The capital of Belgium, Brussels is an absolutely beautiful city with lots to see and do. Whether you are traveling alone, with a partner, friends, or the entire family – there is something for everyone. No matter what interests you, you are guaranteed to find something that you find appealing. If you are lacking in ideas, check out these things to do in Brussels and you are sure to be spoilt for choice.
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- Go to The Grand Place
- Visit Manneken Pis
- Go to the BELvue Museum
- Explore the Old England Building
- Visit Saint-Michel Cathedral
- Go to the Atomium
- Discover the Choco-Story Brussels
- Visit the Belgian Comic Strip Center
- Tour the Palais Royale
- Shop at the Royal Gallery Saint-Hubert
- Treat yourself to the Place du Châtelain Market
- Visit the Belgian Royal Museum of Fine Arts
- Go on a Beer Tasting Tour
- Visit the Brussels Gueuze Museum
- Walk through Mini Europe
- Discover Coudenberg Palace Archaeological Site
- Eat Moules Frites
- View Mont des Arts
- Go to the Notre-Dame du Sablon
- Get good luck with Everard T Serclaes
- Visit Godiva Chocolates
- Check out the Museums of Parc du Cinquantenaire
- Go to the Parlamentarium
- Walk the Château Royal Parkland
- Visit Meunier Museum
- Explore the Abbaye de la Cambre
- Go to the Basilique Nationale du Sacre Coeur
- View Brussels Metro Station Art
- Wander around the Ixelles and St Gilles Districts
- Ride the Glass Elevator at Square Breughel L’ancien
- Explore the Halle Gate
- Walk along the Quartier de l Îlot Sacré
- Visit Brussels City Museum
- Go to Maison Dandoy
- See the Bourse
- Go to Delirium Café
- Enjoy Bois De La Cambre
- Visit the Jeu De Balle Flea Market
- Explore Le Botanique
- Visit the Train World
- Relax at Café Belga
- Check out the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken
- Visit the Fashion and Lace Museum
- Madame Moustache
- Go to Autoworld
- Brussel’s Notre Dame Du Sablon
- Cinquantenaire Park
Go to The Grand Place
The Grand Place is the central square in the city of Brussels and it is known for its wealth and grandeur. It is considered one of the most beautiful medieval squares in all of Europe. There are many historical buildings dating back to the 17th century found here. It is surrounded by the city’s guild halls, the city museum, and the Brussels town hall. The Grand Place was the location of several different important events through the years including the execution of protestant martyrs and the founding of the Belgian labor party. If you want to soak up the history and check out these gorgeous streets for yourself, this is a place that is worth visiting.
Visit Manneken Pis
If you want a little giggle during your time in Brussels, the Manneken Pis is not going to disappoint. This is a 21-inch bronze statue in central Brussels of a little boy urinating. The Manneken Pis will be dressed up in different outfits sometimes and this is usually to commemorate different occasions, which always proves a hit with tourists and locals alike. He has been around since the 15th century, and the fountain played an important part in the distribution of drinking water. Nowadays, he is more an image of Brussels folklore, the joy of the citizens, and also their ability to not take themselves too seriously. Although not as well known, Jeanneke Pis is the female version and this is depicted by a smiling little girl squatting down and urinating, this bronze statue can also be found in central Brussels and she was erected in 1987.
Go to the BELvue Museum
This is probably one of the most well-known museums in Belgium and it focuses on the history of the country. There are lots of things to see and do at this museum, it is popular with tourists from all around the world and it would be educational for children too. There are often events and different exhibitions held at BELvue Museum too so make sure to check out what is on during your time in the city so that you don’t miss out and can book your visit.
Explore the Old England Building
Old England was originally a department store but this is more of a must-see landmark nowadays because of the art nouveau building, which is truly a beautiful piece of architecture. It was designed by the architect Paul Saintenoy and since 2008, it has also been home to the Musical Instruments Museum. The exterior of the building has not changed much since it was built and for that reason and the unique gothic design, it is one of the most well-known pieces of architecture in Brussels. There is even a cafe right at the top where you can enjoy some panoramic views over the city.
Visit Saint-Michel Cathedral
This cathedral is dedicated to the patron saints of Brussels (Saint Michel and Saint Gudula). It is a grand gothic church that was founded back in 1225, although it was not completed until the 15th century. The outside of the cathedral is very impressive and the interior even more so. This makes it worth a visit if you are interested in architecture, cathedrals, or a mixture of the two. You will appreciate the extravagance of the cathedral straight away because you have to go up a flight of steps to get to the all-consuming towers. The beautiful interior is 108 meters by 50 meters and it looks very lavish. It also includes the most beautiful stain-glassed windows, which are tall and intricately designed.
