The Belgian capital blends business with pleasure in style.
With one of the most beautiful medieval squares in Europe and a reputation for fine beer, chocolate and excellent cuisine, there is much more to Brussels than being the de facto centre of the European Union (EU). Home to many institutions of the EU, the sheer number of diplomats means that the city is cosmopolitan to its core. There is also a unique and contemporary landscape beyond Brussels' business heart that you might just find surprising.
The capital is the largest city in Belgium with around a million inhabitants, and as you walk along its stylish streets, you’ll hear people chatting in various different languages. The city is just a few hours from Amsterdam, Paris and Frankfurt and is home to a large population of immigrants who create an eclectic mix of cultures. Locals mostly speak a mix of French and Dutch, so street names, signs and information centres feature both languages.
Although the city is large, many attractions can be reached on foot from the city centre. And while there is plenty of unattractive post-War development, there are also lots of cobbled stone streets and Art Nouveau architecture to look out for. Attractions include Brussels Park, the largest park in the city, and next door you will find the Royal Palace of Brussels. History buffs shouldn't miss the BELvue Museum, the national history museum of Belgium, and for what is essentially a business town, Brussels has a bohemian edge and a lively contemporary culture scene. The work of local artists can be found on display at the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium. For something more traditional, Manneken Pis, the iconic statue of a urinating child, is also a major, if unlikely, attraction.
When it comes to dining, don't miss the many wonderful restaurants set around the Place du Grand Sablon, a bustling city square surrounded by cafés, chocolatiers and antique shops. And beer lovers should make the trip to the Cantillon Brewery to sample the local brew which has been made in the same way for centuries.
It's easy to reach Brussels thanks to its International Airport as well as the Eurostar, which connects the city to Paris, London and a host of other European cities.