This guest post was written by Kirsten. She is a graphic designer, blogger and the founder of Graphic Organic. She’s 23 years old and lives with fibromyalgia and M.E.
Brussels Accessibility Travel Guide
Are you disabled or a person living with chronic illness(es)?
As a young adult living with chronic illness, I know how stressful and exhausting traveling can become when you have health issues. However, I absolutely love going on trips and discovering new places.
Because I live in Belgium and have been to Brussels quite a few times myself, I thought I could share my travel tips with those who are interested in visiting the city.
I stayed twice in a hotel that was located right in the centre. You’re gonna want to cut out those extra walks or transport rides to your destination in the evenings when you’re tired.
The Grasmarkt – Spanjeplein (Rue du Marche Aux Herbes -place de l’Espagne ) is a great place to stay. You are very close to the Grote Markt (Grand Place) and you have plenty of food options when you cross the street.
Tip: The old buildings in Brussels of course has their charm but be aware that many hotels have one or two steps at the entrance. Make sure to contact the hotel directly, this information is often forgotten on the website.
I’m going to be completely honest here. Brussels does not have the best reputation when it comes to accessible transport.
My friend had issues with her electric wheelchair at the airport and when I was in the station with my walker, the elevator did not work.
The subway has some accessible stops but I would not rely on public transport. Taxis are the best option for everyone with a mobility aid.
On the positive side, the city is rather small so you can do most tourist attractions on walking distance.
Tip: Larger cars and accessible vans are not always right away available. If you know what time you will need a ride, book your taxi 24 hours beforehand at the reception of your hotel.
You cannot go to Brussels without seeing the famous Manneken Pis and the Grote Markt.
While you’re there, go take a look at Choco-Story, a chocolate museum where you enter different rooms that will teach you about its origin, history and transformation to a finished product. This building has an elevator and wheelchair lifts when there are a few steps.
In the gift shop you can stock up all the chocolate you want to bring home. Another shop you need to go into is Chocopolis.
The chocolate factory is located right in the store and customers get to try a free sample! They have a great selection of handmade chocolates and truffles, all with a different taste.
Keep in mind that a lot of areas in the city have cobblestones and are not the easiest to ride on. That’s why I listed some attractions that have a smooth substrate here:
– European Parliament: a beautiful modern building that will teach you everything about the history of Europe, how the parliament works and what topics are discussed today.
The Parlamentarium is equipped with lifts, offers audio guides in sign language and there are braille tactile maps available.
– Nieuwstraat (Rue Neuve): is the most known shopping street in Brussels. Even though you won’t find any concept or vintage stores here, the Nieuwstraat has a special atmosphere and some beautiful shops to offer.
If it’s your first time in Belgium, definitely go take a look at Galleria Inno.
– Koninklijke Sint-Hubertusgalerijen (Royal Galleries of Saint Hubert): Don’t go there for shopping, unless you don’t mind paying 6000 euros for a Delvaux handbag. Walking through the gallery is worth it for the gorgeous architecture.
When you’re in Belgium, you obviously have to try Belgian fries. Unfortunately there are many stands and restaurants that claim to serve authentic Belgian food but use cheap products from large factories abroad. Go to Frites Atelier instead.
It’s a little bit out of the tourist area but those few extra steps are so worth it. Not only do they offer special seasonal toppings, homemade sauces and iced tea but also restaurant level croquettes.
After you tried the waffles, chocolate, beer and fries, it’s time to get a healthy quick meal.
Exki is a Belgian “fastfoodrestaurant” that offers healthy and organic food to take away or eat in. They are almost everywhere in Brussels and the perfect spot for anyone who has allergies or intolerances.
I’m sure I’m forgetting many spots while I’m writing this but I hope this helps you plan/prepare your upcoming vacation. Have you been to Brussels before? What places would you add to this list?