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Things to do in Brussels

  • Royal Palace Royal Palace Brussels, Belgium
    The Royal Palace of Brussels has been the official palace of the King of the Belgians for centuries and sits in the middle of the city of Brussels, Belgium, although it isn't used for the a royal residence, but for the many functions of the king. The royal family lives in the Royal Castle of Laeken, just outside the city. The palace sits in front of the Brussels Park, along a huge square plaza that separates the palace from the park, and the Belgian Federal Parliament building, and they both symbolize the type of government the country now has; a constitutional monarchy. The facade was constructed sometime after 1900 when King Leopold II ruled and he had it done. The main part of the huge structure that was the nucleus of the building dates back to the 18th century, although the grounds that the palace sits on was once the older palatial complex that was here during the middle ages. The original structure that was built on Coudenberg Hill was constructed between the second half of the 11th century and the first half of the 12th century and resembled a fortified castle that might have been part of the fortifications of the city. That structure was the home of the Dukes of Brabant, who lived in the next city, Leuven as well as the Castle of Tervuren. During the following centuries, the castle was reconstructed, enlarged and improved to reflect the more important prestige of the Dukes of Brabant and their successors; the Dukes of Burgundy, the Emperor Charles V, the Archduke Albert of Austria and Infanta Isabel of Spain and Governors of the Habsburg Netherlands. The throne room or Aula Magna, would be constructed for Philip the Good in the 15th century and in this room, Emperor Charles V abdicated his throne in 1555 so that his son, Philip II of Spain could become the Emperor. The elegant complex was destroyed by a huge fire in 1731, and those ruins only were taken away during the redevelopment of 1775. The urban axes of the Brussels park were put down and the Place Royale constructed on top of the ruins. When excavations were conducted by archaeologists, many remains were discovered that were identified as various parts of the old palace and the adjoining town, with enormous vaults still found under the square and encompassing structures; which can all be seen today.  In 1814, after the Congress of Vienna, Brussels and the Hague became the joint capital of the new United Kingdom of the Netherlands, ruled by William I of the Netherlands; who had the street covered and the two mansions joined by a gallery. The new palace would get a neo-classic facade that was designed by Tilman-Francois Suys that had a peristyle in the middle and a balcony with wrought iron parapet encompassing the complete first floor. The street that was beside the palace was widened and the Place des Palais built; with the new square called the Square of the Palaces, since another palace was constructed on the left side of the palace that became the residence of Crown Prince, called the Prince of Orange; who would later become King William II of the Netherlands. The palace now houses the Royal Academies of Sciences and Arts of Belgium and has been named "Academienpaleis/Palais des Academies. The various rooms and salons of the old mansions were incorporated into the new Royal Palace and just partially furnished. One major addition to the interior was from the period of William I is the "Empire Room" that was designed to be a ballroom. The room is furnished in an elegant cream and gold decoration that was designed by the famous French sculptor Francois Rude. When the Belgian revolution was over, the palace was offered to Leopold of Saxe-Coburg, as he became the first King of the Netherlands; although he, like William II before him, would only use the castle for official functions and duties, but also lived in the Royal Castle of Laeken. He wouldn't do much to the castle during his reign, which ended in 1865, but his son, Leopold II would consider it much too non-descript for a monarch of his statue, and he would keep making it bigger and enhancing it until his passing in 1909. While he was king, the palace nearly doubled, with architect Alphonse Balat creating huge and elaborate rooms like the Grande Gallerie, the Throne Room and the Grand Staircase. Balat had planned a new facade, but died before he could accomplish it. Sometime after 1904, the new facade was constructed using plans designed by Henri Maquet.

