Where to Stay in Brussels: Best Areas and Neighborhoods

Where to stay in Brussels
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Are you wondering where to stay in Brussels? In this article, we look at the best areas to stay in Brussels so that you can fully experience all it has to offer. Let us help you to figure out which neighborhood is best for you!

As a major centre for European institutions and culture and the capital city of Belgium, Brussels has an amazing variety of cultural and scenic sites as well as many architectural, culinary and entertainment venues for visitors to explore.

World-famous for its chocolates and beers, Brussels is also home to nearly 90 different museums, beautiful gardens, verdant parks and renowned monuments. The city offers a wide variety of popular restaurants, bars and nightlife choices. With the city’s abundance of guest accommodations of different types, visitors never need to be concerned about where to stay in Brussels.

The two nearby airports, Zaventem and Charleroi, provide easy travel to the city for international travelers, and the metropolitan area offers transportation by train, bus, taxi and car for visitors. Brussels is a compact city with a wide selection of visitor accommodations located within a short distance of the city’s centre and major tourist attractions.

The city is very easy to get around, and there are plenty of beautiful, captivating and intriguing attractions to engage, inspire and delight visitors of all ages. The metropolis of Brussels has a population of more than 2.1 million residents and is the largest city in Belgium.

It it the most densely populated area in the country and is a region of high wealth that includes residents from both the French and Flemish communities. The European Union has its main base of operation in Brussels, and NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization) also has headquarters in the city.

Brussels is one of the leading financial centres in Western Europe and is considered an Alpha-global city due to its integration with global economies. Known as the “Crossroads of Europe,” the Brussels area metro is the only rapid transit system in the country, and the city is called a hub for road, rail and air transportation, which is of great benefit to travelers during their stay in Brussels.

Known for its excellent cuisine along with its architectural and historical landmarks, museums and many visitor attractions, Brussels is also celebrated as a capital of comic strip creation and production.

Where to Stay in Brussels: Best areas to stay in Brussels

Many different areas of the city of Brussels offer attractive and comfortable accommodations for visitors, with something suitable for every preference and traveling budget. Neighborhoods such as the following welcome guests to friendly, appealing and desirable hotels, guest houses, inns and B&Bs:

1. City Centre (Grand Place – Saint Gery)

Where to stay in Brussels: Grand Place
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As the main town square in Brussels, La Grand Place dates back to the 12th century. It was once an important food market, and today it is still a well-known venue for fine Belgian cuisine as a World Heritage site. Located in the heart of the city, this neighborhood is rich with history and culture from many centuries.

Historic regal buildings surround the square, and the famous Gothic spire of the Brussels Town Hall towers above the square and is easily seen from points throughout the city. The Bread House in the bakers’ market quarter displays additional high spires and ornate sculptures.

Buildings bordering the square offer architectural features of the Gothic, Baroque and Louis XIV architectural periods. Streets of areas in Brussels leading into the square have the names of foods that were sold daily in the old market, like chicken, cheese and herbs.

There are some traditional Belgian restaurants on the square, which can have upscale prices. For more reasonable meals, visitors are welcome to visit the Turkish and Mediterranean eateries in the smaller streets nearby.

Major visitor attractions in Grand Place – Saint Gery are plentiful and display ingenious works of note in the fields of art and architecture, many with strong historical and cultural significance for all areas in Brussels, such as the following:

