Best Things to do in Brussels Belgium

Looking for an adventure in Europe? Look no further than Brussels, the capital city of Belgium. It’s one of the cities often overlooked in Europe but it’s an amazing place to visit, and there are so many things to do in Brussels.

Known for its beautiful architecture, delicious cuisine, and rich history, Brussels has something to offer everyone. Whether you’re a foodie looking to indulge in some Belgian chocolate and beer, an art lover seeking out the city’s comic strip murals, or a history buff interested in the European Parliament and other landmarks, there’s plenty to see and do. 

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - JUNE 14, 2014: The main square and Grand palace in evening. Grote Markt.

Brussels was home to some of the biggest names in Art Nouveau – the likes of Henry Van de Velde and Victor Horta – and their legacy is everywhere you look. Keep an eye out for the trademark curves and flourishes in wood, metal and stained glass, with ornate mosaics above every other doorway. Without further ado, let’s get right into some what to see Brussels.

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Things to see in Brussels

Visit Atomium

One of the must see in Brussels is the most famous landmark in Brussels is Atomium. It’s a unique structure that is sure to catch your eye, making it a must-do thing when you’re in Brussels. Atomium is a 102-metre-tall iron atom, with nine interconnected spheres. You can actually go inside, where you can explore a range of exhibitions that focus on science, technology and design. But one of the best parts is the view from the top sphere. It’s breathtaking. 

Best Things to do in Brussels, Belgium
©By Marek Śliwecki – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Admire the Grand Place

The Grand Place is the beating heart of Brussels, and it’s one of the most beautiful squares in Europe. It would be impossible to visit Brussels without heading to the Grand Place, it’s one of the reasons Brussels is worth visiting. This is without a doubet one of the top things to do in Brussels.

The square is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it’s made up of stunning buildings, including the Town Hall and the King’s House, which are both incredible examples of architecture. In the modern day, the Grand Place is also home to numerous cafes and restaurants, so it’s the perfect place to stop for a coffee or a bite to eat. Like loads of Europe’s landmarks like the Colosseum or Eiffel Tower, the Grand Place is particularly beautiful at night when the buildings are illuminated.

Best Things to do in Brussels, Belgium

Enjoy some Belgian Chocolate

Belgium is famous for its chocolate, and there’s no better place to indulge than in Brussels. There are countless chocolatiers throughout the city, quite literally around every corner, and each has its own unique recipes and flavours. There are so many options to choose from, and when it comes to chocolate, there’s something for everyone in Brussels.

Best Things to do in Brussels, Belgium

Visit the Brussels City Museum

La Maison du Roi (The King’s House) is the home of the Museum and it is a neo-Gothic building that dates back to the 19th century.

Best Things to do in Brussels, Belgium
Museum of the City at Grand Place in Brussels

Since the 19th century, the varied collections have been enriched by significant donations, archaeological excavations and the systematic collection of objects and works of art illustrating the social, economic, intellectual, artistic and urban development of the city. 

Frites and waffles in Brussels

Of course, it wouldn’t be a proper food trip to Brussels if you didn’t get the chance to have some frites. Some say that Belgian frites are authentic, original french fries. Others say that Belgian fries are cut much thicker than French fries and that they hold a myriad of sauces much better.

Best Things to do in Brussels, Belgium

One historic explanation is that during WWI when the Americans began to arrive to liberate Belgium they had fries but since the language of the time was French the fries became “French fries”. But what does it matter really a great frite or a great French fry the Belgians have elevated the humble potato stick to new heights.

Best Things to do in Brussels, Belgium

Everybody loves a waffle but in Belgium once again they have raised the bar. Belgian waffles have a much deep pocket all the better to hold those yummy accompaniments. From a chocolate sauce to fresh fruit Belgian waffles reign supreme and can be purchased virtually everywhere as street food all over Brussels.

