Living in Ixelles, Brussels: Discover Your Neighbourhood

Learn what Ixelles’s got to offer: from public transport to schools, food and art.


7 minute read
Updated on 3 May 2024

Located to the southeast of the City of Brussels, Ixelles commune (or Elsene in Dutch) is one of the best areas where you can live as an expat. It’s one of the most thought-after, and expensive neighbourhoods, and for a good reason!

Within its borders, Ixelles combines the tranquillity of the countryside and the cultural diversity of a cosmopolis. From the buzzing cafes of Flagey to the trendy boutiques of Châtelain to the African eateries of Matongé, each corner of Ixelles has something truly unique to offer. You can forget about travelling to busy touristy places altogether – everything you need you’ll find in this safe upscale neighbourhood.

Internationality in Ixelles

Even though Ixelles is mostly an upper-class neighbourhood, you’ll still come across people from all walks of life. For working professionals, living in Ixelles is handy as it’s close to the European quarter (the business district). For students, getting to the VUB (Vrije Universiteit Brussel) and the ULB (Université Libre de Bruxelles) campuses is easy from the Université neighbourhood.

The African diaspora mainly occupies the trendy Matongé neighbourhood. But, over the past years, many Latin American, Pakistani, and Indian immigrants have started to call this multicultural district their home too.

Thanks to that, foreigners make up around half of the Ixelles population.

Facilities in Ixelles

As you can see on the map below, Ixelles borders Brussels' city centre (pentagne) on the north and stretches all the way from Porte de Namur to Boondael on the south. Lined with high-end fashion stores and embassies, Avenue Louise splits the district in 2, before it gives way to one of the largest parks in Brussels, Bois de la Cambre.

To stay fit in Ixelles, you can go to one of the affordable Basic Fit gyms that are scattered all over the district. For a more luxurious experience, check out one of the fitness and wellness centres along Avenue Louise such as Aspria Brussels and Animo Studios.

Pharmacies and general practitioners are also easy to find in each neighbourhood of Ixelles. If that’s something you’d like to factor into your search, you can use this GP finder.

Discount grocery stores Lidl and ALDI are only found in the west of Ixelles, in the Matongé neighbourhood. One more Lidl and Colruyt are located in the bordering neighbourhood of Jourdan in Etterbeek. But there’s plenty of somewhat more pricey Delhaize and Carrefour supermarkets sprinkled in every area of Ixelles. And if you like cooking Asian dishes, you can go buy your products in one of the many Asian grocery stores in Flagey.

Public transport connections in Ixelles

Great connectivity is one of the biggest perks of Ixelles. You can easily get to the rest of Brussels by public transport.

If you plan to use the metro often, consider living in the Matongé or Louise neighbourhoods. Then you’ll be within walking distance from Port de Namur and Louise stations, located on metro lines 2 and 6. They can take you around the pentagone and all the way to Atomium in 20 minutes.

If you need to travel to other cities frequently, look for housing near Port de Namur as it's only a 10-minute walk from Brussels Central station or a 5-minute metro ride to Brussels Midi (South). Otherwise, living around Flagey or Université could be something for you as they’re very close to Mouterij or Etterbeek train stations.

With tram and bus lines stretching throughout smaller streets, you can easily live in quieter places, too. But if you ask us, a bike is your best friend! You can reach the centre of Brussels, Grand Place, within 25 minutes of cycling from the very furthest corner of Ixelles!

International schools in Ixelles

As a parent, you can rest assured that your kids are taken good care of in Ixelles. Some of the best international schools in Brussels, the European School Brussels III and BEPS International School (which is technically in the city of Brussels) will be at your disposal. In the nearby neighbourhoods of Auderghem and Etterbeek, you’ll also find the Japanese School of Brussels and Brussels International Catholic School.

Those with younger kids or expectant parents will have plenty of nurseries, preschools and primary schools to choose from. Some of the international options include bilingual French/English Stepping Stones for kids aged between 3 – 12, and several Montessori schools for kids between 3 and 6 years old.

Things to do in Ixelles

Ixelles is many things, but boring isn’t one of them! You’ll find plenty of things to do in this Brussels neighbourhood; from numerous galleries and art centres to cinemas and great food from all over the world.

Explore art in Ixelles

In Ixelles, you can fully immerse yourself in art, hopping from one museum to another. Visit La Patinoire Royale for immersive installations and contemporary art, Musée d'Ixelles for Belgian art (from 2024), or Musée Constantin Meunier Museum for sculptures.

For more under-the-radar artists, pay a visit to Fondation Cab, La Loge and Almine Rech. And check out the many small galleries scattered around Brugmann - Lepoutre and Rue de la Concorde.

And don’t worry, no need to note all of this down. Just bookmark our Google maps list for Ixelles.

See a movie or play in Ixelles

Close to Port de Namur, you’ll find the big chain cinema UGC and a smaller intimate indie theatre Cinema Vendome. If you’re a movie buff, we highly recommend getting a Cineville pass for unlimited movie sessions in independent cinemas all over Brussels.

Good news for expats, films in Brussels are usually shown in their original language with French or Dutch subtitles.

To join film or music festivals, visit the Flagey cultural centre in the stunning art deco building overlooking Ixelles ponds.