  • Mont des Artes. – In this fascinating neighborhood, you can visit ten large galleries and museums and many smaller art venues and exhibitions. Located on a hill between the Grand Place and the Royal Palace, this famed museum quarter of the city includes the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, the National Archives of Belgium and the Belgian Royal Film Archive (CINEMATEK). Picnic in the lush beauty of the Mont des Artes garden while enjoying amazing views of the city.
  • Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium. – This is the most comprehensive of the art museums in Brussels, containing major works of six of the country’s most valuable art collections in four different museums.These museums display more than 20,000 art works that include items from the Ancient Art Museum of Brussels and eight floors of art of the 20th and 21st centuries. This amazing and massive museum complex includes works of Rubens and other Old Masters as well as popular Belgian comics in one of the most enthralling neighborhoods in Brussels.
  • Place Royale. – As one of the most celebrated historical sites of all areas in Brussels, the expansive open square was once home to the ancient Palace of Coudenberg, which burned in 1731 and was never rebuilt.Today, the royal offices of Belgium overlook this elegant square, which is bordered by impressive 19th century neoclassical architecture. The 18th century church, St. Jacques-sur-Coudenberg, displays an elaborate bell tower, and at the centre of the square stands a famous statue of Godfrey of Bouillon, the first ruler of the Kingdom of Jerusalem more than 900 years ago.
  • Royal Palace of Brussels. – Although the King and Queen of Belgium reside in a palace north from central Brussels, they work in the Royal Palace. For this reason, you will want to be observant while in this district, since you may very well see them. During the summer, the Palace with its marvelous interiors and sculptures is open to the public, and visitors are traditionally greeted by the monarchs at the Royal Palace doors.

Designed and assembled as the centerpiece for the 1958 World Expo in Belgium, this now refurbished structure is a very popular visitor’s site. Four of the upper spheres are open for guests to visit to enjoy a restaurant and exhibitions. This popular site is a favorite of all areas in Brussels of families as well as history and modern design enthusiasts during their stay in Brussels. The Atomium is on the edge of stunning Ossegempark.

With its central location, this neighborhood can be accessed easily by metro or car. Guest accommodations in this area of the city for a stay in Brussels include hotels, traveler’s inns, rental apartments and B&Bs ranging from low budget to upscale room rates. Many offer restaurants along with WiFi and a wide range of other guest room amenities.

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2. Sablon

Brussels neighborhoods: Sablon
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The Sablon (or Zavel) neighborhood of Brussels is a lively, upscale area that offers stylish bars and chic restaurants as well as an abundance of chocolate shops. The Gothic Notre-Dame du Sablon Church is a famous landmark here, standing adjacent to the busy Place du Grand Sablon with its popular weekend antiques markets.

You can visit the acclaimed Jewish Museum on the Rue des Minimes with exhibitions about the lives, history and culture of Belgian Jews.

Nearby, the Magritte Museum displays the art of this renowned Belgian surrealist painter. Throughout this area among the neighborhoods in Brussels, charming chocolate shops and art galleries are plentiful, offering a pleasing mixture of sweets and contemporary art.

Well-known restaurants in the neighborhood include L’Ecailler du Palais Royal and Les Petits Oignons. L’Ecailler du Palais Royal offers diners a luxurious setting and elegant salon for enjoying fabulous gourmet fish cuisine while Les Petits Oignons is a more casual, family-operated restaurant serving delicious French and Mediterranean recipes both indoors and in an outdoor courtyard.

Additional sites in the Sablon neighborhood that you will want to visit during your stay in the city include the following:

  • Eglise Notre-Dame du Sablon. – This Gothic church dating from the 15th century separates the two squares of the Sablon, the Grand Sablon and the Petit Sablon. Legends reveal that in 1348, Beatrijs Soetkens received a vision from the Virgin Mary that told her to steal a statue of the Madonna from the church in Antwerp and place it in the Sablon Chapel.Ever since then, the Sablon church has been home to a pilgrimage, and there is a yearly procession in honor of this statue. Many classical music concerts and organ recitals are presented here, free to the public in one of the most interesting neighborhoods in Brussels.
  • Square du Petit Sablon Hidden Garden. – A beautiful neo-Renaissance style garden in this area tucked away from the view of passersby is enriched with outstanding 19th century sculptures and a statue-fountain. Ten impressive marble statues form an arc in memory of illustrious Belgian earls who were killed, sculpted by famous Belgian artists. This garden is a favorite place to relax for a few minutes while sightseeing in the city during a stay in Brussels.

This district has both elite hotels and short-term apartment rentals for visitors to such areas in Brussels as well as some lower-cost guest inns and B&Bs for a stay in Brussels. Sablon is easily accessible by metro, bus and car.