See Mannekin Pis

Looking for famous landmarks and what to do in Brussels? The Mannekin Pis is a small bronze statue of a little boy peeing, and it’s another one of the most famous landmarks in Brussels. Brussels is definitely underrated compared to other European cities, there are so many landmarks in the city. Mannekin Pis has been a symbol of the city for centuries, and there are many legends and stories about its origin. It’s also usually dressed in a variety of costumes throughout the year, adding to the uniqueness. No matter your thoughts, there’s no denying the statue is a great spot for a photo op!

Best Things to do in Brussels, Belgium

See Jeanneke Pis & Zinneke Pis

In addition to the Mannekin Pis, one of the things to see Brussels is two other quirky peeing statues, bringing it to three throughout Brussels. The Jeanneke Pis is a small statue of a girl peeing, located on a side street near the Grand Place. And the Zinneke Pis is a statue of a dog peeing, located in the St. Catherine neighbourhood. While these statues aren’t as famous as the Mannekin Pis, they’re still worth seeking out if you’re looking for a unique and offbeat sightseeing experience.

BRUSSEL, BELGIUM - CIRCA MARCH 2014: Women's Lib in the second half of the 20th century provoked the creation of an answer to the famous Manneken Pis statue: Jeanneke Pis, only a few street blocks away
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Visit the Cathedral of St. Michael and Gudula

The Cathedral of St. Michael and Gudula is one of the most impressive churches in the city, making it one of the best things to do in Brussels. The church is a beautiful building inside and out, and it’s been a place of worship for over a thousand years. The cathedral is home to many works of art, including stained glass windows, sculptures and paintings. It’s also a peaceful place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city as the inside is so quiet. 

Best Things to do in Brussels, Belgium

Enjoy some Belgian beer

As well as chocolate, Belgium is famous for its beer too. It makes sense as German beer is excellent and Belgium is one of the countries that border Germany. Being the capital, Brussels is the perfect place to try some of the best brews in the country. There are countless bars and cafes throughout the city that serve a wide variety of beers, and enjoying a pint of Belgian beer in Brussels is an absolute must-do.

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM-SEPTEMBER 1: Annual Belgian Beer Weekend dedicated to Belgian beers started on Grand Place on September 1, 2012 in Brussels, Belgium. In Belgium exists more than 450 different brews.

See the Cinquaintenaire Arch

The Cinquaintenaire Arch is one of the most impressive monuments in the Belgian capital, and seeing it is another of the best things to do in Brussels. It’s a triumphal arch that was built in the 19th century to commemorate Belgium’s independence. It’s located in Cinquaintenaire Park, hence the name, which is a beautiful green space that’s perfect for a picnic or a walk. The arch is definitely worth seeing, and it’s a great spot for taking photos too. It’s as good as the Arc de Triomphe, but nowhere near as popular.

Brussels, Belgium. Park of the Fiftieth Anniversary. Park Senkantoner. The Arc de Triomphe of Brussels (Brussels Gate), Aerial View

Margritte Museum

The Musée Magritte Museum, located in the heart of Brussels, brings together the world’s largest collection of the renowned surrealist artist René Magritte: 230 works and archives are displayed.

Best Things to do in Brussels, Belgium

Visit Brussels Palace

Yet another Brussels landmark is the Brussels Palace, as said earlier, there are so so many things to see in Brussels. The palace is the official residence of the Belgian royal family and is surrounded by a large park, which is open to the public. You can stroll through the park, take a picnic (there are lots of great spots in Brussels!), or simply relax and enjoy the scenery. Like the Cinquaintenaire Arch, it also provides a good location for taking some pictures. 

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - JUNE 14, 2014: The main square and Grand palace in evening. Grote Markt.

Musical Instruments Museum

In a beautifully restored complex in Brussels, of which one part is Art Nouveau and the other, neoclassical in design, 1200 most interesting instruments are assembled in 4 galleries, enhanced by images, sound and text panels. The Museum of Musical Instruments (MMI) is one of the most beautiful examples of the Art Nouveau architecture that Brussels is famous for.

Musical Instruments Museum building.

