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Brussels worth doing as a tourist?

Brussels worth doing as a tourist?

Old Jul 18, 08, 7:29 pm
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Brussels worth doing as a tourist?

As a part of our trip I am going a bit early and my partner is then joining me a week later. As a part of that I am considering going to Brussels for a few nights, but people I know are just so perplexed that I would want to go there given other options. However, I do tend to like somewhat offbeat tourist spots (Helsinki, Slovenia and Croatia years before they were the "in" places, etxc.) I just have long wanted to see the Grand Place and even the Atomium and wondered if people who have actually been there have anything to say about them. I do see that the hotels are sort of outrageous even by Euro standards, probably because so many people there are staying on various governments' dimes.
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Old Jul 18, 08, 7:41 pm
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For what it is worth, my sister went there for a weekend and thought it was bore- got to think there are better options even if it means taking atrain somewhere
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Old Jul 18, 08, 7:54 pm
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Originally Posted by mattkorey View Post
I do see that the hotels are sort of outrageous even by Euro standards, probably because so many people there are staying on various governments' dimes.
Except during summer recess, and at the weekends, when Brussels 5* hotels can be some of the cheapest there are in Europe.

Personally, I've always liked Brussels, though 2 days/nights is more than enough, even for a first timer, unless you use it as a base for Bruges or other destinations by train.

Food and beer, are obviously another plus.

Last edited by FlyingOnceMore; Jul 18, 08 at 9:58 pm
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Old Jul 18, 08, 7:56 pm
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We very much enjoyed Brussels -- some interesting sites, great restaurants, and a distinct culture (I would add that, for us, the point of foreign travel is not to see another culture, but to be in another culture. Also, Brugges is a very short train ride from Brussels (I recall something like 20 or 30 minutes -- it's the next stop after Brussels' stations) and definitely worth seeing. It's a major medieval port that was more or less abandoned and forgotten when its river silted up. As a result, large parts of it look exactly as it did many hundreds of years ago. It's a beautiful town, perfect for walking, and also has some great restaurants and interesting old hotels.

Brussels is certainly a "secondary" tourist destination, compared to the likes of Amsterdam or Paris (both of which are easily reached by train from Brussels). However, we found it charming, interesting and most enjoyable. I'd recommend it.
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Old Jul 18, 08, 7:57 pm
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Originally Posted by mattkorey View Post
As a part of our trip I am going a bit early and my partner is then joining me a week later. As a part of that I am considering going to Brussels for a few nights.
Oh I love brussels...but I may be biased as thats where I am from originally, but don't live there anymore.

Brussels is a foodie's paradise, so if you like to eat plenty to do. I read that there are more michelin stars per capita here then anywhere in the world. But whether you like it depends on what you like to do - my partner and I did this trip last november - including the atomium, and yes I would say it was worth it to us. The hotel price is driven by diplomats - and I can relate. Especially if you are spending US$. There are plenty of smaller boutique hotels that are nicer then the chains and affordable - this one seems to be recommended: www.hotel-mozart.be

Please go!

Oh and as a side note: we wandered into http://www.lhomoerectus.com/fr/ and laughed at how small it was - but there must be more.

Last edited by ksmith142; Jul 18, 08 at 8:08 pm
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Old Jul 18, 08, 9:49 pm
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great food, the best seafood platters and mussels with fries, belgian fries that is, amazing coffee shops and some of the best chocolate in the world.
Brugges is very nice and a quick side trip.
and yes, the beer and the waffles.
If you go on weekends or over the summer breaks, hotels can be really cheap.
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Old Jul 18, 08, 9:56 pm
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My partner and I went to Brussels several years ago and would definitely recommend it. The Grand Place is a great place to just hang out in the evening and soak in the atmosphere. The chocolate is amazing and so many little chocolate shops that you can only find in Brussels. As others have said, a day trip to Brugge is highly recommended. We went to Brugge for a day and wished in hindsight we would have stayed a night as well to really see the town after the tourists leave. If you like out of the way places, you will like Brussels.
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Old Jul 19, 08, 1:08 am
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I know Brussels fairly well - my husband worked there as an IT contractor twice (a couple of years the first time, a few months the second time) week-end commuting back to the UK.

It's certainly worth spending a few days there.

