City Guide: Brussels

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Language: Multilingual - French, Dutch (dialect: Flemish) and German
Currency: Euro
Time: Brussels is in Central European Summer Time (CEST) = GMT + 2

Brussels is officially nicknamed ‘the European Village’. This multicultural and multilingual city is the capital of Belgium and is often also referred to as ‘The Capital of Europe’ because it is the hub of European Union institutions. Brussels is a dynamic economy in which numerous jobs and new businesses are created on a daily basis. Per capita, Brussels creates more wealth than any other part of Belgium (20 % of the nation’s wealth created by 10 % of its population).

According to the City of Brussels website, approximately 14 million business men and women come to Brussels every year.

Brussels has two airports : Brussels Airport (BRU) in Zaventem (this is the main airport) and Brussels South Charleroi Airport (CRL) in Charleroi (much less central than the main airport).

Brussels is a vibrant capital that boasts trendy restaurants, bars, almost 90 museums as well as (of course) world famous chocolate.

To tip or not to tip?

In a restaurant, more often than not a service charge will already be included in your bill. However, if you are particularly happy with the service you receive then by all means leave a couple of euros for the waiter or waitress that served you.

Taxi fares will also generally include a small service charge although it is not uncommon to still round up to the nearest Euro or pay 5% on top of the original fare.

In Brussels, toilet attendants, porters and doormen are also tipped, although around 50 cent - 1€ is considered enough.

Do you speak English?

In addition to the 3 national languages, French, Dutch and German, English is spoken pretty much everywhere in the city.

Getting around Brussels

To and from the airport - Brussels is 12 kilometres (7 miles) from Brussels Airport the fastest travelling time is an 18 minute drive from the airport to the city. Travel methods include train, several types of bus, taxi and car.

Brussels Airport Train

The normal metro tickets are not valid for travel on the Airport Line (train line) between the airport and Brussels; therefore you have to buy special trip tickets from the railway stations and at the airport railway station on Level -1 before boarding the train. Check the latest ticket prices at www.b-rail.be.

There are three stops within the city at each of the main railway stations Brussels-Nord, Brussels-Centrale and Brussels-Midi. At each of these stations there are metro lines, buses and trams that connect to other parts of the city.

To Brussels Airport by Bus

Every airport bus departs and arrives at the bus station at Level 0. There are a number of public, private buses and the Airport Express.

Taxis

All permanent taxi stands are located outside the Arrival Hall. It will cost approximately €35 to travel into the city centre (such as Brussels Centrale). Avoid getting into unlicensed vehicles posing as taxis which may overcharge you for their services. There is not a distinctive taxi look. Taxis are different makes and colours so look out for the yellow and blue license emblem and the triangular stand at the top of the taxi.

As with most European cities, driving (unless absolutely necessary) is probably not going to be your best option. Parking and traffic can make driving in the city a stressful experience but if you must drive, familiarise yourself with the infamous ‘‘priorité à droit’ systeme’, which gives the right of way to motorists joining from the right.

The public transport in Brussels includes trains, trams, buses and the metro and between them you should have no problem getting wherever you want to go. Despite the great public transport offerings, if all of your business is being done within the city centre, then walking might even be a practical option.

Where to work:

Brussels makes up just 0.5% of Belgium’s surface area but it produces around a quarter of the nation’s Gross National Product. Brussels is home to several major Belgian companies

Including SN Brussels Airlines. Companies such as Sony and Hewlett Packard also have a presence in the city because of the citiesexcellent transport infrastructure and multilingual workforce.

If you’re in Brussels for business then the City Centre or Espace Nord (Brussels' biggest business district) is where you’ll want to be. Here you’ll find lots of hotels with meeting room facilities and business traveller amenities.

Where to play:

Brussels is home to 87 museums. Depending on how long you’re around for and how much you want to do it might be worth buying a museum pass. You can get ones that are valid for 24h, 48h or 72h and that will allow you to visit and enjoy all of the cities museums including the Toy museum, the Museum of Comic Strip art and the museum of Musical Instruments.

If you’re looking to do something a little different, why not ascent the Atomium? It’s a sculpture of a crystallized molecule of iron, magnified 150 thousand million times.You can get inside the sculpture and escalators will take you from one sphere to the next and there’s even a restaurant inside. At the bottom you’ll find ‘Mini Europe’ – a park that houses reproductions of Europe’s most attractive monuments and offers a ‘whistle-stop tour around Europe in a few short hours’.

Bars and Restaurants:

La Manufacture is a great restaurant for business meetings. This restaurant boasts an affordable menu accompanied by well-chosen wines. It used to be the factory of fashionable Belgian leather-goods maker Delvaux (hence the name) but has now been fully refurbished into a trendy eaterywhere you can expect to spend between 14€-31€ for a main course.

Another great restaurant in Brussels is Bonsoir Clara. If you’re going to visit Bonsoir Clara you should make a reservation in advance, especially at weekends as this place is a hit with the locals as well as visitors to the city. You can expect to be servedvery generous portions of modern European food if you choose to eat here. This colourful restaurant, in the heart of Brussels design district is open for lunch between 12 -2pmand then from 7pm-midnight 7 days a week. This restaurant is great for groups with varying tastes as the menu is rather eclectic.