Visit Brussels Zoo

One of the best things to do in Brussels for families or couples – or animal lovers – is to head to Brussels Zoo. It’s one of the oldest and most famous zoos in Europe, with a wide variety of animals from across the globe. The zoo is a great place to spend a day and there are plenty of interactive exhibits that are sure to keep kids entertained. It’s an incredibly modern zoo, and there are also several restaurants and cafes on-site, so you can grab a bite to eat while you’re there too.

Best Things to do in Brussels, Belgium

Explore Mini Europe

Right beside Atomium is Mini Europe which is a unique park that features miniature replicas of some of the most famous landmarks in Europe. Mini Europe is another must-do thing in Brussels, and as it’s so close to Atomium, you can buy tickets that include access to both attractions. The attraction offers exactly what the name suggests, and some of the landmarks that you can see at Mini Europe include the Eiffel Tower and the Leaning Tower of Pisa. 

Best Things to do in Brussels, Belgium

See Brussels from Mont des Arts

One of the best views over Brussels aside from the view from Atomium, which is a little outside the centre of the city, is from Mont des Arts. Translated literally as Mountain of Art, you know exactly what to expect. The shrubbery and greenery are beautiful, particularly in the summer and the view from the top with the Brussels skyline in the background is beautiful. Once again, it’s also a great spot for taking photos, especially at sunset. So be sure you don’t forget to bring your camera!

Best Things to do in Brussels, Belgium

Visit the European Parliament

No matter how many days in Brussels you have, you need to make a trip to the EU Parliament. The European Parliament is the legislative branch of the European Union, and one of the 3 is located in Brussels (the other two are in Strasbourg and Luxembourg). You are able to take a tour of the Parliament, which includes a visit to the Hemicycle, where Members of Parliament debate and vote on legislation as seen on TV. It’s quite surreal to sit in the room where so many crucial decisions have been made over the previous decades.

European union flag against parliament in Brussels, Belgium

The Belgian Comic Strip Centre 

For over 30 years this Museum has been home to the comic arts. The regularly updated permanent exhibitions and a diversified programme of temporary exhibitions enable visitors to discover the countless aspects of comics art. Enhanced by an exceptional Art Nouveau home designed by Victor Horta, the Comics Art Museum is just as much a tribute to the pioneers as a glimpse of contemporary comics art.

Best Things to do in Brussels, Belgium
©© Spielvogel / Wikimedia Commons

Walk the comic strip route

Brussels is known for its comic strip art and one of the best ways to see it is by taking the comic strip route. Throughout the city, there are a number of official comic strip murals and the route takes you past over 50 murals featuring popular characters such as Tintin, Lucky Luke, and the Smurfs, who were created in Brussels. It’s a great way to see the city and learn about its comic strip culture. Brussels locals resonate with the characters as they don’t take themself too seriously and enjoy a bit of humour!

Learn a bit of history at Parlamentarium

Next to the European Parliament is the Parlamentarium, which is an interactive museum that tells the story of the European Parliament and its role in shaping the future of Europe. It also teaches the history of Europe itself, which is fascinating. Visitors can learn about how the EU works, and what its goals are too. The museum is really modern with loads of interactive exhibits, films, and audiovisual displays that make learning about politics and history fun and engaging. It’s a great place to visit if you’re interested in history/politics or just want to learn something new.

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - AUG 21: European Parliament visitors center Parlamentarium at the Espace Leopold (Leopold Square).

Things to do in Brussels: Conclusion

And that concludes the list of top things to do in Brussels!

Hopefully, this guide has inspired you to visit this beautiful city and experience all that Brussels has to offer. From the iconic Atomium to the mouth-watering Belgian chocolate, from the majestic Grand Place to the fascinating European Parliament, there’s so much to see and do in Brussels.

So what are you waiting for? Book your trip now and get ready to create memories that will last a lifetime. 

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Best Things to do in Brussels, Belgium

Author

  • Faith was born in Ireland raised in Canada and has lived in over 10 countries in Europe including England, Ireland, Scotland, France, Spain, Northern Ireland, Wales, along with Mexico, Antigua, the US and has slow travelled to over 40 countries around the world. Graduating with a degree in Anthropology and Women's Studies Faith is a student of history, culture, community and food and has written about these topics for over 40 years.

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