Go to the Atomium
In addition to the previously mentioned Manneken Pis, the other most well-known tourist landmark is the Atomium. It is a steel and aluminum building 102 meters in height that resemble a huge atom composed of spheres. It’s a 102-meter-tall steel and aluminum tower formed of spheres. Architect Andre Waterkeyn created it for the 1958 Brussels World Exhibition. It remained constructed and remains a tourist attraction due to its unique appearance. You need to take a tram to get to this location but it is worth it.
Discover the Choco-Story Brussels
Belgium is famous for its chocolate, which you can learn about and sample at Choco-Story Brussels. This museum teaches about chocolate, from early cocoa trees to its evolution. This museum offers live chocolate tastings throughout the day and a session where you may make your chocolate. This is a fun visit for the whole family and is known to be especially popular with kids.
Visit the Belgian Comic Strip Center
Located in central Brussels is a beautiful building from 1906 that was designed by Victor Horta. If you like comics or have a family member who does, you must visit this store. You can learn about the history of comic books from the country that gave us The Smurfs. There are so many talented Belgian and French comic artists and much of their work is displayed in this center. This truly is a comic book fanatic heaven because you can also find original manuscripts, original sketches, and much more! This center is open to the public, but you must book online.
Tour the Palais Royale
The Royal Palace (more commonly called Palais Royale) is used as a residence for the royal family. It is absolutely beautiful and is surrounded by vast green gardens. The Belgian flag will be flying if the royal family is at the residence. There is a change of guard ceremony every day around 2.30 which is very popular. You can obtain a free tour of the palace’s halls and reception rooms from July to August. Near the Palais Royale are the Palais des Academies and Palais des Beaux-Arts.
Visiting Palais Royal has no cost. A park for the nearby structures, but always accessible to the general public. The arcade on the ground floor of the buildings houses stores selling various goods.
Shop at the Royal Gallery Saint-Hubert
Architect Jean-Pierre Cluysenaer designed this commercial arcade in 1847. It was created in an Italian style with a roof that is made of glass and shopfronts that are arched. The arcade is 213 meters long and is filled with attractive shops that tourists love to explore. After its popularity, numerous similar shopping arcades emerged around Belgium and Europe. It’s a terrific spot to try chocolates from Brussels’ many chocolatiers, plus there are several cafes.
Treat yourself to the Place du Châtelain Market
If you happen to be visiting Brussels on a Wednesday, you have to go to the Place du Châtelain Market. A weekly food market sells local Belgian food as well as food from Vietnam and the Middle East. Besides cafes and restaurants, you may buy cured meats, cheeses, and chocolate to take home.
Visit the Belgian Royal Museum of Fine Arts
This museum unites four other world-class art museums. The first art collection in Brussels was set up in 1797, which was the start of the museum. This group of museums includes Rogier van der Weyden’s The Mourning of Christ and Dirk Bouts’ Judgement of Emperor Otto. Next to the main structure is the Musée Magritte, a museum devoted to the surrealist work of René Magritte. This is a must-see attraction in Brussels for art enthusiasts from all around the globe. The museum displays Magritte’s work in chronological sequence so visitors can follow his growth.
Go on a Beer Tasting Tour
You can’t visit Belgium’s capital without taking a beer sampling tour. You may book a Brussels beer tasting tour online and spend a few hours in pubs tasting beers. Belgian beers often startle foreigners with their strength, so don’t be the designated driver.
Visit the Brussels Gueuze Museum
The Gueze museum shows the evolution of beer production in Belgium and Brussels. Learn more about the fascinating history of how their Lambic is created by visiting this brewery. The Gueze museum explains how Belgian beers receive their distinctive flavor. If you like beer, you should visit the Cantillion Brewery’s museum.
Cantillon is somewhat of a hidden treasure in the United States. There is a wide range in price for a 750 ml bottle of this stuff, from around $30 to over $100 if you can even get it.
Walk through Mini Europe
At the base of the Atomium sits Mini-Europe, a tiny park with European monuments. Miniature Europe features over 300 different landmarks spread throughout 80 cities. If you want to tour Europe but don’t have the money, check out this tribute. This is super unique to Brussels and is sure to be memorable for the entire family.
Discover Coudenberg Palace Archaeological Site
Brussels’ active archeological site, unearthed in the 1980s, is popular with tourists. After years of digging, hidden passages, dungeons, and even long-lost streets were uncovered beneath Coudenberg Palace. The basement is now open for exploration, and a guided audio tour is provided. The interactive “Underground Treasure Hunt” gives youngsters a flashlight, treasure map, historical costumes, and a riddle to solve. This is a spot that can be both educational and fun so what is better than that?
