Average costs in Brussels
Stay – The price of a hotel or hostel is quite different if you can book it in advance for some time. For a youth hostel you pay between €15 and €30 per night. A budget double room costs between €40 and €50, and a three or four star room starts at €65 a night.
Eat – The cheapest food you’ll find in Brussels may be found in a ‘friterie’ (french fries) or a kebab shop. For a portion of fries with mayo or ketchup you pay between €4 and €5, the same goes for a kebab or wrap. You can also go to a sandwich shop to have lunch. For a half baguette with toppings and vegetables you pay €3 or more. Cheap but still tasty!
If you would like to go to a restaurant, you of course pay more. Average prices start between €12 and €15, but for most restaurants expect to pay at least €20 per person. Fizzy drinks cost around €2,5 to €3, and the same applies for tap beers. If you want special beers, you’ll pay between €4 and €5. A glass of wine or sparkling wine costs minimum €5.
Transport – Public transport in Brussels is done by STIB (other than ‘De Lijn’ in Flanders or ‘TEC’ in Wallonia). In the Belgian capital you can use train, tram and bus. For a single ticket on a tram or bus you pay €2.10. A day ticket costs €7.50. You can also purchase a 5 or 10 trip ticket, but for that you also have to purchase a MOBIB card (once for €5). For five trips you pay €8, for ten trips you pay €14.
With the train you have a very good connection from the Belgian capital. There are three stations (Brussels-South, Brussels-Central and Brussels-North). Do keep in mind that Brussels-South is the French ‘Bruxelles-Midi’, a lot of people mix up this station with the central station.
From all these stations you can easily travel to the rest of Belgium, the Netherlands, France or Germany.
If you wish to get to the airport, don’t forget that you have to pay a so called ‘diabolo surcharge’ on your train ticket. This is €5 + the cost of the ticket.
Tickets can be bought at the tickets booths in the stations, on the vending machines in the stations or online on B-rail.be.
Tips to save money in Brussels
Take as few buses / trams as possible – Most sights and attractions can be seen in the center of Brussels. If you get off at the station of Brussels-Central you’re smack in the middle of the city center. The city isn’t very big and everything is quite easy manageable to do on foot. Certain sights (atomium, Cinquantenaire) are just out of the center. So for these attractions it might be necessary to count on STIB.
Don’t eat on the Grand Place (Grote Markt) – The Grand Place is full of tourists. The many restaurants that are housed in the beautiful buildings benefit from this and ask incredibly high prices for eating or drinking here. Go just a little further and you’ll find many cozy neighborhoods with much tastier and cheaper food.
Free museums – Brussels has loads of fun and interesting museums! Every first Wednesday and Sunday of the month there are dozens of museums that are completely free to visit. An overview can be found on this page.
TravelBird – If you want to arrange a romantic trip to this city but don’t want to break the bank, you might want to look at the deals of TravelBird. This website often offers hotels much cheaper, and most of the time they’re located very centrally or they are very luxurious.
Things to do in Brussels
The Grand Place or de Grote Markt – The Grote Markt or ‘Grand Place’ is located right in the center of Brussels. The large square with cobblestones is surrounded by beautiful, historical buildings. Very often events are also organized on the square. Every two years, for example, the square is covered with a gigantic flower carpet, but music concerts are also regularly celebrated on this gorgeous location.
Kunstberg – For an unparalleled view of the city you have to go to the ‘Kunstberg’ or ‘Mont des arts’ (hill of art). This small city park has a beautifully manicured garden, and when you climb the stairs a bit higher you get to see a panorama of Brussels. Definitely go during sunset. From here you get the best view of the Belgian capital!
Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula – This church is definitely worth the steep climb! The beautiful cathedral perhaps makes you think of the Notre-Dame of Paris, but the inside is also very beautiful. The impressive, huge white pillars and the gigantic organ are quite impressive. The 64 meter (210 feet) high building dates back from the thirteenth century and has been very well maintained.
Royal greenhouses – The royal greenhouses are open to the public every year for three weeks (mid April to May). The exceptional collection of plants is very beautiful, but it’s mainly the beautiful architecture of the greenhouses that is worth the visit. After all, Alphonse Balat was the teacher of Victor Horta. One of the most famous Belgian architects.
The Sonian Forest – The Sonian Forest or ‘Forêt des Soignes’ is rightly called the green lung of Brussels. With more than 4000 hectares of forests, it is a place of peace and quiet where many locals come to escape the bustle of the metropolis. Besides a refreshing walk there are also quite some monuments that you can visit here.
Les Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert – The royal Saint Hubert galleries are a covered shopping arcade near the Grand Place of Brussels. This ‘shopping center’ is one of the oldest in Europe and although you won’t find any clothing stores here, it’s still nice to take a walk through. The beautiful buildings, and more importantly: the chocolatiers, will make your mouth water and the cozy, small streets left and right of the galleries will lead you to some of the most authentic places of Brussels.
Museums! – The European capital must of course be interesting for all of its visitors. With dozens of museums spread out over the city you can always learn something. My personal favorites are the Halle Gate, the Cinquantenaire Museum, the Magritte Museum, the Museum of Natural Sciences, the MIM, the Jewish Museum and the Toy Museum.
Manneken Pis – If you’re in Brussels, you can of course not skip Manneken Piss. The little, bronze boy is peeing all day long and attracts many tourists. Did you also know that there is a female version of this statue hidden in Brussels? When you’re visiting the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert, turn left to one of the small streets. In one of the sideways you’ll see ‘Jeanneke Piss’: a little girl peeing non-stop!
Atomium – In 1958 the Atomium in the Heysel Park was presented to the many spectators in honor of the world expo that was held in Brussels that year. The nine globes that form this monument represent the crystal structure of iron. You can also visit five of the nine globes.
The Parc du Cinquantenaire – The Cinquantenaire is a bit out of the center of Brussels, but that doesn’t make it any less beautiful. The large city park is surrounded by a beautiful triumphal arch and through the park you can find numerous historical monuments. Moreover, there are also some museums to visit.
Visit the European Parliament – Brussels is the European capital, and that of course means that many buildings of the European Union are located here. Are you curious about how everything works in the EU? Then make sure to visit the European Parliament! With a guided tour you’ll immediately learn more about the parliament and its operations.
Victor Horta Museum – Victor Horta is one of the most famous artists of Belgium, and maybe even the world. He took Art Nouveau to a new level. This Belgian has created many works of art throughout Brussels, but for the best ones you should go to the Victor Horta Museum.
Abattoir – A bit out of the center lies the Abattoir, a former slaughterhouse in Anderlecht (a region of Brussels). The old building has been thoroughly renovated in the meantime, and now it serves for all kinds of events and markets. Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday there is a gigantic market with only fresh products. It’s also a kind of meeting for the many different nationalities living together in Brussels. One of the best experiences that you can get in Brussels!
Things to avoid in Brussels
Come to Brussels with your car – The drivers in Brussels aren’t very friendly, you lose hours in traffic jams, the streets are quite narrow, there’s a lot of places you can’t drive in and finding a parking spot is insanely difficult. Driving around in Brussels is not a great idea… Certainly not if you know how easily accessible it is by public transport.
Buy chocolate near tourist attractions – Are you visiting Belgium and do you want to buy some Belgian chocolates? Please do so! But don’t buy them near the tourist attractions. The chocolate is often of poor quality and you’ll spend much more money on it.
Hop-on, Hop-off buses – Half of the Brussels monuments are found in small streets or squares where you can’t even get with a car or bus. The Belgian capital is really not that big, so just try to do as much as possible on foot. This way you also get to see much more of the charm and authenticity of the city.