• Julie Van Praet

What to visit in Brussels?


Discover the heart of Europe in Brussels. The capital of Belgium has everything you need from chocolate and beer to fries and waffles and even The Smurfs. Enjoy its stunning architecture, relaxing parks, surreal museums, and extraordinary statues. Together with The Walking Parrot, Brussels has rolled out the flower carpet for you. Let’s take a look at what not to miss!




Discover with us:

🦜 What not to miss?

🗺 What else to visit?

🛩 How to travel there?

🍂 When to travel there?

💶 Average costs

🍽 Where to eat?

🎫 Events


 

What to visit in Brussels



What not to miss?



Grand Place
What to visit in Brussels


La Grand Place is Brussels' most renowned spot and stepping onto the square tells you immediately why. The Belgian capital is filled to the brim with history, art, and deliciousness and the Grand Place mashes it all together. It is quite literally the heart of the city with its cobblestones encircled by the Town Hall, The King’s House, Guild Houses, and Victor Hugo’s temporary refuge. The Grand Place dates back to the 12th century, with its most imposing gothic structures built in the 1600s.


Strolling around the square makes it pretty clear why this UNESCO site is the most photographed place in Brussels. So be sure to add it to your camera roll!



Atomium

What to visit in Brussels

Look at the Atomium as Brussels' Eiffel Tower. A big slap of steel that makes up the most popular tourist attraction in the capital, but with more fry vendors at the bottom. This symbol of Belgium was built for the Brussels Expo of 1958 and wasn’t meant to stay up long-term. But is now one of Belgium's most popular sites.


The Atomium might only represent a tiny atom, but it sure holds many unique activities. You can enjoy a magnificent view of the city from its nine spheres.



Royal Palace and Castle of Laeken


The Royal Palace of Brussels is the symbol of the Belgian monarchy. It’s where the King receives foreign guests and hosts the services of the King’s Household.

Every summer after celebrating the National Holiday on 21 July, the palace doors swing open to the public for free. So when planning a trip to Brussels in summertime, you are more than welcome to gaze upon gliding mirrors, vast tapestries, and the marble Throne Room.


The Royal Palace is not to be confused with the Castle of Laeken, the actual residence of the royal family. Once there, the Royal Greenhouses are a must-see. Built in 1873 the glass greenhouses hold ancient exotic plants which serve as a gorgeous backdrop for any picture.


What to visit in Brussels


Parc du Cinquantenaire

Cinquantenaire Park is home to French-style gardens, sculptures, and museums. It is dominated by a triumphal arch that serves a panoramic view of the city. The broad paths lead you to the Pavilion of Human Passions designed by Victor Horta, the Auto museums, and Royal Museum of Armed Forces and Military History.

In summertime, the park makes room for lively pop-up bars with musical accompaniment.


What to visit in Brussels


Sablon

The Sablon is a hidden neighbourhood in the historic upper town of Brussels. The Sablon lies near the Monts des Arts and right next to the ancient city walls. Bordering the Church of Our Lady of Sablon you can find the quaint Jardin du Petit Sablon. This garden is ornated by a wrought iron fence and boasts 48 tall pillared statues of historical guilds, topped off with a central sculptured fountain.




What else to visit?



Royal Gallerie of Saint Hubert

What to visit in Brussels

Looking for the perfect Instagram pic or some luxurious shopping? The Galleries Royales of Saint Hubert is the place to be. It’s one of the oldest galleries in Europe and comprises three prestigious shopping spaces. Right around the corner of La Grand Place, this place is home to jewellery shops, luxury boutiques, vintage bookstores, chocolate shops, and cosy cafes.



Comic Book Route and Museum


Brussels doesn’t just carry the title of European capital but is also the comic capital of the world. The Comic Trail is therefore a unique way to explore the multifaceted capital. A number of large murals plaster the city with comic heroes like Tintin, Asterix and Obelix, Thorgal, and The Smurfs. Over seventy cartoon-inspired works can be found through the mazes of Brussels and lead you all the way back to the Comics Art Museum. There you can learn more about its roots in Art Nouveau and find contemporary exhibitions.


And for a bigger challenge head to Escape Prod, where you are thrown into an escape room inspired by the likes of cartoon legends The Daltons and Blacksad.



Manneken Pis

What to visit in Brussels

A national monument unlike any other. Manneken Pis has been the unceremonial mascot of Brussels since 1619. With a historied past and multiple outfits, the oldest citizen of Brussels makes for quite the sight.


The city accommodates the full family Pis. Try to keep an eye out for his cheeky sister and trusty dog around the streets of Brussels. Whether or not the 50-centimeter tall statue is worth a visit is a notorious topic of debate in the small country, but it sure encapsulates the Belgian spirit.




