Neighbourhood in Brussels
Updated last year

A very safe and laidback city to live and work in, Brussels has many different sides to it for both expats and tourists to enjoy.

Brussels is a vibrant place that is very welcoming to foreigners, and it is made up of nineteen different neighbourhoods, each of which is fascinating to explore.

Whether you want to relax in nature, gaze in wonder at magnificent historical sights or enjoy some fine dining, this guide to Brussels' neighbourhoods will let you know the lowdown on each of them.

Vibe and Culture

One of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world, Brussels is very international, and this makes it an exciting melting-pot of different peoples, cultures and languages. Residents enjoy a very high standard of living, and you can have a fantastic job and career here without compromising on your work-life balance.

There is a very laidback and inclusive feel to Belgium's capital, and each of its nineteen neighbourhoods has its unique characteristics and feel to them. There is always a lot going on in Brussels, and the cultural scene is vibrant and varied. This is in large part thanks to the European Union being based here and all of the different nationalities that live and work for the institutions.

Anyone can feel at home in the city, and while walking around its streets, you'll come across anything from Congolese communities and pockets of Brazilians to Middle Eastern markets and classic Belgian bars and restaurants.

Safety in Brussels

When it comes to safety, Belgium and Brussels are very safe places to live and travel in. As such, you will almost certainly feel relaxed and safe walking practically anywhere in the city although there are of course some areas to avoid a night. Serious crimes are thankfully sporadic, and so it is only low-level crimes such as pickpocketing and muggings that you need to watch out for, and even these are relatively uncommon. Areas to pay close attention to your belongings are around the three main train stations of Gare du Nord, Gare Centrale and Gare du Sud where pickpocketers operate. At night, areas to avoid or at least be extra careful in are around Anneessens, Brussels North, the Marollen and Molenbeek.

Statistics collected by Statistics Brussels show that from 2010-2017 crime rates generally dropped in the city with Brussels becoming safer as a result of this. While it may have a very secure feel to it, home break-ins in Brussels have been on the increase in recent years, and it is a good idea not to leave anything valuable in your car when you park it.

The drop in crime is partly down to a more substantial police presence on the streets of Brussels following the terror attacks that took place on 22 March 2016 at Zaventem Airport and Maelbeek Metro Station. Since then the terror threat has been downgraded although you will still see armed soldiers patrolling the streets.

Parking in Brussels

Parking in Brussels can be a nightmare, and the capital is one of the worst cities in Europe when it comes to traffic jams as so many people enter the capital each day to go to work. As there is almost no free street parking to be found in the centre of Brussels, be prepared to pay for a space, and this usually costs ⬠1.50 for an hour. You need to enter the time you arrived at a parking meter, put how long you will stay, fill in your license plate number and then place the ticket where it is visible. Between 18:00 ' 08:00, parking is free although spaces are hard to find.

In a blue zone (this will be clearly signposted), you need to display your blue parking disk, and this allows you to park there for up to two hours.

Brussels' Neighbourhoods

Brussels has nineteen different neighbourhoods or communes as they are known for you to explore and they are all worth checking out for various reasons. Let's take a quick look at each of them.

1000 Bruxelles-ville

The historic heart of the city is where most of the capital's main tourist attractions are to be found, and in the Grand Place, Brussels has one of the most beautiful squares in the whole of Europe. There is lots of lovely architecture on display along its boulevards, and alongside such beautiful sights as the Royal Palace and the quirky Manneken-Pis statue, there are many fascinating museums to be found. It is the liveliest part of the city, and there are loads of fantastic bars and restaurants for you to enjoy. In recent years, it has undergone extensive renovations, and these works are still ongoing as Brussels modernises and pedestrianises the centre.

1030 Schaerbeek

Located in the north of the city, Schaerbeek is a very multicultural neighbourhood, and over 100 different nationalities call it home. While one side of it is a tranquil and relaxed place to live, the area around Gare du Nord is a bit grimier and is where the tiny Brussels red light district can be found. Due to its mix of nationalities, in its streets, you can find anything from Turkish restaurants and Morrocan bakeries to Bulgarian night shops and Italian pizzerias.

1040 Etterbeek

As parts of Etterbeek are just a stone's throw away from the European Quarter, it is a trendy neighbourhood to live in amongst expats. Also located within Etterbeek is the large Parc du Cinquantenaire which is home to a magnificent triumphal arch and a couple of interesting museums. Place Jourdan is also a great place to head to if you want to try some of the best fries in Brussels at Chez Antoine.

1050 Ixelles

Another popular neighbourhood to live in, Ixelles is a lively place and is the most diverse district in Brussels. It has many different sides to it as there is the upmarket area around Avenue Louise, the African Quarter of Matonge and the student area around the university. There is a lot going on here in terms of culture and cuisine, and lots of people enjoy grabbing a drink at the bars around Flagey. It also neighbours the European Quarter which helps explain why so many expats live here.

