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Brussels is often unfairly pigeonholed as a city made bland by European Union bureaucrats. But while it's true that it has conspicuous numbers of diplomats and lobbyists, it also has an architectural legacy that stretches back many centuries, a superb cuisine that blends the best of French cookery with the innovative use of the finest world foods, and some spectacular cultural institutions. The Belgian capital is decorated with Gothic palaces, neo-Renaissance monuments and gorgeous Flemish Renaissance facades, the latter on display in Grand Place. Some of these buildings have been turned into fine museums, such as the Belgian Center for ...

Brussels is often unfairly pigeonholed as a city made bland by European Union bureaucrats. But while it's true that it has conspicuous numbers of diplomats and lobbyists, it also has an architectural legacy that stretches back many centuries, a superb cuisine that blends the best of French cookery with the innovative use of the finest world foods, and some spectacular cultural institutions. The Belgian capital is decorated with Gothic palaces, neo-Renaissance monuments and gorgeous Flemish Renaissance facades, the latter on display in Grand Place. Some of these buildings have been turned into fine museums, such as the Belgian Center for Comic Strip Art, once an Art-Nouveau department store. More vivid history can be absorbed in the Royal Museums of the Fine Arts of Belgium, in which paintings and sculptures from the 14th century to the present day are exhibited. The quality and diversity of the food in Brussels, which can be enjoyed day and night in the exuberant St. Géry district, is only matched by that of the beer. Although relatively tiny, Belgium produces over 500 different brews, including some sublime (and potent) Trappist beers that, when drunk, truly compare to a religious experience.

Paul Smitz
About the Expert

Paul Smitz has coauthored a dozen guidebooks for Lonely Planet on places such as Australia, New Zealand, Malaysian Borneo, Brunei, various Pacific Islands, Prague, and Brussels.

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Paul Smitz for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Weather-wise, April/May through September; many places close during summer holidays.