Brussels was a fairly unknown fortress city in the 10th century but today it has been transformed into a prominent European centre for commerce and culture. The city’s status as the de facto capital of the European Union has increased the influence of Belgium within Europe.
With a population of over 1.2 million, the city does its best to make locals and visitors alike feel as included as possible. Like many of its European counterparts, Brussels is a fairly accessible city for persons with disabilities and with a little bit of planning, you can explore the city with relative ease.
Airport and Transportation
Brussels Airport (BRU), located approximately 7 miles outside the city, is completely accessible to travelers with disabilities and wheelchair users. You can operate your personal wheelchair through security, passport control and all the way up to the boarding gate. Find out more information about accessibility services and accommodations available. There are several accessible options if you want to travel to and from the city. You can use the airport’s train station to book The Eurostar, Thalys, ICE and Belgian Railways trains all offer service from the airport to train stations in the city. The public transportation system in Brussels is moderately accessible to wheelchair users. The city's subway system can be navigated at many stations, but will require extensive planning and patience. There are several stations on Lines 1,2, 5 and 6 which offer step-free access from the street to the metro platform. Particularly in the underground stations of central Brussels, a step of up to 6 or 7 inches may be present however, the staff will provide any assistance necessary while boarding and alighting the metro trains.
Another good way to get around Brussels is to use the city buses. The most accessible means of transit is the city bus system, which is almost completely accessible. The buses are equipped with wheelchair ramps at the center or rear door which permit easy roll-on/roll-off access.
Finding a wheelchair accessible hotel room has never been easier! Many hotels are courting guests with disabilities by providing wheelchair accessible rooms with roll-in showers, wet rooms, grab bars and other accessible features. Hotel like IHG, Marriott and Radisson offer accessible rooms at nearly all of their Brussels hotels. Accessible hotels are available in most parts of the city and near popular attractions like Grand Place, the EU Parlamentarium, the Royal Museums of Art and the Atomium.
Things to Do in Brussels
Brussels Grand Place, City Hall
This square is often regarded as one of the most beautiful in Europe, perhaps the world. It is surrounded by beautiful, centuries-old guild houses, the Town Hall and the Museum of the City of Brussels. Unfortunately, wheelchair access in this area of the city is very challenging and the Grand Place is paved with cobblestones which might make for an incredibly rough wheelchair roll. However, the pictures, sights and atmosphere you'll experience in the square will ultimately be worth the trouble of it all! There are also several other sights located in the area, along with plenty of restaurants and shops to explore. Only a few blocks away is the famous statue, Manneken Pis. Numerous restaurants are also located here and are accessible as well.
Mont des Arts
Mont des Arts also known as The Kunstberg, or "Hill/Mount of the Arts," is an elevated embankment in downtown Brussels. It features a small, but well-manicured garden originally constructed for the 1910 Universal Exposition. The Mont des Arts is located halfway down the hill separating the Place Royale and Grand Place, making it an excellent vantage point to see the city below. All three "levels" of the Mont des Arts can be accessed by wheelchair. Don’t fret about getting there, public transportation or taxis can be used to reach the top.
The Place Royale, or Royal Square, is a historic square in the center of Brussels. From the square, it is approximately a 10 minute walk/roll down to the Mont des Arts. At the center of the square sits the Saint Jacques-sur-Coudenberg, the Roman Catholic Church of St. James. The whole complex was developed from 1773 to 1780, after a fire destroyed the palace that had previously stood there. The Church served as the place of Baptism for King Leopold II, King Albert I, King Leopold III, King Baudouin, King Albert II and King Philip. Unfortunately, due to the church's age and the steps leading to its sanctuary, the building is not wheelchair accessible but families and friends may be able to help lift manual wheelchairs up the staircase.