Brussels - the historical heart of Europe

Brussels, as the capital of Belgium, has seen more than its fair share of European conflict, this country once being known as the 'cockpit of Europe'. Now, in these more peaceful times, Brussels is a top European holiday destination that's served by frequent flights from Cape Town or Johannesburg with Air France. Its maritime climate means that Brussels enjoys mild weather, with rainy days liable to occur throughout the year. Every season has something special to offer in Brussels, so you can book your ticket for almost any time and be sure that you've a fascinating stay in store!

Due to past historical links with sub-Saharan Africa, its status as a largely French-speaking city and the presence of many European Union institutions, Brussels is home to a tremendous wealth of different ethnicities and cultures. These include Turks, Moroccans, Congolese and Rwandans, not to mention the 70,000 people from right across the continent and further afield who are connected in some way to the various international bodies and schools based here. At the same time, Brussels has its own very distinct identity, expressed through art, architecture and the local food and drink. Although French is the most widely-spoken language, Dutch is also the mother tongue of a substantial minority of people, and many are comfortable in English too. Belgium is a Eurozone member and is one hour behind South African time. The country is a member of the European Union and the Schengen Area and what you bring into Belgium will therefore be subject to certain customs regulations .

Brussels - your ticket to high-brow and popular art, from Tintin to Tanguy

For a city of only 1.2 million souls, Brussels boasts an astonishing variety of museums and galleries, some 80 in total. The Musées Royaux des Beaux Arts de Belgique houses a fine collection of Old Masters and modern art, naturally focusing on artists from the Low countries (modern-day Belgium and the Netherlands), including Bosch, Pieter Brueghel, Rubens, Rembrandt, Magritte and Delvaux. Fans of the Art Nouveau movement will find Brussels to be something of a living monument to this late 19th/early 20th century approach to art and architecture. The Horta Museum, housed in Art Nouveau architect Victor Horta's former house, is an absolute delight, with gorgeous interiors and a permanent collection of Art Nouveau furniture and objets d'art. For the young (and the young at heart), a trip to the Belgian Comic Strip Center will be sure to bring back memories. The museum takes a look at a comprehensive array of comic art from a range of genres, from science fiction to political satire, not forgetting, of course, Tintin and the Smurfs!
In addition to comic strips, Belgium is also famous the world-over for some of its culinary delights. Belgian beer is much-appreciated, and certain breweries, including the Cantillon Brewery operate tours, giving you the inside track on this age-old craft. Waffles, Belgian chocolates and Speculoos biscuits are for those of us with something of a sweet tooth, but Belgium's biggest contribution to world cuisine is without doubt the potato chip! Often served with mayonnaise or mussels, Belgium is home to the world's only museum dedicated to the history of the production of chips, the Frietmuseum, located in Ghent, a short train journey from Brussels. Alternatively, you could turn a day trip into an overnight stay .

Brussels for beginners - these websites will get your holiday off to the right start!

This selection of internet sites will provide you with some helpful short-cuts when it comes to preparing your journey and stay: