Brussels’ accessible location within Europe makes this city a great addition to a European travel itinerary.
Don’t get me wrong though, Brussels has much more to offer a stopover, and it’s home to more than just the European Parliament.
Do you like beer and Belgian waffles? You’ve come to the right place.
Do you like culture and diversity? You’ve come to the right place.
If you’re having a difficult time deciding where to stay in Brussels – no fears – we wrote this guide to showcase our top picks for the best neighborhoods in Brussels and explained why too.
We’ve even included our recommendations for what to do in Brussels, by neighborhood.
Table of Contents
- Quick Tips
- Where to Stay in Brussels
- Brussels Neighbourhood Guide
- 5 Best Neighborhoods to Stay in Brussels
- 1. City Centre Neighborhood – Where to Stay in Brussels for the First Time
- 2. The Marolles Neighborhood – Where to Stay in Brussels on a Budget
- 3. Saint Gery Neighborhood – Where to Stay in Brussels for Nightlife
- 4. Saint Gilles Neighborhood – The Coolest Place to Stay in Brussels
- 5. Ixelles Neighborhood – Where to Stay in Brussels for Families
- Where to stay in Brussels first time – City Centre (Grand Place)
- Where to stay in Brussels on a budget – The Marolles
- Best area to stay in Brussels for nightlife – Saint Gery
- Coolest place to stay in Brussels – Saint Gilles
- Best neighborhood in Brussels for families – Ixelles
In a hurry? Here’s my top neighborhood for first timers:
- Admire the stunning building of the Brussels Stock Exchange
- Buy tickets to watch an opera at the high-class Royal Theatre of the Mint
- Get in touch with your inner child at the Belgian Comic Strip Center
Where to Stay in Brussels
Looking for a specific place to stay? We’ve listed our top picks for the best places to stay in Brussels below!
Related: If you need more inspiration, check out our post on the Best Hostels in Brussels.
Best Hostel in Brussels: Jacques Brel Youth Hostel
Close to cultural and historical sites, nightlife, and an array of restaurants, Jacques Brel Youth Hostel is ideally located to really make the most of your time in Brussels. The dorms are comfy and breakfast is free!
The onsite bar and games room are perfect for meeting other people, and there’s a kitchen where you can cook your favourite dishes. Other handy features include free Wi-Fi, laundry facilities, luggage storage, bike parking, and a book exchange.
Best Hotel in Brussels: Rocco Forte Hotel Amigo
Treat yourself to a stay at the five-star Rocco Forte Hotel Amigo and you’re sure to be pleased. Each elegant room has a private bathroom with luxurious touches, a sitting area with a flat-screen TV and minibar, and a desk.
Onsite facilities include a high-class restaurant, gym, and business centre. It sits right on the corner of the Grand Place.
Best Airbnb in Brussels: Roof top 2 bedroom apartment in trendy St Gilles
This stylish two-bedroom apartment can sleep up to six guests. Bright and airy, the modern apartment has a well-equipped kitchen and family features, such as a travel crib and a high chair. Washing and drying facilities are available to live that bit more convenient, and the apartment has a TV and free Wi-Fi to enjoy in your downtime.
Brussels has tons of great Airbnb apartments. Check out our post on Airbnb for a 35% discount!
Brussels Neighbourhood Guide
Quick Summary: The Best Places to Stay in Brussels
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Brussels may be a fairly small city compared to other Western European capitals, but the diverse neighbourhoods have their own distinct atmosphere and character. This is a great city for walking, and you can travel from one side of the city to the other by foot in around an hour.
The metro system, tram lines, and public buses make it quick and easy to explore the Belgian capital too.
There are 19 main neighbourhoods in Brussels, though the majority of places of interest for tourists are condensed into just a few key areas. Areas like the City Centre (where you’ll find the famous Grand Place), Ixelles, out-lying Koekelberg, Saint Giles, and the outer commune of Schaerbeek attract most of the city’s tourists.
The medieval City Centre is often high on the list of places for first-time visitors. Famous for its large square surrounded by ornate buildings, the nearby streets are home to other interesting attractions, cafes, small shops, and restaurants.
Trendy Ixelles is another popular area, loved by fashionistas and shopaholics. Designer stores line the bustling Avenue Louise and the area transforms at nighttime with many up-market restaurants and bars. The neighbourhood’s diversity makes it an ideal place for families too.
Sablon, with its cobbled streets and medieval architecture, is an olde-world part of the city. Hunt for antiques and rare books at the weekend market and treat yourself in one of the many fine chocolate shops.
