Brussels is a modern and impressive city, effortlessly coming across as a beacon of cosmopolitan life and culture. As the capital of the European Union as well as home to NATO headquarters, Brussels takes it upon itself to be a leading example of a progressive city. During the annual World Environment Day, no cars are allowed into the city and all public transport is free – perfect for tourists wanting to see the city unfettered by traffic and save themselves a franc or two.
La Grand Place is the city’s central and iconic square. It is dominated by the impressive town hall and beautiful old guild halls, all adorned with statues and ornate reliefs. Nearby is the Rue des Bouchers-Beenhouwerstraat which is full of restaurants with waiters outside enticing customers. If you’ve arrived on cheap flights to Brussels and are keeping costs down, you should haggle with the waiters to get a better deal.
A little south of the centre is the area of Sablon, a haven for boutiques, antiques, jewellery and highbrow master chocolate makers. Further south is the borough of Ixelles which also has great shopping and food, particularly on Wednesday evenings when the Place du Châtelain is filled with stalls selling food and wine and people socialising.
Flights to Brussels are worth it just for its excellent food. It’s renowned for chocolate and waffles, but at meal time the speciality is seafood and many restaurants serve fresh mussels, another classic Belgian dish. French fries actually originate from Belgium, and you’ll see many “fritkot” establishments selling them.