Brussels is the capital and largest city of Belgium. It is also the de facto capital of the European Union, making it a major place for international politics. It began as a fortress town in the 10th century, founded by a descendant of Charlemagne and is now a city of 1.2 million. #
Although traditionally Dutch-speaking, it underwent a sizeable shift to French in 1830 and, despite this being the majority language today, it is still bilingual. It is believed that the origin of the name Brussels is the Old Dutch for marsh.
Some of its main attractions include the Grand Palace, a beautiful square, Manneken Pis, Atomium and cultural institutions such as the Museums of Art and History and La Monnaie. Historically during World War 1 and 2, Brussels was occupied by the Germans and after the war, the city underwent extensive modernisation with the construction of the North-South connection which linked railway stations in the city and was finished in 1969.
In more recent times, the city has fast become a key venue to hold international events and has been named European Capital of Culture. It is also an extremely popular place for commercial art galleries, with more popping up all over the city. Architecturally the city is a mixture of art deco, 1960s developments and the ultra-modern home of the EU, Gotham City.
Food is very important to the city, who believe fries should be double-fried and a waffle isn’t a real waffle without a coating of icing sugar. They also have their own biscuit which is the shortcrust cinnamon speculoos and aside from the beer, there is the ‘half-en-half’ which is a mixture of white wine and champagne. The Marolles quarter features intimate restaurants and interior design shops on the main streets of Rue Haute and Rue Blaes.
There are many activities you can take part in including the traditional chocolate tour, beer tasting tour and a visit to the Flanders World War 1 battlefields.
April – September are the best times to visit Brussels, during spring the weather is drier with rain expected only on half of the month instead of two thirds. The summers are fresh and not too warm with temperatures reaching up to around 23°C in July and August.
If you want a fresher experience spring and early Autumn might be better but do expect more chance of rain. St. Nicolas is celebrated here on the 6th December where him and his entourage arrive in Belgium in late November, a couple of weeks before the celebration starts.
As with any holiday, it's a good idea to carry some identification with you at all times and to keep a photocopy of your passport. British passport holders don't need a visa to enter Belgium. Visit GOV.UK for more advice on passports, visas and travel.