Eat Moules Frites
Moules Frites, which means mussels with french fries, came from Belgium and is a very popular dish there. You can find this meal in almost every restaurant in Brussels. When in Brussels, you have to try Moules Frites.
They are commonly found in the country’s famous fry shops, which are called friteries in French and freetkoten in Flemish Belgium Dutch. They were once considered poor people’s meals due to their low cost and abundance.
View Mont des Arts
In 1956, this spot is between Place Royale and Place l’Albertine. Mont des Arts include the Bibliotheque Albert I and Palais de la Dynastie. The square has wonderful architecture and views of the lower city. You won’t regret stopping by this establishment at all.
Go to the Notre-Dame du Sablon
Notre-Dame du Sablon is a must-see in Brussels. This is one of the best gothic cathedrals in Brussels to replace a small chapel in the 15th and 16th centuries. The interior is just as impressive as the building’s appearance. The stained glass is stunning. A woman from Antwerp brought a figure of a virgin to the sacrarium of Notre Dame in 1348.
Get good luck with Everard T Serclaes
Lord and citizen of Brussels Everard T. Serclaes are celebrated as a hero for freeing the city from the Flemings in the 14th century. It is supposed that anyone who touches or massages the bronze sculpture of him laying down the corpse in the middle of Brussels would be blessed with good fortune. People travel from all over the world to touch it in the hopes of receiving some of the good fortunes that Everard is known to bestow.
Visit Godiva Chocolates
Everybody has heard of Godiva chocolates and since it is a Belgian brand, you can find them in Grand Place, Brussels. Godiva is all about luxury and of course, incredible taste. You can buy a range of different chocolates from these world-class chocolatiers and don’t forget that if you are looking for gifts to give from your time in Brussels, nothing says it quite like pralines.
As of around (Nov 2009), however, the Original taste is no longer vegan due to a change in the recipe. You can classify the following five flavors as vegetarian but not vegan: There’s the classic, the white, the mocha, the milk, and the Caramel Milk Chocolate.
Check out the Museums of Parc du Cinquantenaire
Built-in 1880 to celebrate the country’s 50th birthday, this stunning setting is a pleasure to behold. The Palais du Cinquantenaire is the focal point of the complex; it consists of two wings joined by a massive arch and houses several excellent museums. This is one of many archaeological collections housed by the Royal Art and History Museum. In addition, the Belgian Army Museum and Museum of Military History are excellent resources for learning about Belgian military history and technology.
Go to the Parlamentarium
If you are keen on European politics and want to see where important decisions are made, a visit to the parliament is a must. This is the visitors center for the European Parliament and there you can use interactive technology to understand how parliament works just some of the things that you will be able to take full advantage of include a 360-degree cinema, a role-playing game, and a giant floor map that you can interact with. The whole family can enjoy themselves here while learning about political processes.
The European Parliament encourages people to come to see them in Brussels, Strasbourg, and Luxembourg and does so gladly. Travel to Strasbourg or Brussels to see the European Parliament in action!
Walk the Château Royal Parkland
The Château Royal is home to the Belgian royal family and although you can not get direct access there, you can walk the grounds and parkland all around. It is an absolutely beautiful spot with different footpaths to explore, which is even more enjoyable on a summer’s day. There is a statue of Leopold I at the front of the palace and in the center of a round flowerbed. Some more things that you can do here include looking at the Japanese towers, and the hothouses, which are so gorgeous and open to the public in April and May.
Visit Meunier Museum
The Meunier Museum is deserving of its inclusion here even though several other museums have previously been highlighted. Located here is a museum honoring the work of Belgian artist Constantin Meunier. The notable thing about Meunier is that he had a social realist style that paved the way and influenced future artists. His museum is home to over 150 drawings, paintings, sculptures, and plaster models. It is a very interesting place to visit for those who are interested in art.
Explore the Abbaye de la Cambre
This is a beautiful area of Brussels to visit and in it, stands an abbey, which is very elegant and grand without being over the top. Cistercian nuns founded an abbey here in 1200 but it was destroyed in the 16th century before being rebuilt as this very building. Inside the abbey is a shrine to Saint Boniface, who was a 13th-century bishop, there is also a painting called The Mocking of Christ by Albert Bouts. The windows in the cloister are decorated with abscesses and nuns, which is a sight to behold.
