Traveling to Brussels
Brussels (French: Bruxelles, Dutch: Brussel;) is the capital city of Belgium and of Brussels Capital Region. It is entirely surrounded by Dutch-speaking Flanders and its constituent Flemish Brabant province. As headquarters of many European institutions are based in Brussels, the city might also be considered somewhat the capital for the European Union. Being at the crossroads of cultures (the Germanic in the North and the Romance in the South) and playing an important role in Europe, Brussels fits the definition of the archetypal "melting pot", but still retains its own unique character. The population of the city of Brussels is 170.000 and the population of Brussels metropolitan area is about 1,1 million.
When Brussels became the capital city of a new country in the 19th century, the old town was destroyed to make way for brand new ministries, palaces, schools, army barracks and office blocks constructed between 1880 and 1980. Only a small historic centre (one square and four adjacent streets) was preserved.
Brussels operates as a bilingual city where both French (80%) and Dutch (Flemish) (20%) are official languages. English is also widely understood, but not always widely spoken.
Brussels deservedly has a poor reputation for its weather. Weather in Brussels is very damp with a high and fairly evenly distributed annual average rainfall of 820 mm (32 in) and on average approximately 200 days of rainfall per year, both which are more than that of London and Paris. The dampness makes the weather feel much colder than it is. The daily and monthly temperature variations are quite small. Daily differences between average highs and average lows don't exceed 9ºC (30ºF).
Getting to Brussels
Brussels main airport is Brussels Inernational Airport (BRU) in Zaventem.
Brussels distant south airport for low-cost flights in Brussels South Charleroi Airport (CRL), which is approximately 1 hour by bus to the city centre).
A train (€8.80) runs every 15 mins from the airport (Level -1) to Brussels three main stations taking 15-25 minutes with most trains continuing to other parts of Belgium.
Bus 12 (08:00 to 20:00 during the week) and 21 (during weekend and 20:00 to 08:00) run every 20 to 30 minutes via metro-station Schuman (where you can transfer to metro lines 1 and 5) to the European district around Place de Luxembourg/Luxemburgplein. The same ticket is valid for a total of 60 minutes on the metro, buses or trams into the centre from the moment it is validated as you get on the bus.
A taxi to the centre costs around €35. Always confirm the final charge with your driver before getting in the car. It is not uncommon for drivers to rip you off and ask 80€ even more to go to the centre, especially if they realize that it is your first time in Brussels and don't know your way around.
A shuttle bus (€13 one way, €22 return) runs every 30mins to Brussels Midi/Zuid station.
To go by train, take TEC Bus A (€3.00 one way) direct from the airport to the Charleroi train station.
You can also get a taxi from the airport to the city centre, but this will cost a fixed price of €90.
Brussels has three main train stations: Midi-Zuid, to the south of the city core, Central-Centraal, which is right next to the city centre, and Nord-Noord, to the north of the city center (at Place Rogier).
Most sights in Brussels are fairly close together, within reasonable walking distance of each other. The oldest part of town can have uneven cobblestone roads, but the rest of the city is fairly easy to walk. Many roads in the old town are closed to cars. Brussels has many wet days, and in winter small amounts of snow can make the ground slushy, so water-resistant footwear is a must if you will be out walking all day.
The metro in Brussels is quite clean and safe compared to most metro systems. Metro entrances are marked by big "M" signs in blue and white, with the station name underneath. All announcements are made in Dutch, French and English.
Single tickets cost €2.10 if pre-purchased and are available from the driver for €2.50 (only trams, not metro).
One, five and ten ride tickets are available at almost all metro and train stations. A card that can be used for ten rides on public transport costs €14.00. There is also a 1 day pass available for €7.50. These tickets can be purchased either at staffed windows or from kiosks.
More information can be found on www.stib-mivb.be