The capital city and the historical centrepiece of Belgium, Brussels is the countries largest and most populous municipality. The city is bilingual and known as Stad Brussel in Dutch / Flemish and Ville de Bruxelles or Bruxelles - Ville in French, its two primary spoken languages.
The city of Brussels itself is separated into quarters: the Pentagon, the Eastern Quarter, and the Northern Quarter. The Pentagon serves as the city's centre. These quarters are further broken up into smaller quarters. The Central Quarter forms the Pentagon's main district as home to the Brussels Stock Exchange and multiple historical and cultural sites of significance.
Known internationally for its delectable culinary specialities and diverse selection of gourmet food cuisines, Brussels is an oasis for food lovers. And, with more than 80 museums, the city is bursting at the seams with exhibits on art, history, botany, comics and more. Furthermore, Brussels is also known as the capital of Europe for its central location in the region, and Comic City, in recognition of the country as the home of legendary comic characters like Tintin and the Smurfs.
Are you considering visiting Brussels for your next vacation? Then, continue reading below to find out everything you need to know about the city, including its must-see attractions, its main transit centres, and where you can store your stuff while you explore.
Luggage Storage near Brussels' Train Stations
In addition to the metro, taxis, trams, busses, and coaches, Brussels also has an extensive railway system connecting residents to a plethora of local and international destinations. Let's take a look at three of the most loved, and most visited, railway stations in Brussels: Brussels - South, Brussels - Central, and Brussels - North.
South Railway Station
The busiest station serving the Comic City, Brussels-South Railway Station sits just on the outskirts of Brussels' city limits in Saint-Gilles. The station consists of 22 tracks and 12 platforms, in addition to providing direct connections to the Brussels Metro, premetro, Ouibus, local buses, and shuttle buses.
The current Brussels-South Railway Station building is the third of its kind to occupy the area, most recently replacing the Payen's Terminal Station after it was demolished in 1949. Since the 1990s, the station, and its surrounding district, have undergone massive expansion and upgrade efforts, including accommodations for high-speed trains.
Today, the station offers a dozen high speed services locally and internationally, as well as 25 intercity services and ten Brussels RER services.
Central Railway Station
Constructed in 1952, the Brussels-Central Railway Station, also known as Brussels Central, is the second busiest station in Belgium. Three island platforms serve six train tracks, all of which are located beneath several city blocks.
Conveniently, the Gar Centrale metro station, or Central Station, is just a short five minutes' walk away from the Brussels-Central Railway Station and can be accessed through the attached underground pedestrian tunnels. With its more than 20 intercity services, 8 Brussels RER services, and P-train services, it's no wonder that the railway station transports more than 70,000 passengers per day, on average.
Brussels Central Railway Station provides free wi-fi access to passengers and offers a variety of accessibility options to accommodate riders of all abilities.
North Railway Station
Last but certainly not least, on our list of railway stations in Brussels is the Brussels-North Railway Station. Serving as the endpoint of the premetro North-South axis and a featured stop on every international and regular domestic train, the station is the third-busiest in the country.
Brussels-North Railway Station services around 200,000 travellers every week, with local commuters making up the majority of its passengers. The station has 12 platforms for 8 Brussels RER services, more than 20 intercity services, and high speed services.
Located in the centre of the Northern Quarter business district, known as Little Manhattan to the locals, the station is near the headquarters for some of the countries largest corporations.
Luggage Storage at Airports in Brussels
There are two primary airports in Brussels catering to commercial customers, Brussels Airport and Brussels South Charleroi Airport. If you plan on flying into the Comic City, then the chances are that you'll be arriving through the gates at one of these airports.
Also known as Brussel-Nationaal and Luchthaven Zaventem, the Brussels Airport is a military and public use airport situated just 12 kilometres (7.5 miles) northeast of the city centre. The Brussels Airport provides international and domestic flights and sees an average of more than 26 million passengers through its terminal in a typical year.
The land that the airport currently sits on was first used in the 1940s by occupying German forces as a reserve or backup airfield for the Luftwaffe. After Allied forces liberated the city in September 1944, the Belgian authorities took over the space before eventually opening it to the public in 1948 as a civil aerodrome.
These days, the Brussels Airport is the 24th busiest in all of Europe and home to around 260 companies. Designed with a single-terminal concept, the airport is split into four levels and two piers that connect via an above-ground building and platforms.
Brussels South Charleroi Airport
Just 46 kilometres (29 miles) south of Brussels city centre, Brussels South Charleroi Airport is the second busiest airport in all of Belgium behind Brussels Airport. To its more than 7 million passengers annually, the airport is colloquially known as Brussels-Charleroi Airport, Charleroi Airport, and, sometimes, Gosselies Airport.
First utilized in 1919 as a flying school and aircraft maintenance zone, the Brussels South Charleroi Airport officially opened to the public during the 1970s. Today, the airport operates regularly scheduled charter and commercial flights through nine airline companies, including Air Belgium, Pegasus Airlines, and Ryanair.
Brussels South Charleroi Airport has more than 20 restaurants, bars, cafes, and duty-free shops for passengers to enjoy. Additionally, the airport offers several transportation connections to and from a variety of domestic and international destinations, such as Luxembourg and the Brussels-South Railway Station.
What to do in Brussels
- Get a selfie with one of the most remarkable buildings in Brussels, the Atomium, and don't forget to visit the museum inside while you're there!
- Check out the 1:25 scale miniature park of the continent, Mini-Europe, located right in front of the Atomium, where you can see a tiny Mt. Vesuvius erupt.
- Railway enthusiasts can't miss Train World, home of the oldest steam locomotive in Belgium and the official museum of the National Railway Company of Belgium.
- Meet the creatures of the ancient past at the most extensive Dinosaur Gallery in Europe, the Museum of Natural Sciences - Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences.
- Enter a world of fantasy, adventure, and action at the world-renowned Belgian Comics Art Museum, where you can learn about how comic strips were invented and see how they've evolved into modernity.
- Marvel at more than 250 classic European and American vintage automobiles at Autoworld, and get a peek at the Belgian royal family's limousines.
- Stop in at one of the ten largest Roman Catholic Churches in the world and one of the most beautifully designed, the National Basilica of the Sacred Heart (also known as the Koekelberg Basilica).
Due to its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, Brussels has a sub-oceanic climate and is heavily influenced by the sea. There are four distinct seasons in Brussels, and summers in the city, notably, tend to be comfortably cool, with temperatures rarely rising above 18.4 Degrees Celcius (65.2� Farenhieght). Conversely, winters in Brussels are only moderately cold, with temperatures rarely dropping below freezing, 0� Celcius (32� Farenhieght), during the day.
Rain is common throughout the year in Brussels, as the city sees an average of 820 millimetres (32 inches) of precipitation each year. In a typical year, that translates to around 132 days of rain for residents to contend with! Furthermore, the winds in Brussels blow frequently and can range from mild to intense, especially during the winter months. Be sure to take a look at the forecast for your visit before you book to ensure your stay in Brussels is a dry one.
Fun Facts About Brussels
- Brussels exports around 800 tonnes (800,000 kilograms, or just over 1,763,698 pounds) of chocolate around the globe every year.
- As the base of NATO and the Headquarters of the European Union and its 40,000 plus international representatives, Brussels is the unofficial capital of Europe.
- Since the city is the birthplace of the Belgian Waffle, you can find them on almost every corner, in restaurants, pubs, and even for sale by street vendors.
- There are a whopping 138 restaurants per square mile in Brussels, making it an absolute haven for foodies.
- Brussels is home to some of the world's strangest museums, including the Iconic Underwear Museum and one of only two fencing museums in the world.