- Download our Moving to Brussels Guide (PDF)
A wonderfully cosmopolitan and culturally fascinating city, the lifestyle in Brussels is vibrant and exciting. As the headquarters of organisations such as NATO and the EU, the city gives a sense of being at the centre of an integral cog in the wheel of European society.
While Brussels is best known for its cultural and architectural attractions, expats will also be able to enjoy world-class sports facilities as well as natural beauty. There's also an abundance of options when it comes to restaurants, entertainment venues and shopping in Brussels.
Shopping in Brussels
For designer clothing and boutiques, expats can peruse the aisles in the Boulevard de Waterloo and Avenue Louise, where famous luxury brands adorn the shop windows.
The Rue Neuve is one of the longest streets in Brussels. It's famous for being a pedestrian-only shopping heaven. Chain stores also abound, while independent stores can be found between the Grand Place and the Rue Lemonnier.
Most shops in Brussels open from 9am and close at 6pm, providing plenty of hours for consumers to shop.
Nightlife in Brussels
Brussels' nightlife may not rival that of its European neighbours, but it still provides a wonderful selection of pubs, overflowing with Belgium's best beers as well as trendy clubs, pubs and live music venues.
Most residents prefer to go down to their local pub for a few pints of their favourite brew before heading out for dinner and a night out on the town. Happy hour is a jovial affair, especially at the Place de Brouckère, where there are many after-work drinking holes.
For those searching for pulsating basslines at high volumes, bars and clubs light up the strip on Rue du Marché au Charbon. On the other hand, the young, wealthy and trendy prefer to be seen at clubs and bars of Upper Town in the city centre.
Outdoor activities and sports in Brussels
Expats are often surprised to learn about the abundance of green space in Brussels, which boasts parks, woodlands and sports facilities. There are several parks in the city centre, including the Botanical Garden and Leopold Park.
The Sonian Forest is the most impressive of these outdoor attractions. Known as la Forêt de Soignes in French and Zoniënwoud in Dutch, the forest can be found at the city's southeastern edge and extends over three Belgian regions. The Sonian is famous for being one of Europe's most beautiful beech forests and is home to wild boar and deer.
For expats who prefer their outdoor adventures a bit tamer, the south of the city has many green spaces popular with joggers, cyclists and picnickers.
Active expats will also have access to countless health clubs, gyms and sports clubs in the city. The most prominent sports venue in Brussels is undoubtedly the King Baudouin Stadium, which hosts national football and rugby teams matches.
Meeting people and making friends in Brussels
Moving to a new city like Brussels presents the exhilarating opportunity to create new social networks and friendships. With its multicultural and international environment, there are many organisations and platforms that make it easier for expats to integrate into the city's social scene and meet new people.
Founded in 1958, the Women's International Club of Brussels (WIC) is a dynamic organisation committed to facilitating friendship and understanding among women of all nationalities residing in Belgium. WIC offers a variety of activities including cultural tours, book clubs, language groups, and charity events, providing numerous opportunities for expat women to connect, learn and develop strong social networks within the community. This is a wonderful platform for women to establish lasting friendships and engage meaningfully in their new home city.
Established in 1921, the American Club of Brussels provides a platform for Americans in Brussels to network, socialize and get involved in the local community. While it was originally intended for American expats, it welcomes members of all nationalities, making it a vibrant, diverse place to forge new connections and friendships.
This Facebook group is a virtual meeting place for expats living in Brussels, providing a forum to ask for advice, share experiences and meet new people. Regular meet-ups and events are often organised through this group, making it an invaluable resource for those looking to expand their social network.
British in Brussels is a social group that organises regular meet-ups and activities. While the group primarily caters to British expats, it welcomes all nationalities, making it a great platform for meeting new people and creating friendships. Activities range from informal pub gatherings to more structured events, ensuring a varied and engaging social calendar for its members.
►Our What's On in Brussels page provides information on the best annual events in the Belgian capital
Are you an expat living in Brussels?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Brussels. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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