Where is the best place to stay in Brussels? Read this guide to the neighborhoods of Brussels, from the bustling center to the green areas of Uccle, to find where to move to.
Whether you’re just visiting or moving to Brussels, you’ll find a variety of Brussels’ neighborhoods with distinct characteristics, from trendy, central neighborhoods in Brussels, to quieter, family-friendly leafy suburbs. With good public transport links in Brussels, it’s easy to get around the city and also to outer suburbs in Brussels, making it plausible to live farther afield and commute into Brussels center. If you’re looking for more space for your money, read where to live in Belgium.
No matter what you need, there are many diverse neighborhoods to consider when looking where to stay in Brussels. There are elite Brussels neighborhoods that are typically more expensive but offer numerous amenities, beautiful architecture and large expat populations, such as Etterbeek, Uccle, Woluwe St Lambert and Ixelles; if budget is a factor, you can still find a great choice of Brussels neighborhoods at lower prices, such as in Schaarbeek and Anderlecht, traditionally working-class and multicultural neighborhoods. This guide briefly describes the top neighborhoods in Brussels to help you choose where to stay in Brussels.
Where to stay in Brussels centre
If being in the thick of it all is irresistible then Brussels’ centre neighborhood is the place for you. In recent years, previously run-down parts of the centre have become a magnet for young professionals, with major renovations and industrial spaces coming up for rent or sale. Sought-after areas are St Géry, Ste Catherine and the rue Antoine Dansaert area leading up to the canal, where old warehouses have been converted into popular loft apartments.
The traditionally cheaper, working-class Marolles is becoming increasingly popular with a young urban set. The Sablon and Louise are fabulously upmarket but that is, naturally, reflected in price. What you get in return is a raft of art galleries, antique shops and stylish cafes.
Up-and-coming neighborhoods in Brussels centre include the streets around the main boulevard leading down to Gare du Midi, with many old properties ripe for development and still at somewhat attractive prices.
Where to stay in Ixelles/Elsene
Ixelles is a massive commune with character and style, wildly popular with the expatriate community. This Brussels neighborhood falls into distinct areas: trendy Châtelain with its café culture, the leafy ponds and abbey area leading down to the Bois de la Cambre; and buzzy Chaussée d’Ixelles, which takes in the Matongé, the African quarter and the cemetery with its late-night bars and student population. Through it all runs Avenue Louise with its upmarket shops and restaurants, which is technically part of the Brussels City district.
The housing stock tends to be large townhouses and desirable apartment conversions, but you’ll certainly pay for it. If you’re looking for green space there is the huge Bois de la Cambre to the south. For more suburban living, head southeast to the commune of Watermael-Boitsfort, which is becoming a popular area with easy city access and a quaint village feel.
Where to stay in Etterbeek
Best known for the area at the top end of the Parc du Cinquantenaire, Etterbeek is filled with attractive streets lined with early 20th-century townhouses. Home to many European institutions, it has fantastic public transport facilities. The relatively cheap housing prices and good availability of houses and apartments, mostly in conversions, make Etterbeek particularly attractive, alongside its growing international community. There are international schools here, as well as cultural venues at l’Espace Senghor, Théâtre St-Michel, Théâtre Yvan Baudouin-Lesly Bunton and l’Espace Entrée Libre.
Where to stay in Saint-Josse-ten-Noode
Known as the ‘commune with many faces’, Saint-Josse-ten-Noode is the smallest of Brussels’ communes but the most densely populated. Not only culturally diverse, it is also a neighbourhood of contrasts, with five-star hotels on Place Rogier and imposing office buildings on Place Madou and the stylish Nouveau Quartier Nord, next to residential neighbourhoods housing expats from all over the world, particularly Turkey and the Middle East. Within the area are several awe-inspiring buildings such as the Baroque L’église Saint-Josse and the neoclassical glasshouses that are now home to the French cultural centre and gardens, the Botanique.
Where to stay in Schaerbeek
When looking where to stay in Brussels, you’ll find Schaerbeek in the north is a melting pot of cultures, architectre, art, food and living places — making it one of the most sought after neighbourhoods to live in Brussels. It has more than 130,000 inhabitants made up of some 140 different nationalities, which only add to the area’s vibrancy. Schaerbeek can get busy at times but it’s easy to escape to quiet alleys filled with stunning Art Deco and Art Noveau architecture. It is a well-planned neighbourhood with wide, open streets, green spaces such as the splendid Parc Josaphat, shops, schools, sporting facilities and cultural centres, such as Les Ecuries Bio Van De Tram, Musée d’Art Spontané and Quartier des Fleurs.