  • Grand PlaceGrand Place Brussels, Belgium
    The Grand Place, or Grote Markt, is the central square of Brussels, Belgium, that is encompassed by guild halls, the Breadhouse and the Town Hall. This square is the most prominent tourist destination in the city and has become the most remarkable landmark in the city; and along with the Atomium and Manneken Pls. Measuring 223 feet by 360 feet, the site has become a UNESCO World Heritage Site. During the 10th century, Charles, Duke of Lower Lorraine, built a fort on Saint-Gery Island, just about where the Senne River becomes navigable. That fort became the seed that continued to grow into the city of Brussels, and by the end of the 11th century, there was an open market located on the dried marsh that was near the fort and encompassed by sandbanks. That market was called the Nedermrckt or Lower Market; and grew like the commercial development of the city. A document discovered from 1174, talks about this market that wasn't far from the port on the Senne River and sitting along the Steenweg, that was an important commercial road connecting the wealthier regions of the Rhineland and the County of Flanders. In the first part of the 13th century, there were three marketplaces built there on the northern edge of the place, containing a meat market, cloth and break markets, that were owned by the Duke of Brabant, and they were open every day even in bad weather, so that the Duke could keep an eye on everything and collect his fair taxes. There were also other buildings that circled the Place, and these were either made of wood or stone. The Brussels City Hall was constructed on the south side in stages between 1401 and 1455, thus making the Place the seat of power. The rich merchants and growing powerful guilds would be the ones that constructed their houses around the square. In 695, a French army, 60,000 strong, led by Marshall Francois de Neufille, duc de Villeroi, began a bombardment of the city to entice the League of Augsburgs troops to leave their siege of the French held Namur that was on the southern end of Belgium. The French would launch a huge offensive with cannons and mortars against the defenseless city that put it to blaze and destroying the Place and the city around it. By the time the bombardment was over, only the stone shell of the town hall and a few fragments of other buildings would remain. Many were amazed that the town hall managed to survive since it was the main target. During the next four years, the city would rebuild itself thank to the many guilds, although regulated by the city counselors and Governor; that would make for a much better layout of the Grand Place. Every two years, during August, the Grand Place is covered by a humungous majestic flower carpet for numerous days, containing a million begonias arranged in various patterns, and covers 79 by 253 feet. The original carpet laying started in 1971, and because it was so popular that the event has continued; bringing in huge crowds.

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Local Restaurants in Brussels
  • Restaurant Vincent
    This fine eating establishment has an extensive menu, so samples of it shall be shown. Entrees fines; goose liver Landes; lobster mayo; smoked salmon extra soft; Royal Zealand 6 or 12 pieces; Hollow oysters 6 or 12 pieces. Hors d'oeuvres varies; tomatoes peeled shrimp; herring fillets trimmed; terrine of veggies and fresh salmon; chicken terrine with pistachio and two jams. Hors d'oeuvres chauds; shrimp croquettes; fused with 2 cheeses; tartar sauce fried prawns; garlic prawns; mushrooms on toast. Potages; soup of the day or cream Portuguese. Buffet froid; duo ham and Ardennes-salad; seasonal salad; mixed salad; salad tomatoes, peeled. Les moules-notre specialite; Moulds Marineres special p. chips; mussels with white wine nature, p. chips; mussels sauce Poulette, p. chips; mussels Provencal, p. chips; moulds parked, bread & butter, lemon; mussels with snail; supplement fries. Les poissons; sole meuniere, boiled potatoes; fillets of sole Francis 1 p. Duchess; Vincent fried, tartar sauce; fried cod, p. natures; turbot, sauce mousseline, p. natures; trout meuniere and almonds, p. natures; eel; salmon fresh daily; medallions of monkfish with shallots and raspberry vinegar. Les vianders-Flambees en salle; rump, pepper and cream flamed, p. chips; rump, green pepper, flamed with cream, p. chips; filet with green peppercorns flambe cream, p. chips; double side, green pepper, cream, p. chips; chateaubriand, green pepper, cream, p. chips; double-bone first choice, green pepper outbreak; stew in Brussels; Magret duck day; half veal kidney day; rack of lamb and season veggies. Les viandes- les grillades; rump; p. chips; rump house, potato croquettes; tournedos Henri IV, p. chips; tournedos Roquefort sauce, p. chips; filet, p. chips; steak, p. chips; single-bone first choice, p. chips; double-bone first choice, p. fries; chateaubriand, p. fries; lamb chops vert pre, green beans; hamburger, fries, bearnaise; filet American fries (preparation room); Waterzooi chicken with veggies.

