In defence of Brussels: ‘If you actually know it, you probably love it’
- Belgium (Dutch: België, French: Belgique, German: Belgien) has three official languages: Dutch, French and German.
- The emergency phone number in Belgium (fire, police, paramedics) is 112.
- Brussels is Belgium's bilingual capital and the unofficial capital of the EU.
Today one of the most multicultural cities in Europe. Brussels has a nice historic centre around the famous Grand Place with its Gothic town hall and baroque guild halls. Other popular destinations are the Atomium, one of the symbols of Belgium, the European Quarter, the Palace of Justice, the Cathedral of Saint Michael and Gudula, the Stock Exchange, the Royal Palace, The "Manneken Pis" and the art nouveau Houses of Victor Horta. Brussels houses some important museums, such as the Magritte Museum, the Belgian Comic Strip Center and the Royal Museums of Fine Arts.
- Climate: temperate; mild winters, cool summers; rainy, humid, cloudy.
- Electricity is supplied at 220-230V, 50Hz.
Outlets are CEE7/5 (protruding male earth pin) and accept either CEE 7/5 (Grounded), CEE 7/7 (Grounded) or CEE 7/16 (non-grounded) plugs. Travellers from the UK, Ireland, Denmark, Italy, Switzerland and those many other countries using 230V, 50Hz but using different plugs, simply require a plug adaptor to use their appliances in Belgium.
- Belgium is a member of the Schengen Agreement.
There are no border controls between countries that have signed and implemented this treaty - the European Union (except Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland, Romania and the United Kingdom), Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
- Brussels Airport (also known as Zaventem due to the town in which it is mainly located) is Belgium's main airport (IATA code BRU). It is not located in the city center, but in the outskirts of Brussels.
- Most of Belgium is well-connected by train, run by NMBS (SNCB in French) with most of the main routes passing through Brussels and Antwerp.
- Brussels has five major train stations, and three of them have two names in French / Dutch: Bruxelles-Midi = Brussel-Zuid, Bruxelles-Central = Brussel-Centraal and Bruxelles-Nord = Brussel-Noord.
Many trains stop at all 3, but some trains (Eurostar, Thalys) only stop at Bruxelles-Midi / Brussel-Zuid. Lines to the south (Namur and Luxembourg) also serve the major stations of Brussel/Bruxelles Schuman and Brussel/Bruxelles Luxemb(o)urg, both located in the European quarter of the city.
- Buses cover the whole country, along with trams and metro in the big cities. Local transport in Brussels is provided by STIB/MIVB. Tickets are cheaper when bought at ticket machines.