BEAUTIFUL BRUSSELS TOUR
Tour at a Glance
|BRUSSELS||1-8||Hotel Metropole Brussels|
|Transfer||Brussels International Airport [BRU]||Hotel Metropole Brussels|
|Transfer||Hotel Metropole Brussels||Brussels International Airport [BRU]|
Sandwiched between France, Germany and the Netherlands, the vastly underrated country of Belgium is known throughout the world for little more than its ridiculous variety of beer, scrumptious waffles, the Smurfs. However, despite its modest reputation, Belgium has plenty to offer. Its magnificent historic cities offer countless architectural and artistic wonders bearing witness to this tiny country’s massive contribution to European history. From the incredible Art Nouveau buildings in Brussels to the towering spires in Ghent; the picturesque old town in Antwerp to the canals in Bruges – every Belgian town reveals a beguiling treasure trove of historical delights. Throw in some unexpectedly diverse landscapes, a flourishing fashion and contemporary art scene and some wonderfully warm and welcoming locals and you have more than enough to start thinking of extending your stay.
BANKING AND CURRENCY
Belgium uses the European monetary unit, the euro (€). Euro bills come in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, and 500; coins are worth 1 cent of a euro, 2 cents, 5 cents, 10 cents, 20 cents, 50 cents, 1 euro, and 2 euros. Local merchants may refuse to accept €200 and €500 bills due to the prevalence of counterfeit bills.
Banking hours in Belgium are normally 9am to 4pm, Monday to Friday. Some banks are also open on Saturday mornings.
ATMs are widely available in Belgium and accept credit as well as debit cards. ATMs in Belgium have been upgraded and any card is accepted at any ATM. All major credit cards are usually accepted (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Diners Club and Eurocard) as well as Traveler’s Checks. ATM machines are available in all major cities.
TRAVEL, TRANSPORT AND GETTING AROUND
Transport in Belgium is facilitated by well-developed road, air, rail and water networks. There are good public transport systems in all the major towns and cities, with underground, tram and bus services in Antwerp and Brussels, bus and tramways in Charleroi, Ghent and Ostend and bus systems elsewhere. The public bus system is run by De Lijn in Flanders, TEC in Wallonia and STIB in Brussels. There is a standard flat-fare system, with discounts for five- and 10-journey multi-ride tickets. One-day tickets and multi-mode tourist travelcards are also available.
Belgium’s waterways offer a pleasant way to enjoy the country, whether it be on a one-hour canal cruise or an extended voyage between major cities. Numerous operators offer everything from boat hire to luxury cruises – details are available from relevant tourist offices.
Services such as car hire, taxi and bike hire are easy and quick as there are plenty options available in all towns.
FOOD, DRINK AND CUISINE ADVICE
Standards of hygiene in relation to food health and safety in Belgium are generally high in hotels, restaurants, pubs and nightspots.
Often quoted as having the best cuisine in Europe, Belgium’s foodie specialities extend far beyond just waffles, beer and chocolate. For such a small country, it has rich local resources with fish and mussels being harvested from its North Sea coastline; pheasant, rabbit, and venison from the forested hills of the Ardennes; and first-class beef and lamb from the fertile Flemish polders. Butter, cream, beer and wine are used liberally and feature regularly in the cooking. Restaurants run the full gamut: from Michelin-starred to the humble fritkot (chip) stand. Gastronomes won’t be disappointed! Over 400 beers are brewed in Belgium. They range from the mass-produced lagers like Stella Artois through to boutique ales brewed by microbreweries.
Belgian tap water is actually more regulated (and thus purer) than bottled water. Belgian consumer organization Test-Aankoop does regular comparison tests between bottled water and tap water always comes out as less contaminated. The taste differs per region.
CLIMATE AND WEATHER
Belgium experiences similar weather to the south of England. It is best to visit in spring and summer, when the days are warmer and the locals enjoy drinks on the outdoor terraces, or in December when the Christmas markets line the cobblestone streets. Summer days are long with it often staying light until 10.30pm and with temperatures reaching 25-30°C (77-86°F), intermingled with occasional drizzly days. Heat waves are becoming more frequent in mid-August. Winter days are short, with darkness falling around 5.00pm. Winds blowing from the North Pole can be biting, especially on the coast, and can push the temperature down to -5°C (23°F); snow is fairly common in January.
CLOTHING AND DRESS RECOMMENDATIONS
Like most of Western Europe there is no dress code as such and really anything is acceptable. Smart casual clothes will help you fit right in. Jeans are always popular and will serve as a versatile base to your wardrobe. Wear them with cool layers such as camisoles and cardigans for the summer, or warmer ones e.g. a long sleeved shirt and sweater in the winter. Unless you are staying at a hotel with a swimming pool, or intend visiting a spa, or the beach in high summer – leave your swimsuit at home as you’re unlikely to need it. Make sure you take comfy footwear for daytime as there are loads of cobbled streets.
ELECTRICITY AND PLUG STANDARDS
Electrical sockets (outlets) in Belgium are the “Type E ” French style CEE 7/5 Schuko. All sockets are Schuko, and while some small appliances come with “Type C” Europlug style plugs, Europlug sockets are illegal in Belgium. If your appliance’s plug doesn’t match the shape of these sockets, you will need a travel plug adapter in order to plug in. Travel plug adapters simply change the shape of your appliance’s plug to match whatever type of socket you need to plug into.
Electrical sockets (outlets) in Belgium usually supply electricity at between 220 and 240 volts AC. If you’re plugging in an appliance that was built for 220-240 volt electrical input, or an appliance that is compatible with multiple voltages, then an adapter is all you need.
But travel plug adapters do not change the voltage, so the electricity coming through the adapter will still be the same 220-240 volts the socket is supplying. If your appliances are not compatible with 22-240 volt electrical output, a voltage converter will be necessary.