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The population of the city of Brussels is 1 million and the population of Brussels metropolitan area is just over 2 million.
When Brussels became the capital city of a new country in the 19th century, many buildings in the old town were destroyed to make way for brand new ministries, palaces, schools, army barracks and office blocks constructed between 1880 and 1980. The historic Flemish town centers are better preserved in other cities: Antwerp, Bruges, Gent, Courtray, Leuven and Mechelen.
The Brussels dialect, a Brabantian dialect of Dutch, can be heard, especially in the outer districts of Brussels Capital Region. French speakers shouldn't have too much trouble understanding the local French. Dutch speakers may have some difficulty with the Belgian Dutch accent.
Brussels Airport is also known as Brussels National or Zaventem.
Brussels Airport has a luggage locker service (Level 0) where you can leave luggage for a fixed duration. The lockers say that you will have to retrieve your bags within 72 hours or else they will be removed, but they are actually moved to the room next door and stored until you retrieve them. This is a useful facility for people wanting to stow away big suitcases somewhere safe. The rate is €7.50 per 24 hours. You need to pay in coins, a change machine is nearby.
Brussels South Charleroi is located 60 km south of Brussels and is the base of several Budget airlines.
By public transport
The metro in Brussels is quite clean and safe compared to most metro systems. Metro entrances are marked by big M signs in blue and white, with the station name underneath. All announcements are made in Dutch, French and English. There are 4 metro lines (1, 2, 5 and 6) and 3 chrono (fast) tram lines (3, 4 and 7). Single tickets, called Jump 1 cost €2.10 if pre-purchased and are available from the driver for €2.50 (only trams and buses, not metro).
What to see
A Brussels Card is available for discounts at many attractions. Available in 24 hr (€24), 48 hr (€36) and 72 hr (€43) versions, it offers a free guidebook, free entry to many museums, free use of public transit, and discounts at various shops, restaurants and attractions. May not be worth it to those who already receive discounts (children, students, etc). The card can be purchased on-line in advance for a discount, or at the tourist offices at: Grand-Place, Midi/Zui station, BIP. Some museums also sell the card.
Parc du Cinquantenaire-Jubelpark - Definitely check out the Arc de Triomphe-Triomfboog on the east side of town. It's in the Parc du Cinquantenaire-Jubelpark. It is possible to go up to the terrasse above the arch, from where you'll have a good view of the city. Entry is through the Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and of Military History and is free. Take Metro line 1 east, exit Schuman and walk east or exit Mérode and walk west.
European Commission, Rue Archimède/Archimesstraat 73. Guided tours not available. Presentations available for groups of 15 or more, booked in advance.
European Council, Rue de la Loi / Wetstraat 175. Guided tours not available. Presentations available for groups of 15 or more, booked in advance.
Sandeman's Brussels Free Tours, meeting point right outside the City Hall at the Grand Place. Daily tours at 11AM & 2PM. Informative 3 hour tour. Groups can be large due to the low price! Pay what you wish.
Horse-drawn carriages, Rue Charles Bulsstraat. Horse-drawn carriages do circuits of the Lower Town starting from Rue Charles Bulsstraat, near Grand Place. €18 per carriage.
Brussels Pub Crawl, meeting point right outside the City Hall at the Grand Place. Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays & Sat at 9PM. FREE beer, drinks discounts and a hell of a night for seven euro. 7€.
Brussels Waffle Workshop, meeting point right outside the City Hall at the Grand Place. Daily tours at 3PM. Prepare, bake & enjoy your own delicious Belgian waffles in 90 minutes. 25€, student & family discounts.
Ancienne Belgique for popular concerts, where the stadium bands stop in.
Brussels Events Listings is a roundup of events for an English speaking audience, this is good for some of the the smaller and expat focused venues.
Match. Another store similar to GB/Carrefour, but has more of the unusual Belgian beers including Delirium.
Cora. Two very large supermarkets on the outer limits of Brussels. They have a much larger choice of beers than Carrefour/ Delhaize/ Match and some very nice gift boxes but still with reasonable supermarket prices.
Maison Renardy, 17 Rue de Dublinstraat. A great boutique shop with delicious chocolate and friendly service. Stop by for a cup of tea or coffee, and get one of their chocolates free with your tea. Still peckish? You're able to bring a whole box home.
Godiva, (branches around the city). Not very popular and quite pricey.
Chocolate bars. For the frugal, you can buy 100-200 gram gourmet bars of chocolate in grocery stores for about €1 each. Good brands to buy are Côte-d'Or and Jacques, both are Belgian.