If Belgium is the host country for equality, Brussels is the core of European diplomacy. As the headquarters of both NATO and the European Union, there’s a chance to meet at least one international diplomat on your flight to Brussels. But you don’t have to be an ambassador to book a Brussels flight. The average tourist can visit this beautiful city and be immersed in its rich history, arts, culture, and people.
Belgium’s cosmopolitan capital is a melting pot of citizens with a fascinating mix of origins including: Flemish, Walloon, Italian, Spanish, English and German. Culture vultures arrive on flights to Brussels to enjoy the Musées Royaux Des Beaux-Arts, with its priceless collection of Flemish and Belgian art, while beer lovers will want to visit the Cantillon Brewery, a family brewery where Lambic, Gueuze, Faro and Kriek beers are made. Shoppers and sweet tooths should venture a little south of the city center to the area of Sablon, a haven for boutiques, antiques, jewelry, and highbrow master chocolate makers. Perhaps the best-known attraction in Belgium is Manneken Pis. This statue of a little boy urinating has a wardrobe of more than 700 costumes including Father Christmas and Elvis Presley suits, and is dressed in one of these costumes several times a week. Belgium is also home to one of Europe’s most beautiful town squares, Grand Place.
Travelers looking for inexpensive vacations can book cheap flights to Brussels and enjoy everything from hot waffles to designer shops. Brussels is brimming with forests welcoming nature lovers on hikes, and some cafes and pubs are open all-night for visitors wanting to relax with a Belgian beer after a long day’s walk through the city. Whether you’re on peace-keeping mission or visiting Brussels for personal exploration, there’s something for every traveler to enjoy. Here are some tips to help you plan and enjoy the smoothest possible trip.
Brussels has a maritime temperate climate, with warm summers and mild winters. Early summer and early fall are typically warm and mild. Summer temperatures can reach the 80’s (Fahrenheit) but average in the 60’s, and winter temperatures range from the low 30’s to mid-40’s. Snow is possible in winter, but is not a common occurrence. Brussels has a high average annual rainfall; January is usually the wettest month, but expect rain any time of year. Winter days are short, but the sun does not set until 9 PM or 10 PM in summer.
Summer is the peak of the tourist season in Brussels and you can expect crowds of visitors and long lines outside the main attractions. Cheap flights to Brussels are hard to come by in summer so book flight tickets in advance if you’re planning to visit in these months.
You can find the cheapest flights to Brussels from November to March. The winter season has wet and chilly weather and short days. January is generally the wettest month, and temperatures average in the 30’s and 40’s (Fahrenheit) during this period. You’ll be able to find discounted hotels but some restaurants and shops may be closed.
The best time to book flights to Brussels are the shoulder seasons between March and May and September and October. This is when room rates drop and fewer crowds clog the top attractions. If you prefer warmer weather, summer temperatures can reach the high-60’s and the sun doesn’t set until 9 PM or 10 PM. August won’t be any cheaper price-wise for accommodations but many Belgians take their holidays then so Brussels may be quieter to visit. Summer is also the time for a smorgasbord of festivals and events so if you plan on attending then search for flight tickets early.
From New York City, a direct flight is slightly shorter than eight hours, and flights from Atlanta take just under nine hours. If you’re flying from the West Coast, expect to make at least one connection. From Seattle, total transit time is at least eleven hours, while the trip from LAX takes approximately thirteen hours.
Travelers from the U.S. usually arrive at the Brussels Airport, but it’s worth checking your ticket before planning onward transportation. American flies into Brussels from the U.S., often with connecting flights operated by British Airways. Delta offers flights in partnership with KLM. United is one of the only American carriers that flies directly into Brussels. United, Lufthansa, and Brussels Airlines all offer direct flights from New York. A wide variety of international carriers serve Brussels, including Aer Lingus, Air Canada, and SWISS International.
Brussels is a beautiful, highly walkable city, so one of the most important things to pack is a pair of comfortable yet stylish shoes. If you’re traveling in the spring or fall, a warm jacket is essential for brisk days and cold evenings. Be sure to tuck an umbrella in your suitcase to prepare for the occasional rain shower. During the winter months, go all out with a winter jacket, hat, gloves, and scarf – temperatures can drop well below freezing, and snow is possible.
