Brussels is a colourful, charismatic and stunning city, full of rewarding surprises, it is least of all “boring”.
Don’t bother with the slightly eccentric and haphazard metro system – just walk. Central Brussels is small enough to potter round in a day.
Aim for the splendid Place du Grand Sablon (where you can get the best chocolates in the world) then head downhill to La Bourse and Grand Place and west into the trendy St. Catherine and St. Géry areas.
Make sure you take in plenty of good food and drink along with the stunning Art Nouveau and Art Deco buildings that populate so many streets.
The best thing about Bruxelles/Brussel and the bilingual-Belgians is that they know all this; they just don’t go shouting it from every corner of the Grand Place.
I can heartily recommend buying the finest cheeses, meats and bread, beer and chocolates from the above areas, getting back on the Eurostar and turning all the other passengers green with envy as you tuck-in. Brussels is nearer than Paris too!
A visit to the African quarter in Brussels near Porte de Namur metro station makes an interesting change to the rest of the city.
Stroll down Chausee d'Ixelles and back via Chausee de Wavre, investigating the shops and bars along the way. The contrast with the rest of the city is heightened by the fact that the area is not out in the suburbs but close to the city centre.
Just the other side of the metro station are the antique shops and grand buildings of the Upper Town.
DVD devotees should ascend to the top floor of the Inno department store on the pedestrianised Rue Neuve, for the Media Markt store.
This major European chain sells general electronic devices plus a fair selection of CDs but excels with its choice of DVDs at competitive prices.
Art-house and world cinema titles which would be hard or impossible to find in the UK are well represented though remember to check that foreign language films have English sub-titles!
(There is also a branch of Media Markt in Antwerp on De Keyserlei close to the Central Station.)
Brussels makes a great weekend trip with children.
Not so big and overwhelming, with so many "must sees," as Paris, but more than enough to keep you busy.
And there is loads of great chocolate - need I say more?
Don't miss MIM, with more than 1,000 ancient and rare instruments from around the world.
There is a lovely cafe overlooking the city on the top floor.
The best place we've found to stay with kids: Novotel Centre/Tour Noire. It has a cool hammam/indoor swimming pool surrounded by rocks which creates a very cool atmosphere. It is walking distance to Grand Place, also to many waterside restaurants and off-the-beaten path neighborhood places and playgrounds, good ethnic restaurants nearby, easy access to train station.
If you have more than a weekend, take a day trip to Bruges, Antwerp, or any other place in Belgium: distances are short!
You simply must eat at the fishmonger’s pavement bar, the Mer Du Nord on the corner of Place Sainte Catherine and Rue Sainte Catherine.
It’s perfect for a delicious tapas style seafood lunch particularly if you are on a tight schedule, it’s also excellent value: small glass of Muscadet €2 (we had several).
Practice your French and hone your ability to out-barter even the most masterly merchant in Europe, at the flea market on Place du Jeu de Balle.
Pick up a priceless rarity you never knew you needed, meet the locals and exhaust your euros surrounded by classic Belgian architecture, the shouts of stallholders and a unique, animated atmosphere.
Of course, when you can haggle no more, you can collapse at a local café with a glass of red and some sumptuous Belgian food.
Try the Mappa Mundo bar in the Saint-Gery area of the centre of Brussels (2-6 rue pont de la carpe).
It's a great cosmopolitan bar, with a very nice atmosphere, it's not too expensive, and it serves lots of good Belgian beers (try my favourite... Faro.) and great food.
Plus it has a nice terrace , so it's perfect for warm days!
Avoid the mass produced Belgian "tourist" chocolates and head for the Pierre Marcolini chocolate shop that opened last November on the Place du Grand Sablon.
Pierre Marcolini manufactures his grand cru chocolate himself, using cocoa beans that he selects personally.
He is among the last five craftsmen working this way in Europe. Truly amazing chocolates, pastries, ice creams and sorbets - look out for the chcoclate squares with Earl Grey or Assam tea ganache!
Visit Musée du Cacao et du Chocolat. Belgium is renowned for its delicious chocolate, which makes this an essential visit.
The museum tells the story of chocolate, right from its cocoa-based origins, as well as having lots of unexpected things made out of chocolate.
Ever fancied wearing chocolate? Marvel at the chocolate clothing, which means chocolate can now be worn outside the bedroom!
Sample the museum’s delicacy as you explore and you can even take some home with you, with a visit to the shop. It can be found on Rue de la Tête d'Or, Brussels.
Watch the Son et Lumiere show in the Grand Place. Make sure you get there early and take an outside table in one of the bars on the Grand Place,
buy a Belgian speciality fruit beer and savour both the beer and the show.
And when it finishes, take a short walk to Chez Leon (rue des Bouchers) for the speciality of the house - Mussels and Chips - 14 different mussel speciality meals to choose from.
nb Children under 12 accompanied by parents are entitled to a free meal.
If you fancy a day of serious relaxation, and you're not the shy type, head to Grimbergen for a day at the thermal spa.
It's only €19 for the day and has a huge choice of saunas, steam rooms, jacuzzis and an open air swimming pool.
The catch is, if you want access to the Aquarius area, which has the pool and the best saunas, you have to be naked. There is a swimsuit section for those who prefer to cover their dignity, but it's kind of liberating, and certainly amusing, to hang out in the buff with the Belgians.
Day trip? You’ve time for architecture and shopping if you take tram 55 towards Bordet, to Beurs, walk past the roman remains and into Grand Place.
Ten minutes from here via the Place des Martyrs, have lunch and marvel at the Art Nouveau masterpiece by Victor Horta the Center of the Comic Strip on Zandstraat.
For a quiet moment away from the normal hustle and bustle, take some time to sit in the Jardin du Petit Sablon (in between the Palais du Justice and the Royal Palace).
It is an oasis of calm next to the Royal School of Music and you can sit in a small garden listening to superb music.
For a great late night jazz bar go to Archiduc at 6 rue Antoine-Dansaert, Bruxelles.
It'll be a hit with anyone who loves Art Deco, cozy drinking holes, live jazz, fab cocktails and an eclectic mix of people enjoying themselves.
Down the south of Brussels about 20 miles away lays lovely town Waterloo, the famous battlefield, where Napoleon was finally defeated by Wellington.
Worthy to climb the Lion Hill or take the guided tour around the spot for five euros (especially the tour mirrors the battlefield spirit). Also maps are only 1.50 euros.
It is best to visit on a Sunday, as that's the day for the famous flea market in Waterloo (next to Careffour supermarket) with antiques and about 300 food stalls.
Waterloo is approachable by train (a return is only three euros on weekend) from central station, or by bus from Brussels.
Bar Paralle - If you fancy something quieter (and friendlier) than Place Saint Boniface go down Chausée d’Ixelles to Bar Paralle (Place Fernand Cocq 27), which has great salads, or to L’Amour Fou (Chaussée d'Ixelles 185) which is a nice restaurant that again tries so hard to be trendy they forget to serve you.
Send your feedback or queries to email@example.com