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3. Avenue Louise

Avenue Louise Brussels
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Avenue Louise (French) or Louizalaan (Dutch) is a main Brussels thoroughfare extending southeast from Louise Square to the Bois de la Cambre, which is 2.7 km. away. This prestigious avenue and district is one of the most expensive in the city. It offers a wide selection of upscale designer shops and boutiques as well as luxury restaurants and noted landmarks.

These major visitor sites include the Louise Tower, which is one of the tallest office buildings in Brussels, the lovely King’s Garden and Le Phénix 44, a 16-ton bronze sculpture by Olivier Strebelle, honoring the anniversary of the liberation of Brussels.

Several stunning Art Nouveau buildings are located in this area along with many attractive diplomats’ residences in one of the most engaging neighborhoods in Brussels.

Avenue Louise and another nearby street, Toison D’Or, form the ideal Brussels neighborhood for upscale shopping enthusiasts. Luxurious shops and boutiques here display fashionable designer names and brands such as Chanel and Dior.

Also in close proximity is Place du Chatelain, an enchanting square with attractive cafes and a flower shop offering blossoms of amazing beauty as well as a charming outdoor marketplace.

Louise Square is a primary transportation hub in the city, offering both a tramway and metro station to accommodate a large traffic flow through the area, as one of the busiest neighborhoods in Brussels.

This neighborhood of Brussels is well-known for its luxury restaurants with unequaled gourmet cuisine and for some popular, more casual eateries during a stay in Brussels as well, including the following:

  • De la Vigne a L’Assiette. – This fabulous French restaurant favors a more minimalist style of decor than the more ornate traditional French interior designs. However, the gourmet cuisine is definitely 5-Star, at least, and includes some Dutch influences in food preparations. To further enhance your dining experience, the owner will choose the ideal wine to pair with your meal, if you like.
  • Gazzetta. – This elegant restaurant is a vital and vibrant tribute to fine Italian cuisine that serves small portions of light, but completely delicious and satisfying meals. Chefs in this excellent dining venue use authentic burrata, a delicate cheese composed of mozzarella and pure, rich cream,  to enhance handmade pastas. Sauces are freshly prepared every day with use of only natural ingredients.

Luxury prices are the general norm in this area, and guest accommodation prices are mostly high-end. However, some less-costly guest inns can also be found nearby. Avenue Louise is one of the best places to stay in Brussels.

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4. Ixelles

Where to stay in Brussels: Ixelles
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This neighborhood is one of the most diversified international neighborhoods in Brussels as well as one of the most centralized. It offers an active combination of nationalities that form a friendly, welcoming neighborhood for visitors to enjoy. Ixelles is often said to be Brussels at its best.

This neighborhood is extremely popular with the expatriate community and includes distinctly different areas. Châtelain has trendy cafes while the Bois de la Cambre offers verdant land and cool ponds. Active Chaussée d’Ixelles includes Matongé, the African quarter with lively, late-night bars and music to entertain a large student population.

This neighborhood intersects with Avenue Louise with its more upscale shops, restaurants and guest accommodations. Ixelles is widely known for ts communal atmosphere, character and style.

Visitor attractions not to be missed in Ixelles include the following busy and engaging sites:

  • Chausée d’Ixelles. – This major shopping street in the neighborhood offers stores selling a wide range of items, from food to the latest fashions in clothing. The African hopping centre offers multiple stylish hairdressers, clothing stores and music shops.This area sells the same popular major brands that are offered on the wide Rue Neuve, but without the large crowds and long lines of purchasers. After a relaxing shopping spree on Chausée d’Ixelles, you can enjoy a pleasant stroll all the way to Fernand Coq.
  • Place Fernand Coq. – At this small square right outside the Chausée d’Ixelles, you will find another popular shopping area. This trendy, casual district offers friendly Belgian pubs where you can relax over a beer in the outdoor area.

If your preference is for a fine glass of wine, stop in L’Îlor Corse, a wine bar serving featured wines from Corsica that offers charcuterie specialties and desserts. To enjoy a marvelous meal, choose Il Nobile, a favorite Italian restaurant in the area.

Another stylish venue for a delicious dinner is Amour Fou, a popular French choice.This restaurant also offers a large variety of cocktails and mocktails to suit every taste along with delicious burgers and fries with dancing for all later in the evening.

