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Things to do in Brussels

Things to do in  Brussels

Welcome to Brussels

Brussels, the official capital of Belgium and unofficial capital of Europe, stands out as the meeting point of Germanic and Romance cultures, boasting cross-cultural and modern charm. The duel official languages of French and Dutch give every street and place two names, and English is also widely spoken, thanks to the European Parliament and other organizations stationed here that make it an international political center. The ornate guildhalls lining the classic Grand Place stand as city centerpiece and showcase, but the Atomium also warrants a visit, a bizarre building of steel spheres created for the 1958 World's Fair that now functions as a museum featuring a prize view over the city. With Belgium seemingly locked in a confectionery competition with the Swiss, a Brussels chocolate tour delivers insight into how the industry grew here and, of course, involves plenty of samples. Visitors can continue tasting their way through town well into the evening with a beer tour, where the rich monastic heritage of Belgian beer bubbles up from the glass. Beyond the capital, Ghent and Bruges make for easy day trips, both charming towns packed with medieval architecture within just over an hour’s drive. The city's central location also makes it easy to go further out for trips to the Flemish countryside and historic battlefields, or into neighboring Luxembourg or Amsterdam (each just over two hours away).

Top 15 attractions in Brussels

#1
Grand-Place (Grote Markt)

Grand-Place (Grote Markt)

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Arguably Europe’s most beautiful square, Brussels’ Grand Place—in the heart of the historic and hip city—is surrounded by nearly 40 baroque and gothic guildhalls and the stunning Brussels Town Hall. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the large cobblestone square, also known as Grote Markt, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Belgium.More
#2
Atomium

Atomium

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One of Brussels’ most iconic structures, the futuristic Atomium is a gargantuan structure designed to resemble an iron molecule magnified 165 billion times. It was created in 1958 for the Expo 58, and though it was originally slated for demolition, it was so popular with locals that it became a permanent feature of the city’s skyline.More
#3
Manneken Pis

Manneken Pis

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The Manneken Pis—sculptor Jerome Duquesnoy’s small bronze statue of a little boy urinating into a Brussels fountain—is one of Belgium’s most beloved landmarks. Built in 1619, the boy is hailed as the capital’s oldest resident and remains a favorite of both locals and tourists, with a host of myths and legends to his name.More
#4
Cinquantenaire Park (Parc du Cinquantenaire)

Cinquantenaire Park (Parc du Cinquantenaire)

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Spanning around 74 acres (30 hectares), sprawling Cinquantenaire Park (Parc du Cinquantenaire) was named in honor of the 50th anniversary of Belgian independence, which was celebrated there with the 1880 National. Today, the park is home to three museums, along with the Great Mosque of Brussels and a triumphal arch dating to 1905.More
#5
Brussels Royal Palace (Palais Royal de Bruxelles)

Brussels Royal Palace (Palais Royal de Bruxelles)

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Dating back to the 18th century and fronted by the idyllic Parc de Bruxelles (Brussels Park), the Brussels Royal Palace (Palais Royal Bruxelles) might no longer be the official residence of Belgium’s royal family, but it remains one of the capital’s most magnificent landmarks and the site of various royal and state events.More
#6
Royal Galleries of Saint Hubert (Les Galeries St-Hubert)

Royal Galleries of Saint Hubert (Les Galeries St-Hubert)

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Inaugurated in 1847, the Royal Galleries of Saint Hubert in Brussels form one of Europe’s most beautiful and oldest glass-roofed shopping arcades. Composed of three elegant, Florentine-inspired arcades, the galleries are lined with upscale shops and restaurants and draw around 6 million visitors each year.More
#7
European Parliament

European Parliament

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Brussels is the administrative heart of the European Union and is the headquarters of the European Parliament, where over 700 members convene to make important decisions about the EU on a regular basis. It's the only directly elected EU institution and is charged with EU legislation, along with the Council of the European Union.More
#8
St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral

St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral

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Named for the patron saints of Brussels, the St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral is a cocathedral of the local Catholic archdiocese and one of the most beautiful churches in the city. It stands upon the ruins of an 11th-century Romanesque chapel, the remains of which can be viewed for a nominal fee.More
#9
Sablon District

Sablon District

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Just a short stroll from Brussels’ central sights, the Sablon district has long been one of the city’s most affluent and atmospheric neighborhoods. Renowned for its elegant architecture and lively antiques market, the area is crammed with terrace cafes, hip restaurants, contemporary art galleries, and fine chocolatiers.More
#10
National Basilica of the Sacred Heart (Basilique Nationale du Sacré-Coeur)

National Basilica of the Sacred Heart (Basilique Nationale du Sacré-Coeur)

