14 February 2015

Brussels and Bruges Travel Guide


Hotel:

Crowne Plaza "Le Palace"
http://www.ihg.com/crowneplaza/hotels/gb/en/brussels/brube/hoteldetail
at Rogier station, less than 10 minutes from Brussel Noord and 10 minutes walk to city centre

Radisson Blu "EU"
next door to European Parliament, 5 minute walk to Troon Metro station, 15 minute walk to city centre

Tourist Information:

BIP, Koningstraat, Place Royale
10am-6pm

Brussels Card:

free admission to 30 museums in and around Brussels
free use of public transport in Brussels (MIVB/STIB)
Brussels card 24 H : 22.00 €
Brussels card 48 H : 29.00 €
Brussels card 72 H : 35.00 €

Eating:

Tout Bon
68 Rue du Luxembourg, Quartier Leopold
fantastic breakfast café with vast range of breads
near hotel and EU Parliament

Mer de Nord (Noordzee) fishmongers and open-air café
Place Ste Catherine and Rue Luxembourg

Chez Leon, 18 Rue des Bouchers
famous Brussels eaterie, portions are massive and décor a must-see

Exki
buffet-style salad bar and healthy food cafés at 15 locations

Restaurant Portofino
Rue de Luxembourg 60
family-run Italian restaurant near hotel and EU Parliament

Sights:

listing all the museums on the Brussels Card and more

Coudenberg, Place des Palais (enter through BELvue)
An underground palace dating from 12th Century, with mass of archaeological features. See Brussels from below!

Old England Department Store and Musical Instruments Museum
10am-5pm, not Monday, rooftop café

Royal Museum of Fine Arts


a collection of 6 museums, all close to the Place Royale
including Magritte, Moderne, and Fin-de-Siècle
EUROSTAR discounts within 24 hours of your ticket time

BOZAR (Beaux-Arts)
http://www.bozar.be/en


very modern art, which may not be to your taste, with usually 3 different priced exhibitions
EUROSTAR discounts within 24 hours of your ticket time

Hotel de Ville (City Hall) and tower

Visit Place Poelaert for a magnificent view over the roofs of the city
Take the glass lift down to Marolles

Vieux Marche aux Puces, Place du Jeu de Balle, Marolles
open air market, 7am to 2pm

Tintin Shop, 13 Rue de la Colline

Centre Belge de la Bande Dessinee, 20 Rue des Sables
10am-6pm, not Monday
a museum about comics? well, with Tintin on hand, what’s not to love!

Cathedral

Carillon Clock, Mont des Arts
with figures that appear, and lots of symbolic decoration

Atomium
site of the 1958 Universal Exhibition, you can go inside and explore the history and the architecture, and see views over the city.


Bruges Bonus:

When travelling Eurostar, you can select "Any Belgian Station" which is nominally around £10 extra each way, but can often be cheaper if the best "Brussels" direct tickets have gone. If you are in Eurostar Standard Premier, then you can travel First Class on Belgian trains.

Bruges is only an hour from Brussels, and is an easy change at Brussels Midi. It's a pretty, compact, tourist-oriented city, with enough to make a 2-day stay worthwhile.

Get a €20 Museum Pass, rather than a €46 City Card, especially in winter when there are no free boat trips and some attractions are closed. The best museums covered by the Pass are the Folklore Museum, the Hospital Museums (two of those), the Belfry (366 steps), the Archives, the City Hall, the Archaeology Museum (very good for children, best we've seen), and the Onze Lieve church.

Other paid-for attractions that are worthwhile include the Holy Blood Church on Burg, but not the Historium or the Chip Museum.
And for free, visit the Cathedral, and the outside of the Beguinage.

From the station, buses cost €3 (one zone) and you can catch numbers 1, 3, 4, 6, 11, 13, 14 or 16 to Markt. Much cheaper than a taxi. Or if on a day trip, it's only a 10 minute walk.

Eating:

Du Phare http://www.duphare.be/
Take a pleasant walkpast the windmills on the eastern canal and Du Phare is at the northern lock. Great croquettes, steaks, pasta dishes, and many Belgian specialities.

The Olive Tree http://www.theolivetree-brugge.com/
Just off Markt, this Mediterranean restaurant is pricey but has excellent food and service, and plenty of it. A sign of how it's rated so highly is that it is fully booked every night, no walk-ins! So pop in the night before to reserve, or call 050.33.00.81
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