Although the permanent housing in this area tends to be large townhouses and expensive apartments, there are hotels, guest inns and some B&Bs and youth hostels with low-budget accommodations. This neighborhood is easy to reach by metro, bus, car or on foot during a stay in Brussels.

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5. European Quarter

Neighborhoods in Brussels: European Quartier
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Every visitor to Brussels must spend some time in the lively, engaging squares and elegant green spaces of the European quarter with its intriguing shops and renowned museums. The favorite starting point for a tour of this neighborhood is Place du Luxembourg, commonly called “Plux,” an excellent example of a neoclassical station square.

This area, one of the most international neighborhoods in Brussels, has a wide selection of attractive terraces and popular restaurants, making it an ideal social venue for youthful expats and workers at the EU institutions nearby. Many types of cuisine are available here, including popular organic choices. Here you can truly experience international Brussels.

At Place Jourdan (Jourdanplein), both a local and international center, there are numerous different terraces, cafes and stylish restaurants of all types offering a wide variety of menu selections.

At Rond-point Schuman (Schuman roundabout), you can get a stunning view of two of the three hubs of decision-making by the EU officials. At night, this area is lit for a spectacular evening stroll past the lovely Europa building. From this vantage point, you can enjoy a grand view of famous Cinquantenaire Park’s triumphal arch as well.

At Place Jean Rey (Jean Reyplein), you will be welcomed to many gourmet venues and trendy boutiques and shops during your stay in Brussels. After some browsing through the fascinating shops along Place Jean Rey, stop in Le Grand Central, one of the largest and most trendy bars in all areas in Brussels.

At Maison Antoine, sample the Belgian frites or decide on a Belgian-French meal in the fashionable Art Deco interior of Residence Palace. For more exotic cuisine, try Oriento or El Turco restaurants in this area, one of the most intriguing neighborhoods in Brussels.

Although the permanent housing in this area tends to be large townhouses and expensive apartments, there are hotels, guest inns and some B&Bs and youth hostels with low-budget accommodations. This neighborhood is easy to reach by metro, bus, car or on foot during a stay in Brussels.

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6. Saint Gilles

Best areas to stay in Brussels: Saint Gilles
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This residential neighborhood is noted for its Art Nouveau architecture and Indie art galleries. The Horta Museum is famed for its beautiful stained glass and ceramics by Victor Horta, and the Museum of the Gueuze in the Cantillon brewery displays the history of the city’s spontaneously fermented beers.

On Sundays, the huge Midi Market located at Brussels-South Railway Station offers a wide array of items for sale from clothes to exotic spices. In this area, there are plenty of innovative new boutiques along with artsy cafes, stylish restaurants and friendly bars. This neighborhood can be reached easily from the city centre via Gare du Midi train station.

One slight disadvantage here is that the streets near Gare du Midi can be somewhat dangerous after dark, so it is best to enjoy the nightlife with your travel partners or as a group.

This district is also well-known for its foodie hangouts, hip cafes and multicultural cuisine, including Turkish breads and foods prepared with Moroccan spices and honey from the Ardennes. Locals frequent the Place van Meenen on Monday afternoons to enjoy wine and oysters from Normandy.

Casual relaxation and an enjoyable stay in this neighborhood, one of the most interesting neighborhoods in Brussels, is enhanced by the following features:

  • Boutique Hotels. – Many former townhouses in Saint Gilles have been renovated as boutique hotels displaying quaint or unique styles and offering comfortable relaxation. Some are very budget-friendly to accommodate travelers of all ages and travel expense allowances. For this reason, many backpackers, students and other young visitors to the city stay in Brussels in this area.
  • Neighborhood Strolls. – This area is an ideal place to explore on foot away from the busy centre of the city. While strolling on Chaussee de Waterloo, you can sample many varied styles of cuisine and discover numerous intriguing shops, boutiques and bars.

There is a variety of guest accommodations in this district, as one of the most frequently visited neighborhoods in Brussels, ranging from quality hotels to lower-budget B&Bs and hostels. The most popular places in areas in Brussels for visitors to the area to stay are small, boutique guesthouses.

