One of Europe’s biggest cities is Brussels. It may not be that big in terms of population, but it is huge in culture, importance, and history. Brussels is the capital of Belgium and also the home of the European Union.
Known for the beer, waffles, and chocolate, Brussels is a hub for excellent cuisine. You can spend entire days just touring the extensive food scene in this city. Along with the culinary culture, Brussels is a beautiful city that has elegant architecture, a great public transit system, and awesome attractions.
Because there is so much do to in the city, you need to prioritize what is most important to you. Unless you are spending over a week in the city, there is a good chance you cannot get to see everything. The best way to pull it off is by staying in the right area. Here are five of the best neighborhoods to stay in while visiting Brussels!
Every visitor that finds themselves in Brussels will visit the City Centre at some point during the stay. So, why not just stay here? There are a ton of positives if you choose to stay in the City Centre. The main square right in the middle is the most iconic part of the city. This is where you can spend hours roaming around and starting to discover Brussels.
This is also where the famous Brussels Town Hall is. This is truly a sight to see. Surrounding the square are incredible cafes and restaurants that have perfected the food that make Brussels known. Although it will be fairly expensive because of the high density of tourists, as long as you pick some of the staples, it is well worth it.
Overall, this is a neighborhood that has the most packed into it in all of Brussels. You can spend days not even leaving this area because of how much is stuffed into the City Centre. Some of these attractions include the Mont des Artes, the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, the Place Royal, and so much more.
Best place to stay in City Centre
Hotel Welcome. Address: Brandhoutkaai 23, 1000 Brussel, Belgium.
One of the best places to spend some real money is Avenue Louise. This is a pretty upscale area that has tons of shops, boutiques, and cafes. Just about every Brussels visitor finds themselves in this area whether it be to shop or just walk around and enjoy the sites.
The neighborhood is named after the actual avenue where all of these attractions are held. Just about every designer and luxury brand has a presence here. Yes, this is where you can find Gucci, Versace, and all of the other designer brands, but there is actually a good amount of history mixed in.
There is a huge bronze statue that celebrates the liberation of Brussels that can’t be missed. There is also the King’s Garden and Louise Tower that really stick out and provide historical context to the area.
Along with the upscale shops, this is where some of Belgium’s best cuisine is found. There are far too many options to list, so a lot of time and energy can be spent simply eating and exploring this side of the culture.
Best place to stay in Avenue Louise
Hotel Made In Louise. Address: Veydstraat 40, 1050 Brussel, Belgium.
Ixelles is a fantastic area to stay in if you want to be close to the main action but do not want to stay in the City Centre. You will be really close to all of the main stops, but this neighborhood is slightly quieter and tranquil.
However, that does not mean there aren’t things to do. Part of this neighborhood is known as Matonge and has excellent nightlife options. This area is comprised of a lot of college students, so it is pretty lively.
The other subdivisions are pretty chill and ac as excellent spots to eat, do a little bit of shopping, and relax. There are a few popular shopping complexes that are really cool and offer some great public areas to explore.
Best place to stay in Ixelles
Zoom Hotel. Address: Eendrachtstraat 59-61, 1000 Brussel, Belgium.
A fabulous spot for international visitors is the European Quarter. This is a super modern neighborhood that has been updated to fit the needs of international tourists. A big part of this is the Place du Luxembourg. Also known as the Plux, this is an awesome train station that doubles as a public meeting area.
There are a couple of focal points littered throughout the European Quarter that are worth visiting. This list includes Place Jean Rey, Le Grand Central, Residence Palace, and Place Jourdan.
Each one is unique in its own way and offer cool stops along your Belgian journey. Along the way, be sure to enjoy as much of the local cuisine as possible. The Residence Palace has incredible cuisine that will make your afternoon.
This is a neighborhood that you should check out no matter where you decide to stay.
Best place to stay in European Quarter
Aloft Brussels Schuman. Address: Place Jean Rey, 1040 Brussels, Belgium.
Last but not least, there is Sablon. This is a very upscale neighborhood that has some cool points of interest. One of them is the Notre Dame du Sablon Church. This is a stunning building that is very hard to miss. Even if you are not a religious person, it is worth checking out just because of the historical context.
One spot that you have to visit when staying in Sablon is the Place du Grand Sablon. This is a bustling market that is open on the weekends where local farmers and collectors bring their goods to sell. This area also brings you a great view of the Notre Dame du Sablon Church.
There are also a number of museums here. A couple of examples include the Jewish Museum and the Magritte Museum. Both are worth paying a visit and learning more about this area’s history.
In between all of the activities, stop by some of the high-end cafes, chocolate shops, and restaurants. Because this is a pretty upscale area, the price tag will reflect it.
Best place to stay in Sablon
9Hotel Sablon. Address: Rue De La Paille 2-8, 1000 Brussels, Belgium.
Where travel critics stay in Brussels
Want to know where travel critics from publishers like The New York Times, Frommer’s, Fodor’s and Lonely Planet stay in Brussels? Check out our overview of all recommended hotels, hostels and B&Bs in Brussels.
“This unique 200-bed hostel is next to Train World, and guests can sleep in comfy four-bed dorms, authentic couchettes in actual train compartments, or splash out for the retro luxury suite in a carriage balanced on the roof.” — The Guardian.
Address: Georges Rodenbachlaan 6, 1030 Schaarbeek, Belgium.
“The 47 rooms of this grand 1900s mansion have just been fashionably renovated, finally offering a smart address in this fast-changing neighborhood, perfectly situated between the multicultural Midi Station and tourist sights around the Grand Place.” — The Guardian.
Address: Stalingradlaan 25-31, 1000 Brussel, Belgium.
“If you have the money to stay here, then the Amigo is definitely the number-one place to stay in Brussels. It’s got it all: the best location in the heart of Brussels, beautifully decorated rooms that look out onto the rooftops of the Hotel de Ville, great service from a well-trained and charming staff, and great Italian food at the Ristorante Bocconi.” — Frommer’s.
Address: Vruntstraat 1-3, 1000 Brussel, Belgium.
Best things to do in Brussels
There are a lot of things to do in Brussels and surrounding areas, including day trips, attractions, museums, sightseeing tours and many other activities. Here’s our list of 3 things you should definitely do when you’re in Brussels:
Brussels Atomium Admission Ticket
Visit this icon of Brussels and Belgium and a creation that’s unique in the history of architecture. The emblematic vestige of the World’s Fair in Brussels in 1958, the Atomium is the most popular attraction in Europe’s capital city. Price: $19. More info.
Brussels Chocolate Walking Tour and Workshop
Walk past the Royal Palace and art nouveau architecture of Brussels and stop in exclusive chocolate boutiques for tastings as you go. Price: $86. More info.
Belgian Beer Tasting in Brussels
Accompanied by your guide, educate your taste buds to recognize fine Belgian beer and gain insight into what distinguishes the amber liquid from other beers around the world. Price: $17. More info.
Deciding where to stay in Brussels
As you can see, there are a lot of things to explore, and deciding where to stay in Brussels is important. Whether you stay in Avenue Louise, City Center, Sablon, European Quarter or Ixelles, all those neighborhoods are in good locations.
The atmosphere of the area, whether you travel for leisure or business, whether you travel with your family or friends, and proximity to the attractions you prefer to visit should probably be the deciding factors. Whatever your preference is, you’ll have a great time in Brussels.
Check out our other articles about Brussels: