To come here, you must have been wondering where is Brussels. To answer your query in a go, Brussels is located in the heart of Belgium, a northwestern European country. Adding a significant piece of information, it is officially called the Brussels Capital Region.
Brussels is the capital city of Belgium.
Interestingly, it is also the capital seat of the European Union (EU) and stands as the popularly known capital of the NATO Alliance (North Atlantic Treaty Organization), which is an international treaty for military cooperation between its member countries.
Brussels is called Bruxelles by the French and Brussels by the Dutch-speaking population of the country. Did you know that French and Dutch are the two main linguistic groups of Brussels and Belgium?
Officially recognized as the Brussels-Capital Region or Région de Bruxelles-Capitale in French, and Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest in the Dutch language, the Brussels capital region encompasses 19 municipalities.
The 19 municipalities of Brussels also include the City of Brussels. Evidently, it is the area of the capital of Belgium.
Location of the Brussels-Capital Region: It is located in the heart of the central portion of Belgium country.
In addition, it incorporates both the French community of Belgium as well as the Flemish Community of Belgium. It is a Dutch-speaking area of the country.
Comprising an area of 162. 4 square kilometers and located at an elevation of 43 feet, the Brussels capital region is home to a 41.8% non-European population. Now, that is something surprising! Read on to find more such interesting facts and figures, and have the answers to all your probable questions;)
1. Brussels- Location
Brussels is located in the center of Belgium. More specifically, it lies in the north-central part of the country.
The capital city of Brussels lies 110 km or 68 miles from the Belgian coast. It is around 180 km or 110 miles from Belgium’s south tip.
Brussel’s capital region is also a very densely populated area of the entire country. Additionally, it also has the highest Gross Domestic Product per capita/person. However, it becomes the lowest when seen from the range of income available per household.
If you don’t know, GDP stands for Gross Domestic Product!
Located in the central heartland of the Brabantian Plateau, Brussels lies about 45 km or 28 miles away from Antwerp (Flanders); Antwerp is the largest city in Belgium by area.
Furthermore, Brussels is located about 50 km or 31 miles north of Charleroi (Wallonia); Charleroi is the fifth most populous municipality of Belgium after its capital, Brussels.
The average elevation of Brussels stands at 57 meters or 187 feet above sea level, though it is variable. The areas of variability are high and low points such as low points in the valley, which is the almost completely covered area of Senne, a small river flowing through Brussels. It cuts the Brussels-Capital Region along an east-to-west line.
Similarly, at high points in the Sonian Forest or the Sonian Wood, which lies on its south-eastern side, there is a further heightened value of elevation.
In addition to the Senne river that flows through Brussels city, other tributary streams/rivers like the Woluwe and the Maalbeek account for notable elevation differences.
Brussels’ central boulevards are significantly 15 m or 49 feet above sea level!
Opposite to popular belief, the highest point at an elevation of 127.5 meters or 418 feet is not located near the Place de l’Altitude Cent or Hoogte Honderdplein in Forest or Vorst, one of the 29 municipalities of the Brussels capital region.
In fact, it is situated at the Drève des Deux Montages in the Sonian Forest which is a 4412 stretch of forest area in the Brussels city capital region.
1.1. Which country is Brussels located in?
Brussels capital region or Brussels city is located in Belgium. In fact, it is the very capital of the country.
Officially, Belgium is known as the Kingdom of Belgium. It is a European country that is located in the Northwestern region of the Europe continent.
Belgium is popular for its Renaissance architecture and its well-carved medieval towns. Belgium’s capital city walls are an added beauty feature.
As you may have guessed and as evident, Belgium is specifically famous for the reason that its capital Brussels is also the capital of the European Union or EU, as well as the NATO Alliance.
This is exactly what makes it more strategically important to the US and allied European countries. Because NATO is single-handedly a threat to all other countries which are not a part of the alliance that they would be attacked by all the members of the alliance in case any ‘one’ member is attacked by a third country (a country not part of NATO).
Belgium became an independent country in 1830. It was at this time that Brussels was made the capital of Belgium. Additionally, Brussels became the capital seat of the European Economic Community, which was the precursor to the present European Union.
