There's more to the EU capital than business and politics. There are exciting festivals, a buzzing arts scene, delicious food and quirky markets. The excellent public transport system makes it easy to see everything you want to. With a flight time of just over one hour from most UK airports, it's a great destination for a weekend break. The best times for a city break in Brussels are Spring (March-May) and Autumn (September-October) as the weather is mild and the attractions are less crowded. Summer is the busiest season: with temperatures of 22°C you can enjoy the city's parks or relax outside a cafe with a frosty glass of craft beer. Winter is chilly but exciting: Brussels goes all-out during the run-up to Christmas with a large market, an outdoor ice-rink and a festive light show. If you get chilly you can shelter in a cosy cafe with a mug of delicious Belgian hot chocolate.
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Bedford Hotel & Congress Centre
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What to do in Brussels
Brussels is a great weekend destination for foodies, families, couples looking for a romantic city break, backpackers and culture vultures. Whether it's a Tin-Tin mural on the side of a building, the heady scent of waffles emanating from a street-food cart, or the UNESCO listed guild-houses of the Grote Markt, there's plenty to captivate your imagination. The famous ‘Manneken Pis’ epitomises the cheeky side of Brussels, while the contemporary Atomium and the elegant European Parliament showcase the city's high-brow side. From palaces and museums to trendy restaurants and designer shops, the city is a true crowd-pleaser.
Your itinerary will depend on your interests, so we've put together a quick guide for backpackers and couples.
Brussels has a reputation for being expensive, but savvy budget travellers will find plenty to impress them during a weekend break.
- The Notre Dame du Sablon is a must-visit. This beautiful late-Gothic church is famous for its vast gallery and dazzling stained-glass windows. On Sundays there is a regular market inside the church selling antiques, jewellery and bric-a-brac. Entry is free and it's open from 8am to 5pm.
- A brewery tour of the Cantillon Brewery is just €6*. Along with a friendly tour guide and a peek in to the life of a brewery you also get a complimentary glass of beer. It’s open from 8am to 5pm Monday to Friday and from 10am to 5pm on Saturdays, all year round.
- Avoid eating in the Grote Markt and instead opt for frites with mayonnaise, sold on most street corners. Cheap and cheerful, but a world away from your local chippie.
From fine dining in candle-lit restaurants to towers of hand-made chocolates, Brussels is an ultra-romantic city break destination.
- The landscaping, sculptures and plants that fill the Gardens Van Buuren are a joy to see: particularly the topiary hearts in the ‘Garden of the Heart’ which burst with red flowers. There's a labyrinth to get lost in and a beautiful art gallery to explore in the adjoining Art Deco house. A ticket for the house and garden is €10* for adults. Open every day (apart from Tuesdays) from 2pm to 5.30pm.
- The Museum of Erotics and Mythology is a quirky must-visit. Built over decades by a private collector, the collection includes over 150 pieces ranging from carvings, sculptures and paintings. Entrance is through an unassuming door on the rue Saint-Anne. Ring the bell for entry. Open all year round and €10* to get in.
* Prices correct as of November 2015