Things to do in Brussels

The Brussels

Brussels is at the top of the European hierarchy. It is also the center of culture and institutions in the Northern Hemisphere. The capital of Belgium has more to offer than what people normally think.

Brussels is full of history and great architecture. You can see that their heritage is important to them because of the great variety of museums they have.  This is perfect for your day trip itinerary. The city also has a wide selection of Gothic-style buildings and Cathedrals that are worth checking out.

Brussels is a multi-layered city that sometimes presents itself as a sophisticated and business-like society other times fun and progressive with attractions like the peeing boy and the comic strip center.

Brussels can be anything to you on any given day, it all depends on what you make of it.

We all know that Brussels is famous for its beer, chocolates, and mussels. This is why we have compiled this list of great places to explore while you are traveling in Brussels, Brussels is not the sum of beer, chocolate, and mussels.   It is the sum of everything in-between and then some.

 

 

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Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula

The construction of this magnificent Cathedral began at the beginning of the 13th century at the request of Henry I, Duke of Brabant. This period is important because the first gothic style structures appeared in the region at that time. It took them over 300 years to complete this massive Cathedral.

The stain glass windows of the St. Michael and St. Gudula were designed by J.B Capronnier in the 19th century.

  • View the Chapel of the Miracle of the Blessed Sacrament, which was built in flamboyant gothic style in 1534-1539.
  • The entrance remains to the Romanesque Church can be viewed by visitors and it dates back to 1047.
  • Marvel at the beauty of the Grenzing Great Organ with 4,300 pipes, 63 stops, and 4 keyboards.

Family History Local experience Free

Cinquantenaire Park

The Cinquatenaire Park was built in 1880 for the 50th anniversary of the Belgium independence. The park is full of attractions and festivals are held here annually. The broad pathways lead to various museums like the Royal museum of armed forces, the Museum of Arts and Culture and Autoworld.

In the park, you can also view the Pavilion of Human Passions designed by Victor Horta. There is also a spectacular garden that leads you to three arches, the main one being the Triumphal arch. On top of the arches, you can see a bronze quadriga that has a 360 view of the entire Brussels.

  • Attend one of the festivals held at the park yearly.
  • Take a walk through the gardens as you admire the three arches.
  • Visit one of the many museums that are just stone throw away.

Couples Nature Culture History Local experience Cheap

Radisson Red Brussels

Finding a reliable and cost-effective place to stay can be a hassle while traveling that is why we recommend you stay at the Radisson Red in Brussels. This hotel has everything from music, art, and fashion. It has the elegance of a French city and the Bohemian style of Amsterdam.

They offer standard rooms and spacious suits if you feel like soaking up the luxury. They also have events & games studios that you can use at your discretion.

  • Get taken back by the music, art, and fashion that the Radisson Red has to offer.
  • Choose between a standard or spacious room depending on your needs.
  • Visit the events & games studio and let your creative juices flow.

Couples Local experience Food Expensive

Bourse Exhibits

This building was the financial hub of Brussels, housing the Brussels stock exchange. It was constructed in 5 years in 1868-1873. Today the Bourse acts as a museum and soon it will be converted into a beerhouse too. The stairs that lead into the museum is a popular gathering spot for students and tourist enjoying the scenery and architecture around the Bourse.

  • Admire the historic art and sculptures housed in the Bourse.
  • Check out the beer house that will exhibit the beer culture in Brussels.
  • Grab a coffee and sit among the many students and tourist will viewing the great architecture.

Solo Local experience Cheap

Sablon neighborhood

If you get bored with the normal sights around Brussels then you should go to the historic upper part of Brussels known as Sablon. On your journey, you will find a Grand and Petit Sablon both offering an abundance of antiques, art, and delicious Belgian chocolate.

On weekends the Grand Sablon morphs into an antique collector’s paradise. The market has various antique dealers and booksellers; however, some of the items can be pricey.

  • Move away from the normal sites and venture to the historic upper part of Brussels known as Sablon.
  • Visit the Grand and Petit Sablon and find special antiques in the market.
  • Indulge in the many selections of Belgian chocolate.

Family Culture Local experience Expensive

Comic Book Route

Throughout Brussels, you will find a key connection between the city and comic books. This relationship was forged in the 1990s and pays tribute to the characters and authors of the Franco-Belgian comics. When roaming the city you will find comic art on the walls of buildings in the city center and Laeken.

You can find around 57 comic book art throughout the city. These art selections include characters like Ric Hochet, Neron, Cori, Froud & Stouf and Leonard. You can get all of these locations of the wall-art here.