The European Quarter is very business focused, though fans of gleaming modern architecture and soaring skyscrapers will enjoy strolling through the lively area. You’ll also find a handful of major attractions here, including the Royal Palace and Cinquantenaire Park with its monumental arch.
Eclectic, hip, and funky, Saint Gilles is one of Brussels’ coolest neighbourhoods. A popular place for local youths and creatives to hang out, Saint Gilles has plentiful art- and culture-focused spaces and events, varied eateries, and a relaxed ambience.
If you’re looking for the best place to stay in Brussels for nightlife, Saint Gery is ideal. The vibrant neighbourhood has many bars, restaurants, and cafes, and it’s one of the city’s best places to find live music.
Saint Josse-ten-Noode has a local vibe and attracts expats from diverse corners of the globe. Anderlecht, on the outskirts of the city, is another low-key and laid-back Brussels’ neighbourhood, and The Marolles offers a window into the local way of life.
A working-class area that is seeing many developments, this is also one of the cheapest places to stay in Brussels. Molenbeek has gained an unsavoury reputation over recent years though, while visitors should be vigilant, the area has a multicultural vibe, leafy streets, attractive Art Nouveau buildings, and historic spots.
5 Best Neighborhoods to Stay in Brussels
The varied neighbourhoods in Brussels add plenty of flavour and life to the city, and it’s well worth taking the time to travel around the city to discover its many faces.
Some neighbourhoods have better accommodation options and amenities for spending the night, though. Here are some of the best neighbourhoods to stay in Brussels:
Brussels’ City Centre is a magnet for tourists, with dazzling architecture, interesting attractions, and a good choice of places to eat, drink, shop, and sleep. The convenience and popularity make it our choice for the best neighbourhood in Brussels for first-time tourists.
Top Things to do in the City Centre
– Marvel at the gleaming guild hall buildings that surround the Grand Place and snap plenty of pictures of the magnificent Gothic Town Hall building.
– Return to the Grand Place in the evening when the buildings are beautifully illuminated.
– Discover interesting public art in the small streets and alleys that lead away from the glittering Grand Place.
– Learn more about the city’s past and see an array of historic exhibits at Brussels City Museum, housed within the elegant King’s House.
– Giggle at one of Europe’s rudest statues, the iconic Manneken Pis, and find his newer, female partner in urinating crime, Jeanneke Pis.
– Be tempted by delicious cuisine (mainly meat and seafood), along Rue des Bouchers, a road that was historically home to many butchers’ shops.
– Admire the stunning building of the Brussels Stock Exchange.
– Buy tickets to watch an opera at the high-class Royal Theatre of the Mint.
– Window shop at the luxurious and lavish Royal Galleries of Saint-Hubert; among Europe’s most classy and opulent shopping arcades, you’ll find chocolatiers, antique vendors, and boutiques that sell high-end and one-of-a-kind fashions.
– Get in touch with your inner child at the Belgian Comic Strip Center.
Best Hostel in City Centre: Meininger Brussels City Center
The comic book theme throughout this hostel makes this one of the quirkiest places to stay in the city centre. There are en-suite mixed dorms for six and ten and everyone can start each day full of energy with the buffet breakfast (extra charge).
There’s an onsite bar for mingling and chilling and other facilities include a kitchen, games room, and tour desk. Wi-Fi is free and you can rent a bike to explore. The Grand Place is just 15 minutes away by foot.
Best Hotel in City Centre: Hotel des Galeries
Soak up great city views from the roof terrace, order something tasty from the onsite restaurant, and stay right in the action above some of Europe’s most stylish shopping arcades.
All rooms are en-suite and come with a TV, kettle, coffee machine and free Wi-Fi.
Best Airbnb in City Centre: Studio in the best location ever!
Accommodating two guests, this fabulous Airbnb is close to Brussels’ hottest sights. Whip up a feast in the kitchen, watch TV, and catch up with emails with the free Wi-Fi and workspace. Best of all, it’s just 200 metres from the world-famous Grand Place.
The Marolles is one of the best neighbourhoods in Brussels for people looking for budget accommodation. Soak up the local vibe and discover the working class side of the Belgian capital.
An up-and-coming area, The Marolles is undergoing gentrification, bringing cool eateries, stores, and attractions to the area. Sleep for cheap in The Marolles while still being within easy reach of Brussels’ main tourist destinations.
Top Things to do in the Marolles, Brussels
– Stroll through the residential neighbourhood and interact with locals.
– Hunt for bargains at the flea market of Vieux Marché, held every day at Jeu de Balle Place.
– Watch the world go by from a charming café while relaxing with a drink and snack.
