
- Restaurant Vismet, Place Sainte-Catherinplaats 23, +32 (0)2 218 85 45. A small bistro that really gets busy after 19:00. Very good seafood. The handwritten menu can throw foreigners off, but everything on the menu(s) are top notch. Appetizers: around €15; Main dishes: €18-30
- Jacques, Quai aux Briques-Baksteenkaai 44, +32 (0)2 513 2762. An authentic old bistro, with a charming kitsch decor. Very good fish.
- Viva M'Boma, Vlaanderenstraat-Rue de Flandre 17, +32 (0)2 512 1593. For real Belgian home cooking. Terrace in the summer.
- Brussels Resto, Place Sainte Catherine-Catherinplaats 3, +32 (0)2 502 35 73. bet for quality food especially for its steak at acceptable prices. The menu is in Dutch and French which can cause difficulty in deciphering the specialties.
It is outside the touristic centre that the best deals can be found. Here are a few addresses in the Upper Town and Louise Area:
- Madou's Provence, Rue de la Presse-Drukpersstraat 23, +32 (0)2 217 3831. Closed Saturday noon and Sundays. Innovative southern French cuisine at affordable prices.
- Chez Oki. Rue Lesbroussart-Lesbroussartstraat 62, Ixelles-Elsene. French-Japanese fusion cuisine in a modern decor. The chef has worked for prestigious restaurants in Paris. Reasonable prices.
- L'Ultime Atome: Increasingly chic, but still just about affordable brasserie, serving tasty food and drink from breakfast till late. Place St Boniface-Bonifatiusplaats (off the Chausée d'Ixelles-Elsensesteenweg).
- Mano a Mano: Italian restaurant on Place St. Boniface-Bonifatiusplaats; Good food, not too expensive.
- L'Amour Fou: Similar to above located on Place Fernand Coqplaats.
- Dolma: Buddhist cafe/wholefood shop on Chausée d'Ixelles-Elsensesteenweg (It is on the right hand side, just before Place Flagey, on your way out of town).
- Yamato: Small ramen shop.
- Les Brassins , Belgian-French cuisine, tasty and a real bargain.
- Belga Queen. Rue du Fossé aux Loups-Wolvengracht 32. A restaurant within an old, restored bank building. Has an oyster bar, gorgeous bathrooms (with strange stall doors), and a cigar bar housed in the old bank vaults. A good looking younger crowd seem to enjoy this place, and don't miss the offbeat restrooms.
- La Belle Maraichere, Place Sainte-Catherineplaats 11, +32 (0)2 512 9759, closed We-Th. A classic fish restaurant. Very fresh fish and good old traditional cooking.
- Comme Chez Soi, Place Rouppe/Rouppeplaats. +32 (0)2 512 29 21. Classic Michelin-starred restaurant.
- Les Larmes du Tigres (Tears of the Tiger). Justitiepaleis, de Wynantsstraat 21, +32 (0)2 512 1877, closed Tu. Upmarket and stylish Thai restaurant found just behind the Palais de Justice and better than most food found in Thailand.
- De Gulden Boot (la Chaloupe d'Or), 24 Grote Markt (Grand Place) - One of the most famous restaurants in Brussels, situated on Grand Place. Beautiful old building, but too much of a tourist trap. And even after a €200 dinner, you will get charged €0.50 to visit the toilet.
Forget about eating out if you're strictly vegan. There are some vegetarian restaurants that might cater without animal products though:
- Dolma. A very nice vegetarian buffet Monday till Saturday from 19 till 21h. Chaussée d'Ixelles-Elsenesteenweg 329. Reservation 02/6498981.
- La Tsampa. An organic/vegetarian shop annex restaurant, closed on Saturday and Sunday. Rue de Livourne-Livornostraat 109.
- L'Element Terre - Located in Ixelles-Elsene, L'Element Terre features an eclectic menu and wonderful, attentive service. Chaussée de Waterloo-Waterloosesteenweg 465.
Brussels currently has only one kosher restaurant, Balthazar Kosher Restaurant, a meat restaurant located near the European Parliament.
Belgium is to beer what France is to wine, it is home to one of the greatest beer traditions in the world, and Brussels is a great place to sample some of the vast variety on offer. Typical beers of Brussels are gueuze (rather sour) and kriek (rather sweet, cherry based).
