Wondering where to stay in Brussels during your first visit? Brussels is the capital city of Belgium as well as the European Union. This might make it sound daunting to find where to stay in Brussels but worry not as we are here to help. We put together a useful guide to help you find the best neighbourhoods in Brussels for your needs. We included hotel recommendations tailored to all budgets and made sure to add some tips on each area, to ensure it's best for your stay. Here is where to stay in Brussels for first-time travellers.
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Where to stay in Brussels
As a large and expensive city, it's not always easy to find where to stay in Brussels. We will detail the best areas to stay in Brussels but do note that being closer to the main market can mean a more expensive hotel and not always a quiet night, as most hotels are situated above restaurants and bars. We stayed in Saint Gery as we wanted our hotel to be close to the main market. We very much enjoyed the area and we recommend it with love. We took the time to explore the rest of districts and see what's their secret ingredient for making travellers excited about where to stay in Brussels.
Saint Gery is a lively neighbourhood, home to various bars and restaurants as well as shopping boutiques. It's minutes away from the main square, Manneken Pis and just 15-minute walk from Bruxelles Central train station.
We enjoyed our stay here as we honestly felt that we were walking distance from all major attractions. Just remember that it can get a bit crowded so make sure you pick your hotel carefully and ask for a room which doesn't face the main street. We also loved this location as we were two minutes away from our favourite restaurant in Brussels called Spago. Overall, it's a great place for tourists who wish to have access to everything.
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Sablon is known for its stunning gothic building and charming, well-preserved streets. It's the place to be for chocolate lovers who wish to experience the many chocolate shops Brussels has to offer. If you are lucky enough to arrive here during the weekend, watch out for the Grand Sablon plaza which becomes a bustling market. Similar to Saint Gery, Sablon is very close to the main square and just minutes away from the central station. We very much liked this area and this is where we would want to stay in Brussels next time we visit.
Les Marolles old neighbourhood located between the Palace of Justice and the south railway station. This is a diverse neighbourhood where you can hear locals speak French as well as Flemish. It is a multicultural district which experienced an influx of immigrants throughout the years. This is perhaps the best place to stay in Brussels if you wish to travel and experience the city like a local. You can find various flea markets in the area as well as cafes, bars and restaurants. As an interesting fact, inhabitants of the neighbourhood are called Marolliens. This is because the dialect known as Marols (marollien) was spoken in this very area.
For shopping enthusiasts, Avenue Louise is the best to be in Brussels. Find an array of fine dining and luxury boutiques. Find several Art Nouveau buildings worth photographing and marvel at the many homes where diplomats live. Because of the upscale experience, expect to pay for luxury here. This is most suitable for couples and travellers looking for a unique, high-end experience.
First of all, let me tell you: we stumbled across Saint Gilles by mistake. We got lost and ended up exploring Saint Gilles, a residential area not well known for tourists and travellers. We found a variety of indie galleries here and many beautiful buildings in the art nouveau style. This area stoke us as the bohemian quarters of Brussels, a laid-back neighbourhood which attracts artists and musicians. We investigated and also noticed prices were cheaper here too. This might be a great option for those wishing to explore a more off the beaten path Brussels. We found and visited the Horta Museums and The Museum of the Gueuze.
Ixelles is an interesting and diverse neighbourhood which attracts pretty much all sort of travellers. Ixelles is known to offer a little bit of everything, hence the diverse influx of travellers (from luxury to backpackers). Ixelles can offer a piece of quiet with its leafy parks and avenues but is home to many restaurants, bars and party places which know how to entertain. There are two different universities in Ixelles which makes this neighbourhood a lovely cultural centre. Find exclusive boutiques and charming restaurants or marvel at the belle époque posters displayed in The Museum of Ixelles.
Saint Josse-ten-Noode is located just 10 minutes from the centre of Brussels and it's the perfect place for travellers who want to experience a real residential area in Brussels. Saint Josse-ten-Noode is the most densely populated area in the city. Rent here tends to be a little under the average, which means that this area is ideal for backpackers and travellers on a budget.