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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 10 attractions in Brussels

#1

Grand-Place (Grote Markt)

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Europe’s most picturesque square, Grand-Place is surrounded by baroque and gothic guildhalls and the stunning 315 foot (96 meter) Brussels Town Hall. The stunning buildings in this UNESCO World Heritage site date mainly from the late 17th century. Grand Place is also known in Dutch as Grote Markt as it was the large central market in Brussels. The surrounding streets still bear the names of the stalls that lined the street: Rue des Bouchers (butchers) and Peperstraat (pepper merchants). Every second year, in August, the square is filled with an enormous flower carpet. A million begonias are used to create a stunning pattern. Concerts and music recitals are held here throughout the year. The size and beauty of the square amazes everyone when they first turn a corner to find it unexpectedly in front of them. After the initial shock sit down at a table outside one of the many cafés or chocolatiers and find out why Belgium is justly famous for its beer and chocolate.More
#2

Manneken Pis

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The Manneken Pis, a bronze fountain statue by Jerome Duquesnoy, dates from 1619 when it replaced a stone statue from the 1400s. The residents of Brussels have embraced this diminuitive statue of a small boy urinating into a fountain as a symbol of their irreverence. There are many stories behind the Manneken Pis with most either referring to a young boy urinating on a fire/explosive device thus saving the city from destruction by invading armies or the lost son of a nobleman who was later found urinating in a fountain. The well-loved statue has over 800 costumes and will often wear the national dress of visiting dignitaries. You might otherwise see him dressed in football colors or as a plumber or even Elvis. His costume is changed around 30 times a year. These occasions are marked with brass-band music and an unveiling of the newly kitted-out statue. Sometimes Manneken Pis produces beer to celebrate with the people of Brussels.More
#3

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

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The Royal Saint Hubert Galleries are a series of shops and restaurants in Brussels that are covered by panes of glass. They were designed by the architect Jean-Pierre Cluysenaer in 1847 and are often referred to as the umbrella of Brussels. The galleries are divided into three different sections: the Galerie de la Reine, the Galerie du Roi and the Galerie des Princes. The glass roof helps protect visitors from rain or cold weather. In the past, visitors had to pay 25 cents on Thursdays and Sundays and 10 cents on other days just to access the galleries. Of course today it is free to visit, and over 6 million people visit each year. The galleries have something for everyone. There are boutiques selling the latest fashions as well as more classic clothing. Accessories shops sell gloves, hats, umbrellas and more. Several jewelry stores are located here along with book stores, chocolate shops, and other specialty shops.More
#4

Atomium

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This alien-looking and vast silvery sculpture near the Bruparck was created in 1958 for the Expo 58 and represents a iron molecule magnified 165 billion times. A mesh of nine corridors leading to nine giant spheres, it was destined to be demolished after the exhibition but proved such a hit with the Bruxellois that it was reprieved and has become a national icon. Reaching up to 335 feet (102 m) the Atomium underwent a much-needed and rigorous facelift in the early 2000s; the spheres were originally made of an aluminum skin but this has been replaced by stainless steel. An elevator shoots up the central column to the five spheres that are currently open to the public; three provide a permanent record of Expo 58 and two host temporary interactive art and science displays. The highest sphere stands at 300 feet (92 m) above the ground and now has a glass roof, allowing 360° views across the Heysel Plain towards Brussels.More
#5

Brussels Royal Palace (Palais Royal de Bruxelles)

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Although the Royal family no longer call the Royal Palace (or Palais Royal Bruxelles) home, it is where the King and Queen still have their offices and the King carries out his duties as the head of state. The building also houses state rooms where large receptions are held and also living quarters for visiting dignitaries. The Palace was built in 1775 on the site of the former Coudenberg Palace which was built in the 11th and 12th centuries, but burnt to the ground in 1731. The Palace is at the southern end of the Parc de Bruxelles, at the northern end is the Palace of the Nation which houses the Belgian Parliament. Between them they are said to reflect Belgium’s constitutional monarchy. Over summer the Palace is open to the public. On show are fantastic State Rooms like the Goya Room with its Goya inspired tapestries, the imposing Throne Room with bas-reliefs by Rodin and the well-preserved 18th century Large White Room.More
#6

Grand Sablon Square (Place du Grand Sablon)

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Sablon is a smart little quartier and one of the most charming in Brussels; it is an intricate maze of cobbled streets set around two delightful squares, and was once home to the aristocrats of Brussels. The whole area is packed with stylish restaurants, slick galleries and hip cafés; the bar terraces of the lovely Place du Grand Sablon in particular provide the perfect spot in which to enjoy a glass of Belgian beer after a day’s sightseeing. This arcaded square is one of the most exclusive in Brussels and is lined with 15th- and 16th-century townhouses showcasing high-end antiques stores, organic delis and expensive restaurants. It’s hard to imagine that a weekly horse market was once held in Place du Grand Sablon and these days it’s better known for the weekend book and antique markets held under cheery red-and-green striped awnings.More
#7

Autoworld

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Autoworld houses over 250 incredible vehicles of various origins and covers the history of the automobile while demonstrating the evolution and development of cars over more than a century. The displays include automobiles that are basically horse drawn carriages from the time when the horse was replaced with a steering wheel and an engine. There are exclusive sports cars from the 1960s and a Bugatti from 1928. The museum even has motorcycles and exhibits about the development of the garage. A separate room houses horse carriages, including one used by Napoleon the Third's wedding in 1853. The cars on display here are all of European or US origin. They are arranged in chronological order so visitors can start from the origins of the automobile and work their way through the different developments throughout history. There is also an evolutionary time line of cars from the late 1800s to the 2000s including a blank spot for the future.More
#8