If you find hotel prices to be excessive... there are plenty of places within an hour's train ride where you could base yourself instead. Some of them (such as Leuven and Antwerp) are tourist destinations in their own right.
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Old Jul 19, 08, 3:27 am
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Yes it's worth, but you should also visit the surround areas at BRU. Hotels are really cheap now.
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Old Jul 19, 08, 5:25 am
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Its worth a night and seeing the Grand Place. But personally I see the grand place for about 15-20 minutes and then move on. The train to Brugges takes about 40 minutes and the train to Ghent a little less and both are interesting places to visit.

I'd only go if I was there during a time when the hotels are cheap. You can get chain hotels for $79 euros during down times and easily get Ibis types for $49-$59 euros during down times as well.

There is a lot of old architecture around Brussels and the metro system is pretty decent so you can make your way around the city pretty easily. Also if you fly into BRU you can get the express train into the city for 2.8 euros and be there in 20 minutes - much quicker and much much cheaper than a cab. Avoid taxis in Brussels as they are the most overpriced cabs that I've encountered in Europe.
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Old Jul 19, 08, 6:18 am
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Having been to Brussels, I can't imagine what I would personally do there as a tourist for more than just a couple of days. The Grand Place and Atomium certainly are interesting to see, and I'd also like to second a daytrip to Bruges. And that's a two-day programme right there with ample time to spare for sampling some chocolate and browsing through a couple of shops selling Belgian cartoon-related figurines and other knick-knacks.

Even though I've heard the "Brussels is boring"-line quite a few times, it seems to attract plenty of tourists. The Grand Place area is as touristy as it gets, so you certainly won't feel like a trailblazer there. From what my friends have told me about the city, I've noticed that people who are visiting someone in Brussels tend to like the city a lot more than those who visit as pure tourists.
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Old Jul 19, 08, 9:59 am
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We just spent our vacation in Europe, planned to spend a day in Brussels.
Went to the Grande Place very early for early morning photography.
Went around the town, went back to the hotel by 10AM! There is really not
much to do or see there. Go to Bruges instead, rent a car and drive around
and visit the great villages in Belgium. Some shots from that trip are here: Holland, Belgium and Germany...

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Old Jul 20, 08, 10:34 am
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It depends what you're into. If you would find a comic book museum interesting, where else but Brussels will you find that? There are some musical instruments museums elsewhere, but they tend to be in out of the way locaitons (never in the major tourist cities), so if you find that interesting, the one in Brussels is trivial to visit once you're there.

But I agree with Ghent (cool old castle) and Bruges as side trips.

Btw, don't be surprised to see everything spelled at least two different ways. Belgium has two different official languages, Flemish in the north and French in the south, with both used in Brussels, and the city names can be slightly different (or in some cases -- Mons vs Bergen -- completely different) between the two languages.
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Old Jul 20, 08, 2:30 pm
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We did a Amsterdam to Paris to Brussels/Bruges to Amsterdam trip a few years back, splitting a day and half between Brussels and Bruges. It probably comes down to preferences as others have mentioned. More than a day in Brussels would have been excessive for us. We would have liked to see some of the other museums but it wasn't a disappointment that we missed them. Our day in Bruges was quite nice but we probably spent more time there because of the Ascension Day parade and festivities. I would have liked some time stopping in Ghent too.
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Old Jul 20, 08, 4:18 pm
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I visited Brussels for a week in April and didn't come close to exhausting the possibilities -- I'd need another week just to see the picture galleries and take some side trips! It's a medium-sized cosmopolitan city, easily explored by public transportation. I liked that it hasn't all been turned into a theme park -- it's a city in the process of reinventing itself.

If you like architecture you'll have plenty to look at -- in addition to the (rebuilt) medieval splendor of the Grand' Place Brussels has superb Art Nouveau buildings, and they're all over the place; I went to some very interesting small museums about 15-20 minutes from the center of town. I attended first-rate classical and new music events almost every night. The European Parliament presence means high hotel rates for the larger high-end properties, but I got decent deals on Priceline (though if I were to splurge I'd look into the Dix-
Septieme and the Dominican)

The Grand' Place and the Atomium were absolutely not the highlights of my trip -- I can understand visitors' boredom if they think that's all there is in Brussels. (though I went to the World's Fair 50th anniversary fireworks at the Atomium, that was fun)
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