I’ve recently come across a few new digital tools that can help navigate your way around Brussels. Here’s a quick rundown.
The website Visit Brussels has developed a free iPhone app that displays restaurants, bars, hotels, shopping and various sites on a handy map, and provides a description and contact details for each location. I sadly do not have an iPhone 😦 but have tested it out on my iPad to get a feel.
It works pretty well to highlight loads of places to eat, shops, museums, etc in the downtown area. You can search my category or clicking on Around Me and the map displays locations nearby. It’s a bit weaker for the Ixelles, EU district and south side of Brussels, but hopefully this will change as more locations are added.
Some of my favorite features are under the category Do & See, which includes a good list of markets, shops and cultural activities around town. The app is updated regularly with new info from Visit Brussels so for those of us living here its worth checking back from time to time. Available in English, French and Dutch, you can use the app both online and offline. Would make a great tool for any visitors to use!
As I’m sure many of you already discovered, Google Maps finally launched Street View for Belgium at the end of last year. Leaving aside the fact that I don’t like people looking into the front window of my house, I find Street View really helpful when searching for a new address, especially in a European city like Brussels with small medieval streets and lack of clearly marked building numbers. I’ve also used it to explore different areas to see what else might be nearby before heading out.
To demonstrate its usefulness, here is an example of a recent search for the clothing store Hunting and Collecting. The result – an empty garage opening. Need I say more?
I must also add a note for visitors. The pictures were taken a few months ago and are somewhat deceivingly sunny. It may not actually look like this when you come. 🙂
Another new online tool comes from the City of Brussels. They’ve put together a map of wifi zones found in cafes, hotels, train stations, etc. You can put in your current address to search if there are any hotspots nearby. Again this works best for the city centre. Unfortunately the map doesn’t distinguish between free and paid wifi networks but at least it’s a start. After just visiting the US, I must say that Brussels does a pretty good job by comparison of offering free wifi access in loads of places like cafes and bars. Hopefully this app can help track them down.
And if you’re looking for even more helpful tools, check out the Shop in Brussels and Yelp! websites which I wrote about a while back. Just what we all need, enablers for spending money and eating more!
Does anyone know of other good sites and apps for Brussels? Share your tips by leaving a comment!
Images via Apple App Store, Google Maps and City of Brussels.