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What NOT to do in Brussels 2024
09.01.2024

Travelling to a new city is full of new adventures. Sometimes, when you're done, you realise that you've left important things behind or made mistakes that would have made your getaway an even better experience.

 

In order not to waste time on things that can be easily avoided or fixed, we have decided to compile some basic tips on activities or actions that you should not do during your stay in Brussels.

 

What NOT to do in Brussels 

 

Mondays off

When planning your day-to-day travel or stay in Brussels, remember that Mondays are usually a day off for many professional sectors and places to visit. For this reason, we recommend that you check the websites of the places you have marked as obligatory stops, to avoid mishaps and annoyances.

 

 

Watch out for the time

If we talk about closed places, we have to say that everything closes very early, from restaurants to shops. Don't delay your shopping too much, because when you go back to that shop you liked so much to buy a souvenir, it might already be closed. The average closing time is 18:00.

 

 

Don't be late

Speaking of time, don't be late for a reservation or an appointment. Not only in Brussels, but everywhere in Belgium. They are very punctual and you should respect that.

 

 

Official souvenirs only

We're not just talking about buying in authorised places, but also about taking a souvenir without asking permission. Many beer lovers decide to take back a glass of beer in which they have enjoyed a great beer.

 

This practice is strictly forbidden. With a long tradition of brewing, each beer requires a different glass in order to get the maximum flavour from each one, so the glasses are as precious a commodity as the beer itself.

 

 

Umbrella

No matter what the weather forecast says, the possibility of rain is always real in Brussels, so we recommend, especially in the autumn and winter months, that you take an umbrella or mackintosh with you so that the water doesn't stop your day of sightseeing.

 

 

Danger on the table

When sitting at a table for lunch, dinner or just for a good Belgian beer, it is the custom of many people to leave some of their belongings such as mobile phones and wallets on the table.

 

Brussels is a very safe and friendly city, but it is still a major European capital, and as such, touristy, so don't forget that pickpockets may be present. Keep your belongings in your pockets and your bags and purses close to you. 

 

 

Transport by car

Don't think that a car is the best way to get around the Belgian capital. There's plenty of public transport, including the not-so-well-known overground train. Walk when you can, and don't forget that every corner of Brussels hides great stories and that it's worth walking or using the overground transport rather than something that will prevent you from enjoying all its beauty. 

 

 

Train is the king

The train is the perfect means of transport for both short and medium journeys. But you can't go wrong with the station, why do we say that? Because although you might think otherwise, Central Station is not the main station in Brussels. Let us explain.

 

Brussels has several stations; Gare de Bruxelles-Chapelle, Gare Brussel-Schuman, Gare du Louxembourg, Gare du Nord, Gare Centrale or Centraal Station and Bruxelle Midi. The last two being the most important, being Bruxelle Midi more important and having  more trains than Gare Centrale.

 

Brussel Zuid, as Bruxelle Midi is also known, is the most important in the city, and one of the largest in Europe. It is located in the south of the city, on Clemenceau Avenue, and from there you can travel to cities outside the country, such as Paris, Amsterdam or London, or explore the Belgian map by visiting Bruges, Antwerp or Ghent, among others.

 

It's also convenient locally, as it's connected to the Gare du Midi/Zuidstation metro station, which is served by lines 2 and 6, as well as the tram and train.

 

 

Don't waste your loose change

Those loose cents in your pocket may not mean much to you, but they can be crucial if you need to go to the toilet in the middle of your stroll through the Belgian capital. This money goes to the so-called "Madame/Monsieur Pipi", the toilet attendants who keep the toilets clean and tidy. They are not paid as such, so this money is very important to them. The cost of the service is usually between €0.50 and €1.

 

 

Don't buy all the chocolate

I don't have to tell you that visiting chocolate shops is a must. You already know that. But what you may not know is that you don't have to load up on chocolate.

