10 things to do and see in Brussels

A complete and detailed guide about 10 things to do and see in Brussels in 1, 2 or 3 days

10 things to do and see in Brussels
10 things to do and see in Brussels

Brussels is one of the European city that people use to visit at the end of their journey. Many other European cities has this destiny but Brussels take its revenge welcoming tourists with the majesty of the Grand Place.

It tells  fantasy stories, with comic strips shown not only in the Museum of Comics but throughout the city; it can compete with Paris, Madrid and Florence with its Museum of Fine Arts, showing the skills of the Flemish artists; It amazes for its Art Nouveau routes, signed by the name of Victor Horta as Barcelona is signed by Gaudi; and it delights its tourists  with “brussel sprouts” and with beer, one of the best in the world.

For people who love antique souvenirs we suggest to  visit to the Flea Market of Sablon  –  le Quartier du Sablon – and the Vintage Market – le Quartier des Antiquaires. There is so much to see: we will suggest you  10 things to see and do in  Brussels.

If you are looking for a hotel in Brussels, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 200 hotels with prices, pictures  and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com

The Grand Place in Brussels

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The Grand Place in Brussels is considered one of the most beautiful squares in the world, and it’s on the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites. Every tour of Brussels should start from here, in the morning when there is the flower market, or in the evening, with the yellow lights that create some atmosphere.

The Grand Place in Brussels
The Grand Place in Brussels

The main character of the Grand Place in Brussels is the Hotel de la Ville, with Saint Michael statue that overlooks the whole city. In front of  the Hotel de la Ville there is the ancient House of Bread, later renamed Maison du Roi. Despite the name, there is no King but  a museum of the history of Brussels. All around the square there are the houses of the corporation, which tell the story of the trades that took place in the square: you can find the House of traders, l’Etoile with the memorial to Everard ‘t Serclaes (if you touch it you’ll have  good luck). The House of Bouchers, the one of Brassers (brewers, with a museum), the House of the Dukes of Brabant, the House of tailors and the one of painters, where Victor Hugo lived in 1852. The Grand Place is also a meeting place for many young people who , especially in the summer, spend the night there, perhaps sipping an excellent Belgian beer.

The Atomium in Brussels

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The Atomium is a characteristic structure located in Heysel Park, on the northern suburbs of Brussels. About 102 meters high, it represents an iron crystal enlarged 165 billion times. Each of the nine spheres that form the Atomium has a diameter of 18 meters, which makes them suitable for hosting exhibitions, conferences, concerts,  and regular exhibitions .

The Atomium in Brussels
The Atomium in Brussels

It was built for the International Exhibition of 1958, (like the Eiffel Tower in Paris) and it was supposed to be there for a short period, but it’s still there, so nowadays is one of the monument that people have to visit in their tour. During  clear day from the spheres you can enjoy a beautiful view over the city, while tasting some Belgian specialties at the panoramic restaurant in the highest sphere…if it’s affordable for you!

Where: Avenue de l’Atomium, outside the city centre.
How to get there:  From the center of Brussels take the metro to “Beekkant” station, then line 6-Roi Baudouin “, stop” Heysel ”
When – Hours: Every day of the year from 10 am to 6 pm . December 25 and January 1 open from 12.12 pm
Tickets: Adult 9 €, children 6-11 years old  € 2, 12-18 years old  € 6

The Museum of Fine Arts in Brussels

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The Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium are the most important art exhibition of the whole nation: the two offices in Brussels hosts more than 1,000 paintings, sculptures and drawings. Even if many people believe to visit four different museums, the Museum of Ancient Art (XV-XVIII century), the Modern Art (XIX – XX century), the Wiertz Museum and the Meunier Museum are part of the complex of Fine Arts in Brussels . The core of the Museum of Ancient Art are the works of the Flemish, shown in chronological order.

