Cosmopolitan and correct, trendy and straight-laced, old and modern – Brussels is all of these things, a city of contrasts and delights.
Brussels main market square, Grand-Place, is a wonderful place to admire beautiful guild houses, watch people go by and enjoy a beer or coffee from one of the many delightful bars and cafés. The square's most arresting sight is Hôtel de Ville, the seat of civic government which dates back to 1402. Climbing to the top of its nearly 100m-high Brabantine Gothic tower rewards you with incredible city views.
Heysel Plateau is home to the Atomium, a gleaming steel and chrome structure that is more than 100m high and was created to represent the 'atomic age' in 1958. It's a remarkable spectacle, comprising nine steel spheres connected by tubes, each one containing an exhibit. Ascend to the top within just 23 seconds in the glass-roofed lift.
Next to the Atomium is Bruparck, 62 acres of attractions and amusements. Here you'll see scaled-down replicas of each country of the European Union. There's also a 27-screen cinema, planetarium, Water Park and much more.
Book one of our Brussels city centre hotels and put yourself in the heart of the city. We have a great choice including the modestly priced Saint Nicolas which is only 250m from Grand Place. Each room has free internet access, an LCD TV and private bathroom. For 5-star elegance and comfort, Hilton Brussels Grand Place is one of Brussels' best. It's situated in the city centre and has free internet access throughout, a 24-hour fitness suite and an Intimate Executive Lounge.
Belgium has the world's fifth-largest church, Koekelberg Basilica, an Art Deco delight that dominates Parc Elisabeth. Based upon Paris' Sacré-Cœur, the Basilica instead has red-brick and sandstone colours instead of pure white. The first stone was laid in 1905 and it was finally completed in 1971. For great views of the city, climb the steps to the Basilica's cupola platform. And for perhaps Brussels' cheekiest attraction, visit Manneken-Pis, a 60cm-tall metal fountain in the shape of a young lad who continually relieves himself, much to the amusement of onlookers!
For delicious sandwiches and baguettes filled with goats' cheese and olive tapenade, Tonton Garby is the place to go. Le Chou de Bruxelles has great Belgian food that is hard to beat, as is its stylish brassiere setting and smashing atmosphere. And Wine Bar Sablon des Marolles provides a romantic, friendly bistro environment in which to enjoy the tasty French cuisine.
Shopping centres such as Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert and Galeries de la Reine are ideal for doing all your shopping in one place. Place du Grand Sablon, and the streets that emanate from it, are where you'll find the city's antique dealers. For the chance to find a bargain, head to Jeu de Balle Flea Market for period furniture and retro gems. And for exquisite Belgian chocolates, try Chocolatier Mary and Pierre Marcolini.