The capital of Belgium, Brussels. Is a fascinating place with stunning architecture and fascinating history packed into every street and alleyway. The vibe of the city is hard to put your finger on. Sometimes it seems very business and bureaucracy focused, it is after all the administerial centre of the EU, but at other times it feels laid back and does not take itself too seriously: think Manneken Pis and The Comic Strip Centre.
It is this multi-layered atmosphere that makes Brussels such a great city to visit. It truly has something for everyone and offers European staples such as art and architecture alongside more unusual attractions. Don’t visit Brussels if you are on a diet as the fries.
Top Things To Visit In Brussels
Spending just a couple of days in the city will allow you to see all of the major and most popular sights but if you are here for a week, you will be able to visit some more obscure, but equally fascinating attractions. Let’s have a look at the best things to do in Brussels:
The beautiful Victor Horta-designed building is worth visiting even if you’re not interested in any of its hugely varied events. But with recent highlights including a season dedicated to hip-hop, a retrospective of Charlemagne Palestine’s offbeat art, an international film festival and a series of talks with African artists and curators, there’s certain to be something that tickles your fancy. Get in free with a Brussels Card, which includes public transport around the city.
Belgium prides itself on its quirkiness, and this is unlike any other tourist landmark. Five of its nine spherical rooms host exhibitions on subjects ranging from the history of air travel to the surrealist art of René Magritte, joined by escalators in the narrow connecting tubes (not for the claustrophobic). The surrounding parkland is ideal for picnicking, and the next-door Adamuseum has some interesting shows on the evolution of design.
This little boy has put Brussels on the tourist map; people travel to this city from all over the world just to catch a glimpse of him urinating. The legend behind the Manneken Pis (which translates to little peeing man in Dutch) varies widely depending on who you ask. One popular story is of a little boy relieving himself on a witch’s doorstep. Catching the boy in the act, the witch wished to punish him by turning him into stone, forcing him into that compromising position for eternity.
Best Things To Do In Brussels
Go for a tasting at Cantillon Brewery
Cantillon Brewery (aka Brasserie Cantillon) is one of the best places to visit in Brussels for beer fans. This historic brewery makes only lambic beer, which spontaneously ferments with wild yeast, compared to most beers on the market that have a tightly-controlled fermentation process with specific strains of brewer’s yeast.
Try the best waffle in Brussels
Even if you only have one day in Brussels. Indulging in a delicious waffle should be at the top of your list. Our favorites (and the ones we believe are the best in Brussels) are at Maison Dandoy. This shop has been cranking out delicious baked treats since 1829, so they know what they’re doing.
At many waffle stands in Belgium, the waffles are re-heated, which is no bueno. At their counter and in the tearoom, Maison Dandoy makes everything to order.
Visit City Museum
The French name of Maison du Roi is translated as ‘the Kings House’ but although the building is a richly ornamented masterpiece. The Flemish called it ‘The Bread House’ because the house replaced the town’s Bread Market which had been there for hundreds of years.
This museum is dedicated to the history of Brussels, and if you have already seen the Manneken-Pis, in here you can take a look at his costumes.
Experience The Best Of Brussels
Next door to the Atomium is Bruparck, a 25 hectare leisure park of several amusements and attractions. This includes a 27 cinema complex called Kinepolis. An all-round Imax screen, a planetarium and a water park called L’Oceade plus a clutch of eateries in ‘The Village’.
Pride of place though goes to the a display of some of the most famous and symbolic buildings of the countries of the European Union at 1/25th of the original size. You will see gondolas, a TGV train on its way to Paris even hear the unmistakable chimes of Big Ben.
Musical Instruments Museum
If you love music, then place the Musée des Instruments de Musique (the Musical Instruments Museum) at the top of your Brussels to-do list. This facility has 1,200 mechanical and electrical instruments from around the globe. The museum gives visitors the unique opportunity to hear what these instruments sound like thanks to special headphones.