Go to the Basilique Nationale du Sacre Coeur
The Basilique Nationale du Sacre Coeur, the fifth-largest church in the world, takes up most of the neighborhood of Koekelberg in Brussels. It was created in honor of the country’s 75th birthday in 1905. Many visitors to this church, which features a variety of architectural styles, view it more as a piece of art than a place of worship. Christ bestowing his blessing is depicted in a stunning painting by Georges Minne that hangs over the altar. You can experience the most amazing views of the city at this location and even across the countryside to Antwerp at the cupola, and you can rent binoculars on sight to make these views even more incredible.
View Brussels Metro Station Art
This is one of the more unusual things to do in Brussels but is worth experiencing. There are many photographs, murals, and paintings in the metro stations and you never know what you are going to find from one to the other. A delightful painting honoring the Belgian origins of the Tintin comic can be seen in the “Stockel” station. Some other stations that you need to visit to find some unique and divorce pieces of art include Beekkant and Maelbeek. Some of the art is done by well-known artists, but most of it is done by people who live in or visit Brussels and want to show their creativity in this way.
Wander around the Ixelles and St Gilles Districts
Both St Gilles and the Ixelles are stunning areas of Brussels where you could spend hours just walking around and looking at some of the buildings. These neighborhoods are bustling with art nouveau-style architecture, fantastic marketplaces, and exciting nightlife. These areas are quite residential before lots of people live in these spots so they are fairly less touristy than other areas. But if you are a fan of great architecture, it is worth a look. This would be the ideal spot if you are visiting the city with a partner or even if you are solo traveling.
Ride the Glass Elevator at Square Breughel L’ancien
The Marolles is an area of Brussels and in the main square, you can find charming and antique vintage-style shops in this area. In addition to that, you can ride a public glass elevator, which is quite an experience in itself. This elevator is located at the Square Breughel L’ancien and once at the top, you will have some amazing views over the city. Don’t just go to Marolles for the elevator though, it’s an absolutely beautiful area that you should explore in all its glory.
Explore the Halle Gate
The Halle Gate is another place you might want to visit. This is a 600-year-old fairytale monument, and its castle-like image does make it look like something out of a fairytale. While it is as close to its original as possible, it has had work done to it over the years and it offers some amazing views over Brussels if you want to climb those steps. There are 169 steps to the top of Halle Gate but it is definitely worth the trek. This is the biggest witness of the medieval past of Brussels so is a must-see for those who enjoy that type of history.
Walk along the Quartier de l Îlot Sacré
If you just want to wander and see some amazing sights with no particular destination in mind, go to the Quartier de l Îlot Sacré. This is a beautiful square that makes up some of the historical areas of the market. Some of what you can expect to find here include shops, bars, and restaurants and some old buildings to behold. There are a few different attractions along here including the Choco Story so you definitely should be able to fit the quarter into your itinerary with ease.
Visit Brussels City Museum
Located in Grand Place is the Brussels City Museum and it is ideal if you want to discover more about Belgium and just how far it has come over the years. The city has an impressive history and probably more so than you even realized. This museum is big and each floor of it includes something different from artistic talents, Belgium through the middle ages, and more. This building is located in the “Maison du Roi” and is worth a visit if you want a little bit of education about the city while you are there.
Go to Maison Dandoy
Sweet treats are something that Belgium never fail on and if you love sampling their delicious goodies, you NEED to go to Maison Dandoy. There are a lot of places in the city where you can get real Belgian waffles, but this is known to be one of the best. This place is really popular amongst tourists and locals love it too. While they might not be the healthiest, these are some of the best-tasting sweet waffles that you will ever try so you will regret it if you do not try them. You deserve a much-needed break from museums and architecture and this is the perfect stop-off charge to grab a drink and bite to eat so that you can recharge your batteries.
See the Bourse
The Bourse is just the Belgian stock exchange which you might not find the most interesting if you are not into that kind of thing. However, you need to see this building for yourself to truly appreciate it due to its grand architecture. And since it’s in Brussels so you might as well stop by during your travels. People say that the Bourse is one of the best things to see in Brussels, which has a lot to do with how beautiful the building is. The sculpture Rodin designed the outside of the building and trading has not taken place inside since 1996. Today, this is a place where events and often musical performances take place.
Go to Delirium Café
Delirium is a very popular beer from Belgium, and Delirium Cafe is known as one of the best and most popular bars in Brussels. When you walk in, you’ll be blown away by the fact that there are more than 2,000 beers to choose from, all of which are served on tap for the best taste. This is a huge bar and it remains popular with tourists and also locals who are proud of their extensive range of beers.
There are over 2,000 different beers to try. The quantity of beers on tap at Delirium Café is so great that they hold the Guinness World Record, set in 2004, for most of any establishment in the world.
