Brussels

Brussels (French: Bruxelles, Dutch: Brussel) is the capital of Belgium and one of the three administrative regions within the country, together with Flanders and Wallonia. Apart from its role within its country, it is also an internationally important city, hosting numerous international institutions, and in particular the core institutions of the European Union. Due to that, it is sometimes referred to informally as the capital of the EU, and even used as a metonym for the EU institutions.

Brussels is a huge city with several district articles that contain information about specific sights, restaurants, and accommodation.
Skyline of Brussels

Brussels blends the heritage of a medieval Flemish town with the grandiose projects initiated after it became the capital of what was then a French-speaking country, as well as some impressive modern architecture erected in a large part to house the international institutions. Brussels is now bilingual, hosting and officially recognizing the Dutch- and French-speaking communities of Belgium, and has become increasingly international with the influx of people of various origin who came there to work, many of them for the European Union. This all makes Brussels a rather unique blend, sprinkled with a number of Belgian peculiarities, and for the inquisitive tourist a large treasure chest to discover.

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Map of Brussels and public transport – S-train makes up the thin lines, the metro and premetro makes up the thick ones

  Centre
The small medieval centre of Brussels, with at its heart the Grand Place, the most beautiful square in the world and UNESCO World Heritage Site. The centre is a pedestrian only area with small streets and dotted with attractions. You’ll find ample opportunities to try waffles, Belgian beer or fries here.
  Pentagon
Following the outline of the second city walls, the Pentagon encloses the core city with its numerous restaurants, bars, museums, and other fascinating secrets to discover. The Pentagon is small enough to be explored by foot, and doing so is highly recommended.
  European Quarter
The heart of Flemish, Belgian, and European politics. The European Quarter is home to the European Parliament, the European Commission, and all other European institutions. The Jubilee Park at its eastern side is the background of museums well worth visiting.
  Heysel (Laken, Neder-Over-Heembeek)
Heights to the north of the city with remnants of the 1935 and 1958 World’s Fairs scattered around, the most famous of which is the Atomium. In the shadow of the Atomium, Mini Europe and the Kinepolis cinema complex gave the Heysel its reputation as Brussels’ leisure district.
  Business District
Brussels’ high rise district to the north of the Pentagon, with modern skyscrapers, generic shopping opportunities, ethnic restaurants, and overpriced veggie bars. The district has little touristic value aside from the North Station, with its impressive Art Déco architecture.
  Woluwe (St-Lambrechts-Woluwe, St-Pieters-Woluwe, Oudergem, Etterbeek, Watermaal-Bosvoorde, Elsene)
Laid back residential area on the east side of the city, bordering Kraainem to the east and Tervuren to the south. It boasts a variety of architectural styles to explore, most notably houses by famous Art Nouveau architect Victor Horta, which are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
  Matongé
Home to much of Brussels’ Congolese population. Worth a visit for the distinct African vibe, the colorful outfits that go with it, and the many African specialties that can be purchased in this neighbourhood.
  North-East (Evere, Haren)
A residential and commercial district that is also the home base of the NATO headquarters. Otherwise of relatively little interest to the average traveler, safe some nice parks.
  South (Uccle, Vorst)
Upscale residential district bordering the Sonian Forest to the south. Home of the Avenue Louyise, widely regarded as Brussels fanciest avenue.
  West (Anderlecht, St.-Agatha-Berchem, Jette, Ganshoren, Koekelberg)
Mainly a residential and commercial district. Towards the border with Flanders fairly rural, with forests, space for agriculture, and the restored Luizen windmill. The Koekelberg Basilica, the 5th largest church in the world, can be seen from almost everywhere, and absolutely worth a visit.
  Sonian Forest
The Sonian Forest is the largest natural area in Brussels, although only a small part of it is geographically within the boundaries of the Brussels Capital Region. Its endless beech trees covering rolling hills offers opportunities for jogging and cycling. If you get up early enough, you have a good chance of spotting wild deer and other wildlife! The Ter Kameren Park to the north is a popular leisure destination for locals. The Sonian Forest is inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2017.
  Molenbeek and surroundings (Molenbeek, Anderlecht, St.-Gillis, Vorst)
A residential area in the south of Brussels with a high immigrant population. The district has in the past played an important commercial role in the city. Nowadays, however, it is best not to go into this district at night.
  Schaarbeek (Schaarbeek, St.-Joost-Ten-Node)
Once a prosperous commercial hub, Schaarbeek and its surrounding suburbs have decayed to a hotspot of crime. While things have slowly begun to improve, it should still be visited with caution. The St.-Joost suburb is the poorest neighbourhood in Belgium, and its only attraction is — rather unsurprisingly — the Brussels red light district.
  Industrial District
A thin strip of commercial and industrial zones following the harbor from the Business District to Vilvoorde north of Brussels, and hosting the largest railway hub in Belgium. With little to see and do, deserted at night, and an unpleasant atmosphere of industrial decay after sunset, it is recommended to avoid this district.

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