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7. Gare du Midi

Gare du Midi Brussels
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This station, also called Gare du Zuid or South railway station, is the most traveled rail station throughout all areas in Brussels. Since 1952, over 1,000 trains run from the Gare du Midi and the North railway station. This South station is a major entrance-way into Brussels, both for rail travelers within Belgium and those from points across Europe.

This station makes all districts of the city easily accessible to travelers since the station building is also home to a Metro station, the Gare du Midi Zuidstation, also served by Metro and Premetro services.

There are a number of reasonably priced hotels near the Gare du Midi as well as other moderate to low-cost guest houses and hostels along with a variety of restaurants, eateries, bars and cafes.

Travel conveniences offered by the Gare du Zuid and its location in the city include the following:

  • Easy Transport to Varied Destinations. – Train travel is fast, simple and convenient for commuting to and from all areas in Brussels from all other points in Belgium. Passengers can easily connect with the Eurostar high-speed rail service between London and mainland Europe and with the THALYS high-velocity rail routes to Amsterdam, Cologne and Paris.
  • Convenient Transport to Central Brussels. – The Gare du Midi trains runs on two Metro lines: LIne 2, which starts and ends in Simonis, and Line 6, which runs to and from King Baudouin and Simonis. Once travelers arrive in Gare du Midi, it takes only about ten minutes to get from the station to Grand Place and Brussels City Centre by Metro.

Gare du Midi area is one of the most popular places to stay in Brussels for backpackers and budget travelers.

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8. Sint-Joost-ten-Node (Saint-Josse-ten-Noode)

Best places to stay in Brussels
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This district is both the most densely populated and the most deprived neighborhood of all the neighborhoods in Brussels. Considered a diamond in the rough, this area offers plenty of cultural gemstones for visitors to discover.

Some of its older, more worn-down streets are lined with expensive cars. Here you will find an abundance of the city’s ever-popular foods—frites (fries), gaufres (waffles) and beer. In this unique neighborhood, super-wealthy residents live beside the most socially excluded residents in the city.

Saint-Josse Square offers a stunning church, L’église Saint-Josse, with its faux-Baroque façade, which was not actually built until 1867.

In this colorful neighborhood, strong cultural influences of Turkish and Middle Eastern origins are evident. The Turkish residents have introduced their culture of hospitality to the city along with their ayran, a healthy yoghurt beverage and their many kebab variations. The Arab Cultural Center in this area has been a prominent influence since 1988.

Nearby, you will see a frites van, serving the best frites in the city. On Place Jourdan or Place Flagey, you will find tasty, crisp frites, but the frites van located on Place St. Josse is said to offer the ultimate in top-quality frites available throughout the city.

This fine reputation was earned by the fact that this company processes the potatoes in the chipping machine just a few moments before sending them into the fryer.

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9. Brussels Expo

Best areas to stay in Brussels: Expo Brussels
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Expo 58, the 11th World’s Fair, was hosted by Belgium in this district of Brussels. Today, this site is well-known for the Atomium, a giant model of a cell unit of an iron crystal, with each of its spheres representing an atom. Millions of travelers have visited this locale since then.

Today Brussels Expo is the main event and trade fair area of the Belgian capital.

Hotels, inns and guest houses in this area are available in a wide range of prices, with many moderately priced to accommodate families, students and other young people. There are also some B&Bs and youth hostels scattered through this area.

There is an abundance of restaurants and smaller eateries in this district of the city for the convenience of the large numbers of visitors to this area of the city throughout the year. There are also plenty of bars and cafes for casual drinks and lighter food.

Visiting Brussels is an exciting, educational, enthralling and fun-filled experience for travelers from around the globe today. This historical city has embraced contemporary concepts, fashion and lifestyles, offering a fascinating combination of international cultures and cuisine along with characteristically Belgian styles, traditions and culinary delicacies.

The diverse and intriguing neighborhoods in Brussels offer many attractive hotels, inns and other guest accommodations, with a wide variety of prices to suit all travelers’ budgets. This vibrant, friendly city welcomes one and all to come and enjoy its many treasured sites and secrets.

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