Discover cobblestones and fountains on city breaks to Brussels, home to gilded palaces, buzzing beer halls and comic book hero Tintin.
The jewel in Brussels' crown is the centrally-located Grand-Place. Medieval facades and ornamented rooftops on the enormous square compete for attention with statues of ever-so-important (and long gone) royalty, while adjacent chocolate and lace shops are as busy as the palatial embellishments. Following a warren of cobbled streets east takes you to the manicured gardens of the Parc de Bruxelles, or hop aboard Brussels' clanging city trams for a quick glimpse of the flea markets and down-to-earth cafés of the Marolles district.
Best of Brussels city breaks for...
- Shopping: Hunt for bargains among the elegant stalls of the 19th-century Galeries Royales St Hubert. Beneath the glass-roofed shopping arcade sits a treasure trove of delicate lace table linens and hand-dipped, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate pralines.
- Romance: Glimmering candles and steaming plates of mussels cover tables in pastel Art Nouveau restaurants around the Place du Grand Sablon. After dinner, savour the moonlit evening with a horse-drawn carriage ride through the narrow stone streets of central Brussels.
- Nightlife: Sample a Brussels original, Lambic beer, or one of 450 frothy Belgian brews at wood-panelled taverns around the Grand-Place. Peckish? Order a plate of frites - French fries - and mayonnaise. Cheers!
- Active types: Ditch the metro and hop on a bicycle, like true Bruxellois. Once you've rented wheels at Central Station, bike lanes will take you everywhere on short breaks in Brussels, from the medieval city centre to the sprawling park in Laken.
- Families: Children have giggled at the Mannekin-Pis fountain since the 15th century. What's not to love about a gilded boy sprinkling a street corner as only little boys do, just two blocks from the prim and proper Grand-Place?
Getting into Brussels from Brussels Airport
- Brussels Airport Express trains whisk travellers to the city's North, Central and Midi stations in just 16 minutes.
Getting around on weekend breaks in Brussels
- Public transport The efficient tram and Metro systems connect central Brussels to all of its surrounding suburbs.
- On foot Central Brussels is compact, its chief attractions and shopping districts located within a few blocks. If you want to save cash, explore the city on foot.
- Bicycle The city is well equipped with bike lanes, and bikes can be hired at Central Station, so there's really no excuse not to cycle.