TO DO Visit the Cantillon Museum of Gueuze (www.cantillon.be), one of the city’s last traditional breweries, to find out why beer in Belgium is treated with the same reverence as wine and to sample Cantillon’s highly regarded lambic and gueuze. See if you can track down who kidnapped the city’s famous statue, Manneken Pis, by searching for clues in Brussels’ bistros, bars and backstreets on a fun-filled experience day (www.alleluias.com). For more adventures, explore the city’s Art Nouveau neighbourhoods, comic-strip connections and medieval Grand Place on scavenger hunts, role-play games and unusual tours through the city with www.annapurna-consult.be, www.perfectplus.be and www.provelo.org.
AFTER DARK For a bit of culture, book an opera, music or dance performance at www.bozar.be, www.kaaitheater.be or www.halles.be. If you want to avoid overpriced beer and food in the company of other tourists, walk right past the Grand Place and instead explore the restaurants, bars and cafes in and around Place Ste Catherine and Place St Gery.
BUYER BEWARE Belgian beer varies from strong to lethal, so take extra care on a night out to avoid becoming more Pis(d) than the city’s famous Manneken.
CLIMATE Similar to London, it has chilly, wet winters, and warm, pleasant summers. Best time to visit is June to September.
LANGUAGE Officially, French and Flemish, but English is spoken widely.
GETTING THERE Hop on the Eurostar at London St Pancras train station or Ebbsfleet in Kent, and you’ll be in the middle of Brussels in just under than two hours. Fly to Brussels in around 70-100 minutes, direct from Heathrow, Gatwick, City, Stansted, Luton, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Southampton, Belfast, Leeds-Bradford and Newcastle. Most flights arrive in Brussels International Airport, a 20-minute train ride to the centre (Bruxelles-Centrale, Bruxelles-Nord and Bruxelles-Midi). Some flights arrive in Charleroi airport, where it takes an hour by coach to get into the centre (Bruxelles-Midi). Many airlines fly direct from the UK to Brussels, including Brussels Airlines (0905 60 95 609, www.brusselsairlines.co.uk), British Airways (0844 493 0787, www.britishairways.com), BMI (0870 607 0555 www.flybmi.com), Ryanair (0871 246 0000, www.ryanair.com) and Flybe (0871 700 2000, www.flybe.com)
GETTING AROUND Most of the historic centre is walkable, but beyond this, the STIB (Société des Transports Intercommunaux de Bruxelles) public transport system is excellent, with buses, trams and underground lines cover the city. It’s not always easy to hail a taxi on the street, so if you need one, look for a taxi stand at train stations, big hotels and major intersections in the centre. They cost a bit less than London taxis.
FACILITIES Brussels was recently named Europe’s leading conference city by the Union of International Associations, so it’s well set up for meetings and events. The two major exhibition venues are the Square and Brussels Expo, but for smaller options, browse www.venues.be/en. Many four- and five-star business hotels are scattered in the city, especially near the historic centre and the European Parliament. Check out the excellent www.visitbrussels.be for everything you need to organise a meeting, conference, event or group activities.
Best of the rest
Stylish Antwerp, an hour by train, is where you’ll find cutting-edge fashions, fresh-cut diamonds and a vibrant café culture. Head to Prague for an up-and-coming conference city with a historic centre to rival Brussels. Or hop over to Hanover for it pretty medieval old town and top-class meetings and events facilities.