Where to stay in St Gilles/ Sint Gillis
St Gilles is a favourite Brussels neighbourhood among expats who like to live like locals. From the top end, with its grand Art Nouveau houses, down to the earthy Gare du Midi, St Gilles is packed with quirky restaurants, shops and a buzzing nightlife. There is the beautiful art deco Victor Boin swimming pool and Turkish baths for relaxing, plus a number of theatres, cinemas and galleries to explore. You are more likely to find a bargain property here, too, especially if you buy. It is one of Brussels’ most dynamic areas with a definite future, attracting both expats and locals to its enigmatic character.
Where to stay in Tervuren
Located at the east side of Brussels, beside Woluwe-Saint Pierre, Tervuren is one of the best locations for expat families due to its proximity to three reputable internationals schools: the British School, Montessori School and German School. Apart from that, Tervuren is a charming town with a stunning park perfect for those seeking quiet and nature away from Brussels’ bustling centre, while still having numerous amenities, such as cafes, restaurants and boutique shops. This affluent neighbourhood, however, typically has high property prices. But for those who have the budget, Tervuren is a perfect place to raise a family.
Where to stay in Uccle/Ukkel
Uccle is a beautiful and calm Brussels commune with huge houses and upmarket apartment blocks. Popular with expat families and home to a large international community, it has a village feel and is well situated for shops and several international schools. It is probably Brussels’ most leafy commune due to its close proximity to the Forest of Soignes and housing with generous gardens. In summer, concerts are held in the local Parc de Wolvendael.
Where to stay in Woluwe-Saint Pierre/ Sint Pieters-Woluwe
Woluwe-Saint Pierre is often the choice for folk working at the European institutions, both for its proximity and upmarket housing. It is popular with expat families for its large, gardened houses, although a mix of apartments and townhouses exists also. It is almost self-contained with its massive park, sports centre and public amenities. It is also on the metro line 1B, giving easy public transport access.
Where to stay in Woluwe-Saint Lambert/Sint Lambrechts-Woluwe
Saint-Pierre’s next-door neighbour Woluwe-Saint Lambert shares much the same attractions, including the huge Woluwe Shopping Centre. A step further out from the centre, it begins to get even more suburban and green, yet is within good distance to the airport and major international motorways. You will find varied shopping and plenty to do, including a swimming pool and ice-skating rink.
Recommedations of where to stay in Brussels
Know a great neighbourhood in Brussels? Share it in a comment below. Some readers’ recommendations include:
- Auderghem or Evere – nice places to live, and located near NATO
- Anderlecht – lower rents but stll well-connected to Brussels centre and EU institutions.
- Halle – 20 minutes outside of Brussels with good transport links.
Below is a list of all the communes in Brussels, with phone numbers and websites (mostly in French and Flemish) with information on settling in, services, council members, nearby police stations, hospitals, etc. You can also find information in English for each Brussels neighbourhood at be.brussels, by clicking on their map. Here are links to the various communes in Brussels:
- Anderlecht: www.anderlecht.be | 02 558 0800
- Auderghem: www.auderghem.be | 02 676 4811
- Berchem-Sainte-Agathe: www.1082berchem.brussels | 02 464 0411
- Brussels City: www.bruxelles.be | 02 279 2211
- Etterbeek: www.etterbeek.irisnet.be | 02 627 2111
- Evere: www.evere.irisnet.be | 02 247 6262
- Forest: www.forest.irisnet.be | 02 370 2211
- Ganshoren: www.ganshoren.irisnet.be | 02 465 1277
- Ixelles: www.ixelles.irisnet.be | 02 515 6111
- Jette: www.jette.be | 02 423 1211
- Koekelberg: www.koekelberg.be | 02 412 1411
- Molenbeek-Saint-Jean: www.molenbeek.irisnet.be | 02 412 3790
- Saint-Gilles: www.stgilles.irisnet.be | 02 536 0211
- Saint-Josse-ten-Node: www.stjosse.irisnet.be | 02 220 2611
- Schaerbeek: www.schaerbeek.be | 02 244 7511
- Tervuren: www.tervuren.be | 02 766 5201
- Uccle: www.uccle.irisnet.be | 02 348 6511
- Watermael-Boitsfort: www.watermael-boitsfort.be | 02 674 7411
- Woluwe-Saint-Lambert: www.woluwe1200.be | 02 761 2711
- Woluwe-Saint-Pierre: www.woluwe1150.irisnet.be | 02 773 0511