Safety Tips in Brussels

  • Warnings and Dangers
    by Roadquill
  • the DTs
    the DTs
    by iaint
  • It's All In The Angle!
    It's All In The Angle!
    by johngayton

Most Viewed Warnings and Dangers in Brussels

  • antistar's Profile Photo


    by antistar Updated Aug 6, 2014

    I've only opened a narrow window into life in Brussels, but it seemed to me the people were among the least friendly and polite I have come across. It's not open rudeness, mostly people ignore you, but a lack of manners and common courtesy. I felt it was worse even than London, Paris or New York, each a more infamous city than Brussels. In London people will ignore you, except when you try their patience by failing to understand unspoken rules, but they will follow those rules, by and large, and those rules, like standing on the right of an escalator, enforce polite behavior.

    One bad example in Brussels was on the metro. It was so packed that we couldn't sit down. My three year old son had to cling onto my hand, nearly falling over several times. Nobody even thought to offer him a seat - they all just stared out of the window as hard as they could into the dark tunnel of the underground. I couldn't imagine myself being sat when a small child close by was nearly falling over from the terrible stop/start driving and not giving up my seat.

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  • antistar's Profile Photo

    Relatively Safe

    by antistar Written Aug 5, 2014

    Brussels has a bit of a reputation for crime. One of my friends was robbed on a train just passing through the city from Germany - just before the train shut its doors, someone jumped on, grabbed his bag and jumped off again. It has the second highest murder rate in Western Europe, but Europe has a low murder rate anyway. Brussels has less murders per capita than New York. It feels a bit sketchy in places - there's lots of drunks sleeping in the street, and the smell of urine is strong, but it didn't really feel dangerous. Many people warn against staying in Anderlecht, on the north side of the Gare Midi, but my wife stayed there a week once and didn't have any problems.

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    Travel with Small Children

    by antistar Written Aug 5, 2014

    Unlike their neighbours the French, the Belgians don't seem to care much for small children. But at least they aren't grumpy with them like the Germans. Brussels is much like any Western European city - the streets are well maintained and there are plenty of crossings. The big problem, though, for anyone with a pushchair is the limited elevator access to the metro stations - hardly any station had one.

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  • halikowski's Profile Photo

    ghetto people

    by halikowski Written May 16, 2014

    Walking along a pavement en famille, a guy on a bike tries to ride his bike past, pushing us off. I politely pointed out that he should be riding in the street. He says insolently 'je prefere les trottoirs'!. Still, lucky he didn't punch me as happened in a recent Bournemouth murder :

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  • Gyppo's Profile Photo

    General tips on safety

    by Gyppo Written Feb 23, 2014

    Brussels seems pretty safe most of the time. Personally I haven't had any trouble so far after numerous visits then living here for a couple of years. I don't mind walking pretty long distances around the city at night. However, I'm a 15 stone, cropped hair bloke with an unduly arrogant way of carrying myself. I have heard of muggings, thefts from cars and violent attacks - not uncommon in any big city, so take the normal precautions.

    However, I did want to highlight a few specific areas of concern.

    A couple of my friends have been sexually assaulted while jogging in parks, including once in broad daylight with other people around. I guess trying to avoid these areas or places within them, or staying in company might help.

    The parks near Anneessens are full of groups of what appear to be drug dealers. Probably a good idea to steer clear.

    Lots of my friends and colleagues have had passports, computers or wallets stolen at Gare du Midi.

    People have had bags stolen from beside them in bars in town - one even had her phone stolen from her jacket hung over her chair, while she was sitting in it.

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  • halikowski's Profile Photo

    the bins in Parc de Bruxelles (the royal park)

    by halikowski Written Sep 24, 2013

    I carelessly threw a 10-journey bus ticket into the bin, thinking it was valid for one journey. The bins are locked, impracticable to recover things from them once discarded. And the park itself closes between 22.00 and 06.00 in the summer.