Smoking is prohibited in all bars.
A special drink only found in Brussels is the "half-en-half" ("half and half"). It's a mixture of white wine and champagne.
- "Brasserie De l'Union", 55 Parvis De Saint-Gilles - Sint-Gillisvoorplein. This is a place with a true "atmosphere", wooden chairs and tables, big old wooden bar, a crowd that reflects the diversity of Saint-Gilles. Everybody is welcome and come as you are. This is a bar that just oozes human warmth and a comfortable ambiance. When the sunny days are coming, the terrace is one of the best in Saint-Gilles.
- À La Bécasse, Rue de Taborastraat 11, +32 (0)2 511 0006. Serves a typical Brussels product this slightly sweetened Lambic beer, white beer based on Lambic, Kriek Lambic and so on. The entrance is not that easy to find.
- À La Mort Subite. Rue Montagne-aux-Herbes Potagères-Bergstraat 7. This is the Brussels cafe par excellence. Opened since 1927, the decor remains unchanged but still retains its charm. A warm welcome greets the eclectic clientile of which La Mort remains a firm favorite.
- Bier Circus. 57, Rue de l'Enseignement-Onderrichtsstraat, +32 (0)2 218 0034. Has an impressive selection of beers, including some extremely hard to find beers. Examples of rare beers they have in stock, are Lam Gods (a delicious beer brewed from figs) and the rarest of the Trappist beers, winner of the Beer of the Year 2005, Westvleteren. Also offers meals with beer as an ingredient. Open Tuesday to Friday, 1200-1430 & 1800-2300; Saturday 1800-2300.
- BXL Cafe/Bar, Place de la Vieille Halle aux Blés-Oud Korenhuis 46, +32 (0)2 502 9980. Open daily noon-midnight (Fri/Sat until 1AM). A stylish, friendly internet cafe in the center of Brussels. Offering high speed internet access, occasional live music/DJ, latest movies shown on video screens around the bar, regular art exhibitions. Gay friendly space with women's night every Wednesday from 8PM.
- The Floris, Right across from Delirium Cafe, famous for its absinthe.
- Bizon Cafe. Rue Pont de la Carpe-Karperbrugstraat 7. A relaxed blues/rock bar in St Gery area. Excellent place for a beer or five.
- The Monk. St Katelijnestraat-Rue St. Catherine 42. A large proper brown bar with walls covered in dark wood and mirrors. Lots of young people from the neighborhood, cool music and a decent Malt whiskey selection.
- Delirium Cafe, Impasse de la Fidelité-Getrouwheidsgang 4A (on a pedestrian only sidestreet), +32 (0)2 514 4434, . Right in the centre of Brussels within five minutes walk of the Grand Place. This bar is all about the beer, offering 2004 different beers from all over the world. They even hold the Guinness world record for most beers available! Popular among foreigners. Check if they have your own local beer. View their website for more info. There are some smoke-free areas. Also next door are three different alcohol themed bars specialising rum, tequila, and absinthe.
- Chez Moeder Lambiek, Rue Savoiestraat 68 (behind Saint Gilles-Sint-Gillis city hall). Has a huge list of different beers, with several hundred obscure beers not likely found anywhere else. This cafe is one of the last remaining old-fashioned brown cafes in Brussels.
- Le Greenwich, Rue des Chartreux-Kartuizerstraat 7, +32 (0)2 511 4167. Another wood-panelled brown cafe where the only sound is the sound of the chess pieces on the chess board. Shh!
- Brasserie Verschueren, Parvis de St-Gilles-Sint-Gillisvoorplein 11-13, 02/539 40 68. Something of an institution in hip Saint-Gilles. Under the watchful eye of the portly, bearded deep-voiced owner, hipsters, starving artists and local poodle-brandishing ladies mingle and drink endless beers and coffees. A beautiful woodwork football tableau shows the scores of some long lost second and third division teams from yesteryear.
- Cirio, Rue de la Bourse-Beursstraat 18 (near the Bourse). A traditional café where time has come to a stop. Also offers some simple meals. Don't forget to visit the bathroom, with the original tiles and porcelain.
- Le Corbeau, Sint-Michielsstraat 18 (North of Debrouckere, near City2 and Inno) +32 (0)2 219 5246. A bar with a strong selection of beer, Edgar Allen Poe themed, hence the name (The Raven). Known for the clientele who dance on the tables all around the bar. Reasonably priced, well trafficked.