  • Explore the comic book art on the walls throughout the city.
  • Take a tour of the comic book route and learn about its origins and developments.
  • If you are an artist you can join the many other artists in the Blank Canvas Exhibition.

Family Adventure Culture History Free

Brussels beer crawl

Brussels is famous for its chocolate and award-winning beer. If you put those together with the nightlife scene you have got a recipe for a fantastic night out. Brussels offers many pub crawl activities that you can join solo or with your friends. The pub crawl experience begins at a central meeting spot at they have events every Wed, Thurs, Fri and Sat.

On the beer experience, you will have the privilege of tasting 5 unique Brussels beers. You will also learn the secrets of the beers and an introductory course to how the beers are made.

  • Enjoy the great opportunity to make new friends while enjoying a cold beer.
  • Learn about beers and the beer-making process.
  • Have a fun time bar crawling and experience some of the clubs plus 4 bars.

Solo Culture Local experience Food Cheap

Notre Dame Du Sablon

Since the Middle Ages the Gothic Style Notre Dame Du Sablon has been a site for pilgrimage. The late Gothic Church was founded in the 15th century but there was previously a small chapel located at the site that dates back to 1304.

The Notre Dame is one of the most beautiful structures in the whole of Belgian. In the interior of the Church, you will find a wooden pulpit made in 1697 and serves as one of the churches highlights.

The central nave of the Church has beautiful light streaming in from the glass stained windows which measure 15 meters long.

  • Visit the 15th-century Gothic-style Notre Dame Du Sablon and witness the great architecture.
  • The highlight of the Church is the wooden pulpit made in 1697.
  • The light from the 15-meter long glass stained windows emit a beautiful ray of light that flows over the central nave.

Family Culture History Free

Cantillon Brewery

The Cantillon Brewery is a must stop for any tourist visiting the area. It is not just a place to grab a cold beer but it also offers visitors various items at its markets like Cantillon memorabilia, t-shirts, stoneware mugs, baskets, and glasses to name a few.

  • Have one of the craft beers made by the Cantillon brewing co.
  • Visit the shop and buy items with the Cantillon logo.
  • Enjoy a nice day out learning about the brewery while roaming the premises.

Solo Local experience Food Cheap

Try traditional food

Brussels is relatively unknown in the culinary scene with neighbors France taking the spotlight in that regard. However, recently the people of Brussels have come out of their shells and reinventing their classic dishes with a touch of modern cuisines.

The best things to do in Brussels have to be various ancient and traditional meals they serve. You can visit spots like the Humphrey restaurant for a taste of Filipino/Belgian Unami smoked mussels. If you fancy a nice starter dish then you should check out the La Mer du Nord where the food is served on an upturned seafood crate, on the menu is razor clams, fish soup and the legendary croquettes served with a chilled glass of white wine.

For a complete list of eateries in Brussels check out this list.

  • Explore the city and find that perfect eating spot with a Belgian flare.
  • Enjoy smoked mussels at the Humphrey Restaurant with a Filipino/Belgian twist.
  • For a fun and memorable experience visit the La Mer du Nord for an eating experience of note.

Family Local experience Food Medium

Place Sainte-Catherine

If you plan on visiting the Grand Place then you should fit in a visit to the Sainte-Catherine. This space is hip and trendy with an old-style Brussels feel to it. In this space, you will also find the Sainte-Catherine Church that was erected in 1874-inspired by the 16th century French Churches. The Church is a tourist magnet as it displays decorations complete with buttresses crowned with gargoyles.

  • Enjoy the vibrant, trendy and old-style feel of the Place Sainte-Catherine.
  • The Church is inspired by 16th century French Churches.
  • The decorations on the Church are buttresses crowned with gargoyles.

Couples History Local experience Free

Fashion and Lace Museum

Carine Gilson has been creating couture lingerie blending silk and lace for the past 30 years. Her designs have made her world-famous and her pieces are sought after all over the globe. While you in Brussels you can get the opportunity to view some of her best work at the Lace Museum. You can check her expo as it is open until 19.04.2020.

  • Meet the brilliant fashion designer Carine Gilson.
  • View some of her world-famous designs showcased at the museum.
  • You will also get to chance to buy some of her newer pieces at the Fashion and Lace Museum.

Couples Local experience Medium

Le Botanique

The Le Botanique use to be a historic botanic garden before it was converted into a cultural center in 1984. The conversion was mainly for the French community of Belgium (Wallonia-Brussels Federation).