Ixelles has a few theatres up its sleeves, too. One of our favourites is Théâtre de Poche, tucked in between the trees of Bois de la Cambre park. Its programming is provocative and inspiring and the setting is as cosy as it gets!

Culinary options in Ixelles

There probably isn’t a cuisine that’s not represented in Ixelles.

For breakfast, try the fresh brew and bagels from Cup 28° or the original Japanese tiramisu pancakes from KAFEI.

Not sure what you want? Then go straight to Rue Lesbroussart – Brussels’ hotspot for food from every corner of the world. Whether it’s Korean barbecue at Itaewon or fairly-priced Lebanese mezze at Semsom, your taste buds are in for a treat.

Fancy Belgian food? In the heart of the Châtelain neighbourhood is La Quincaillerie and they serve some of the best Belgian dishes and seafood in town! Fancy African food? Visit the Matongé area. And if you’re feeling French, take a walk to Le Fruit Defendu in the Brugmann - Lepoutre neighbourhood. Their rather short but original menu changes according to the season.

Go shopping in Ixelles

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Ixelles is THE place to get your retail fix.

Visit Avenue de la Toison d’Or and Chaussée d’Ixelles for mainstream outlets like Zara, ARKET and Primark. For high fashion, visit Avenue Louise. To shop at independent stores and small boutiques, check out Rue Bailli in the Châtelaine neighbourhood and Rue Jean Stas in the adjacent Saint-Gilles!

For those into thrift shopping, visit Les Petits Riens. You won’t only find a great selection of vintage clothing there but also a huge depot stacked with second-hand furniture that costs pennies!

Shop for fresh products in Ixelles

Ixelles boasts 2 of our favourite markets in Brussels; Place Flagey and Place du Châtelain. You can buy fresh fruits, veggies, meats, fish, pre-made food and more! You’ll also save a bit of money compared to shopping at large supermarkets like Carrefour.

Get your budget sorted. Discover the cost of living in Brussels.

Check what’s on at See U

Feeling bored? There’s always something to do at See U, a cultural centre organising various activities for the neighbourhood. They bring people together through creative workshops, vintage markets, art exhibitions, tattoo conventions, concerts and everything in between. There’s something for every age group and interest, but you can also come to this 45,000 m2 former military complex for a drink!

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Savour Ixelles nightlife

Ixelles is actually home to the most famous Brussels cafe – Cafe Belga. Throughout the day, it’s a good place for a quick bite at the terrace overlooking the Ixelles ponds. But, as it gets darker, Cafe Belga transforms into a full-on party! Students flock here to meet up for a drink and dance to a guest DJ or live band. You’ll also discover many more bars by just walking around Place Flagey.

For a cocktail someplace quieter, pop by Edgar’s Flavours in the Louise neighbourhood or Green Lab found between Abbaye de la Cambre and Bois de la Cambre.

Finding accommodation in Ixelles

Are you in love with Ixelles yet? We’re not surprised! This commune offers all you need within arms reach.

Where to live in Ixelles

When searching for an apartment for rent in Ixelles, you should consider your lifestyle to find the best neighbourhood. After all, there’s almost nothing in common between the bustle of Porte de Namur and the posh streets around the ponds!

Are you staying up late on weekends and want to live close to your favourite bar? Then look for a place in the Flagey neighbourhood.

Do you want to walk a few minutes to the metro station? Then settle in the area of Matongé or Louise. But keep in mind that these are some of the busiest areas of Ixelles. So, for a quieter apartment, choose an apartment that’s on one of the smaller streets.

Living in Châtelain and Brugmann - Lepoutre, you’d be surrounded by elegant streets, decorated with art nouveau architecture. For a break of fresh air, you can just walk a few minutes to Tenbosch Park or take a longer stroll to Bois de la Cambre.

The lively Université was named “one of the coolest in Europe” by The Guardian. And don’t be fooled by this name; its residents include just as many elderly people, young starters and seasoned expats as students from all over the globe. Oh, and have we mentioned you’d be living right around the corner from See U?

Did you know that Audrey Hepburn was born in Ixelles? You can find her house on Rue Keyenveld 48!

Rental prices in Ixelles

Here’s what you can expect from the average rental prices in Ixelles:

Accommodation typeAverage price range
Private room€450 – €800
Studio€670 – €900
2-bedroom apartment€1,900 – €3,000

When searching for a room or apartment to rent in Ixelles, pay attention to what's included the rental price. If the rent excludes utilities you should count at least €125 a month on top to cover basic utilities such as energy, water and gas.

After you’ve found your home

Once you’ve found your dream place in Ixelles, you should familiarise yourself with the Belgian rental law to understand your rights when signing your tenancy contract.

Needless to say, make sure you book your accommodation through a trusted rental platform such as HousingAnywhere. To protect you from scams, we keep your money safe until 48 hours after the move-in date. That means you’ll get a full refund if your accommodation isn’t as advertised!

Booking your accommodation in Brussels before your arrival is very helpful as you can open your Belgian bank account and work through the rest of your relocation checklist with peace of mind!

Good luck in your search! We hope you enjoy your life in Brussels and all that Ixelles has to offer!

This article is for informational purposes only.

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