Not sure when to go or what to expect in Brussels? We have a few handy tips to help prepare you for a visit to Belgium’s multi-cultural capital.
When to Go: Spring and fall are generally the most ideal times to see Brussels. There’s always a chance of rain—in fact, despite its reputation London on average sees less of it annually—but it’s particularly wet from May to August, and again during the chilly, somewhat dreary peak winter months of November to January.
Arrival: The easiest way to transfer from Brussels Airport is by Belgian Rail. Trains depart every 15 minutes, and second-class tickets (€8.60 or US$9.60 single, €17.20 or US$19.20 return) can be purchased online or at a station ticketing kiosk. It’ll take about 20 minutes to travel to Central Station.
Language: French and Flemish (Belgian Dutch) are both official languages in Brussels, with French by far the most widely spoken. Most locals do not speak fluent (or often any) English, and dining out in some parts of the city can be a minor challenge, but public transportation does have English announcements and signage. Consider learning a few key phrases in the local lingua, and/or bring a phrasebook or translator app.
Tipping: Service charges are automatically included on hotel and restaurant bills, as well as in metered taxi fares. It’s polite to leave up to €2 (US$2.20) for housekeeping when checking out, and to round up for servers and taxi drivers. Large tips are unnecessary.
Safety: Brussels is a generally safe city, and violent crime is very uncommon. As in many major European cities, however, pickpocketing and petty theft do happen. Men should move their wallets to a front pocket, while women should keep purses and bags zipped and carry them around their neck and shoulder. Be particularly vigilant in busy train stations and tourist areas.