The Museum of Fine Arts in Brussels
The Museum of Fine Arts in Brussels

It starts from the first Flemish painters with Rogier van der Weyden, Petrus Christus, Dirk Bouts, Hans Memling , Bosch and you can visit the  Bruegel room. The works of Rubens, Jordaens and Van Dyck are of  XVII and XVIII century. In the Modern Art Museum there are  200 paintings about the art in Belgium from 1800 until today: from Neoclassicism Jacques-Louis David (Assassination of Marat) to Romanticism of Delacroix, through the first Van Gogh, an unusual and gloomy Gauguin up to De Chirico. Since June 2009, the beautiful museum complex has been enriched by a fifth museum, or the Magritte Museum, entirely dedicated to the author of the pipe and flying bombs. The museum, a neoclassical building in the heart of Brussels (Place Royale), collects the largest collection in the world of Belgian painter, undisputed star of the current of surrealism and conceptual art

Where: Place du Roi
How to get there: underground, stop: Parc or Gare Centrale
When – Hours: Every day, except Mondays, from 10 am  to 5 pm
Never: 1st January, 2nd Thursday of January, 1 May, 1 and 11 November, December 25.
Tickets: € 13 Magritte Museum included

The Museum of Comics in Brussels

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Belgium is the home of the comic strips but few people know it: the colored pencils of the cartoonists of this small nation created the Smurfs, Tintin, Lucky Luke, Zagor and many other characters that have been famous around the world. The line of these designers is original, simple and full of colors, and have created a  production of great value, defined as the Ninth Belgian Art

The Museum of Comics in Brussels
The Museum of Comics in Brussels

You can admire this production at the Belgian Comic Strip Centre and The House of Comics. The Belgian Comic Strip Center is located in the beautiful Art Nouveau warehouses with liberty style.  It  houses everything : from original drawings of comic books to the copy of the cage where Gargamel imprisoned his first Smurf; from reprint  of the first comic strip book up to a library with 25,000 books! Actually  Brussels is an immense museum of comic strips, with characters painted on the walls of houses .There is a real tourist route called “Route of Comics” that crosses the heart of the city and let you admire 30 giant murals with the most famous heroes of the cartoon world.

Where: Rue des Sables, 20, city center
How to get there: by feet or by underground stop Care – central
When – Hours: Tuesday – Sunday 10 am – 6 pm
Tickets: Adult € 8 , Children € 3

L'Ilot Sacrè in Brussels

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The Ilot Sacré (Sacred Island) has a quadrilateral shape and is located just behind the Grand Place in the city center of Brussels. A maze of narrow streets with many tourists every day, coffee tables, restaurants (especially in Rue des Bouchers) and souvenir shops.

L'Ilot Sacrè in Brussels
L’Ilot Sacrè in Brussels

This part of Brussels is independent from the rest of the cities and self-governing since 1960, when this space was renovated. The highlight of  Ilot Sacrè are the Saint-Hubert Gallery, an indoor gallery of 200 meters built in the XIX century. In the first decades after the construction of the gallery it became a literary center: the “Café de la Renaissance” (now the “Taverne du Passage”), met French artists and writers such as Baudelaire, Alexandre Dumas, Victor Hugo, Verlaine and Apollinaire. Today the gallery has  less noble purposes, in particular the sale of luxury goods for rich tourists, but this place is still full of charme.

The Mannequin Pis in Brussels

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One of the symbols of Brussels is the subject of a bronze fountain representing a peeing child, called in Flemish “Mannequin pis” or in French “the enfant qui pisse “. One of the most famous legends on the little Julien, the baby that saved the city. The story tells  that he peed on the fuse of a bomb, saving Brussels. The “Mannequin pis” is located at the intersection of Rue de l’étuve / Stoofstraat and Rue du Chêne / Eikstraat and is one of the most photographed monuments in Brussels.

The Mannequin Pis in Brussels
The Mannequin Pis in Brussels

Over the years, the little bronze boy has received more than six hundred dresses as gift: Paris Hilton could be envy of this! In Brussels, the “Little Julien” as it is called by the citizens of the Belgian capital, has been emulated:  in the Ilot Sacré area, in fact, there is “Jeanneke pis”, ( “Jeanne qui pisse ” in French): female symbol of the city. This more recent statue,  is in  Getrouwheidsgang / Impasse de la fidélité, and symbolize the loyalty: in this case it’s a peeing girl. Finally, if you really want to go on this little tour with the same subject, on the corner of Rue Vieux Marché aux Grains et  la rue des Chartreux, you can also find the peeing dog.

