Historic buildings, quirky attractions, scrumptious treats, and green spaces.
That’s what the Belgian capital will seduce you with.
It also offers a variety of things to do for all ages and travel styles.
The best part? You’ll find any kind of accommodation in the city as well. From quirky apartments in mansions to luxurious, business hotels, here are the 11 best areas to stay in Brussels.
No matter whether you’re visiting for the art, museums, food, or themed parks, you don’t need to wonder where to stay in Brussels again.
And don’t worry, it’s not difficult to navigate around Brussels. So, even if you don’t stay in the immediate proximity of the attractions on your itinerary, you can always reach them easily.
Ready to explore? Let’s dive in!
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1. The Old Town – The Historic Epicenter of Brussels
The Old Town lies in the heart of the city and attracts tourists from all over the world. If you’re looking for a historic experience, this is the best area to stay in Brussels.
The neighborhood is perfect if you’re seeking where to stay in Brussels close to the most famous attractions. In the maze of alleys around Grand Place, you can soak in the vibe of the past centuries.
If it’s your first time in the Belgian capital, we recommend you start your exploration here. In addition to the symbol of Brussels, Manneken Pis, and the historic central square, Grand Place, you’ll be close to the Palace of Justice and the Royal Palace, as well as Mont des Arts.
Numerous restaurants, bars, and cafés dot the winding, pedestrian alleys of the Old Town, seducing you with an enormous variety of local dishes and Belgian beers. Souvenir shops offer colorful memorabilia – as if forgetting Brussels is even possible. 🙂
Our recommendations: Choose the spacious rooms at Rocco Forte Hotel Amigo. It’s just a stone-throw away from the most famous spots in Brussels. The hotel features modern facilities in a historic setting. For a unique experience, check out Cocoon Brussels. The apartment comes with fantastic views of the Old Town and a quirky interior design.
2. Îlot Sacré – The Best Area to Stay in Brussels for First-Timers
Adjacent to the Old Town, Îlot Sacré – or the Sacred Island, as the name translates – is one of the oldest neighborhoods of Brussels. Throughout the centuries, it has managed to preserve its medieval charm.
The highlight of the area is the 19th-century Royal Gallery of Saint Hubert. The elegant, glass-covered shopping arcade hosts boutiques selling clothes, jewelry, and handmade Belgian chocolates. Restaurants and cafés serve international cuisine, while trendy pubs and cocktail bars entertain a lively crowd until late into the night.
If you’re traveling with kids, check out the Royal Puppet Theater Toone which manages to excite adults as well. And if you’re searching for unusual things to do in Brussels, Jeanneke-Pis – one of the three peeing statues – is also in the district.
Our recommendations: After a long day of exploration, relax at the MAK & Beauty Spa. The spacious apartments feature great views and funky decors. Apartment Nyhuset is another cool option in the neighborhood. The establishment will not only tempt you with its elegant, large rooms with kitchenettes but will also welcome you to its free wellness area.
3. Sablon – The Best Area to Stay in Brussels for Art Lovers
Sablon is a major center of artistic life and one of the most representative areas in Brussels.
Situated between the gigantic Palace of Justice and the elegant Royal Palace of Brussels, the district brims with museums, cafés, restaurants, and chocolate shops. This is the perfect place to stay if you want to combine culture with comfort.
In the area, you’ll find the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium. The museum complex showcases over 20,000 artworks, dating from the 15th to the 21st centuries. Another gallery in the neighborhood, the Magritte Museum, highlights the life and art of the famous Belgian surrealist painter.
Alternatively, you can roam the bustling Place du Grand Sablon next to the Gothic church Notre-Dame du Sablon. On weekends, the square hosts a vibrant antiques market.
Our recommendation: On a quiet street a few steps away from the Notre-Dame du Sablon, you’ll find this charming apartment. The big, comfy rooms in a beautifully renovated historic building come with slick, modern design and fantastic views.
4. The Royal Quarter – The Best Area to Stay in Brussels for Culture
The upscale Koningswijk, or Quartier Royale, encompasses the area around the Royal Palace of Brussels and the Parc de Bruxelles.
The Neoclassical palace of the constitutional monarchy features grand halls, such as the magnificent Mirror Room, the 15th-century Throne Room, and the State Rooms which host large receptions.
Another royal attraction in the district is the underground ruins of the Palace of Coudenberg. The former seat of government reveals the city’s medieval layout.