 

We mean, you can buy a few units of many types and places to try them all, but be aware that in some places, like Pierre Marcolini, you need to buy a minimum of 8 pieces of chocolate. It's great if you've already tried it and like it, but if not, we recommend trying a bit of everything from places like Mary, Leonidas or The Old Hot Chocolate House.

 

 

Brussels as headquarters

Make use of Belgium's great transport. Trains and buses are of high quality and cheap. This coupled with the proximity of other beautiful historic cities such as Bruges, Ghent or Antwerp makes taking several hotels in various cities unnecessary. Stay in Brussels, and spend the day in the city you want to visit.

 

To give you some context; Ghent is 30 minutes away by train, Bruges 55 minutes, Antwerp about 45 minutes and the jewel of Leuven with its amazing forest, only 25 minutes away.

 

 

Brussels is not Belgium

Now that we have named just a few of the cities around Brussels, we encourage you to visit as many as you can. The reason is their variety. Brussels does not represent Belgium, Belgium is the result of a great history, of millenary cities with cosmopolitan environments. Its great history can only be explained by understanding its great variety. Do you want to understand Belgium? Then visit all its faces.

 

 

Don't forget the short breaks

In addition to the cities mentioned above, if you have enough time, you can't miss places like Dinant, Mons or Mechelin, just to name a few. They are close to the capital, and have some of the most beautiful places and landscapes in the old continent.

 

 

Brussels is not the same as Brussels

No, we didn't make a mistake in writing. You have to understand that there are two Brussels, the Belgian capital and the Belgian region. It is as if we were talking about the city of Madrid and the region of Madrid. If you ask a local, which we recommend because of their friendliness, make sure you are talking about the same Brussels.

 

 

Enjoy great service

Depending on the culture or your country of origin, you will be used to one type of customer service or another. In Belgium they have excellent service in shops and, above all, restaurants. But their high quality is based on not harassing the customer; they ask the right and necessary questions and will leave you alone. And if you need them, they'll be there in a flash.

 

 

Don't miss little gems

As soon as you set foot on the ground in Brussels, you're sure to know what you need to see; Grand Place, St Michael and St Gudula Cathedral, Cinquantenaire Park, Royal Galleries Saint Hubert and the list goes on. But you can't leave out some of the city's little gems. Well-known places, but not so well known for tourists, such as the comic book route, the birthplace of Audrey Hepburn or the Invader Street Art.

 

 

Don't leave without tasting its gastronomy

It is just as bad to leave Brussels without visiting the Grand Place as it is to leave without trying its steamed mussels (Moules-frites). To prevent you from committing this gastronomic atrocity, here are just a few of the dishes you must try in the Belgian capital.

 

- Mitraillette: meat sandwich.

- Waffle: no explanation needed. And if you don't know what it is, you already have dessert for your first meal.

- Waterzooi: a very typical local stew based on either fish or chicken.

- Carbonnades flamandes: a beef and onion stew that is cooked with beer.

- Stoemp: mashed potatoes and sausages.

 

 

Don't go to the wrong airport

Brussels has two airports. Both are well connected to the capital, but they are not the same. The main difference is the distance. While Zaventem airport is about 30 minutes from the centre, you'll need just over an hour to get there from Charleroi airport.

 

 

To sum up:

 

-Don't forget the day off for shops and restaurants.

-Don't forget the early closing time.

-Don't be late.

-Don't take souvenirs without permission.

-Never forget your umbrella or raincoat.

-Don't leave anything on the table and don't leave your belongings unattended.

-Don't take the car, as far as possible.

-Don´t forget the train and station.

-Don't waste your pocket money.

-Don't buy too much chocolate.

-You don't need to move from Brussels.

-Brussels is not Belgium.

-Don't forget the short breaks.

-There is not one Brussels, but two.

-Enjoy great service.

-Don't forget the little gems.

-Don't leave Brussels without trying the gastronomy.

-Don't go to the wrong airport.

 

 

Done