Belgium’s capital, Brussels, is a charming blend of Art Nouveau mansions and modern skyscrapers. It’s known for its numerous art galleries, superb restaurants and some of Europe’s best flea markets. The city also shows off Belgium’s centuries-old beer brewing tradition in full form, offering a taste of Lambic beer that is unique to this region.
Home to the European Parliament, making it the centre of the EU, Brussels is often under-estimated as a holiday destination despite its charm, the friendliness of the locals and its iconic chocolate. The city’s quirkiness is evident in its mascot, the Manneken Pis, a statue of a little boy relieving himself. So too in the bizarre building, the Atomium, made up of nine steel balls connected to resemble an atom.
Why travel to Brussels
- To see where Napoleon lost the Battle of Waterloo.
- To taste the mussels, the chips, the waffles and that legendary chocolate.
- Let’s not forget the beer, much of which is brewed in the city by Trappist monks.
- You can see a microcosm of Europe, Mini Europe, with all the continents attractions in miniature.
- Its museums are phenomenal and include one dedicated to the fictional character Tintin, The Hergé Museum, and another that focuses on underwear.
- To see its incredible Art Nouveau buildings in the districts of Saint-Gilles and Ixelles.
- The Smurfs originated here.
- The street art is phenomenal.
Brussels is equally quirky and surprising as it is venerable and wise. There’s also the fabulous food, great beer and excellent shopping, historic buildings and museums including the incredible Magritte Museum… and that’s just a small idea of what to expect on a Brussels holiday package with Thompsons.
Things to do in Brussels
There are more things to do in Brussels than you can pack into one holiday. Brussels’ iconic architecture and historic attractions make it an exciting place to visit. A Brussels holiday package includes a wealth of enchanting activities. See extraordinary sights like Mannekin Pis and the futuristic Atomium, striking street art around every corner and magnificent Art Deco and Art Nouveau architecture. There’s also glorious beer and fabulous food – you haven’t tasted fries the way they should be made until you visit Brussels.
Places to visit in Brussels
- Explore the Grand Place, home to the 15th-century City Hall.
- Discover the 14th-century church, Notre Dame du Sablon.
- Marvel at the cheeky Manneken Pis statue.
- Embark on a beer sampling tour.
- Visit the Royal Palace.
- Discover Brussels’ fascinating comic book history at the Belgian Comic Strip Centre.
- Delight in the extraordinary Atomium, a 100m tall model of an atom.
- Stroll along the 19th-century shopping arcade, Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert.
- Explore the fascinating Musical Instruments Museum housed in the unusual Old England building.
- See incredible artworks created by Brussels’ famous surreal artist in the Magritte Museum.
- Visit the legendary bar L’Archiduc, where Miles Davis played jazz.
- Explore MIMA, an ultra-contemporary museum inspired by skateboarding, tattoos, comics and more.
Brussels is a unique city with so much to enjoy on a holiday package. It’s entirely different from any other European city, and that’s what makes a visit here so refreshing. Thompsons Holidays can take you on an adventure in Brussels, so call us right away to make your booking.
Know before you go...
- The best time to visit Brussels is from May to September when the weather is at its finest.
- High season is during the summer months, July and August.
- Winter months (November to February) are the low season.
- Flight duration from Johannesburg to Brussels, Belgium: 11 hours, 30 minutes
- South African passport holders require a Schengen visa to enter Belgium.
- Passport must be valid for 6 months after your trip.
- Time zone – Belgium is on Central European Time, 1 hour behind South Africa during the winter (November to March) and the same time as South Africa in the summer months (last Sunday in March to last Saturday in October).
- The official currency is the Euro (€).
- Credit cards are widely accepted, and ATMs are readily available.
- Tipping is not expected for taxis, restaurants or bars, although it won’t be refused.
- Belgium has 3 official languages – Dutch, French and German.
- English is widely spoken in Brussels.
- 57% of the Belgian population is Catholic.
- When visiting religious sites, dress conservatively. (See ‘What to pack’).
- It is safe to drink tap water in Belgium. Bottled water is readily available.
- Many public restrooms charge a small fee for use, so keep change on hand for this.
- Relatively lenient, Belgium still bans smoking except in designated areas.
- Regarding vaccinations: Check with your doctor before travelling.
What must I pack?
- Lightweight clothing in summer, warm layers for winter.
- Comfortable walking shoes.
- Sunscreen, lip balm, hat and sunglasses.
- Mini first aid kit and regular prescription medication.
- Hand sanitiser and insect repellent.
- Travel adaptor.
- The city centre of Brussels is easily accessible by public transport: train, tram, metro, bus and waterbus.
What can I do to be a responsible traveller?
- Wherever possible, buy local food and souvenirs and support local artisans.
- Instead of using plastic bags, take fabric shopping bags with you.
- Respect each other’s cultures and customs and avoid imposing your beliefs.
- Be safety conscious: don’t display cash or valuables. Leave jewellery and expensive watches at home.
- Keep your belongings safe – use the hotel safe for passports and valuables and watch out for pickpockets and bag snatchers when out and about.
What do I do in an emergency?
- If passports or valuables are stolen, report the theft to the hotel/police immediately.
- Contact the Thompsons Holidays 24-hour care line to assist.
Out of season
We’re sorry! The holiday you’re looking for is not in season. Luckily, we have loads of other exciting options. Take a look!