Flight and hotel Brussels
An overview of Brussels
Often overlooked by travellers heading to nearby Amsterdam or Paris, the tiny Belgian capital of Brussels packs a punch with its tidy offerings. The de facto capital of the European Union, stylish Brussels sits perched at the crossroads of culture, letting visitors savour Germanic and Romance influences. Package holidays to Brussels are your best bet to discover this Belgian powerhouse.
What to know before visiting Brussels
The city is served by the Brussels Airport (BRU), which is home to almost 260 companies. A flight from Dublin or Cork to Brussels is easy. The euro (EUR) is the official currency, and Brussels is just an hour ahead of the United Kingdom. French is the most widely spoken language, followed by Dutch and English. Your flight to Brussels awaits.
When is the best time to visit Brussels?
The best time to visit Brussels is in the shoulder months of spring (March to May) and autumn (September and October). Package holidays to Brussels are cheaper, crowds are fewer and you can soak in the city at your own pace. The summer months, from June to August, are when vacationers arrive aplenty for fun weekends in Brussels. November to February is a decidedly chilly yet absolutely magical time, with year-end festivities.
The Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival in March is a must for fantasy and horror fiends. It's followed by the Zinneke Parade in May, where locals don multi-coloured costumes to enjoy music and dance. Celebrated since 1549 in honour of Charles V and his son Philip, the Ommegang Festival in July is all about horses, giants, carts, weapons and walkabouts.
A fixture since 1971, Flower Carpet sees locals weave carpets of brightly hued flowers at the Grand Palace in August. Your flight to and hotel in Brussels are best booked in advance during summer.
What to do in Brussels
Experience a sound and light show at the Grand Place (or Grote Markt). See Mannekin Pis, a bronze statue of a little boy urinating in a fountain – it's easily Brussels' most beloved mascot. Shops in the vicinity sell fantastic Belgian waffles with caramelised sugar.
Le Botanique, an iconic Brussels concert venue, is housed inside the former greenhouses of the National Botanic Garden. Make sure to catch a gig at this impressive space. The springtime 'Les Nuits Botanique' music festival is held here. If you want to get moving, join a Brussels bike tour to catch the city's main sights in a few hours. City breweries are proud of their craft and will let you in on their beer-making secrets. A chocolate tour or a beer tour completes your city breaks in Brussels.
What to see when you visit Brussels
Brussels is packed with interesting sights, from age-old cathedrals to world-famous museums housing works by the Grand Masters. Look forward to seeing these when you book a flight to and hotel in Brussels.
- Absolutely unmissable is the Atomium, a landmark comprising nine connected stainless steel spheres towering 102 metres into the sky. Built in 1958 for the World Fair Expo, the Atomium was named Europe's most bizarre building in 2013 by CNN. You can couple your visit to the Atomium with one to Mini-Europe, which has reproductions of Europe's monuments and landmarks. There's even an erupting Mount Vesuvius.
- Next is the Grand Place, tucked away in the heart of old Brussels. The magnificent 15th-century town hall boasts exquisite architecture, while the square is a terrific spot for people watching, particularly once dusk falls.
- The fifth-biggest church in the world defines the Brussels skyline with its gigantic dome. While entry to Basilique du Sacré Coeur is free, you'll need to pay a small fee to access the viewing platform above. Panoramic views of Brussels await!
- Objects from the world's different civilisations lie in wait inside the Royal Museums of Art and History. Meanwhile, the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium houses treasures by Van Gogh, Matisse, Dalí, Tanguy, Chagall and Miró, among others. Musée Magritte Museum is a fitting homage to local artist René Magritte. How about some iguanodon-spotting at the Natural Sciences Museum of Belgium? The dinosaur skeletons discovered in a local coal mine are a hit with young visitors.
- Housed inside a Jugendstil (Art Nouveau) palace, the Belgian Comic Strip Center hosts a permanent exhibition tracing the history of comic strips. There's also a reader's library and a bookshop. Bilingual Belgium is home to an astonishing number of comics – take your pick from Lucky Luke, Tintin, Asterix or Le Chat.
What to eat when you visit Brussels
During your weekend in Brussels, go beyond the formulaic Belgian beer and chocolate trail and discover a world of flavours. Topping the list is the classic Belgian moules frites (mussels with fries). Enjoy your mussels steamed in white wine, served with parsley, butter and shallots. Also worth trying are the golden fried Belgian fries served in traditional cones at friteries – choose from garlic mayo dips or plain old ketchup.
Another must-try are the Belgian meatballs made from spices, minced beef and pork. Seafood restaurants in Brussels' Sainte-Catherine neighbourhood serve excellent croquettes made from North Sea shrimp. A Belgian waffle drizzled with dark chocolate is a perfect finish to any meal.
What souvenirs can you bring back home from Brussels?
Stock up on designer products at Boulevard de Waterloo, and go browsing for quirky trinkets at the stalls around Grand Place. Another classic souvenir is a replica of Mannekin Pis or the Atomium. No trip to Brussels is complete without bringing home some world-famous Belgian chocolates, truffles and pralines. Make sure to look for cuberdons, raspberry-flavoured sweets that can be bought at most candy shops. Beautiful handmade crystal ornaments, vases and bowls from the Val Saint-Lambert crystal factory are a wonderful souvenir of your city breaks in Brussels.