– Sink your teeth into global cuisine, including Syrian, Moroccan, Turkish, Spanish, French, and Flemish, a result of the multicultural population that calls the neighbourhood home.
– Visit one of the oldest churches in Brussels, Notre-Dame de la Chapelle, to admire its striking façade and interiors.
– Admire the impressive and imposing Palace of Justice.
– Ride the Marolles elevator to connect between the area’s two levels.
– Shop for fresh produce at the organic market at Atelier des Tanneurs.
– Watch the sun go down from the large Poelaert Square.
– Wander down the longest street in Brussels: Rue Haute.
– Enjoy a contemporary show at the renovated chapel of Les Brigittines.
– Step back in time at Porte de Hal, a fairytale-like gate that was once part of the city’s fortifications and is now home to a museum.
Best Hostel in The Marolles: Hostel Galia
Right in front of the flea market and with many antique shops in the vicinity, Hostel Galia is a great budget accommodation in Brussels. There are mixed and single-gender dorms and each comfy bed has its own reading light and privacy curtains.
You can mingle in the bar and keep costs even lower by cooking your own meals in the kitchen. Luggage storage, free breakfast, and free Wi-Fi are other plus points.
Best Hotel in The Marolles: Hotel Galia
Also in front of the lively flea market, Hotel Galia has rooms to suit all types of traveller—there are single, double, twin, triple, quadruple, and five-person family rooms.
All rooms are en-suite and come with a desk and TV. A buffet breakfast is included in the price and you can enjoy local cuisine and beers in the brasserie.
Best Airbnb in The Marolles: Charmant studio à Bruxelles
With a double bedroom and a sofa bed in the living room, this lovely apartment can sleep up to four people. There’s a kitchen, complete with a fridge, microwave, stove, hob, and everything you need for a self-catered stay. Entertainment wise, the apartment has a TV and Wi-Fi. It’s located close to the large flea market in The Marolles.
Saint Gery was previously an island in the River Senne. There’s no water crossing needed today, though; the river was covered up and Saint Gery joined with the rest of the city.
Its former separation meant that it was a pretty quiet place in times gone by, but it has transformed over the years to become one of the hottest nightlife destinations in Brussels.
The pavement cafes and bars are especially popular in the warmer months, though you’ll find a great range of places to eat, drink, and have fun here at any time of the year.
Beer connoisseurs, you’ve come to the right city. Check out this article on the best beer bars in Brussels.
Top Things to do in Saint Gery
– Experience the local music scene at one of the live music venues.
– Stroll along Anspach Boulevard to see how Belgian’s rich upper class lived in the past.
– Have a feast in the diverse restaurants, with food from across the world served in beautiful settings.
– See the modern statue of Zinneke Pis, a urinating dog to complete the peeing team along with Manneken Pis and Jeanneke Pis.
– Admire the handsome Renaissance-style building of Halles Saint Gery, an old covered market that has been repurposed to include a café-bar and club.
– Snap a picture of the historic fountain inside Halles Saint Gery, built on the spot where a church once stood.
– Put your glad rags on for a night on the tiles in one of Saint Gery’s trendy bars, and spend an evening (or several!) hopping from one stylish nightspot to another.
– Appreciate modern art at Chartreux Center of Contemporary Art.
– Visit Sainte Catherine Cathedral.
– While there are no hostels in Saint Gery, there are several hotels and Airbnbs that put you right in the heart of the action.
Best Hotels in Saint Gery: Boutique Hotel Saint-Géry
Boutique Hotel Saint-Géry has several room options, all en-suite and some with a separate sitting area. Comfortable and classy, it’s a great place to return to after a day of exploring or a night out partying.
There’s an onsite restaurant-bar and a great buffet breakfast is available each morning for an additional fee. The hotel has an elevator for greater convenience.
Hotel Orts is within easy reach of the historic medieval centre of Brussels and the happening night spots. The air-conditioned rooms have a private bathroom and TV, and the hotel has a restaurant-bar, terrace, and elevator.
Daily housekeeping services ensure everywhere is kept spick and span. In Brussels on business? The hotel has meeting rooms and conferencing facilities. (https://www.booking.com/hotel/be/orts-bruxelles.html?aid=304142)
Best Airbnb in Saint Gery: Bright Cosy & calm room nearby Sainte-catherine
This spacious double room is ideal for those who want a welcoming base in Brussels without paying a premium. The bathroom is shared with the owner of the apartment, who lives onsite in another bedroom. Guests can also use the onsite kitchen and washing machine.
Do note that there’s also a cat that lives here — you may want to rethink if you have allergies.
Our choice for the coolest place to stay in Brussels, Saint Gilles is a youthful, bohemian, trendy, multicultural, and lively part of the city.