  • Comme Chez Soi
    A la carte menu; mousse of ham from the Ardennes "Pierre Wynants"; roll of oxtail and lamb's tongue with coriander, young leek terrine with sweet paprika; yellow amberjack carpaccio, young shoots and green Puy lentils with lemon vinegar; goose liver and its jelly with truffle from the Vaucluse; pan fried Dublin Bay prawns, crispy veggies and lite parmesan cream; salad of North Sea lobster with black truffles and potatoes; Royal Belgian caviar "Gold label". Fish entrees; poached codfish with asparagus duet and chervil, small broccoli flowers; roasted pike-perch aniseed bouillabaisse, olive tapenade and stewed carrots with bergamot oil; roll of sole fillets with lobster medallions, fresh salad and cream sauce; potato mousseline with crab, shrimps and Royal Belgian caviar, white oyster butter with chive. Pork entrees; pork fillet Solomillo Duroc with karides, mixed veggies with mustard seeds; pigeon's breast with green cardamom and templar pepper, black radish cannelloni with Chinese cabbage; beef fillet with black truffles; crispy veal's sweetbreads with fresh morels, risotto with broad beans.

Monkfish Restaurant Vincent Brussels, Belgium


Rack of Lamb Restaurant Vincent Brussels, Belgium


Rump steak Restaurant Vincent Brussels, Belgium



 Beef Filet with Black Truffles Comme Chez Soi Brussels, Belgium

Pan Fried Dublin Bay prawns Comme Chez Soi Brussels, Belgium

Hertz Car Rental Brussels

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  • Musee Rene Magritte Musee Rene Magritte Brussels, Belgium
    The Magritte Museum in Brussels, Belgium was opened in 2009, and is housed in a five story neo-classical style building known as the Hotel Altenloh, located on the Place Royale, and exhibits 200 of his original works, that include sculptures, drawings and paintings and the Return, the Empire of Light and Scheherazade. There is another museum in the city that was the artist's former house, where he lived with his wife from 1930 to 1954. One of his paintings was stolen in September of 2009, by two armed men; stealing a painting from 1948; of his wife called Olympia, which was a nude. The men spoke both English and French, and set off an alarm when they broke the plate glass that protected the painting, but still were able to escape on foot carrying the painting that is valued at $1.1 million. His other work here include; the 1920 Landscape, 1923 Self-portrait, Sixth Nocturne, Georgette at the Piano and Donna, 1925 the Bather and the Window, 1931 the Voice of the Air, Summer and the Giantess, 1934 the Rape, 1939 Victory, and so many more. Magritte was a surrealist artist that became quite well known for his thought provoking images and his wit. Rene's early goals were to challenge his observers' preconceived perceptions of reality and to force them to get more hypersensitive to their surroundings.

  • Horta MuseumHorta Museum Brussels, Belgium
    The Horta Museum is dedicated to the life and works of the Belgian art nouveau architect, Victor Horta, and is housed in his former home and workshop, or more aptly, atelier, that was built in 1898 in the Brussels, Belgium suburb of Saint-Gilles. In the spectacular art nouveau interiors there are magnificent permanent exhibits of furniture, art objects and utensils that were designed by Horta and his contemporaries, and the documents that were related to his work and life. The museum hosts temporary exhibitions on topics that relate to his work and his art. The building has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage in 2000. There are four prominent town houses in the city that Horta designed, the Hotel Tassel, Hotel Solvay, Hotel van Eetvelde and Maison & Atelier Horta, which is this building that houses the museum. Horta was one of the earliest initiators of art nouveau design, and these structures are considered some of the most marvelous pioneering works of architecture of the latter part of the 19th century. The stylistic revolution that these townhouses represent is characterized by the open plans, diffusion of light and the majestic joining of the curved lines of decoration with the structure itself. Before Horta began designing the magnificent townhouses, these buildings were unimpressive, bland and the lighting on the interiors was very dull. The townhouses were built into long, but narrow lots, side by side, which caused the middle rooms to be quite dark, and windows on the ends would allow some light into those rooms, but did little to filter through to the remainder of the house. Horta solved this problem by putting the walkways in the center of the building and the rooms surrounding them. Above the center, he would use glass to allow the light to flood down through the center, thus lighting all the rooms. It was a brilliant concept and changed the way these townhouses were constructed in the future.

