Brussels has a reputation for being "boring"—a rather tired cliché that stems from its being the main home of the European Union—but it's a vibrant, multiethnic metropolis. One-third of its population are non-Belgians, and its hip Congolese Matonge quarter and North African Marolles flea market are now as much a fixture on the city’s tourist trail as its iconic Grand’Place.
And then there's the nightlife. The beer-frazzled masses will find no complaint in Brussels's myriad city-center bars, while the cafés of the St-Gilles area have become a Mecca for local hipsters. It has soul, too. This is, after all, the birthplace of artists ranging from the Surrealist René Magritte to Tintin-creator Hergé, and in recent years a number of impressive art museums have opened, with more said to be on the way.
Brussels is unpredictable, but therein lies its appeal. The city’s mishmash of ideas and images can seem a little slapdash at first glance, but from it comes a sense of urgency. It's this mix of grand and quirky, old and new, rich and poor, together with some of the most beautiful buildings in Europe, that makes it perfect for just wandering. And in doing so, it’s hard not to fall in love.