A short escape to Brussels, the heart of Europe
My first visit to Brussels (Bruxelles in French and Brussel in Dutch) was beyond my wildest expectations. If you plan to travel to Europe, include Brussels in your bucket list, it is so worth a visit!
Brussels is not only the capital city of Belgium, it is de facto also the capital of European Union. Brussels is bilingual city, the people speak both French and Flemish (Belgian Dutch) although most of public information throughout the city is written in four languages, with English and German additionally.
Where to stay
I stayed overnight in Silken Berlaymont Brussels, a four star hotel located around 11 minutes from the Central Station (Gare Centrale) by Metro line 1 or 5. The location is quite strategic. To Brussels airport (BRU) there is a direct connection nearby the hotel by bus route 21 from Schuman which is approximately 34 minutes ride.
Near the hotel you can easily find cafés or restaurants nearby and if you like to have a morning or afternoon walk, then walking 750 metres to the east you will arrive in Parc du Cinquantenaire.
Inside the park there are three museums you can visit; Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History (Military museum showing equipment through the ages, including 20th-century tanks & medieval armor), Autoworld museum (From vintage carriages to iconic racing cars, including presidential limousines in a spacious car museum), and Musees Royaux d'Art et d'Histoire (Displays of Belgian artifacts from prehistory to the Merovingians, plus artefacts from Egypt & Iran).
24h transport ticket for occasional travelers
If you are just visiting Brussels, then you must buy a STIB-MIVB ticket with the magnetic strip. Do not buy MOBIB ticket, this type of ticket is only useful if you are living in Brussels or visiting Brussels on regular basis.
There two fares, one is when you buy the ticket inside the vehicle which is more expensive and the other when you buy it outside the vehicle, means in the vending machine.
I stayed for two days in Brussels, I bought two tickets for 24h and it cost 7,5 Euro each. Compare to single fare ticket which is cost 2,1 Euro (outside vehicle fare), the price of a day ticket is cheaper. This ticket is valid for traveling by any kind of transportation inside the city. You will find more information here.
If you buy magnetic strip ticket in the airport, please note that the ticket is not valid for using a SNCB train (a kind of fast train from and to airport), you might need to buy an additional ticket. Instead you can take a bus from the airport without any additional cost.
Free Guided Tour
I love guided tours but most of the time the price offered is quite expensive. In Brussels, there is no need to worry about it, you can join free a guided tour. Then at the end of the tour, you only need to tip the tour guide, as you deem what is appropriate. Daily tours are in English every day, twice a day. For more information of free guided tours in Brussels and other tours, you can visit Bravo Discover. I found it quite interesting to join this tour. We were walking around the city starting in front of the Town Hall in Grand Place and ended nearby St. Catherine’s church. This tour takes around three hours, remember to wear the most comfortable footwear.
This city card offers you free entrance to 31 museums in Brussels, discounts in several shops, bars and clubs as well as tourist attractions and more tours. The card offers you an option of 24h, 48h or 72h use from the first time that you validate it. You can buy the Brussels card online and print it if at home as a pdf file or you can buy in several locations in Brussels. Please follow the link to find how to purchase and the places you wish to see.
For your information the Brussels card does not include public transportation.
Please be aware, most of the museums in Brussels are closed on a Monday.
City of Comic Strip
If you are a kind of comic-maniac or maybe not (yet), you will love of what Brussels has to offer.
The first option is to visit Brussels’ famous The Belgian Comic Strip Center, it will teach what you ever wanted to know about comics. You can meet Tintin and the Smurfs in a special section for these exhibits. If you have a Brussels card, you may also get 3 Euro discount for the entrance fee.
The second option is a good choice when the weather outside is sunny and bright, you could try to stroll around the city by following Brussels’ Comic Book Route (there is also a guided tour provided by some companies). Brussels’ Comic Book Route the path consists of several comic strip murals which bedeck the walls of several buildings throughout the inner City of Brussels as well as the neighborhoods of Laeken and Auderghem. The large comic strip murals show motifs of the most famous and popular Belgian comics, for instance The Adventures of Tintin, Lucky Luke, Gaston, Marsupilami and Gil Jourdan (Wikipedia).
Whether you are a science geek or not, I am sure you would like this piece of art in the north part of Brussels. This unique architecture height of 102 metres and consists of nine spheres (each diameter is 18 metres wide) connected by tubes. Dare to ride to to level 7 by elevator and enjoy amazing panorama over Brussels. Visitors can also enjoy a 100% Belgian fine lunch from 95 metres high, but only if an advanced reservation has been made. There is a permanent exhibition explaining the history of the building as well as temporary exhibition with different themes