BRUSSELS

EU’s De Facto Capital

The Brussels' International Airport is the world's largest chocolate selling point.

You’ll need:

  • Either a valid passport or travel document. It must be valid for at least three more months beyond the date you plan to leave Belgium and must be issued within the last 10 years.
  • A visa – but only if you are subject to the Belgian visa regime. Not necessary for US Citizens.
  • You may also be asked for other supporting documents: these documents could be an invitation letter by a Belgian host, proof that you are staying in Belgium or a round-trip ticket.

*British passport holders are not required to fulfill the passport validity and issuance date criteria.

In 1995, the government of Belgium signed the Schengen Agreement, meaning that it became part of the European border free area.

You must apply for a Schengen Visa if you are:

  • Citizens of a third-world country that has not reached a visa liberalization agreement with the EU.
  • A citizen of a third-world country that has reached a visa liberalization agreement with the Schengen states, but you were rejected from entering Belgium or any other Schengen country visa-free.

For more detailed info, check out Schengen Visa Info.

Landing in Brussels Airport, you’ll be situated 12 Kilometers away from Brussels. Here are a few ways to get into the city:

Brussels Airport to Central Station by Airport Train:

  • There is a train going from Brussels Airport to Brussels Central Station every 10 minutes, every day of the week. The ride takes approximately 18 minutes and costs €12,70.

Airport Bus:

  • Airport Buses will lead you to the European District of Luxembourg and to the City Center. 
  • There are two buses: Line 12 and 21. 
  • The buses depart and arrive at the bus station at Level 0.
  • Make sure to check the bus map to figure out which stop will get you closest to your destination in Brussels. 
  • Line 12 only stops at main stations while Line 21 has many more stops. 

Taxi:

  • Taxis do not have a distinctive look in Belgium so the best option would be to order a taxi online. 
  • This would then cost around €36 depending on the taxi service. 

Car:

  • If you are planning on renting a car or have someone picking you up the duration of the drive would be 18 minutes to Brussels City Center.

The Brussels metro system is a great way to get around Brussels. Here are a few things you should know about the beloved transit system:

  • The train opens during weekdays at 5:30 am and closes at midnight. On weekends and public holidays, the metro runs from 6 am to 12 pm. 
  • The metro runs every 6-10 minutes during peak hours and every 20 minutes during non-peak hours. 
  • A one way ticket costs €2.10 which is $2.36 USD. 
  • If you are planning on using the metro a lot then purchase the one-day travel card which is €7.50 ($8.42 USD).

Belgium is a relatively safe destination for travelers. As is usual in most cities be sure to keep your belongings close to you and be wary of pickpockets.

The emergency number for the police in Europe is 101. The phone number for ambulance and fire is 101- and the general emergency number is 112.

It is against the law in Belgium to bring in, carry and use illegal drugs and other controlled substances when you go to Belgium.

Overall, Belgium is considered one of the safest places in Europe. But, of course, be street smart and have fun!

Temperatures in Belgium are relatively mild all year long. The average low during the winter is 1 Celsius (34 Fahrenheit). The average high during the summer is 23 degrees Celsius (73 Fahrenheit). However, Belgium is a rainy country- expect rain throughout the year and pack an umbrella!

December, January, February (Winter): Cold but rarely snows. Expect rain.

March, April, May (Spring): BEST TIME TO VISIT.

June, July, August (Summer): Slightly warmer. Hot days are rare.

September, October, November (Autumn): BEST TIME TO VISIT.

Belgium is on the Central European Time Zone (CET). It’s GMT +2 hours, meaning that it’s 6 hours ahead of New York and 1 hour ahead of London (Not calculating for Day Lights Savings).

Belgium has three official languages, French, Dutch (Flemish), and German. Belgium has distinctive regions with Flemish being spoken in Flanders to the north, French being spoken in Wallonia to the south and German being spoken in a community in the east. However, Brussels itself is a bilingual capital with both French and Flemish being spoken.