Bars and clubs
- De Walvis is one of the very few hip and non-smoking bars in Brussels. Dansaert street.
- Crystal Lounge. This prestige location, nestling in the heart of the Louise district in Brussels, offers a new style of Lounge Bar – Restaurant entirely dedicated to the well-being of its guests. The service, the musical atmosphere and the lighting… everything has been carefully thought out to offer a unique experience depending on the time of day: if the client chooses a table at midday, he will discover a totally different Crystal Lounge from the one he would find sitting at the bar in the evening, or in a salon in the middle of the afternoon.
- Mappa Mundo, Place Saint Géry-Sint Goriksplein 2, +32 (0)2 514 3555. One of the many trendy bar/cafés located on the popular Place Saint Géry-Sint Goriksplein. You are assured good drinking in at least one of these establishments, which are very popular with younger Eurocrats, foreigners and interns, giving them a rather friendly cosmopolitan character.
- Le Tavernier. 445 Chaussée de Boondael-Boondaalsesteenweg, While all the above locations are situated downtown in central Brussels, this location is the most popular bar on a strip of bars right by the Cimétière d'Ixelles-Begraafplaats van Elsene. It's location right off the student campus make it extremely popular with students who just want to kick back and have a few relaxed drinks. Note on certain nights there is also live music (making the establishment a lot more hectic). Worth a look especially towards the beginning and end of the academic year and in the summer (especially for their Jazzbreaks nights).
- Hydra-breaks organises "Hydra Sessions" and also "Next Level" and "Caliente" drum and bass parties at various locations. Hydra Sessions are major D&B nights with international headliners such as Pendulum, Spor, or Raiden, along national djs.
- Bulex nights is a monthly night out for many locals since more than 10 years, blending all kind of music in unexpected venues. Come as you are.
- The Fuse Rue Blaesstraat 208 is a nightclub where it all started and is a Brussels institution. Be sure to check it out. Popular among the young people for it´s Electronic scene, often having Dubstep and Drum & Bass nights, such as Rockme On Electro, Cartel, F*ckin Beat or other parties. (Watch out for these other parties in nights spread out in other smaller clubs in Brussels).
- The Botanique is the place for rock and pop. They do, on occasion, bring more experimental acts.
- The Botanique's Flemish counterpart, the Ancienne Belgique features the same mix of rock and pop with the occasional excursion into more unchartered, experimental territory.
- Recyclart - For electronica, noise-rock, electroclash, minimal techno as well as art exhibitions, social projects and installations.
- Le You - For young clubbers who just want to party, 2 minutes walking due South-East from the Grande Place.
- Gays and Lesbians: the two biggest monthly gay clubs remain at La Demence at the Fuse. 100% House & Trance. Don't miss the crowded (but super small) Le Belgica bar, which plays house music. There are quite a lot of gay bars easily recognisable by their flag around the Grand Place area, especially on the street Marché Au Charbon/ Kolenmarkt.
Very few shops in Brussels open before 10AM, and most kick off about 10:30-11AM. Many shops are closed on Sunday and Monday.
- Beer Mania, 174-176 Chausse de Wavre-Waversesteenweg, Ixelles/Elsene. Claims to have a stock of over 400 beers, but has been overrun by beer tourists. The stock is extensive, but quite pricey in comparison to GB, Delhaize, or Carrefour. Beer Mania is a great place to find out of the ordinary beers.
- GB/Carrefour. Branches around the city carry a wide variety of beers, including almost all Trappist beer. Selection varies by store. The GB in Grand Place has a large selection and offers prices that are approximately a third of the prices in tourist shops.
- Delhaize. Similar to GB/Carrefour, but a tad more expensive.
- Match. Another store similar to GB/Carrefour, but has more of the unusual Belgian beers including Delirium.
- Cora. Two very large supermarkets on the outer limits of Brussels. They have a much larger choice of beers than Carrefour/ Delhaize/ Match and some very nice gift boxes but still with reasonable supermarket prices.
- Leonidas (branches across the city). very popular with the locals. Inexpensive and good quality, at €5.05 for 250g.
