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Live like a local: 10 tips to help you feel more at home in Brussels

19:37 10/12/2019
In partnership with visit.brussels and the Expat Welcome Desk

1. Learn the languages

Need to improve your French, or fancy becoming fluent in Dutch? Brussels is a language-learning treasure chest waiting to be cracked open. Make your way to the Dutch (Huis van het Nederlands) and French (Maison de la Francité) language houses, which provide in-depth information on what programmes are available, taking into account all sorts of factors such as your educational level, where you want to study, how often you can commit to lessons and why you want to learn the language.

Brussels offers two routes to free language learning. If you’re a resident in one of the city’s 19 communes, the Flemish government sponsors beginner Dutch courses (level 1 and 2) within its Dutch as a Foreign Language (or NT2) programme administered by Flemish Continuing and Basic Education Centres (CVOs). The second route is through Belgium’s regional employment offices (Actiris, VDAB and Forem in Brussels, Flanders and Wallonia respectively). All three offer a variety of free language courses to registered job-seekers.

Conversation tables are also handy for extending your knowledge of a language beyond the merely transactional – try Muntpunt in the city centre for Dutch, the Brussels Tandem Language Exchange and the Multi-Language Brussels Meetup Group.

2. Mingle with the locals

So you're looking to meet new Brussels friends over a shared interest. Leave behind the Place du Luxembourg on a Thursday evening and join a Meetup group. Here are 12 of our favourites, offering regular activities to help you explore the city, but there are hundreds more.

If you're into sport, try Hêbé, a large community of sportsmen and sportswomen, practising sports together on a weekly basis in different locations across Brussels.

3. Subscribe to a local newsletter

Sign up to receive the free Agenda.brussels weekly newsletter and you'll be the first to find out about the best festivals, exhibitions, concerts and parties around the city.

There's also the Be Expat Be Brussels newsletter, which is full of useful tips. Register by sending an email to europe@visit.brussels

4. Follow the Belgian and Brussels news

Add TheBulletin.be to your favourites or follow us on Facebook or Twitter for the latest Brussels news in English. You can also sign up to receive the news in your inbox every morning here.

Flanders Today provides the latest news from the Dutch-speaking Flanders region of Belgium, in English. Broadcaster VRT also publishes some daily news stories in English.

For radio in English, check out The Bulletin's Sunday lunchtime show on Bruzz 98.8FM (12.00-13.00) or listen again to the latest podcasts here.

Bruzz International is a weekly TV show in English, French and Dutch (with subtitles) exploring the city's international community.

And for a more scientific approach to life in Brussels, have a read of the latest papers from Brussels Studies. The research institute has been tackling issues ranging from the pedestrian zone to the capital’s expat community.

5. Discover Brussels through the eyes of a local

Get a different view of the city by booking a free tour with a Brussels Greeter. Since 2010, the Brussels branch of the Global Greeter Network has grown to more than 100 greeters who take visitors on tailored tours of their favourite parts of the city to help them sample everyday Brussels. Tours are available in 14 languages, with a maximum size of six people per group. Explore the different tours available at

6. Subscribe to a Brussels blog

Spotted by Locals is a blog where real Brussels locals handpick their favorite spots with no or few tourists.

Here are some more of our favourites:

  • tastesofbrussels.com
  • bxlblog.be
  • imnotontheguestlist.wordpress.com
  • komalibxl.com
  • seeyouthere.be

7. Get an academic view on Belgium and Brussels

Understand the economic, social, historical and cultural background of your new home. The Brussels Academy is a place for exchange of knowledge, discussions and workshops on topics regarding Brussels and the urban space). Various activities are organised: courses, seminars, excursions and tours, master classes, conferences and more.

The BELvue Museum recounts the history of Belgium and tells the story behind Belgium’s changing society. Experience.brussels is an interactive show presenting the Brussels-Capital Region and the diversity of its inhabitants.

8. Book a walk through Brussels

Do you prefer to discover Brussels on foot, by bicycle, by bus or even by boat? Check the Visit Brussels website for a whole range of guided tours around various themes. Here are some more unusual guided tours for you to enjoy around Brussels.

9. Get on a tram and discover the city

Go from end to end and get an overiew of the urban landscape and the different neighbourhoods of Brussels. Tram 7 winds its way through Uccle, Ixelles, Etterbeek, Schaerbeek and Laeken before a picturesque finish at the Atomium. Line 92 takes you from Schaerbeek's Train World, along Rue Royale and past the Palace of Justice and Avenue Louise. Or hop on board tram 81 at Montgomery to see Cinquantenaire, Flagey and Saint-Gilles before crossing the canal into Anderlecht. Plan your journey at www.stib-mivb.be

10. Enjoy culture

Last-minute ticketing system Arsène 50 is a great way to quickly access cheap seats for plays and shows. An offshoot of agenda.brussels, it offers half-price tickets for performances, concerts, movies and exhibitions for the same day. The focus is on accessibility, choice, price, spontaneity and discovering new things.

You can also find the best last-minute deals at the Brussels Info Point (BIP) on Place Royale. And don't forget to pick up the 2020 Brussels Cultural Guide, a must-have guide to some of the best events in Brussels over the coming year.

Written by The Bulletin with visit.brussels