As the capital of Belgium and the de facto capital of the European Union, Brussels has a cosmopolitan population. If you’re planning to try high-end restaurants or attend evening cultural events, bring your best clothing to fit in and feel comfortable.
International flights arrive at Brussels Airport (BRU) a little less than 10 miles northeast of Brussels. Passengers can reach the city center by a train shuttle service; the station is on the lower lever of the airport. This runs every fifteen to twenty minutes and takes approximately twenty minutes. A bus station below the arrivals hall operates buses that serve Brussels, Antwerp and Eindhoven. Metered taxis are available outside the arrivals hall; the journey to Brussels will likely take around twenty to thirty minutes.
Once you’ve settled in to your hotel and are ready to explore the city, you will find that when you’re in central Brussels it’s easiest to sightsee on your own two feet. If you’re going across town or to outlying areas, you’ll be better off taking public transportation. The Société des Transports Intercommunaux de Bruxelles (STIB) offers cheap and easy transport around town with buses, trams and metro lines. The STIB runs from 5 AM to midnight, and a night bus operates after that. Most of the metro stations are a sight to visit in and of themselves, with decorations from leading Belgian modern artists. Avoid rush hour, both in the morning and at night, and don’t bother trying to drive. Aggressive drivers, heavy traffic and nightmarish parking make public transportation seem even more inviting. Biking isn’t much different, but the city’s outskirts have some lovely bike lanes. Avoid taking a taxi too – rides are expensive.
Whether you’re interested in culture, sightseeing, or shopping, Brussels can keep you busy for days. Get the feel of the city with a stop at the Grand Place, a beautiful historic square and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you’re visiting in late November or December, visit after dark – multiple times an hour, the ornate buildings become the canvas for a stunning light show that’s set to Christmas music. Nearby, the city’s Christmas market offers local crafts, local specialty foods, and live entertainment. Between March and October, check out the flower market, and in August, don’t miss the sprawling flower carpet made by local artisans.
One of the first things you’ll notice in the Brussels city center is the abundance of local bakeries. Stop in for a coffee and a Belgian praline to fortify you for an antiques treasure hunt at the lovely Place du Grand Sablon. For an intriguing tour and one of the best photo ops in the city, take the train out to the Atomium. This unusual building, which is shaped like a giant iron crystal unit cell, was built for the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair. Another quirky tourist attraction is the nearby Mini-Europe park, where you can wander through scale versions of the continent’s most famous buildings and monuments. No trip to Brussels is complete without a stop to see the Mannekin Pis statue, which is dressed in varying outfits throughout the year.
If museums are your thing, Belgium has a varied menu of options. Indulge your love of history at the Royal Museum of the Army and Military History, or check out the unusual displays at the Musical Instruments Museum. The Belgian Comic Strip Center offers a look at the city’s rich comic tradition, and the Royal Museums of Fine Arts satisfy fans of both modern and traditional arts.
Whether you’re heading back to the U.S. or traveling to another spot in Europe or elsewhere in the world, Cheapflights makes it easy to find flights out of the Brussels Airport on a range of domestic and international airlines. United operates a wide variety of flights to the U.S., while carriers such as Brussels Airlines offer short European hops and long-haul flights to the U.S. and Asia. Other carriers that fly out of Brussels include Air Baltic, Easy Jet, Czech Airlines and Vueling. Brussels’ second airport, the Brussels South Charleroi Airport, hosts budget carriers such as Wizz, Ryanair, and TUI fly. Visit https://www.cheapflights.co.uk for the top flight deals for routes out of Brussels.
When your trip is over, taxis to the Brussels Airport are readily available from the city center. Another option is the Airport Line bus, which runs directly to the airport from the European quarter in approximately thirty minutes. Traffic in the city can be heavy, particularly in the mornings and evenings, so the train is often the fastest option. The trip takes just under twenty minutes. To reach Brussels South Charleroi Airport, take a train to the Charleroi-South Station and hop on an airport bus. Taxis and the Brussels City Shuttle also serve the airport.
No matter how you choose to travel, leave ample time to get through security. The airport enacted stricter safety measures after the 2016 airport bombings, so officials recommend that you arrive a minimum of two hours before departure.
Once you choose a destination, be sure to check out our Brussels airport guides for more detailed travel information and helpful tips.