Nearby, you’ll also find Mont des Arts. The small hill not only boasts fantastic views over the Old Town but also hosts open-air events in its gorgeous landscaped garden. Several museums with distinctive architecture line the hill and contribute to its name – the Hill of Arts.
If that’s not enough to tickle your fancy, how about the Palace of Fine Arts and the Musical Instruments Museum? The former hosts music, film, and art exhibits, while the latter displays 7,000+ music-related items and organizes regular concerts.
Our recommendation: The Royal Quarter doesn’t offer a ton of accommodations. However, we believe that the fantastic Pillows City Hotel Brussels Center will exceed your expectations. The luxurious rooms with modern décor and the great location make it one of the best choices for your stay in Brussels.
5. The Freedom Quarter – The Best Area to Stay in Brussels for Music Fans
The bustling Freedom Quarter – also known as Quartier des Libertés or Notre-Dame-aux-Neiges – packs several event venues plus a lively beer and international cuisine scene.
The Botanical Garden dating back to 1826 seduces with its terraced rose and iris gardens, as well as with its sculptures of animals and mythological creatures. The nearby Botanique Cultural Center occupies a former glasshouse and stages art exhibitions, theater performances, film screenings, and rock concerts.
Another popular arts center in the district – Cirque Royale – hosts eclectic concerts and performances. Its circular auditorium welcomes dance, comedy, and music shows.
If you’re traveling with kids, check out the Musée du Jouet. The vintage collection of toys and the train set displays will excite children of all ages.
Last but not least, pay respect at the Congress Column. The 154-ft. (47-m) high monument commemorates the 1830 National Congress that created Belgium’s first constitution.
Our recommendations: In the Freedom Quarter, you can stay at the affordable Motel One Brussels with cozy, soundproof rooms. Another budget-friendly option is the unpretentious Best Western Hotel Royal Centre.
6. Quartier Marais-Jacqmain – The Best Area to Stay in Brussels on a Budget
The compact Quartier du Marais is the home of the Belgian Comic Strip Center. The funky gallery occupies a warehouse, designed by Victor Horta – one of the founders of the Art Nouveau movement. The center is a tribute to the pioneers of contemporary comics art. The exhibits start with the creator of Tintin – Hergé – and end with the artist behind the Smurfs – Peyo.
Another unusual attraction in the area is the Museum of the National Bank of Belgium which showcases a vast collection of historical currencies.
To satiate your shopping and food cravings, walk the pedestrianized Rue Neuve. Fashion boutiques and chain restaurants line the narrow street, where also quaint cafés take turns with fast-food joints.
Our recommendations: The affordable easyHotel Brussels City Centre offers all the basic essentials you need after a long day of exploration. For a more comfortable stay, choose the 4* NH Collection Brussels Centre. Besides spacious, bright rooms with modern design, it also offers a top-floor breakfast room and a terrace with stupendous panoramic views over Brussels.
7. Quartier des Quais – The Attractive Neighborhood at the Former Docks
Next to the Old Town, you’ll find another small but attractive district. The Quais Quarter is popular with tourists and locals alike. The neighborhood boasts several museums and galleries, as well as enough bars and restaurants to keep you entertained.
The lively quarter features leafy squares, peculiar pubs, and the former Brussels docks. The industrial area underwent a massive transformation. Nowadays, it is home to hip clubs and upscale seafood restaurants, as well as a modern mall with famous chain stores and casual dining options.
Other highlights of the neighborhood include the light show projected onto the façade of the St. Catherine’s Church and the CENTRALE for Contemporary Art. The gallery hosts exhibitions by modern Belgian and international artists.
Our recommendations: In the district, you can stay at the cozy Tagusnunus Bed&Breakfast. If you want to feel like one of the locals, this apartment will provide you with all the necessary amenities – even a washing machine and a dishwasher. Another gem in the area is the Sainte Catherine Art-deco Apartment. The airy accommodation offers a great mixture of old and modern design and facilities.
8. Dansaert – The Hip Neighborhood of Brussels
The hip district Dansaert occupies the banks of the Brussels Canal and stretches all the way to the Old Town.
The cobblestone Place Sainte-Catherine, dominated by its namesake church, is the heart of the neighborhood. Alfresco brasseries and seafood restaurants line the square.
Another hotspot in the area is the Halles Saint-Géry – a 19th-century former covered market, now housing an exhibition center. Traditional pubs, cocktail lounges, and bars with live music cluster around it.
In the district, you’ll also have a chance to explore independent boutiques next to stores selling vintage clothing and antiques.
Dansaert is also home to the third of the quirky urinating statues of Brussels, Zinneke Pis – the Peeing Dog.