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  • Museum of Ancient ArtMuseum of Ancient Art Brussels, Belgium
    The Museum of Ancient Art contains a select collection of drawings, sculptures and paintings from the 15th to 18th centuries, with the nucleus made of works of art that was continuously confiscated by the French state during the Revolutionary period, as well as works that were deposited here by them. The collection has been improved and increased because of this, but also to the donations from the museum's many patrons. Paintings from the southern region of the United States makes up the remainder; with works presented in chronological order so the visitors can appreciated the development and evolution of the pictorial artworks of areas that were under the ancient regimes of that period. The journey begins with the majestic panels or early Flemish artists like Dirk Bouts, Rogier van der Weyden, Petrus Christus, Hieronymus Bosch and Hans Memling. As you continue along the path, you will discover the marvelous wealth of panorama of the many artistic environments that developed in the 16th century, ending in the Bruegal room that contain four of the masters displayed. Nearing the finish, the 17th and 18th centuries have been extraordinarily showcased by the magnificent retable and sketches by Peter Paul Rubens, Jacob Jordaens and the numerous paintings and outstanding portraits by Anthony van Dyck. There are also wonderful terracotta models and many other excellent paintings from foreign schools during the 17th and 18th century.  In their sculpture collections there are many fantastic works from the Baroque period, the 19th century, neo-classicism, expressionism and fauvism, realism, romanticism, the 20th century and eclecticism and symbolism. In the paintings collections there are works from the 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th centuries; that include artists like Gerard David, Joos van Cleve, January Gossaert, Bernard van Orley, Jan Hemessen, Joachim Beickelaer, Pieter Bruegel the Elder and Pieter the Younger, Lucas Cranach the Elder, Rembrandt, Guercino, Jacques-Louis David, and in the paintings collection of the 19th century there are works from neo-classicism, realism, orientalism, romanticism, symbolism, ensor, Nabis, naturalism, historicism, impressionism, post-impressionism and pointillism. 

  • Autoworld
    The Autoworld collection of automobiles is one of the most incredible and extensive collection of these wonderful vehicles that have been acquired by the collectors of Belgium and brought them to Brussels to showcase and exhibit these beautiful cars that have been made from the early 19th century to the present day. It is a spectacular journey through history from an auto enthusiast point of view and one that will appreciated by most Americans who have loved their cars since their beginning. Beginning with the first Belgian autos, the journey starts. Belgium started making autos in 1894, with the Vincke, that was manufactured, or really made by hand in the railway carriage works of Malines in Belgium. During the period from 1900 to 1914, the Golden Age of Belgium autos, there were numerous car makers and motorcycles producing vehicles at competitive prices, and three-fourths of them were made for export. The main makes of those cars in the museum include the Minerva, that became the most well known. By 1914, Belgium was the number one auto maker in the world, that is until WWI started. The factories were looted for various reasons, but when the war was over, free trade had disappeared and protectionist laws were beginning to show up all over the world. The Minerva still retained its class and style, but during the 1930s, when many technological advances were made, but in Belgium, the country was still in the throes of the depression. In the decade of the 1930s to the 1940s, the country witnessed a dismal drop in the production of their vehicles and more of foreign assembly factories. After WWII, the few auto makers left in the country weren't able to compete with the foreign automakers and gradually the factories became idle and stopped.  At this point, only the collectors would be involved in automobiles, like Ghislain Mahy who began purchasing antique autos in 1944. His first one was a Ford Model T, that the salesman threw in a 4 cylinder F. N. motorcycle to make the deal for 150 Belgian francs. Over the years, his collection would grow to 250 American cars from all years, 200 French cars, 100 German cars, 50 Italian cars and 70 English cars; one of the most diverse and spectacular in the world. Marcel Thiry collected motorcycles and his is one of the finest in that category, allowing the visitor to appreciate all the many styles and changes that have occurred in that industry over the years. The Pierre Dieteren Collection contains many carriages that have been created over the years and you can see them all at Autoworld. There is also an auto exposition that showcases the design concepts of tomorrow, and these vehicles will surprise you just as much as the entire collection will. One of the best auto and vehicle collections in the world is housed here. Come see for yourself and be pleasantly surprised.

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