Brussels

Welcome to Brussels

Perhaps no other city in Europe arouses more extreme views than Brussels. While some dismiss it as faceless and boring, the European capital of bureaucracy – in 1992, Bill Bryson wrote that its single most redeeming feature was its proximity to Paris – it’s actually a quirky and fascinating city and the hub of a complex country.

This mix of French sophistication and Flemish enterprise is the home of Art Nouveau and symbolism, of Rene Magritte’s unique form of surrealism, and of Tintin and other famous comic creations. Add to that world-class art galleries and a thriving design scene all crammed in and around the stunning architecture of the beautifully restored 17th-century city centre.

Gastronomically, it's outstanding, offering the finest frites in the world on every street corner, moules to go with them, delectable chocolate, waffles and more Michelin-starred restaurants per head than Paris (take that, Bill!). And that’s not forgetting beer: more than 600 varieties to be exact, and countless atmospheric bars.

What it lacks in scale, it makes up for in rebellious eccentricity and a self-effacing sense of humour. There is no better example of this than in the city's emblem, tucked down a cobbled passageway: a statue of a small boy, urinating into a fountain. Without a doubt, Brussels is a fantastic city to explore.

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Quick facts

  • Inhabitants in Belgium:
    10.9 million
  • Inhabitants in Brussels:
    1.9 million
  • Official language
    French, Flemish
  • Currency
    Euro
  • Time zone
    UTC/GMT +1 hour
  • Emergency number
    112
  • Constitution
    Constitutional Monarchy
  • Country phone code
    +2
  • Country code
    +32
  • Local transportation
    Trams, metro, buses, taxis and bicycles