Country: Belgium
Currency: Euro (EUR)
Peak Season: June-August
Shoulder Season: November-April
Median Temperature: 9.80 C / 49.64 F
Main Languages: Dutch, French, English
Primary Modes of Transportation: Metro, bus, tram, taxi, bicycle
Recommended Duration of Stay: 2 days
Recommended Pocket Money: $100.00/day
Tourist Passes: Brussels Card
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Ah, Brussels – a city of intricacy, bilingualism (French and Dutch), friendly people, hip fashion, great food, luscious chocolate, overflowing lager, numerous museums (87 to boot) international railways, redefined entertainment, and weekly multicultural festivities. Whoever said Brussels was boring clearly needs to retract his statement. Belgium is known for its linguistic diversity (having three national languages: Dutch, French, and German), acclaimed engineering prodigies, quirky political history – and would you believe French fries were first served in Belgium?

Striking colors, intricate tailoring, and high-grade material – that’s Brussels fashion (street fashion, to be precise) for you. Young Bruxellois are trendsetters and rightfully so – Europeans and Americans acknowledge Belgium for its tapestry, fine selection of cotton and wool, and this has carried on to everyday clothing worn by the locals. An underrated fashion capital, you’ll gawk at the multitude of designer dresses at every clothing storefront.

The city is underrated for pioneering many advances that contributed to the world’s continued advancement. From 1914 to the late 1920’s, Belgium was heralded as the forerunner of international car production. And even now, the city produces some of the brightest people you’ll see in Europe, so a meaningful talk with a local is always assured. You’ll be surprised to unravel many more accomplishments once you go to Brussels.

Packing List

  • Thick layers for the winter and light clothing for the summer; waterproof walking shoes are indispensable, as well as a jacket/umbrella for the changeable daytime weather
  • Essential medication and toiletries, especially to combat headaches from beer binging; pharmacies and groceries are easily found and price goods similar to their US counterparts
  • A decent camera, tripod and plenty of film; you may also want to bring a smartphone/GPS device to check the weather/directions if bound to do an entire day of sightseeing and camera shooting
  • Credit card/s, a decent amount of cash and a coin purse for the vending machines; the quality of public transport, especially the taxis, are so-so, and cash is still the preferred mode of payment
  • Tour guides, especially beer drinking guides, since a wide variety is available in Brussels, but you’ll end up lying on the floor if you sample them all; try to sift through the ones you would prefer

Things to Do

  • Visiting the Grand Place, exuding an elegant mixture of Gothic and Baroque architecture; the central square is popular for both its 315-foot-tall Town Hall and the 19,000-sq-ft-wide flower carpet
  • Riddling yourself upon gazing at the Atomium, the city’s distinguishing landmark; operable spheres can easily be accessed via escalators, with the top sphere offering complete, panoramic views
  • Entering the millennial St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral, a Gothic, Roman Catholic church that houses the remains of its namesakes (who are also the city’s patron saints) in its 10th century crypt
  • Sampling pure Belgian beer variants—Lambic, Gueuze, Faro and Kriekinside—at the Cantillon Brewery; the museum’s machinery are still used today in the newer factory models
  • Appreciating carefully selected, eclectic pieces at the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium; works of the maestros—Bruegel, Campin, van Dyck, Jordaens—and Dutch nationals are found here

DON'T

  • Go back home without buying a few boxes of Belgian chocolates, they’re considered some of the finest, most luscious in the world; all parts of the city are teeming with chocolate shops/peddlers
  • Miss out on the lager and lambic beers, known for the sour-yet-plummy taste; Belgian beer is known for its strong alcoholic volume and the peoples’ strong connoisseurship for beer-tasting
  • Speak French and German interchangeably, instead use English instead to avoid any mishaps; there seems to be some rivalry between both languages, so just take the neutral stance with English
  • Joke about the government and cultural/ethnic diversity, as these are both sensitive topics in the eccentric political system of Belgium
  • Cross the roads (especially those without signs) without looking both ways; pedestrian crossings are usually prone to inebriated night drivers and daytime speedsters