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  • cochinjew's Profile Photo

    Eating around the Grand Palace

    by cochinjew Written Sep 9, 2013

    Recently, the place was packed with tourists enjoying the Belgian Beer Festival. Family friends from Indonesia were visiting and I wanted to suggest eating away from the Tourist area, but they wanted to eat at a restaurant in a narrow alley .
    Typical tourist hang out I thought
    Young Arab men enticing you to come in
    nicely set tables
    the catch is they put their cheapest item saying only ten euro..
    and the menus dont have the prices right

    can you believe a paella for two was charged 84 euros.. and it was not even fresh
    Two small pieces of bread with melted cheese 4 euros each

    Unless others have personally recommended a specific restaurant to you, you would be gouged by the pleasant waiters and maitre of these tourist oriented restaurants with menus in russian included..

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  • Roadquill's Profile Photo

    Marche au Charbon - be forewarned

    by Roadquill Written Aug 27, 2013

    Also known as Kookmarkt, which I thought "was cool, I could hang here", but I noticed that as I walked along Marche au Charbon at most of the cafes and bars the men out numbered the women about 10 - 1. In addition to be extremely perfectly coiffured and well dressed, they stood very close to one another. Very, very close to one another. Also maybe it was the one dude dressed perfectly as Snow White. Hmmmm? So the area is a very gay area. So if this bothers you, you have been warned. I had few problems at all and since my B&B was on this street, passed by these cafes and bars quite often over a five day and night period. However, early in the morning while I was on my post dawn photo op hunt at almost every corner there was some guy whispering "cherie" to me in the hopes of whatever he was hoping for. Then there were the two drunk guys, stumbling arm in arm that desperately wanted to say something clever to me as I took photos of a particular church at 6 AM, but they were too inebreated to even speak French or Flemish, let alone English, let alone anything witty so they wisely wobbled along in silence.

    Related to:
    • Photography
    • Arts and Culture

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  • cochinjew's Profile Photo

    Useful more than usual caution at the Stations

    by cochinjew Written Jan 24, 2013

    I arrived at Brusel zuid from London on Eurostar. Had one piece of luggage and a shoulder bag. was told in London that I could use the Eurostar ticket for a journey within Brusel. Went to the entrance to the metro and tried to use my ticket, it did not work.
    then a young black man approaches me and says, do you speak english. That ticket does not work. you need this ticket and he produces a 2 euro metro ticket and then he says, i will help you, with his right hand he puts the 2 euro ticket which is obviously used and with his left hand he puts a magnet like substance and the gate opens..

    I said thank you i will get my ticket at the window which is nearby. had i gotten in with my luggage he would have demanded the 2 euros and then when i got to my destination I would not have been able to get out since the ticket is an used one and i would be penalized or have to buy another ticket to get out.

    I saw his two handed action otherwise i too could have taken him for a good samaritan.
    when I went to get the ticket , there were two eastern european looking people just standing next to the counter and watching me get the carnet of ten tickets, and when i wen to use them to get into metro, they followed me.
    the lady after giving me my change said: be very careful of people here, they would try to rob you.

    as i entered the station, using my carnet to open the stills, the two young people also squeezed through, but they did not bother me but slinked away..

    All in all the atmosphere at the station is a little intimidating. Be careful and take precautions. There are lots of beggars as well

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  • iaint's Profile Photo

    Delirium Tremens

    by iaint Updated Dec 17, 2012

    They have a beer by this name in Belgium. The logo is a pink elephant.

    I drank some when I was at the VT Meet in Fredericksburg, VA a couple of years ago.

    Be very careful if you decide to take it on.

    the DTs
    Related to:
    • Beer Tasting

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  • breughel's Profile Photo

    Women on the street.

    by breughel Updated Sep 4, 2012

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    In some districts of Brussels women dressed in occidental clothes are not welcome (this is a soft euphemism). A documentary film "Femmes de la rue" showed how in Brussels women dressed in occidental clothes were insulted, sexually harassed by a certain type of men.
    Many reactions in the media and in the political world. Read the Belgian newspapers to learn more about what appears as a "civilization shock".
    I know that many tourists like Brussels. First they stay in the safe tourist areas and don't live 365 days/year in Brussels so that statistically the risk of bad experience is lower for them than for the inhabitants.

    The documentary film "Femmes de la rue" from Sofie Peeters has now also made uproar in countries like France and the Netherlands where the same type of men have the same insulting attitude toward women.
    There is now a reaction from the authorities from the City of Brussels (elections are approaching!) to fine the authors of these insults toward women: 75 - 250 Euros.
    The practical question being that of the application of these fines; now already in some areas Brussels' policemen are aggressed by groups of men who don't want to see policemen entering what they consider as their territory.
    Brussels' policemen are so fed up being aggressed in these areas that they intend to go on strike on 13 - 17 September!