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One of the city’s most striking landmarks, the National Basilica of the Sacred Heart (Basilique Nationale du Sacré-Coeur) was built to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Belgian independence. King Leopold II laid the first stone of the Roman Catholic basilica and parish in 1905. World War I delayed construction and it took nearly 60 years to complete. Today the Art Deco style monument with its red brick and distinctive green dome holds two museums and is one of the five largest churches in the world.Visitors can marvel at the size and design of the basilica from the outside or climb the interior for some of the best views of Brussels and the Flemish Brabant countryside. Walking out onto the platform near the top of the basilica dome grants panoramic views almost 80 meters up from the ground. There are also eight bright stained glass windows depicting the life of Jesus that were designed by Belgian painter Anto Carte.More
#11
Grand Sablon Square (Place du Grand Sablon)

Grand Sablon Square (Place du Grand Sablon)

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Located just a 10-minute walk from Brussel’s bustling Grand Place, Grand Sablon Square (Place du Grand Sablon) is a historic square at the heart of the Sablon quarter. It feels a world away from the busy city center, with striking medieval townhouses, stylish restaurants, terrace cafés, and a lively antiques market.More
#12
Palace of Justice (Palais de Justice)

Palace of Justice (Palais de Justice)

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Built from 1866 to 1883, the Palais de Justice is the seat of the supreme court in Belgium and one of the most important historic buildings in Brussels. It was commissioned by Leopold II and designed by Joseph Poelaert, and it may have been the largest building constructed in the 19th century.More
#13
Magritte Museum (Musée Magritte)

Magritte Museum (Musée Magritte)

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One of Belgium's Royal Museums of Fine Arts, the Magritte Museum is devoted to the works of Belgian surrealist René Magritte, whose innovative creations are said to have influenced artists like Andy Warhol and Jasper Johns.More
#14
Horta Museum

Horta Museum

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Set in the private home and studio of the late Victor Horta—a pioneer of the art nouveau movement—Brussels’ Horta Museum (Musée Horta) is a fascinating window into the early-20th-century architect’s work. Marvel at the two buildings’ interiors, facades, and furniture exemplifying Horta’s love of fluid curves and organic forms.More
#15
Musical Instruments Museum

Musical Instruments Museum

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Right in the center of Brussels, a stunning art nouveau and neoclassical building is home to a vast collection of musical instruments from around the world. The Musical Instruments Museum (aka the MIM) showcases everything from Western keys and keyboards to classical instruments from medieval times through the late 1800s.More

Trip ideas

How to Spend 3 Days in Brussels

How to Spend 3 Days in Brussels

Bruges Tours from Brussels

Bruges Tours from Brussels

Top activities in Brussels

Brussels Discovery Tour: Belgian food, chocolate, waffles, beer, sightseeing
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Marc's Belgian Beer Tour in Brussels

Marc's Belgian Beer Tour in Brussels

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Hungry Mary's Famous Beer and Chocolate Tour in Brussels
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Bruges Day Trip from Brussels
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Bruges Day Trip from Brussels

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Antwerp and Ghent Day Trip from Brussels With Atomium Photo Stop
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Operators have paid Viator more to have their experiences featured here