- Neuhaus (branches across the city). A bit more expensive than Leonidas and a bit higher quality. Very popular with the locals as well. It is also possible to get good discounts by buying directly at the shop outlet outside of the factory (Postweg 2, 1602 Vlezenbeek, tel: 02/568.23.10) which is just on the outer limits of Brussels, just a short walk away from the Erasme/ Erasmus metro station. Prices can go as low as 10€ per kilo, however only the products that are specifically marked as having reduced prices are worth the trip, other products have the exact same price as in local shops.
- Mary (branches across the city). Excellent handmade chocolates, with this store originating from 1919.
- Passion Chocolat, 2/4 Rue Bodenbroek, also 20 Avenue Louis Gribaumont. Delicious chocolates, and they often offer free samples of 1-2 chocolates from their collection.
- Marcolini, 39 Place du Grand Sablon-Grote Zavel Plein. Arguably the best Belgian chocolates and priced accordingly. The country-specific products are difficult to find and quite worth the price.
- Wittamer, 6-12-13 Place du Grand Sablon-Grote Zavel Plein. Another excellent chocolate maker, with also a selection of macarons and cakes. They may however insist on a minimum 100g purchase for the chocolates.
- Chocopolis, 81 Rue du Marché aux Herbes-Grasmarkt (Between Grand Place and Central Station). Pick and choose your favorite type of chocolates, all at reasonable prices.
- Maison Renardy, 17 Rue de Dublinstraat, ☎ +32 02 514 30 17. A great boutique shop with delicious chocolate and friendly service. Stop by for a cup of tea or coffee, and get one of their chocolates free with your tea. Still peckish? You're able to bring a whole box home.
- Godiva (branches around the city). Not very popular and quite pricey.
- Chocolate bars. For the frugal, you can buy 100-200 gram gourmet bars of chocolate in grocery stores for about €1 each. Good brands to buy are Côte-d'Or and Jacques, both are Belgian.
- Belgian Lace. among the best in the world. Several shops are located at the Grand' Place-Grote Markt itself. Beware of some shops that sell Belgian lace even though production was outsourced abroad. Ask for a country of origin if purchasing around Grand Place.
- Shopping centres:
- Galeries Saint Hubert-Sint Hubertusgalerijen. The world's first shopping mall, opened in 1847, is a light and airy triple-gallery enclosing boutiques, bookshops, cafés, restaurants, and a theater and cinema
- Galeria Inno, 111-123 Rue Neuve-Nieuwstraat. Department store (fashion, cosmetics, etc.)
- General shopping (along Rue Neuve-Nieuwstraat). with GB supermarket at City 2 accessed from Rue Neuve-Nieuwstraat and Metro Rogier.
- Marché aux Puces - Vlooienmarkt (Flea Market), Place du Jeu de Balle-Vossenplein. every day from 7AM to 2PM. This flea market offers everything from the weird to the wonderful at rock-bottom prices.
- Marché du Midi, Midi/Zuid station. Sun 06:00 – 14:00. One of the largest markets in Europe, with a strong North African influence. A great source of fresh fruits and vegetables, and the prices drop to dirt cheap by 13:30. Also a wide selection of clothes and other items.
- Christmas market, Grand Place, Boulevard Anspachlaan and on Vissenmarkt-Marché aux Poissons. Late Nov-Early Jan. 240 wooden Christmas chalets line the streets looking like gingerbread houses, twinkling with fairy lights and covered with ‘snow-top’ roofs. The chalets sell a variety of Christmas items, decorations, gifts and Christmas season food (including "vin chaud/gluhwein" mulled wine). Activities include a skating rink, a Ferris wheel, and ice dinosaur monster (admission fees). Brass bands, free performances and ice sculptures are also on display.
- Film :
- Brüsel, 100 Boulevard Anspachlaan. Right in the center and one of the most up to date stores when it comes to contemporary comics.
- Filigranes, 39 Avenue des Arts-Kunstlaan. open 7 days a week. the largest bookshop in Brussels, features a small bar/café inside and quite often live music.
- Sterling Books. One of the most popular English bookshops in downtown Brussels.
- Pele-Mele, Boulevard Maurice Lemonnierlaan, 55 & 59 (Metro Anneessens). maze-like, second-hand bookshop with huge selection of used books at bargain prices. A bookworm's haven.
This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Brussels on Wikivoyage.