There is a lot more to Brussels than waffles and politicians, as we discovered recently. Because of its political importance, Brussels has become a true melting pot of different European cultures. And it isn’t a big city either, which means it is easy to get around. The great news is that many of Brussels’ best sights are also fully accessible to those of us who use a mobility scooter.
Great food, beautiful architecture and friendly people make Brussels the perfect choice for anyone looking for an accessible getaway. Here is our guide to some of this wonderful city’s highlights.
Take a tour around the Grand-Place
We always love to begin our tours of European cities with the main square. And, in our view, Brussels’ Grand-Place is the best of the lot. It has been the social, commercial and cultural heart of this city for centuries. And over that time it has hosted everything from public executions to regular markets.
The buildings around the square itself are stunning too. The Maison de Roi, the guild houses and the City Hall are all wonderful examples of many varied architectural styles. The square is cobbled (they are hard to avoid in Belgium) – but they are negotiable on your scooter, and it is still well worth making the effort to visit the Grand-Place.
Tuck into the world’s best waffles
It’s a cliché maybe, but Belgian waffles are just too good to miss out on. As with preparing moules-frites and brewing Trappist beer, the Belgians have made making waffles into an art form.
There are certainly plenty of places to choose from, but our favourite has to be Maison Dandoy. It is a Brussels institution, and makes some of the most delicious sweet treats we’ve ever tasted.
It is popular and it is busy: but take that as a good sign. You might have to wait in line behind a lot of other hungry customers looking to top up their blood sugar levels, but trust us, your patience will be rewarded. A true taste of Brussels.
Visit the European Parliament
Love it or loathe it, the European Parliament is a remarkable institution and a key part of the life of the city of Brussels. The building that houses it is well worth a visit, and is free and completely accessible to everyone.
Unsurprisingly there is a huge amount for history and politics buffs to see and explore. For us, one of the most fascinating aspects of visiting the building is getting the chance to see the Parliament itself in session. Again, the ‘Hemicycle’ room where it sits is completely accessible to all.
The Parliament isn’t held everyday however so it is well worth checking their website before your visit to see the schedule.
Get a bird’s-eye view from the Atomium
It is one of the most iconic buildings in Brussels and an unmissable part of its skyline. The Atomium was first built for the city for the Brussels World Expo back in the late 1950s. Even though it was intended to be temporary, the public loved it so much that it stayed. We’re glad that it did – this is a truly unique building and well worth the short trip out of town to see it.
We will be honest here: in terms of access, the Atomium isn’t great. Only one of the floors (the observation deck) is accessible by lift. So why on earth are we recommending it here?
Well, for one thing, the building is spectacular when viewed from the outside anyway. If you are looking for the perfect background for your defining Brussels photo, you’ve found it.
But that single, accessible floor is also the best one of the lot. The observation deck affords spectacular views across the city, and is a great place to get a lie of the land. Highly recommended.
Did you know?
The magnificent Town Hall in the Grand-Place isn’t symmetrical. While this is actually due to the two halves being built at different times, the legend goes that it was a mistake. The original architect (so the story says) threw himself off the belfry in despair when he realised his error.
Getting to Brussels
As the unofficial ‘capital of Europe’, it’s no surprise that Brussels is easy to get to from the UK. The city is a straightforward trip on Eurostar through the tunnel from London St Pancras. It’s only 1 hour 48 minutes and is a great way to get to the Belgian capital if you don’t fancy flying. If you do want to fly, then there are also regular non-stop flights from the London airports as well as Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh and Bristol.
Eurostar do a great job of looking after those of us who have different mobility needs. You can get help boarding and disembarking in both London St Pancras and Brussels. Just give the team a call on +44(0) 3432 186 186 and choose option four to book at least 48 hours before.
It is a similar situation at Brussels airport. Again, just let your airline know at least 48 hours prior to your flight to arrange the special assistance service. There are also a number of PRM Help Points around the terminal where you can contact the airport team directly.
To get to the city, one option is an accessible taxi from outside the terminal. If you prefer to take the bus however, then the accessible lines 21 and 12 will take you straight to the centre. There are also regular accessible trains from the airport station into Brussels.
Brussels is also a straightforward city to get around. The Metro has accessible stations on lines 1,2,5 and 6. Not every train is easy to get on or off however, and we recommend you give the team a call on +32 2 515 23 65 to book assistance.
The city’s buses offer an even better option – they are almost all completely accessible with ramped access. To find out more take a look at the city’s public transport site here.
Travelling with scooters
The great news for those of you travelling abroad is that Quingo Scooters are all approved for air travel by IATA so you won’t have any problems taking them on the plane. That said, it is always well worth getting in touch directly with any train, bus and airlines you want to use just to double check their rules on scooters before you go. For more handy tips on travelling with your scooter by air, take a look at our page here.
Share your accessible getaways abroad with us
Do you have any accessible getaways abroad recommendations? In Europe or perhaps further afield? If you do, we’d love to hear from you, so drop us a line and we’ll feature them.
About Quingo Scooters
The Quingo Scooter range features six models to suit your needs and budget. New models are now available from just £22/week on our new contract hire scheme which includes all servicing and maintenance, Insurance, Roadside Recovery, Call Outs and Consumables including Batteries and Tyres. For more information on this or the latest Quingo Scooter range, please visit our website. Alternatively, if you have any Service questions you can always contact us or call customer services on 01582 430 900.
Keep up to date with the latest mobility scooter advice, tips and interesting places to visit on the Quingo Scooter Users Blog. Connect with Quingo and keep up to date with all our latest news on Facebook and Twitter.
All Quingo Personal Mobility Vehicles are provided by Forever Active, the UK’s exclusive distributor. Forever Active is a trading name of Advantage Marketing Corporation Limited (AMC). AMC Limited is an appointed representative of First Senior Insurance Services Ltd which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. First Senior Insurance Services FSA Register number is 30847