The primary focus of the Bontanique now is concerts and exhibitions of the visual and contemporary art. The Le Botanique puts a strong emphasis on photography and throughout the year they have dozens of expositions and activities related to art.

A new exhibition has just started named – The Sky is on Fire, by Emmanuel Van der Auwera.

  • Visit this revamped botanic garden as it is now a cultural center.
  • Join one of the concerts or view the many exhibitions they have every year.
  • A new exhibition by Emmanuel Van der Auwera has just started.

Family Nature Culture History Cheap

Peeing fountain

One of Brussels main attractions is the peeing boy fountain known locally as Manneken Pis (little pee man in Flemish). The bronze statue was erected in the 17th century and is just 61cm tall. Not many people would describe this as art but the locals have so many stories and celebrations relating to this statue that it has become synonymous with Brussels culture.

The peeing boy is so ingrained in the society that the statue has a different outfit for every occasion or celebration throughout the year.

On some special occasions when the brass bands are out in full swing, they will take the peeing boy and hook him up to different flavors of Belgium beer and let it run out from his fountain tip for the public to consume.

  • Witness the Manneken Pis fountain that is just 2 blocks away from the town hall.
  • View the different outfits of the statue depending on what festival is being held.
  • Drink from the tip of the peeing fountain when the brass bands hook him up to different Belgium beers.

Family History Local experience Free

Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium

One of the biggest museums in Belgium invites everyone local or tourist for an experience they will never forget. This is how the Royal Museums of Fine Arts see themselves and they do deliver on that expectation. At the museums, you can view many exhibitions from delightful drawings, artworks, masterpieces, sculptures, etc.

One of the permanent works on show is - The Originals Pieter Bruegel the Elder's masterpieces. Pieter Bruegel is one of the most famous painters from the Renaissance period. The museum houses most of his masterpieces and they are very rare and valuable.

  • View the different exhibition from drawings, artworks, masterpieces, sculptures, etc.
  • Join the Musicorum festival held daily at lunchtime during summer.
  • View the MasterPieces by famous Renaissance painter Pieter Bruegel.

Family Culture History Local experience Medium

Mont des Arts (Mount of the Arts)

Many people describe this place as ‘beauty on a hill’, and if you visit here you will know why this is. On top of the hill, you will be mesmerized with great architecture views and surroundings. There are countless gardens and parks to explore that signify the rich wealth of greenery in the Brussels society.

The Mount of the Arts puts you near various museums and entertainment hot-spots that making this your starting point for exploring is a must-a selfie or two wouldn’t hurt either.

  • Watch the city from the hill and take in the atmosphere as the day winds down.
  • Take a walk in the gardens or the park and admire the greenery.
  • Hop on over to one of the museums or just view the sculptures in the Mont des Arts.

Couples Adventure Nature Culture Local experience Free

See the Christmas markets

If you are visiting Brussels in the festive season then you have to explore the Christmas markets. The market is located at the Place Saint Catherine and is held annually at Xmas time. You will find 200 wooden chalets that offer gifts and treasures that are perfect for the holidays.

If you don’t like shopping then you can also enjoy other activities in the market like ice skating, carnival rides, and a light and sound show. There are also various eateries and drinks to enjoy all in the spirit of the season.

  • Find a perfect Christmas gift at the wooden chalet market.
  • At the market, you can enjoy a light show, carnival rides or go ice-skating.
  • The food and drinks served at the market are really good and worth the taste.

Family Culture Local experience Food Free

Grand Place

The most famous of all locations is Brussels has to be the Grand Place. It is the central square of the city with the most historic events taking place at the square. It is known worldwide for its decorative and aesthetic wealth. It is listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List and is considered one of the most beautiful places on earth.

Some of the events that took place at the square date back to the 1500s where the first Protestant Martyrs were burnt by the inquisition there. In the same era, the counts of Egmond and Hoorn were beheaded there.

Today, however, the square is used for festivals and cultural events. Events like the Flower Carpet are held every 2 years where 500,000 begonias are used. There is a huge Christmas tree ceremony held at the square every year with huge numbers of tourist attending, you have probably seen it in some movies.

  • Visit the daily flower market.
  • Explore the UNESCO World Heritage site and view aesthetic wealth.
  • Take part in the Christmas tree ceremony.
  • Visit the Flower Carpet held every 2 years.

General Info Brussels

Country Belgium
Capital Brussels
Language French & Dutch
Timezone  (GMT+2)
Currency The Euro
International dialing code +45
Electricity Type C plugs with two round pins, with 230 V and 50 Hz.
City population of Copenhagen 174,383