Our recommendations: B&B Be in Brussels is a great find with spacious, stylish rooms and a perfect location. For a more private experience, check out the City Center Sainte-Catherine Grand Place Apartment. The 1,238-sq.ft. (115-m2) large accommodation is suitable for families with kids or groups of travelers. It has two bedrooms, a fully-equipped kitchen, a living room with seating and dining areas, and a bathroom with both a hot tub and a shower.
9. Leopold Quarter aka European District – Modern Architecture and Memorial Parks
The upscale Leopold Quarter is also known as the European Quarter because it houses the European Parliament, the European Commission, and many other EU institutions. One of the coolest facts about Belgium is that Brussels is not only the Belgian capital, but it’s also the unofficial Capital of the European Union.
It borders the commemorative Parc du Cinquantenaire. The landscaped gardens feature majestic fountains and museums, such as the Royal Military Museum, the motor Autoworld museum, and the archaeological Art and History Museum. The Triumphal Arch, erected in 1905, is the high point of the park.
The English-style urban Parc Leopold also invites for a pleasant stroll among its mature trees. You’ll find a lake and a medieval 15th-century tower in the gardens.
Close to the park, the Museum of Natural Sciences will stun you with its hands-on exhibitions of minerals and dinosaur bones.
For a nice meal or a night out, check the trendy bars and eateries around Place du Luxembourg.
Tip: If you’re looking for a budget-friendly option, have in mind that the business hotels in the area offer great rates on weekends and during holidays.
Our recommendations: The chic 4-star Aloft Brussels Schuman will pamper you with its modern rooms. The hotel’s cocktail bar will keep you entertained during the evenings with DJ performances. Alternatively, this bright studio apartment offers everything for a comfortable stay.
10. Quartier des Squares – The Best Area to Stay in Brussels for Art Nouveau Aficionados
The Squares Quarter is the northern branch of the European District.
The dynamic neighborhood of Brussels is home to more than a dozen green oases. The area is mainly residential. Bars, restaurants, and botanical gardens dot the streets.
Once, this was the meeting point of Brussels’ bourgeoisie. Throughout the district, you can see evidence of how important Brussels used to be for the Art Nouveau style. When the city expanded, the architect Gédéon Bordiau designed a series of squares, featuring gardens, bodies of water, and sculptures by important artists, such as Constantin Meunier and Jef Lambeaux.
In the heart of the neighborhood, you’ll find Square Ambiorix. The city park enchants with its winding walking paths, 19th-century sculptures, lovely ponds, and even a waterfall.
Our recommendations: In the area, you can stay at MAS Aparthotel EU, a renovated historic mansion, featuring big apartments with modern design. Another great, budget-friendlier option is the B&B Home & the City. You’ll love both the design of the house and the interior of the accommodation. The welcoming hosts will make sure you have an unforgettable stay.
11. Laeken – The Best Area to Stay in Brussels for Families with Children
If you want to stay close to the modern symbol of Brussels – the Atomium – book your lodging in the relaxed Laeken neighborhood.
One of the most interesting facts about Brussels is about the Atomium. The iconic structure not only offers sweeping views of the Belgian capital. It also holds a Guinness World Record for the most steps ever climbed by a bike in a minute.
The district centers on the landscaped lawns and monuments of Osseghem and Laeken parks.
In Laeken Park, you can admire the official royal residence – the Castle of Laeken. You can also visit the outstanding 19th-century Royal Greenhouses which house rare plants from around the globe.
Families with children of all ages should spend some time exploring Bruparck Theme Park. It hosts not only Mini Europe and the Atomium but also features 27 cinemas and a water park. Shops, restaurants, and bars line a reconstructed, typical Brussels street in the theme park, offering you a wide variety of foods, drinks, entertainment, and souvenirs.
Our recommendation: You won’t find many good accommodations in Laeken. However, we think you’ll love the Rétro Studio. The bright, one-bedroom apartment in a residential building features a kitchenette, a sitting corner, a shared lounge, and a lovely terrace.
Now You Know Where to Stay in Brussels Next
There you have it – the 11 best areas to stay in Brussels on your trip to the Belgian capital.
No matter whether you want to soak in the history and culture, party the night away, hunt for quirky attractions, or relax in green spaces, on this list, you can stop wondering where to stay in Brussels.
Together with our itinerary for 2 days in Brussels, now you have the perfect combo for an unforgettable experience.
Before you go, we’d like to hear from you in the comments below:
Where would you stay next time you travel to Brussels?