1.2. Is Brussels in France or Germany?
As the first question above clears the location of Brussels in Belgium as its capital city, it is now a derived fact that Brussels is neither located in France, nor it is located in Germany.
France and Germany are both European countries and are alaps a part of the European Union. And Brussels is the capital throne of the EU. This may be one reason why people confuse Brussels to be located in France or Germany. However, that is incorrect!
Brussels is located in Belgium. Furthermore, it is also a European country. In addition, it forms a part of the European Union since it joined the EU on 1 January 1958.
1.3. Where is the European Union capital located?
The European Union’s capital is located in Brussels, which is also the capital of the European country Belgium. As the throne of the EU, Brussels stand as a true global city in the world with equivalent status to cities like New York, London, Paris, etc. Thus, Brussels is also termed the “Capital of Europe”.
The European Union is commonly termed the EU. It is a political and economic union of 27 countries in Europe. Belgium is a part of it too.
Consequently, it is called the de facto capital of the European Union (EU).
1.3.1. What countries are a part of the European Union?
At present, there are 27 members or countries in the European Union.
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, as well as Sweden, are the European Union or EU countries.
2. Brussels – A travel guide for you
Brussels is at the crossroads of cultures and stands as the capital of the European Union for the measure of several European institutions which are located there. If you have been planning to visit this magnificent region of absolute wonderfulness, here’s a guide for you!
2.1. About Brussels
There are certain things one must know about a place they are visiting. These include simple facts such as the area’s climate, ethnicity, languages spoken, tourist places, etc. This is exactly what this part “about” deals with.
First and foremost, it is important to know that the languages spoken in Brussels, the capital city of the country, are mainly two. These include French and Dutch, which are spoken in the Flemish region of the city.
Both these languages i.e; French language and Dutch language are considered the official languages of the country.
This is exactly why a lot of places in the Brussels capital region have two names: A French name, and a Dutch name. In fact, Brussels itself is the Dutch version, while Bruxelles is the French name for the city.
For instance, the Main Square building is called by the name la Grand Place in French and de Grote Markt in Dutch.
About 85% comprises the French-speaking population while 15% form the Dutch speakers. Despite being officially a bilingual city, French is definitely the Lingua Franca of Brussels, Belgium.
Additionally, English has grown to become a majorly spoken language in the city. This is in accord with several European institutions which are located in the capital city of Brussels. That is not surprising at all! After all, Brussel’s capital region is the abode to the European Commission, the European Parliament, and NATO.
Still, it is extremely difficult to find tourist information and guides written in English. However, large train stations do include English but generally, it is missed at the local level.
Although the situation is improving, it is always better to have a tourist guide who can speak English for you, if that is your spoken language, or command any one of the officially spoken languages of the city (French or Dutch).
If none, guess there is still the internet for your rescue then!
Brussels weather is mostly grey and humid.
There are cool summers and yet cooler winters. The temperatures are not extreme or severely bad so it is almost fine to visit, travel and explore. It is at least as fine as the city’s fine arts;)
Brussels has a high and uniformly distributed annual average rainfall of around 820 mm or 32 inches. On average, approximately 200 days of rainfall occurs per year, which is more than both that of London, UK, and Paris, France. This leaves only 150 days per year without rainfall!
Because of high precipitation throughout most parts of the year, summers tend to be cooler and wetter. As a result, winters are much cooler.
The daily and monthly temperature variations in the city of Brussels are generally very small. Daily average differences do not exceed 9ºC (16ºF).
Rarely, summer maximum temperatures reach 30ºC (86ºF). Even in extremely low temperatures, it could feel much hot. This is usually because of the high humidity in the air.
A summer visitor must be prepared for rain!
During the summer season, Warm and sunny weather is not constant, and they should not even be expected to occur.
Generally, after October, temperatures are seen to drop off rapidly.
In addition, winter months are very damp and chilly in the city of Brussels.
Still, temperatures of around 15ºC (59ºF) are not unusual in December month. Snowfall is rare in Brussels and it starts to melt off quickly creating a slushy ground.
This is a sign that a winter visitor must be prepared for wet ground!