Museum of Magritte in Brussels

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A must see in Brussels, the Magritte Museum hosts about 200 works by the surrealist master. A real journey in Magritte’s art, through paintings, drawings, photographs, sculptures but also advertising works and films.

Museum of Magritte in Brussels
Museum of Magritte in Brussels

The route starts from the 3rd floor and through a chronological journey in the artist’s life. If you are in hurry and look  for his most famous works, you can find it at the bottom, on the 1st floor: like everyone else, you will remain fascinated in front of the “Empire des lumieres”, the Domaine d’Arnheim, l ‘oiseau de ciel”. Unfortunately the works of Magritte travel the world, so if you go there for some works in particular, better check first

Where: Rue de la Régence 3 city center
How to get there: Subway – Gare central or Parc stop
When – Hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm . Wednesday till 8 pm . Closed Monday.
Ever: every Monday, second Thursday of January, 1/1, 1/5, 1/11, 11/11, 25/12
Tickets: € 8 or € 13 Fine Art Museum included

Quartier du Sablon in Brussels

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The Place du Sablon, outside the city walls, takes its name by the yellow sand which is on the suburbs of Brussels.

Quartier du Sablon in Brussels
Quartier du Sablon in Brussels

Today the district is one of the most elegant in the Belgian capital, a must see  for three reasons: the first is the cathedral of Notre Dame du Sablon, gothic masterpiece, the second one  is Wittamer, the oldest pastry shop famous for Brussels gauffres; The third reason is as sweet as the second one:  Marcolini  with his Maison du Chocolat brought Brussels pralines  in every remote corners of the planet. If you are in Brussels on Sunday, don’t miss the antique market that takes place every weekend right on the Place du Sablon.

Things to eat in Brussels

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Belgian cuisine has typical dishes that will surprise you. The famous brussel sprouts, to make an example, are famous in the world as the “moules- frites”, literally a dish of “mussels and fries”.

Things to eat in Brussels
Things to eat in Brussels

The latters are another specialty of Belgium, in direct competition with those of Amsterdam. If you prefer sweet recipes, you should know that Belgium has a long and recognized tradition of master chocolatiers. You will find around the city many chocolate shops selling chocolates both simple and stuffed with creams. In the cafés, you can ask for a cup of hot milk with chocolate beans to melt into it. Another specialty is gauffres or waffles, very soft waffles cooked on the plate. You can eat them stuffed with Nutella, cream, or fruit. If you love  cookies, you have to taste “speculoos” made with spices, among which stands out the cinnamon, usually cooked for St. Nicholas celebration. You can buy them in boulangeries, in the biscuit shop  or at the supermarket: the best are those of the Lotus. For beer lovers, a must drink is the traditional Belgian beer, called “bière blanche” (white beer). You should visit the monasteries where it is produced: one of the best is  Maredsous, where in addition to an exquisite and heavy beer, you can taste some  cheese made by the monks themselves.

Where to sleep in Brussels

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The hotels are well placed in the city and you can find them everywhere, the difference is of course about the  price. In Schumann area, there is a good number of hotels, with fairly high prices.

Where to sleep in Brussels
Where to sleep in Brussels

Same goes for the historical center of the city. If you want to spend less, you can move into suburbs area such as the Atomium, where there are hotels of good quality at the lowest prices. Don’t worry about the distances: the metro city works very well  and if you don’t want to use it, you go by bus, or a taxi which are not so expensive. If you prefer the hostel solution, you find them everywhere in the city, with common rooms  or double and single room. Be sure about the availability of rooms and remember that not all accept reservations. You can sleep also in  B & B where you can experience the great courtesy of the Belgian people. If you want to stay a little more than a weekend, you can rent an apartment that will allow you to move, even if it isn’t sure that you’ll save some money

If you are looking for a hotel in Brussels, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 200 hotels with prices, pictures  and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com