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 high 20s, and winter temperatures range from 0 to 7 degrees. 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 9pm or 10pm in summer.
When to fly to Brussels
May and September have the best weather and the most visitors. These months can be downright crowded and accommodations hard to come by. Book flights to Brussels and hotel accommodations early to get the best rates.
Most Belgians take their vacations in July and August, making Brussels quieter to visit. You may get cheap flights to Brussels and a discounted hotel rate, especially over a weekend, but many restaurants and shops will be closed.
The weather November to March is wet and cold with few tourists and quiet museums and markets.
Getting around Brussels
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 5am to midnight, and a night bus operates after that. Most of the metro stations are a sight to visit in 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 nightmare-ish 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.
Brussels insider information
- Brussels is a small city and can easily be walked. Take a tour from the Grand Place to Manneken Pis and then on to the Musee des Beaux Arts and you will see much of the old city center.
- The Musee Royeaux des Beaux Arts is one of the finest galleries in Europe. If you want to see all it has to offer, make sure you arrive in the morning: you can easily spend an entire day here, just looking at its most famous paintings. The room with Bruegel’s works is the setting for W. H. Auden’s poem of the same name.
- The city is surrounded by parks – one of the most impressive is the Cinquantenaire park designed to commemorate 50 years of Independence in 1880. Its entrance from the city is a huge arch.
- Autoworld is a museum situated in the Cinquantenaire park dedicated entirely to cars. The museum has exhibits from the first ever cars, through to the “golden age in Europe”.
- The giant Atomium monument from the World Fair of 1958 has become as much of a symbol of Brussels as the Grand Place. The surrounding area is a pleasant park to visit, and includes “mini Europe” – small replicas of all the most important buildings of the European Union, including the Eiffel Tower and Big Ben. The Atomium and Mini-Europe are at the edge of the city in the Heysel area. Get here by Metro, alighting at the Heysel stop.
- To enjoy a spot of culture and shopping at the same time, visit the Galleries Royales Saint-Hubert. Completed in 1847, this was the world's first ever shopping mall. An ornate glass ceiling covers the row of boutique balustraded shops. The motto, displayed on the entrance, is Omnibus Omnia (“something for everyone”) which still holds true today as the gallery houses everything from designer shops to grocers. There are also a few cafés, where you can sit and watch the world go by.