    Related to:
    • Women's Travel

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  • Theft

    by globetrotter0101 Written Apr 15, 2012

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Being capital of EU, you'd think Brussel is an elegant city. But it is far from being as such, in fact the city is dirty, unsafe. The city is filled with concrete block buildings that is soviet union style, which is truly ugly. The railway station is shabby. The ticketing system at their railway station does not respond well as you touch the glass screen, it is slow and inaccurate. The closest metro to old cityhall is dirty, it is filled with urine smell. The old city hall looks dirty too although key statues are gilded with gold. The metro station or train station does not offer maps to tourists. The city is not safe either. On the street it is full of people who stealthily at tourists as if trying to figure out whether you are worth a robbery. In my short stay of 2 days, I have witnessed tow instances (1) shop lift being chased by store clerk (2) man beaten up by police at rail way station. I have not even witnessed such in New York city metro after dark. The waiters at restaurant are snobbish. This attitude is also observed from attendant from city hall. I have no idea what reasons they have to behave as such. The food is fatty, mainly composed of steak and french fries, or waffel topped with cream. I went into a carrefore express store, I cannot find censodine toothpaste, store display is old and dusty. Food has very few variety. Overall, this city is a big disappointment to me !

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  • Bogus Helpers for Tourists

    by Vickm Written Oct 31, 2011

    I found that in both Brussels and even in Milan, and I am sure a lot of other places in Europe, there is a network of scammers who stand around metro kiosk machines. Because the directions for getting a ticket are almost impossible to understand, a benevolent local comes up to help you, takes the money out of your hand and feeds it into the machine. The first bill in not enough for the ticket and the second bill you give her/him produces the ticket. The helper keeps the change as their service fee, but the total price is way more than expected with two bills inserted.
    What I encountered (as told by the metro police who are aware of these people), where gypsy con-aritists.
    The first bill is actually "palmed" and not even inserted into the machine, and the second bill buys the ticket with the change taken by the good Samaratin. Cost me three times more for the price of a one-way metro ticket. Live and learn the expensive way!

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    • Family Travel
    • Seniors

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  • Brussels Moans

    by kkkKatie Written Jan 18, 2011

    This is so sad.
    Moaning about Belgium. For example, no HSE in Belgium or the cobbled streets making pulling a suitcase difficult. Have you not considered that these differences make it what it is? If I might offer some simple advice; If you want everything to be just like at home, don't travel.
    I love Brussels. The unwelcome approaches from the scruffy Albanians, the scams, the businessmen relieving themselves in shop doorways while on the way home, the truly fabulous food, stunning beers and where do I start with the museums and galleries?

    Related to:
    • Food and Dining
    • Women's Travel
    • Arts and Culture

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  • irisbe's Profile Photo

    Why we drink beer

    by irisbe Updated Feb 24, 2010

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Long, long time ago, and I am speaking from Middle Ages and after, water was very dangerous to drink. Unless you lived right next to the well, or you boiled it, it was ok.

    When monks from the South came to settle here, they wanted to import the winemaking as they did so in their monasteries. The wine was a good alternative for water and safe to drink.
    However, grapes were difficult to cultivate here so far North and the harvest not sufficient enough to provide them the wine necessary.

    By special permission of the Church, they were allowed to brew beer instead of wine.
    Yeast, one of the most important elements of the beer, was to each monastery a treasure to be kept secret. But I guess espionage and stealing are of all ages, so it happened that someone took a part of the (living) yeast and took it with him to another monastery. Slowly also others then monks were brewing beer and you could find a lot of microbreweries all around.
    I think in Bruges there were over 300 of them some centuries ago!).

    If you see the water on the picture (taken at Brussels), then you see it is “not drinkable water” as the sign says! So… you will have to taste one of our beers instead!

    I would recomend you to visit my Belgium page and have a look at the "tourist trap" tips if you want to make some choices.
    It will be time I update that chapter because I have tried out many more beers since!

    Don't drink the water `-) Drink beer instead!
    Related to:
    • Family Travel

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