How to travel there?



Belgium’s main airport is located in Zaventem, just outside the centre of Brussels and is easily connected by rail. Belgium holds one of the most densely developed train networks, so public transportation is the way to go in the tiny nation.

If you feel inspired by Belgian nature head south into the woods of the Ardennes by renting a car.


What to visit in Brussels



When to travel there?



Belgium's weather is an infamous talking topic. With many rainy days during the colder months and unpredictable summers. The most interesting time to visit is in July and August when there are music festivals, terraces and sunny days. For a quieter time visit in spring or fall, but be sure to pack a raincoat.




Average costs



Belgium is not a cheap country to visit. Depending on your travel itinerary costs can go up. Accommodation is expensive, averaging around 110 euros in the capital for a night's stay. And touristy restaurants can certainly start to add up. This doesn’t mean that the small country will take a chunk out of your wallet. With reasonable hostels and well-connected public transport, you can budget your trip to your own liking.


What to visit in Brussels



Where to eat?



The region of Brussels is home to more than 180 nationalities and more than half of its residents were not born Belgian, which in turn makes it one of the most flavourable places in the world.



Brussels Beer Project


A less traditional way to experience Belgian tradition is the Brussels Beer Project. A vibrant way that not only reflects on Belgium’s beer history but continues its story. With multiple locations around the city, you get to enjoy a new beer every week.


What to visit in Brussels


Au Vieux Saint Martin


A true Brussels staple is Au Vieux Saint Martin. This vibrant brasserie can be found in the neighbourhood of Sablon. With Belgian specialties such as filet Américain and vol-au-vent on its menu, it serves as the perfect authentic stop when in the area. The restaurant also offers a lovely stay in its two guest rooms for an easy breakfast.



Le Cirio


Le Cirio is the most stylistic restaurant in the Bourse district. A traditional Belgian brasserie in Art-Nouveau architecture not far from Grand Place serving up Brusselian cuisine.


What to visit in Brussels


Maison Dandoy


Famous for its waffles and speculoos biscuits, Maison Dandoy has been serving the Brussels public since 1829. They still make their sweet treats the traditional way with real butter, brown sugar, and handcrafted wooden moulds.



Sainte Catherine neighbourhood


The Sainte Catherine neighbourhood is the gastronomic heart of Brussels. Combining the old atmosphere with new influences and a paradise for seafood lovers with Noordzee as its most prominent restaurant.


What to visit in Brussels

Fin de Siecle


Fin de Siecle offers budget friendly Burgundian hearty Belgian meals. With its rustic and authentic setting, it’s perfect for anyone looking for the true Belgian experience.



Ancien Bruxelles


For travellers who aren’t daunted by a truly local experience, dining in Ancien Bruxelles in the Marolles district is the way to go. Located in its historic heart it serves up a budget-friendly authentic menu in Brussels.




Events



Christmas market


Every Belgian city anticipates the day of Christmas, and Brussels is no exception. The capital pulls out all the stops with a Christmas market with more than 200 chalets, bustling fairground attractions, a giant ice rink, a huge Christmas tree, and mesmerizing light shows.


What to visit in Brussels


Brussels Jazz or Couleur Café


Brussels is renowned for its rich music culture, especially jazz. Almost every evening you can attend a candlelit jazz concert in its many clubs. That’s why the capital dictates one weekend a year in May to the sounds of Toots Thielemans and Django Reinhardt.


As Belgium is the land of festivals, Brussels can't fall behind. Couleur Café is the country's biggest urban music festival and takes place in July across four podiums.



Carpet of Flowers


The Brussels Flower Carpet transforms Brussels’ cobblestones into a colourful carpet. The flower carpet is 70 meters long and holds begonias and dahlias carefully assembled by a group of volunteers over the course of six hours. Every other summer, on the weekend of August 15th, the Flower Carpet gets rolled out on La Grand Place.



Belgian Beer Weekend


Over the course of three short days in September, the best of Belgium takes the stage at La Grand Place. The square turns into one big bar serving over 500 different beers.



Markets


Every Sunday morning you get to enjoy Midi Market in Brussels. Among the largest in Europe offering fresh produce as well as crafts and clothing.


On Saturday and Sunday mornings you can stroll through exquisite antiques being sold at Sablon.


The Marolles Flea Market is organised every morning in its eponymous district, where you will truly find almost everything.


What to visit in Brussels



Hopefully, our guide inspired you to discover the heart of Europe in Brussels and sprout your next adventure! There are many other places for you to explore, check out our guides to Berlin, Glasgow, or Ljubljana. Do not forget to follow us @thewalkingparrot and stay updated on the latest news!

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