We explored the wheelchair accessibility of Brussels, including accessible itineraries, tourist sites to see, and public transportation. We provide detailed analysis and photographs of wheelchair accessibility in Brussels at:
Manneken Pis, Grand Place, Galeries Royales Saint Hubert, St. Michael’s Cathedral, and Royal Palace
The streets were largely cobblestone, which made it difficult to cruise in my wheelchair/scooter. I was able to do it, but I had to go slowly, take breaks to readjust myself in my seat, and simply stop to rest when needed. There were also pretty steep hills near the Cathedral and the Royal Palace. And the curb cuts were sometimes really steep–they were basically the curb that had been smoothed down a bit to make its angle 60-80 degrees instead of 90 degrees (or so it felt). We ended up using our portable ramp 5-10 times because the curb cut were too steep.
The big takeaway was that the Grand Place and Galeries Royales Saint Hubert were breathtaking and generally wheelchair accessible–apart from the cobblestone streets, which were no joke. I wish we had spent all day in those two places. The Palace was great to see and would have been even better to tour, but it was a lot of effort to get to there.
Tip: We had wanted to go to the European Parliament, but we turned around at the Palace. The extra 2-mile loop was too much in the heat and with the hills for us and my scooter. But that would be a great add-on if time and energy permit.
We started our journey at the Mannekin Pis, which is a very popular water feature of a boy peeing. It is not a must-see for me, but it is a very iconic feature of Brussels.
We then wheeled up the street three blocks to the Grand Place, which is a breathtaking UNESCO World Heritage site. We explored around the Grand Place and ventured into the shops around it–we particularly enjoyed getting chocolates (for then and later) at Galler Chocolaterie and Godiva. But each of those store fronts had a step up into them, so we had to use our ramp to get into them. The shopkeepers were accommodating and willing to help, but the ramp was absolutely necessary for wheelchair accessibility.
Tip: There were signs for wheelchair accessible bathrooms nearby (by the arcade leading to Agora, next to BNP Paribas Fortis), but I did not explore them.
Galeries Royales Saint Hubert
After exploring around Grand Place, we stumbled upon the Galeries Royales Saint Hubert. This was a covered arcade of fine dining, bakeries, chocolatiers, and shops. We actually came back here after exploring the Cathedral and the Palace just so we could eat a quiche, espresso, and water…and to re-charge my scooter batteries at the outlet at the front table of Le Pain Quotidien.
The Galeries were very wheelchair accessible–they were smooth, wide halls, and flat. It was a very nice change of pace from its surroundings.
St. Michael’s Cathedral, Parc de Bruxelles, and the Royal Palace
We then ventured up some steep hills to explore the Cathedral, Parc de Bruxelles, and the Royal Palace. The hills were fairly hard and the summer heat took it out of us. The Royal Palace was offering tours, but we did not have time to do them. The Cathedral also has stairs up to it, but there is a side entrance up another steep hill and via a really rough sidewalk. I never found the wheelchair accessible entrance–I think it was around that side, but it was confusing and hard going.
Note: The Royal Palace has an online 360° virtual tour. This is a really cool way to explore the grounds if you cannot make it in person.