Diving into the future in Brussels was the best moment of my entire stay in Brussels. The monument I had in front of my eyes – the famous Atomium – seemed to scream “future” like no other building I’d ever seen before, and I couldn’t turn my eyes away for a minute or two. When I finally did and started to explore the city, everything else felt uneventful. It, to my surprise, turned to be nice and pleasing to the eye, yet completely not exciting.
I was ready to fall under the spell of Brussels, but I never did. Still, if I loved every single city I’d visited, places like Barcelona would lose its charm. How could they feel unique if they were just dots in a never-ending line of wonderful travel destinations? Who knows, maybe you’ll fall in love with Brussels seen through my eyes like I never could. Attractions, accessibility, specialities – let’s put Brussels under the microscope!
What to see in Brussels
1. The Atomium
Upon seeing the Atomium, my mind was full of anxious anticipation. Many people claimed it was terribly overrated, so I had no idea what I should expect, and whether I should expect anything at all. Luckily, The Atomium turned out to be my favourite thing about Brussels. Touristic leaflets proclaimed it to be one of these iconic must-see constructions in the world, and for once, they didn’t lie. It was built in 1958 for Expo 58. The monument displays a unit cell of an iron crystal, magnified many times and it’s 102 metres tall. I have to admit it was one of the most bizarre things I’ve seen, and I was absolutely in awe with it. It was fascinating, new and definitely worth visiting. The fact that there was a great museum and a wonderful view on Brussels were marvellous bonuses. What’s interesting, taking pictures of Atomium was restricted by copyrights claims for some time. Right now, according to Atomium’s official page, individuals can take photos of Atomium for non-commercial purposes, like social media sharing for example. Who would thought that taking photos could be such a dangerous pastime!
2. Brussels Town Hall
Brussels Town Hall is a Gothic building, dating back to 15th century. It’s located in the heart of the city – the Grand Palace. It’s definitely one of these beautiful buildings that leave you in awe, just like churches and castles of Prague. Not my absolute favourite, but definitely worth seeing.
3. The Museum of the City of Brussels
If you’re into history, The Museum of the City of Brussels is a place to go. There are probably not too many better ways to learn about the history and folklore of the city than by going there. Also, it makes quite a picturesque photo spot. Trust me, I’ve tested it myself!
4. Lovely streets in the centre
European cities, in general, tend to have quite lovely streets and Brussels is not an exception. Just like Amsterdam, Dublin, Prague or Barcelona it has quite many nice streets worth exploring. The best views are probably waiting for you in the centre, but if you are more patient and adventurous, other parts of the city might be also worth a shot. I know I enjoyed them quite a lot, though again… they’ve got nothing on Barcelona.
What to try in Brussels
I think nobody will deny the power of Belgian chocolate. Honestly, it has been famous for its outstanding quality for ages, and it definitely lives up to its hype. Special chocolate shops seem to pop around every corner of Brussels, and the city never lets you forget it’s the kingdom of chocolate. I’m not the biggest fan of sweets, but I have to admit… Belgian chocolate doesn’t disappoint. Definitely, it’s something to try.
If you are surprised seeing “beer” and Brussels together, fear no more, and let me explain. There are more types of beer in Belgium than days in a year, and I believe it says a lot about the country. The variety of different glasses used for beer consumption is outstanding too, and Belgian dedication to beer doesn’t even stop here. A popular beer among men is called Duvel, while many women seem to like Kriek. Chocolate and beer together are like a royal couple of Belgium, and that combination is interesting, to say at least.
Accessibility in Brussels, Belgium
Hotels are fairly accessible in Brussels. There are not many problems with ramps, elevators are mostly in a good condition, and the price range seems to be average. Finding an accessible hotel wasn’t a big challenge even back in 2006, and I imagine (and hope!) things have only become better ever since.
As much as newer attractions are mostly wheelchair-friendly, there are still too many places I couldn’t access in Brussels. The accessibility of attractions was average at best, not hopeless, yet I still wish ramps are elevators were an obvious element of every touristic site – if it’s only possible, of course.
Shops and restaurants
When it comes to shops and restaurants most of them seem to have ramps, so accessing them wasn’t too much of a dangerous game. Not every single place was accessible, but most of them were, and that’s definitely enough for me to pass a positive judgment on Brussels’ shops and restaurants.
Once again, pavements in Brussels are just a little bit better than average European pavements. The Old Town is not extremely safe for wheelchair users, as its surface is very uneven, but navigating through the city is possible. My only advice: stay cautious, Brussels’ streets are more mischievous than they seem.
In a nutshell: Brussels failed to steal my heart like Barcelona did, but it doesn’t mean I wasn’t enjoying my time there. The unique combination of interesting cuisine and nice architecture filled my head with pleasant memories, and that’s ultimately not the worst legacy. Still, for me, it’s just another city with an average accessibility. If you are looking for lovely architecture, and top notch chocolate you’re probably going to love Brussels. After all, nothing’s sweeter than the city of chocolate.
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