2.1.3. Municipalities/Boroughs, and their places of interest
The Brussels capital region is divided into 19 communes or gemeenten, each with its own attractions and adventures to offer.
Brussels is abode to various charming and beautiful attractions. It also includes the very-well and highly-deep ornate buildings on the Grand Place/Grote Markt.
Brussels has a fish-and-crustacean overdose of St. Catherine’s Square (St-Catherine/Sint-Katelijneplein).
While strolling, you’ll come across many bars on Place St-Géry/Sint-Goriksplein, do stop at one of them for a drink. Rue Antoine Dansaert or Antoine Dansaertstraat provides almost the best place or site for shopping.
In Belgium, the Royal Museums of Fine Arts is surely a sight to admire.
Marollen is a neighbor of Brussels. It lies close to the city’s heart, which is the southern part of pentagonal-shaped central Brussels.
It is one of the few places in Brussels where the Flemish language is still spoken.
Flemish is actually the Brussels dialect of the Dutch language.
Marolles is also known for its flea market. It is held daily on the Place du Jeu de Balle/Vossenplein along with other shops that sell things that range from old radios to fine china and all those expensive Art Nouveau trinkets.
It is best to visit them on weekends (Saturdays or Sundays).
Laken incorporates the Heyzel/Heisel, which is Belgium’s largest exposition center.
Besides being a center for the Atomium, the famous King Baldwin stadium of the Red Devils that is Belgium’s national soccer team, Laken commune is also the place to the Royal Residential Palace.
The Residential Palace is the place where the monarch or the king lives with his entire family.
Notably, the Royal Palace incorporates vast grounds filled with greenhouses that are left open to the public for 3 weeks a year exactly in the month of May.
Additionally, Laren includes the Japanese Tower and the Chinese Pavilion which look like it needs some maintenance currently.
This commune is completely a residential area located on the north side of the city of Brussels.
Haren is situated on the outskirts of Brussels. Additionally, it forms the border with the Flemish town of Mechelen.
Originally, Haren was a tiny village of farmers. Consequently, it still incorporates a part of its green beauty.
It is close to the airport, the ringway roads, and heavy industries. Additionally, it is also in proximity to a new large prison. However, it makes it a highly unpopular place to live.
Schaerbeek is a many-faced commune. It lies in the northeast region of Brussels.
It consists of a considerable Turkish and Arabic population. The parts that surround the Brussels city north station are in such a manner that it is to be avoided.
In addition, the Josaphat parc in Parisian style is known to be among the nicest in Brussels city.
The streets that surround this train station and the square Riga area are one of the best examples of early 20th-century architecture in Brussels.
Bordering the European Quarter, Etterbreek has lots of EU ex-pats living there.
Filled with a notable student population by virtue of bordering the VUB and ULB university campuses and the Royal Military Academy, the Etterbeek commune area is densely populated.
It has a few green spaces.
This is a place to spend, and relax – expensively! Elsene is a naturally vibrant part of the town. It is filled with a number of restaurants and bars.
You can wander around to uncover its small bookshops, ethnic restaurants, or independent record shops that are away in the side streets, and much more affordable.
Saint-Gilles forms the bohemian epicenter of Brussels. It has thriving French, Maghrebi, Portuguese, Spanish and Polish communities.
Similar to Schaarbeek, Saint-Gilles has several Art Nouveau and Haussmann-style buildings.
Anderlecht is located in the southwest part of Brussels. It is mainly known for its football team of the same Anderlecht name.
The soccer team plays in the Belgian Premier League. Anderlecht has areas of vast farmlands and wonderful hikes in the Flemish countryside region.
The Anderlecht commune is host to ULB University’s French-speaking Erasmus hospital.
Molenbeek-Saint-Jean is a commune that encompasses a vast Moroccan and Romani or Gypsy population.
In addition to St-Josse which is one of the poorest communes in entire Belgium, Molenbeek is highly popular for being the hideout area of the Brussels airport bombers of 2016.
In a revitalizing effort, various interesting museums such as the MiMa museum, La Fonderie, Brussels Event Brewery, La Vallée, and Recyclart are built there.