Here’s a few basic words and phrases: 

*italic= flemish

Hello: Bonjour – Hallo
Thank you: Merci – Dank u wel
You’re welcome: De rien – Graag gedaan
Excuse me: Excusez-moi – Excuseer mij
I’m sorry: Désolé – Het spijt me
Please: S’il vous plaît – Alstublieft
Good morning: Bonjour – Goedemorgen
Good night: Bonne nuit – Goede nacht
My name is…: Mon nom est… – Mijn naam is
Check, please: L’addition s’il vous plait – De rekening alstublieft
I don’t understand: Je ne comprends pas – Ik begrijp het niet
Do you speak English?: Parlez vous anglais? – Spreekt u Engels?
Where is…?: Où est…? – Waar is… ?
Call the police: Appelle la police – Bel de politie

Belgium, and its bilingual capital, Brussels, are relatively modern and easy to navigate in terms of etiquette. However, navigating the language divides in Belgium may be challenging.

Language:

Dutch and French are widely spoken in Belgium. With Dutch typically being spoken in the North and French in the South. With the exception of Brussels being bilingual and the German community in the East.

The Belgium language divide is a tense subject and speaking the incorrect language may get you in trouble with the locals. Speak English when in doubt.

Social Settings:

  • Avoid discussing the language divide in Belgium.
  • Belgians tend to dress conservatively.

Wine and Dine:

  • Belgians do not appreciate waste so it’s important to finish all the food on your plate.
  • Keep your hands on the table at all types- not on your lap.
  • Do not use a toothpick in public.
  • Raise your hand to beckon the waiter or waitress.

Belgium’s unit of currency is the Euro (€). Approximately € 0.89 equates to USD $1.

Exchanging money in Belgium is safe and easy. You can either exchange at the airport or local banks that have ATM machines.

Tipping! Not expected since 10-15% is already added to your bill.

Belgium carries two different plug types- types C and E. Plug C has two round pins and Plug E has two round pins and a hole for the socket’s male earthing pin. The standard voltage is a 230V supply voltage and the frequency is 50Hz.

Your converter should look like this: This is a Plug C.

Drinking water straight from the faucet is 100% safe in Belgium. Some people do prefer to filter their water in Belgium as they prefer the taste of filtered water.

Belgium is highly technologically advanced – meaning that there should be WiFi at most locations.

Staying in the country for a long time? Here’s how to get a SIM card: You can find mobile stores in the arrival hall of Brussels airport. Convenience stores sell SIM cards, too. SIM cards cost around €15 – €45.

LGBTQ+ rights in Belgium are seen as some of the most progressive in Europe and in the world. Same-sex marriage in Belgium has been legal since 1 June 2003. Belgium was the second country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage, after the Netherlands.Make sure to see Belgian Pride Weekend, which takes place in mid May.

Taiwan is one of the most LGBT-welcoming country in Asia. On May 24, 2017, the Constitutional Court declared that the Legislative Yuan has two years to to change the marriage laws to fit the Constitution. On February 21st, 2019, Taiwan began this process, granting legal protections to same-sex couples. The majority of Taiwanese citizens support same-sex marriage, even the president has stated her support.

Make sure to see the annual Gay Pride Parade, which hosts more than 130,000 people and lasts for four days. The parade is hosted in October.

Belgium boasts the highest recycling rate in Europe.

Here’s how the nation recycles:

  • Garbage is divided into trash, recycling and compost.
  • However, in Belgium each region has different recycling methods so make sure to check where you are.
  • Recycling containers can be found all over Belgium- typically in the colors white, blue, green and yellow.

Other Eco- Tips:

  • Brussels is also full of drinking water fountains that are a great way to cut back on plastic water bottle use.
  • Glass bottle deposits are also popular in Belgium and can usually be found at a local supermarket.

SHOP ETHICALLY:

packing list

CULTURAL STUFF

Look up when you stroll through the city, many walls on houses in Brussels are plastered with comic book references.

for the foodies

DID YOU KNOW? Brussels sprouts have been grown in Belgium for over 700 years.

DAYTRIPPIN’ IDEAS

EAT: Taiwanese cuisine is essentially Chinese-based dishes with heavy Japanese and Hakka influences. Bonus: lots of street food.

SNEAK PEAK

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