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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.
Brussels operates as a bilingual city where both French (85%) and Dutch (Flemish) (15%) are official languages. Thus all the streets have two names, which can sound totally different. For example, the Main Square is called both la Grand Place and de Grote Markt. Although officially bilingual, French is undoubtedly Brussels' lingua franca. English is also widely understood, but not always widely spoken. Visitors should realize that language is a very divisive issue in Belgium (though this is not as noticeable in Brussels).
Brussels weather can often be grey and humid 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. Summers tend to be cooler and wetter than London and winters colder. The daily and monthly temperature variations are quite small. Daily differences between average highs and average lows don't exceed 9ºC (16ºF).
Brussels main airport is still commonly referred to as Brussels National or Zaventem (code: BRU)
South Charleroi is located 60 km to the south of Brussels. Several budget airlines, including Ryanair and Wizzair operate service from this airport to cities such as Barcelona, Belgrade, Budapest, Dublin, Edinburgh, Manchester, Rome, Sofia, Vilnius, Warsaw and Riga.
The bus stops at Midi/Zuid station (Midi/Zuid station PDF map), on the Rue de France/Frankrijkstraat in the west. The metro and international trains (Eurostar, Thalys) are on the west side of the station, so upon entering the station from the bus stop, head left rather than straight. When traveling to the airport, it would be better to arrive at the Brussels Midi/Zuid stop far in advance of the bus departure time as the queue to board the bus could be very long (there are no ticket machines and people buy tickets on board). Therefore you might miss the bus and wait another 30 minutes. Also note that the traffic on the way out of Brussels can be heavy in peak hours, so the journey may take longer than planned.
Brussels has three main train stations: Midi-Zuid, to the south of the city core, Central-Centraal, which is right next to the city center, and Nord-Noord, to the north of the city center (at Place Rogier).
By public transportation
The five and ten ride tickets (Jump 5 and Jump 10 respectively) are no longer available as paper card tickets (they were withdrawn from sale on 1 July 2015, although existing part-used cards were still valid in October 2015). The Jump 5 (€8) and Jump 10 (€14) tickets must now be loaded onto a MOBIB or MOBIB-Basic smartcard (which costs €5).
Be aware that the 10 ride ticket can be used by more than one person. Example, if two of you are traveling together, you can just buy one 10 ride ticket, and when you enter the bus, or metro or tram, you validate the ticket twice by entering the ticket on the small orange machine two times. As soon as the ticket is spit out, you enter it again, and the machine will say 2 person, and there will be two lines on the ticket to indicate this. if you know you're going to use public transport a lot, getting the 10 fare pass might be cheaper than getting individual tickets.
Brussels Bike Tours will take you on an easy (no hills) ride that lets you discover the city in just 4 hours.
What to see
Grand Place-Grote Markt. Surrounded by the city tower and a range of beautiful 300 year old buildings. In the evening, surrounded by bright illumination, 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.
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). 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 equipment guarantees 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 pavilions). 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 €.
Brussels is considered to be the de facto capital of the European unnion, having a long history of hosting the institutions of the European unnion 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 unnion, European Council, as well as a second seat of the European Parliament.
Brussels Bike Tours, meeting point right outside the Visit Brussels office (tourist information office) at the Grand Place. From April to November daily at 10am.. Daily bike tours in English allow you to see the main sights in just 3.5 hours. It includes a halfway stop for fries and beer (not included in price). Reservations mandatory. General 25€.
Brussels Chocolate Tours, meeting point right outside the Visit Flanders office. year-round at 2 PM. Reservations mandatory. General 30€.
Brussels has a good selection of year round events, many suitable for English speaking visitors. The following sites are are useful to check out what's on.
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.
Planète Chocolat, 24, Rue du Lombard - 1000 Brussels (Between Grand Place and Manneken Pis). One of the few artisan chocolateries in the heart of Brussels. The shop offers not only delicious chocolate and a awesome praline selection, you can also participate in a workshop or demonstration.
Leonidas, (branches across the city). very popular with the locals. Inexpensive and good quality, at €5.05 for 250g.
April 24, 2015
March 17, 2015
I would really like somebody to wait for us on the morning of the car return.
March 17, 2015