St-Josse is the smallest commune in Belgium. Additionally, it is also the poorest commune in all of Belgium city.
It may not always be too pleasing to the eye but it does have a few welcoming streets.
The middle part of the Leuvensesteenweg incorporates a tiny Indo-Pakistani community that makes it perfect to go to for a delicious tikka masala.
The Turkish community, once the largest community of the Leuvensesteenwegonce commune, has declined. They have moved to wealthier communes.
13. Koekelberg, Ganshoren, Sint-Agatha-Berchem or Berchem-Sainte-Agathe, Jette
Incorporating a big Flemish-speaking population, the Koekelberg commune is the abode or home of the Byzantine-style basilica architecture. It is known to wonderfully describe the skyline of the place.
Jette is the house of the University Hospital of the VUB university. They are generally Dutch-speaking.
A residential commune located in the northeast region of Brussels, Evere is popularly known as the home or abode of the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) headquarters.
It contains a large ex-pat population.
The nearby airport makes Evere a popular place among airport workers.
A large cluster of IT industry bordering Flemish Diegem/Zaventem also leads to a larger Indian community.
Originally, Evere was a Flemish-speaking community of farmers. Later, it was incorporated into the Brussels city region in 1954. Flemish is still spoken by the older population there.
15. Uccle/Ukkel, and 16. Watermael-Boitsfort/Watermaal-Bosvoorde
Along with Watermael-Boitsfort, Ukkel forms Brussels’ poshest communes. They are green, leafy, starched, and bourgeois like all posh communes are.
Having retained their charming medieval cul-de-sacs, squares, and townhouses, housing and apartment prices in these two above-mentioned communes are one of the most pricy in the entire city of Belgium.
They house many embassies.
17. Woluwé-Saint-Pierre/Sint-Pieters-Woluwe, and 18. Woluwé-Saint-Lambert/Sint-Lambrechts-Woluwe
Both two communes are situated in the eastern part of the city.
Mainly residential in nature, these communes have various housing blocks, neighborhoods, and vast green areas. It is popular among Eurocrats and other professionals.
The large Wolubilis cultural complex is worth making a visit.
It is located between Uccle/Ukkel and the canal.
It is mainly residential.
From a few specific areas of the Vorst, Dudenpark offers beautiful views over Brussels.
In Brussels, Vorst-Nationaal/Forest-National is among the largest concert halls.
2.2. GETTING IN
There are several ways you can step foot in the Brussels capital region. A few are discussed below for you;)
2.2.1 By plane
A flight is the quickest way one can reach a place at the present level of technological development of the world. Besides being comfortable, it saves a lot of time!
Important airplane stations in Brussels include:
- Brussels Airport Station (IATA code: BRU)
- Brussels South Charleroi Airport (IATA code: CRL)
- Antwerp Airport (IATA code: ANR)
Several other airports operate in the city too. Choose the one most suitable for you!
2.2.2. By train
Train stations work smoothly in Brussels.
The high-speed running Thalys train connects Cologne, Paris, and Amsterdam with Brussels. It costs much less if you book your train ticket further in advance.
Making use of the same Thalys ticket, a person can also travel by train that goes to or from Schuman, Central-Centraal, Nord-Noord, and Luxembourg/Luxemburg train stations.
The Fyra train from Amsterdam connects to Brussels Midi/Zuid. A reservation is needed in order to travel by this train.
Weekend return tickets price begins at €50.00.
Intercity from Luxembourg/Luxemburg
The Intercity train starts from Luxembourg. It goes around connecting Midi/Zuid, Central, Nord/Noord, Schuman, and Luxembourg/Luxemburg train stations. It is an hourly intercity train.
You don’t need a reservation to travel by this train. Weekend return tickets are priced at around €41.60.
It links places such as Lille Europe, Ashford, and London St. Pancras (1h51, €40+) with Midi or Zuid.
Validity of a few Eurostar tickets is also available for internal trains traveling inside Belgium for a day (24 hours) from the time of the booking of the Eurostar ticket.
So once in Belgium, experience traveling free for a day.
It is highly advisable to not at all forget to check the validity in the extreme bottom left-hand corner of your ticket. It confirms this validity before you get on the train.