It attracts creative and artistic souls, including painters, poets, actors, and writers. Not as loud at night as other areas in Brussels, Saint Gilles is more about the laid-back daytime fun than nighttime revelry.
Top Things to do in Saint Gilles
– Be inspired at the Art Nouveau Horta Museum.
– Take a peek inside Horta pre-metro station to see architectural pieces signed by famous architects.
– Enjoy fresh air and greenery at Parc de Forest.
– Watch an art house movie.
– Spot interesting street art by BONOM, the Belgian equivalent of Banksy.
– Head to the colourful fruit and veg market at Gare du Midi each Sunday.
– Purchase vintage fashions and unusual apparel in St Gilles many unique boutiques.
– Get in touch with nature at Parc Pierre Paulus, a former private garden and a peaceful haven away from the city’s hustle and bustle.
– Admire the historic jail; as unusual as it may seem as an attraction, the jail is a Gothic Revival gem.
– Check the local calendar and see what cultural events are taking place during your stay—the program is always changing!
– Soak up the spiritual vibe at Saint Gilles’ Church.
Best Hostel in Saint Gilles: Hotel De Fierlant
Although all rooms here are private, with en-suite bathrooms, it’s still a great place for travelling couples, solos, and groups of friends to meet other people and have a sociable stay.
There’s a bar and terrace where you can chat and you can start your day with a natter over the free buffet breakfast. Laundry facilities and luggage storage are available and Wi-Fi is free.
Best Hotel in Saint Gilles: Hotel Catalonia Brussels
In a calm part of the city, Hotel Catalonia Brussels has various double, twin, and triple rooms, all with a private bathroom, TV, Wi-Fi, and fridge. The hotel has a restaurant, fitness centre, tour desk, and meeting rooms.
Best Airbnb in Saint Gilles: Cocoon studio with breakfast
This studio for two has a modern bathroom and small kitchenette. Basic breakfast items are provided for you to start your day on the right note. The squeaky-clean studio has a washer and dryer, Wi-Fi, TV, and desk.
Ixelles is an arty and trendy neighbourhood with a good selection of shops, restaurants, bars, and attractions. Lakes, parks, and forests are within easy reach and the area is well connected by public transport. It’s our winner when it comes to the best neighbourhood for families in Brussels.
Top Things to do in Ixelles
– Enjoy nature and let kids run and play at The Tenbosch Park.
– Watch a movie in The Flagey building, also known as the paquebot jaune (yellow boat.
– Feed the ducks at the lakes of Étangs d’Ixelles.
– Stroll through the Wednesday farmers’ market at Chatelain Square.
– Sip a glass of beer or wine in one of the hip joints around Place Fernand Coq.
– Admire art at Musée d’Ixelles.
– See the house where Audrey Hepburn was born.
– Feel a sense of serenity at the glorious building and gardens of Abbaye de la Cambre.
– Wander through Matongé, the Congolese quarter.
– Pick up designer goods in Ixelles’ many high-class stores on Chaussée d’Ixelles.
Best Hostel in Ixelles: Le Beau Site
Located just off the popular Avenue Louise, Le Beau Site has private double and twin rooms, each with a private bathroom, TV, fridge, and free internet access.
Tuck into the free breakfast buffet each morning and enjoy facilities like luggage storage, a tour desk, and parking. Cots are available for those travelling with little ones.
Best Hotel in Ixelles: Ixelles in Style
This apart-hotel, close to the main shopping area of Ixelles, is ideal for a family stay; there’s a double bed in the bedroom and a sofa bed in the living room.
You’ll also find a kitchen, complete with an oven, microwave, fridge, and dishwasher, and other amenities include a TV, Wi-Fi, telephone, dining table, iron, and hairdryer.
Best Airbnb in Ixelles: Bright and cozy apartment in Ixelles
Accommodating up to four guests in two beds, this bright apartment has everything you need to feel at home. There’s a desk, movie projector, free Wi-Fi, washing machine, dryer, well-equipped kitchen, and terrace with outdoor seating and a BBQ.
It’s fresh, modern, clean, and in a great location.
Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Brussels
Admire Brussel’s architecture, enjoy its famous chocolate, Belgian waffles, and beer, and experience Brussel’s diverse neighborhoods.
If you’re having a difficult time deciding where to stay in Brussels – no fears – we wrote this guide to help you narrow down the best neighborhood for your travel preferences.
Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments!
Don’t forget to sort your travel insurance! We’ve put together a roundup of the best travel insurance for backpackers – check it out here, or if you’re low on time, get a quote from World Nomads now, our favourite travel insurance provider.
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