Recent reviews from experiences in Brussels

star-5
Best way to see Brussels if you have a short visit
Denise_H, Sep. 2022
Legends of Brussels - Historical Walking Tour of Brussels
We had a short time in Brussels and this was an excellent way to see the highlights.
star-5
Worth The Time!
James_R, Sep. 2022
Marc's Belgian Beer Tour in Brussels
What a great way to visit historic bars and taste all the delicious beer Belgium has to offer!
star-5
Fantastic Tour - Great Part if the Trip
Stephanie_D, Aug. 2022
Brussels Walking and Tasting Tour
He was incredibly knowledgeable, gave great recommendations for things to do In Brussels, and was very kind.
star-5
A & G
Joselyne_L, Aug. 2022
Antwerp and Ghent Day Trip from Brussels With Atomium Photo Stop
Love to see the cities in Brussels, i could do my own trip but want the added knowledgeable tour guide this with Jarmel, kearning stories and some history if this towns.
star-5
Highlight of Brussels!
Alexandra_G, Jul. 2022
Marc's Belgian Beer Tour in Brussels
I met so many great people, learned new things, and got to see other parts of Brussels I wouldn't have otherwise.
star-5
WONDERFUL tour
Amanda_L, Jul. 2022
Brussels Walking and Tasting Tour
Excellent way to see the sights and learn the history of Brussels with some absolutely delicious treats along the way.
star-5
Fun and educating walk around the historic centre of Brussels
Ruta_A, Jun. 2022
Legends of Brussels - Historical Walking Tour of Brussels
Sancar made us reconsider and come to visit the city again.
star-5
A lovely day
Genell_H, Jun. 2022
Bruges and Ghent - Belgium's Fairytale Cities - from Brussels
Good way to see more of Belgium than just Brussels.
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Tasting the Best Beer in the World! Literally!
Sherry_H, Apr. 2022
Brussels Chocolate Beer Waffle and Belgian Whiskey All-in-One (Small Group) Tour
It was well worth the time to see tucked away sites that we would have never found on our own.
star-5
Well worth it. I wish I could do this all week!
Rod_C, Sep. 2022
Small-Group Highlights of Brussels Bike Tour
It was such a joy to to see so much of the city by bike.
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Brussels Private Tour
Berta_A, Sep. 2022
Brussels Private Custom Tour with a Local Guide, Kickstart your Trip
Andre even recommend some shops where we can get some delicious chocolate, waffles and restaurant to visit that are outside of tourist area.
star-5
Masterclass on Beer, Chocolate, Whiskey, and HISTORY
Katina_T, Jul. 2022
Brussels Chocolate Beer Waffle and Belgian Whiskey All-in-One (Small Group) Tour
You will want to see them b/c you trust him.
star-4
Worthwhile day trip
Amanda_L, Jul. 2022
Luxembourg and Dinant Day Trip from Brussels
Enjoyed this day trip- both Dinant and Luxembourg were interesting to see and I felt a day trip was more than sufficient to see these places.
star-5
Tour with Andrea
April_H, Jul. 2022
Bruges and Ghent - Belgium's Fairytale Cities - from Brussels
The buildings are charming and there's so much to see and do.
star-4
See a lot in a short time
Amanda_L, Jul. 2022
Small-Group Highlights of Brussels Bike Tour
By biking you are able to see a lot of Brussels in a short amount of time.
star-5
Good experience 🙂
kanika_k, Jul. 2022
Bruges and Ghent Day Trip from Brussels
our English speaking tour guide was amazing...
star-5
A must do while in Brussels!
jamie_p, Jun. 2022
Brussels Walking and Tasting Tour
You get to see the true highlights of Brussels and the knowledge of the tour guide is amazing!
star-5
Great tour in Brussels
Beatriz_P, Dec. 2021
Brussels Like a Local: Customized Private Tour
She was very friendly, knowledgeable and adapted to our pace, as we were traveling with kids.
star-5
Day out with a new friend
LeslieM_K, Nov. 2021
Brussels Like a Local: Customized Private Tour
I wanted to see Mini Europe and we went - he for the first time!.
star-4
Good walk with historical explanation
Dieter_V, Oct. 2021
Brussels Private Walking Tour With A Professional Guide
We were not able to see everything we wanted
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All about Brussels

When to visit

The weather in Brussels is notoriously rainy and cool. The summers tend to get less rainfall and a good amount of sunshine, particularly in the warmest, driest months of July and August. If you want easygoing weather and fewer crowds, visit in September or early October, when it’s still relatively pleasant out and a little less rainy than winter or spring.

Getting around

The best way to get around Brussels is by public transit, and there’s an extensive network of metros, trams, buses, and local trains connecting all areas of the city and its surrounding suburbs. There’s also a boat service—Waterbus—that travels up and down the river between Vilvoorde Centrum and Place Sainctelette. If you plan to stick to sightseeing, the local hop-on hop-off bus is a convenient option and you can reserve tickets in advance.

Traveler tips

If you like your beer served up with plenty of atmosphere, head over to Au Bon Vieux Temps, a tiny but beautiful pub set at the back of a narrow alley. This historic pub allegedly opened its doors back in 1695, and the interior decor does much to confirm this claim. Decor highlights include an elegantly carved wooden bar, beamed ceilings, and tons of stained glass.

Currency
Euro (€)
Time Zone
CEST (UTC +1)
Country Code
+32
Language(s)
French

People Also Ask

What is Brussels best known for?

Brussels is known for its food and drink—particularly beer, chocolate, fries, and waffles—and for the large number of international organizations based there, including NATO and the European Commission. It’s also famous for its varied architecture, especially around the city’s central square, the Grand Place.

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What are 4 famous attractions in Belgium?

Belgium has many famous attractions, from historic battle sites to stately old buildings. Four famous ones are the canals of the medieval city of Bruges, buildings of the Grand Place in Brussels, World War I battlefields of Flanders, and Jan Van Eyck's Ghent Altarpiece at St. Bavo's Cathedral.

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What activities do people do in Belgium?

Belgium gets a lot of rain, so many of the more popular things to do in the country involve spending time indoors (think visiting museums and hanging out in cozy brewpubs). When the weather is pleasant, however, people head outdoors to spend time at local beaches and parks.

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Is one day in Brussels enough?

Yes. While Brussels merits more than a day, it's compact enough that you can easily do a lot in just one day. If you want to hit up all the main sights in just one day, you're probably best off joining a sightseeing tour, either by bus or bicycle.

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Do they speak English in Brussels?

Yes. Many people in Brussels speak fluent English, which can partially be attributed to the presence of large international organizations (notably the EU and NATO). While Brussels is in the Flemish part of Belgium, French is more commonly used than the Flemish Dutch language that dominates in the surrounding region.

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What is special in Brussels?

Brussels has all sorts of special features, from beautiful old buildings to an abundance of chocolatiers. You'll also find plenty of alley bars—tiny pubs tucked away in old alleys. While beer and liquor are the main draw at most of these establishments, some also serve up fantastic food.

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Frequently Asked Questions
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