A €7 service fee is added for both telephone and in-person bookings at the train ticket office. It does not apply while booking over the internet.
Other Belgian train services include ICE and TGV. The ICE train line connects Cologne and Frankfurt while the TGV train line connects various French destinations such as Lyon, Nice, Marseille, etc. to Midi/Zuid.
2.2.3. By bus
Comparatively shorter distances are covered best by buses!
Flixbus offers cheap bus traveling services from London, Amsterdam, Paris, etc. It goes around the whole of Europe to Brussels. The stoppage for Flixbus can be found outside the North train station in Brussels.
De Lijn is the Flemish region or Dutch-speaking public bus service in Brussels.
TEC is the Walloon region or French-speaking public bus service in Brussels.
2.3. GETTING AROUND
2.3.1. On foot
Most sights in Brussels are close to one another which makes traveling on foot a fun and easy experience.
Some of the oldest and most ancient parts of the town usually have several uneven cobblestoned roads whereas all of the rest of Brussels city is fairly easy and comfortable to walk.
Brussels city experiences many wet days. Moreover, in the winter season, small amounts of snowfall generally make the below-ground slushy and slippery.
This makes water-resistant footwear a must to ensure a safe journey there.
2.3.2. By public transport
The good thing about the metro in Brussels is that they are clean and safe.
Metro entry points are usually marked and painted with a large “M” sign in blue and white color, with the name of the metro station written below it.
Announcements on metro stations are generally made in three distinct/different languages. These include the Dutch language, French language, and English language.
There are 4 metro lines numbered 1, 2, 5, and 6. In addition, there are 3 “Chrono” or fast tram lines numbered 3, 4, and 7. Single tickets known as the Jump 1 ticket are available and they cost around €2.10.
A person is required to validate his/her ticket in the small orange-colored machines that are located on buses or trams. Also available at the entrance to various metro stations or major tram stoppages, they make the tickets valid for a period of one hour.
It is required to revalidate your metro ticket for every new ride you take.
Additionally, one-ride paper card tickets available are commonly known as the Jump 1 ticket. They are available at all metro stations and at several bigger train stations.
Besides, there is also a 1–day pass ticket commonly known as the Jump 1 jour or 1 dag ticket. It costs around €7.50.
It is advisable to remember that tickets that have the name Jump have validity for all the SNCB/NMBS trains and on all the buses that are run by Flemish public bus company De Lijn and Walloon public bus company TEC in all the places of the Brussels Capital Region.
2.3.3. By bike
Brussels Bike Tours ensures an easy ride. This allows you to discover the city in about four hours.
2.3.4. Bicycle rental
Villo runs a bike-sharing network. With more than 2,500 bicycles, Villo makes available bikes at more than 200 bike stations that are present throughout the city.
People can rent a bike from Villo at any one station and then, they can easily return it to another station.
Membership fees are €1.60/day or €7.65 per week. The first 30 minutes are usually free. However, usage charges apply after 30 minutes.
It is advisable to wear a helmet to ensure safety while driving and ensure a good experience!
2.3.5. By Car Sharing
Uber is fairly inexpensive to get across town quickly.
2.4. Places of interest
Wonderful places in Brussels that you can explore include the Grand Place-Grote Markt, Manneken Pis, Jeanneke Pis, Atomium, Palais de Justice/Justitiepaleis, Statue of Europe, The Bourse, Palais Royale/Koninklijk Paleis, Basiliek van het Heilig Hart / Basilique du Sacré Coeur, etc.
Cantillon Brewery and BrewSpot are yet two other brilliant breweries you should not miss out on.
You must visit the Bozar Center for Fine Arts!
Besides the numerous places of beauty, art, and architecture that you can visit, Brussels offers various tours, activities, and adventure programs to have an overall enthralling experience.
These include Brussels Bike tours, Chocolate tours, Beer tours, Pub-Crawl, Outdoor Escape Games, and many more.
Summing it up for you
Brussels, which is the capital of the European Union and NATO, is a European city located in Belgium connected by various metro and international trains, and Brussels Airport. Frequent local trains and buses roam around the city center which encompasses numerous attractions!
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