We art flying into Brussels in Sept. and then going to Paris and London. We are flying stand-by (airline employee) and we cannot be sure of when we will arrive. We were thinking of seeing Brussels- just for the day- before going to Paris . What is the most important thing to see in Brussels? What is the easiest way to get to Paris? We were not planning on renting a car.
Grand Place and the area around it would be my one thing to see in Brussels. The square is one of my favorites in Europe. There are plenty of places to eat in and around it. The streets around it are a good place to wander, or shop. The best way to get to Paris without a car would be on a train. Grand Place is not that far from the main Brussels train station.
I agree with Leigh and will say that Rick's book that includes Brussels has a nice walking tour starting in the Grand Place going out in a couple of directions from there and looping back. I followed the walk last Friday and enjoyed the sights he listed followed by Belgian beer at one of the cafes on the Grand Place to people watch.
If you wind up spending the night in Brussels, I stayed at Ibis off Grand Place. It is terrifically located just 5 or so minutes from the Central Station and maybe 2 minutes to Grand Place. There are probably hundreds of restaurants within a half a mile.
The easiest way to get from Brussels to Paris is the Thalys train. However, it uses "airline pricing," meaning it is inexpensive if bought in advance as a non-refundable ticket, gets more expensive as the cheaper seats sell out, and is very expensive if bought at the last minute. Look now at http://www.thalys.com; check for tomorrow and for your travel dates to see the range of prices.
If you need a cheaper ticket, you can take the bus. Two companies to look at are Eurolines (sale information at this link: http://tinyurl.com/qytlvx6) and iDBus: http://tinyurl.com/qzmrbse
Thanks for the info!
The "airline pricing" system also applies to Eurostar trains from Paris to London. If you feel more secure about that departure, you could book it ahead, but most discount tickets are not refundable or exchangeable. I agree that walking the historic center is the top plan for Brussels. You might be saving your art museum capacity for the next cities, where you have more time. You can see other attractions mentioned at http://www.ricksteves.com/europe/belgium/brussels.
Hi! I have checked the train and bus websites. It looks to me like the train will be an expensive and not reliable option since we cannot be sure what day we will arrive. The buses look better, but the prices are very different. Eurolines is 9pounds and idbus is 50 pounds. It looks like both will let you change your departure up to 30 min ahead of time. Any idea why the big difference in price? Also, it looks like the trip can take 4 to 5 hours to drive. Is this correct?