Budget Tips: Brussels

Budget Tips: Brussels - Brussels, Belgium

Here's a quick go-to guide so you won't "Pis" away your spending money.

Information on the Brussels Card

The Brussels Card can be purchased as a one-day, two-day or three-day pass. Prices are as follows: €40 (three days), €34 (two days), and €24 (one day). You can buy the card on-line or at participating locations like the Museum of Ancient Art or the Museum of Modern Art.

The card gives you free access to more than 30 museums (including the dressing room of Manneken Pis), discounts at countless shops and restaurants, and even free beer and transportation. It's a great deal if you plan to whip through the city in a few days time, a bad deal if you want to linger a bit longer over comic strips and cold pints.

Free Sights

We think that the Grand Place is one of the best free sights in Europe. During the summer months, visit when the square gets decked in flowers. In the winter, the square hosts Christmas markets and is decked in twinkle lights. Make sure to look up at the guild hall facades, many of which are the originals from the middle ages.

Brussels is also the seat of the European Parliament, which you can enter for free and take a 30-minute audio-guided tour (also free) at 10 a.m. or 3 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and at 10 a.m. only on Fridays.

And, don't forget that many of Brussels' museums, like the Royal Museums of Fine Arts and the Musical Instruments Museum, are free to the public on the first Wednesday afternoon of each month.

Each year, during July and August, Brussels dumps a bunch of fresh sand into the canal shoreline (at Quai des Peniches) and declares it official beach blanket time! During the months that the Brussels Beach (Bruxelles des Bains) is up and running, free activities abound, including group volleyball, yoga lessons, and outdoor concerts. The gig first started as a way to give those unable to make the trek for a family vacation a chance to sit back, relax and soak up the sun.

Student Discounts

The International Student Identity Card (ISIC) is the most widely accepted form of student ID and provides discounts on sights, accommodations, food, and transportation. Many museums in Brussels offer admission discounts of 20-50% to ISIC members. Applicants must be working toward a degree at a secondary or post-secondary school and must be at least 12 years of age. The card costs US$22 and is valid until the end of the year issued. All cardholders have access to a 24-hour emergency helpline. In the United States call 1-800-223-7986 or click onto ISIC's web site.

For non-students 25 years and younger, the International Youth Travel Card, IYTC, also offers many of the same benefits as the ISIC. The card costs US$22 and is valid for one year from the date of issue.

In addition, travelers with student cards, such as ISIC and IYTC, qualify for big discounts from travel agencies. Most flights from budget agencies are on major airlines, though peak season deals might be on less reliable chartered aircraft.

Senior Discounts

Senior travelers will find some discounts in Brussels, but not as many as in other cities and countries. For the most part, seniors must be EU citizens in order to receive discounts. Members of the AARP get discounts on hotels, airfares and car rentals. They can be reached in the United States at 1-800-424-3410 and via the AARP web site.

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