Brussels, Belgium

Even with the regal assembly of Art Nouveau architecture and fine cuisine, Brussels, Belgium, is a city that truly values casual atmosphere and café culture. The bilingual capital of Belgium is alive with French and Dutch influences and a Gothic and medieval beauty seen in the Town Hall and Grand Place (Grote Markt). The labyrinthine streets give way to clusters of bars, restaurants and museums all within the compact city center.

With 19 boroughs that make up the city, Brussels is a diverse collection of Old Europe and striking modernity. Museums range from fine art and national history, to solely honoring the decadence of Belgium staples, such as beer and chocolate. The Musee du Cacao et du Chocolat pays homage to the country’s most famous product and includes demonstrations by master chocolatiers. The trendy Rue Antoine Dansaert is a premier shopping street in the city center, and pairs well with neighboring Place St-Gery, where bars and cafes line the block, each better than the next.

Ixelles is a vibrant neighborhood with a large concentration of pubs serving locally brewed Belgian beers, brasseries, small bookshops and independent record stores. Saint-Gilles is the bohemian center of Brussels with several thriving Portuguese, Spanish, French and Polish communities, many of which have large groups of artists, musicians and winegrowers. In addition to the artsy areas of this district, there are also a plethora of Art Nouveau buildings -- most famously the Church of the Holy Trinity and areas around the Chatelain.

Known for outstanding cuisine, national classics include moule frites (mussels and fries), stoemp (potato mashes with vegetables), charcuterie, chocolate and world-famous Belgian waffles. Between the countless bistros, brasseries, beer halls and Michelin-starred restaurants, the Brussels dining scene is sure to whet anyone’s appetite.

Brussels’ main airport is Brussels International (BRU), which serves several major domestic and international carriers. The city has three major train stations -- Bruxelles Midi, Central and Nord (though high-speed trains only make stops at Midi). For getting around the city, Brussels has a revamped metro that run city-wide and regional service. Bike rental is also popular here as an efficient and low-cost way to navigate throughout the city.

Brussels experiences an oceanic climate, influenced by its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean. Summer temperatures average in the low 70s and winters remain mild, typically remaining in the low 40s to high 30s. Snowfall is rare, and generally will only occur once or twice a year. With this pleasant year-round climate, Brussels is a top destination to visit during any season.

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