1060 Saint-Gilles

A very trendy neighbourhood, Saint-Gilles is becoming more and more popular and with good reason too as it is full of magnificent architecture, lots of great restaurants and has a very laidback vibe to it. The Parvis de Saint-Gilles is packed with bars for locals and visitors alike to enjoy, and the chic Châtelain district has lots of trendy little boutiques and quirky cafes on offer.

1070 Anderlecht

Lying to the west of the centre, Anderlecht is home to Belgium's most famous football team and, while not as many expats live here; it still has a lot to offer. In addition to its lovely green spaces and large shopping malls, it is a very calm and quiet place to live ' apart from on match days.

1080 Molenbeek-Saint-Jean

Cut off from the centre of Brussels by the canal that runs between the two, Molenbeek-Saint-Jean is a densely populated area that is home to a large Arabic-speaking population. Although rent prices are currently quite low, its proximity to Bruxelles-ville means that it is slowly being gentrified. There are some fantastic markets to be found in the neighbourhood as well as some interesting historical sights.

1081 Koekelberg

Despite its location on the outskirts of the city, Koekelberg's excellent transport links will take you to the centre of Brussels in no time at all. It has a wide range of housing options available and isn't a bad place to live in if you're looking to get to know the authentic side of Brussels. It is most widely known for its gigantic basilica which is remarkably one of the largest Roman Catholic churches in the world.

1082 Berchem-Sainte-Agathe

With lots of parks and green spaces for residents to enjoy, it comes as no surprise to learn that Berchem-Sainte-Agathe is often described as a village. Indeed, the neighbourhood is very peaceful and so is ideal for people looking for a relaxing place to live, not too far from the centre.

1083 Ganshoren

Right next to Berchem-Sainte-Agathe and Koekelberg in the northwest of Brussels is Ganshoren. While it is home to only a very small expat population, it is a pleasant place, and many farms can still be found in the neighbourhood. This is a throwback to when Ganshoren was once a farming district.

1090 Jette

Once a village on the outskirts of Brussels, Jette is now very much a part of the city. It offers up a great balance of city life and the countryside as there are lots of parks and nature spots for residents to benefit from. As well as families, lots of students live here as part of the VUB university is based in the neighbourhood.

1140 Evere

Home to semi-industrial areas, green spaces, residential areas and even the headquarters of NATO, Evere is a mixed bag in terms of what it offers. Although there isn't much going on here, you can find some affordable housing, and it still isn't all that far from the city centre.

1150 Woluwe-Saint-Pierre

Popular amongst families, Woluwe-Saint-Pierre is a very green neighbourhood which is very multicultural and welcoming in outlook. Mostly residential, there are lots of impressive homes and embassies to be found here, and its proximity to the centre of Brussels makes it an attractive place to live. It also has lots of excellent sports facilities on offer.

1160 Auderghem

Lying to the southeast of the capital, much of Auderghem is taken up by the beautiful Forêt de Soignes which is lovely to go hiking or cycling in. As such it offers up a lovely balance between nature and city life, and there are lots of housing options to be found here.

1170 Watermael-Boitsfort

As almost half of Watermael-Boitsfort is covered

by the Forêt de Soignes, it has a very rural feel to it, and you can find lots of large houses here, hidden away amongst trees and fields. Consequently, it is popular with expats who want to have a large house for a much lower price than nearer to Brussels.

1180 Uccle

This residential neighbourhood is a charming place to live, and lots of middle-class families move here for its green spaces and beautiful townhouses. The wild and wonderful Bois de la Cambre park is located in the neighbourhood, and many lively markets are also to be found here. As it borders Saint-Gilles and Ixelles, you're never too far away from some of the liveliest parts of Brussels.

1190 Forest

Forest is another of Brussels' leafy neighbourhoods, and in summer its parks are packed with people taking in the sun. The area is home to lots of elegant art deco buildings, and there are some good deals on housing to be found here as it located a bit out of the centre. One of its main draws is Forest National ' an entertainment venue where lots of big international acts perform or put on a show.

1200 Woluwe-Saint-Lambert

A very peaceful and quiet commune, Woluwe-Saint-Lambert is again a very popular place to live amongst expats. This is because there are lots of beautiful houses to be found here as well as several lovely parks and sports facilities. It also boasts excellent transports links to the rest of Brussels.

1210 Saint-Josse-Ten-Noode

The smallest neighbourhood in Brussels, Saint-Josse-Ten-Noode is very densely populated and is quite compact. It has a very lively feel to it and despite its proximity to the centre is one of the more affordable areas of Brussels to live in. A large Turkish population lives here, and so there are lots of fantastic restaurants for you to pick from. The beautiful botanical gardens of Botanique are also set in the commune, and the cultural centre located in the park has lots of significant events going on throughout the year.

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