Enjoy Bois De La Cambre
You might want to escape from the busy hustle and bustle of central Brussels and if that is the case, why not go for a stroll in this quaint and attractive park? This is Belgium’s largest park. It is at the bottom of the Sonion forest. It’s popular with those riding their bike, going for a run, walking their dog, and much more. Perhaps you just want to grab a waffle, sit on a bench, and watch the world go by!
Visit the Jeu De Balle Flea Market
The Jeu De Balle flea market, which is also called the “old market,” is a great place to shop and find great deals. You can find pretty much anything that you can imagine at this market including jewellery, clothes, homeware, and much more. This market is open every day of the year and does get very busy but it is also an absolute treasure trove if you know what you are looking for.
Explore Le Botanique
This is the botanical garden in Brussels, but these days it’s more like a big greenhouse where different events take place. The appearance is amazing and that is even before you have got inside. This might not be the most typical place that you would expect to see a concert but once you experience it for yourself, you will love it. Make sure to look at what’s on when you are in Brussels and book your tickets if this is something you would like to do.
Visit the Train World
Particularly popular with families is train world which is a museum that looks at the history of the different trains of Belgium. Trains are really important to Belgium and this museum showcases that but also presents it in a really fun and interactive way. From steam-powered trains to modern-day ones and absolutely everything in between. This location is a must-see for train enthusiasts and it will help you to discover some new information about the city too.
Relax at Café Belga
After seeing all the sights in Brussels, you’re bound to get hungry, and the cafe Belga is one of the largest places to eat in the area. The menu is extensive and you can sample the local cuisine, in addition to finding things that the whole family can enjoy. There is a cool atmosphere at cafe Belga and you could spend quite a lot of hours here soaking up what is on offer and enjoying a bite to eat and drink too.
Check out the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken
This is one of King Leopold II’s most impressive ventures and if you want to see something beautifully unique, make sure to go here during your time in Brussels. This is an incredible estate and the royal family resides here quite often. The plants are amazing and it is even more special to visit these royal greenhouses during winter because of the incredible palm trees, You do need to keep in mind though that the greenhouses themselves are only open to the public in spring.
Visit the Fashion and Lace Museum
Belgium has a big fashion scene, and over the years there have been many amazing pieces, including some made of lace. Belgium did a lot to make lace more popular, so if you are interested in the fashion industry, this is the place to go. This museum has some amazing displays and some stores where you can shop too.
There are a lot of bars and clubs in Brussels where you can enjoy the nightlife, and Madame Moustache is one of the best places to go. The interior of this location is dark and mysterious but it looks fantastic. They serve a variety of amazing drinks and the atmosphere is pretty electric with friendly patrons always looking for a chat. The service from the staff is great and there is also regular entertainment like DJs and different types of music performances like swing and rock. Once you try this interesting little place for yourself, it could very well become your new favorite whenever you are in the city.
Go to Autoworld
Car fanatics this one is for you because Autoworld is an attraction that showcases some truly amazing vehicles. In addition to looking at the different cars, you will also learn all about them. This is a fun place to go whether you are already a vehicle pro or you like cars but you do not know much about them. Get ready to learn at Autoworld, where you can find out how important cars have been in Belgium over the years. The display cars are full of different amazing colors and buildings, and it’s amazing to see just how far we have come with vehicles from the beginning of their existence to now.
Brussel’s Notre Dame Du Sablon
The magnificent Gothic cathedral we see today began its life as a chapel for the Archer’s Guild in the 14th century.
The subsequent century saw substantial expansion as a result of the building’s popularity and the reverence offered to the Madonna statue there for its reputed medicinal abilities. It is believed that a thieving husband and wife duo in a rowboat stole the statue.
A life-size facsimile of the statue is on exhibit within the building as a means of tribute, even though its whereabouts are unknown.
Brussels is an active metropolis and a city with plenty of green space. Even though the weather might be unpredictable, the city is at its best when the sun is out. On sunny days, many people flock to Cinquantenaire Park (Parc du Cinquantenaire).
People are picnicking in the open spaces, riding bikes down the paths, and sitting near the fountain. The Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History is located there as well. Not only is this museum impressive on its own, but it also serves as a great jumping-off point from which to discover the rest of the park and its world-famous Arc de Triomphe.
Parc du Cinquantenaire, about 2 miles east of the Grand-Place, is open 24/7 with guards on duty all week long. There is no charge.
Even though Brussels is a city full of tourists, there are many things to do, some of which are less well known than others. Now that you have learned more about what the city has to offer you and the top things to do in Brussels, it should make you feel more knowledgeable about planning the itinerary for your next trip to Belgium. May it be full of beer, chocolate, and a lot of amazing memories.