Horta Museum

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The Horta Museum in Brussels, Belgium was once the home of the architect Victor Horta. Horta is considered the father of the Art Nouveau style of architecture, and his house is a fantastic example of this style. He built the house for his own use and lived there from 1901 to 1919. The interior designs are original, including the mosaics, stained glass windows, furniture, and wall paintings. The museum also has a collection of furniture designed by Victor Horta as well as old photographs, scale models of some of his other buildings, casts and plans explaining his work. The museum consists of two buildings, Horta's house and his studio. He favored warm woods and wrought iron, and a tour through his home will reveal many interesting characteristics. Look for the shapes inspired by nature and art from Celtic and Asian cultures. Pay attention to the chairs, tables, lamps, door handles, banisters, and candelabras.More
#9

Palace of Justice (Palais de Justice)

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The Palace of Justice is believed to be the largest building constructed in the 19th century. It’s covers 260,000 square feet (24,000 square meters) and dominates the Sablon area. It was built on an area known as Gallows Hill overlooking the working-class parts of the city. Around 3,000 houses were demolished to make way for the building that is larger than St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. This angered locals and the word "architect" became a derogatory term. The style of the imposing grey building is described as Assyro-Babylonian. It’s dominated by columns and a large glittering golden dome. The courts were commissioned by Leopold II and designed by Joseph Poelaert, and ended up costing 45 million Belgian francs to build.More
#10

Museums of the Far East

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King Leopold II wanted famous structures from around the world represented on his royal estate at Laeken, and architect Alexandre Marcel undertook the project with these two towers representing Japan and China. It is said that King Leopold was inspired by his visit to the 1900 Exhibition in Paris. The towers were completed in 1904, built entirely of wood, and connected by tunnel. The woodwork was completed by specialists from Shanghai and Yokohama, and on display are both Chinese and Japanese arts and artifacts dating back to the 17th century. The area around both structures is surrounded by a lush garden, fit for picnics. The distinct cultural styles of both the Chinese pavilion and the Japanese pagoda makes them stand out amongst the rest of the city’s architecture. Standing tall in red and with adjacent wooden pavilions, the towers are unique parts of Brussels that are not to be missed.More

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Recent reviews from experiences in Brussels

star-5
Amazing
denisegonzalez1989, Feb 2020
Hungry Mary's Famous Beer and Chocolate Tour - Brussels
He gave us great tips for places to visit while we stay in Brussels!
star-5
Best Tour I’ve Been On
connbone, Feb 2020
Hungry Mary's Famous Beer and Chocolate Tour - Brussels
Would recommend for anyone coming to visit.
star-4
Complete visit to Brussels
esantos1957, Nov 2019
Brussels Hop-On Hop-Off Tour
But, at least in the Autum schedule, the time for a one-day tour is not enough to visit in deep al least 3 relevant places of the city
star-4
Antwerp Tour by Bussels City Tours
GregWB1955, Oct 2019
Antwerp Half-Day Trip from Brussels
Great tour - the right length of time and ample opportunities to see many of the exciting features of Antwerp.
star-5
Great Tour
Laura O, Jul 2019
Brussels Small-Group Chocolate Tasting Tour
The tour was a great way to see Brussels while experiencing some chocolate tastings and learning about the history of the famous chocolate makers of Belgium.
star-5
Wonderful Experience, Do It!
Odyssey45200377510, Jul 2019
Brussels Chocolate Walking Tour and Workshop
We received not only a chocolate tour, but also an education on the city of Brussels (we were also lucky to see the start of this years Tour de France!
star-5
Wonderful time for all
Nomad62693386594, Jul 2019
Brussels Chocolate Workshop
Anastasia waa really good with all of the different English speaking dialects.
star-5
Such a great time!
Road06680727284, Jun 2019
Private Tour Guide Brussels with a Local: Kickstart your Trip, Personalized
We got to see the Grand Place, the royal palace, Notre Dame, and so much more!
star-4
Get ready to walk in Antwerp
Scenic30359905875, Jun 2019
Brussels Super Saver: Brussels Sightseeing Tour and Antwerp Half-Day Trip
My only suggestion is that if you want to see the diamond factory do not tour on a Saturday.
star-5
Great way to see Brussels
Voyage67918065931, May 2019
Brussels Private Tours with Locals: 100% Personalized, See the City Unscripted
He showed us all the sights and places that one needs to see in Brussels.
star-5
Great Express tour from Brussels...
Omio C, May 2018
Ghent and Bruges Day Trip from Brussels
You get to see two beautiful cities in a day.
star-4
A great way to see Brussels...
Kieren S, Sep 2017
Small-Group Highlights of Brussels Bike Tour
A great way to see Brussels, although be warned that it is not at a leisurely pace!
star-4
Excellent tour! Our guide was very...
ceoverstreet4, Mar 2018
Winter Wonderland: Christmas In Brussels
Brussels was spectacular this time of year and this was the perfect way to see it!
star-4
A good tour to learn about Brussels...
Yogesh J, Jun 2017
The Grand Brussels Experience Coach Tour
This is a good way to see Brussels in a short time.
star-5
Loved this day trip to Amsterdam...
MrsSammy, Nov 2017
Amsterdam Day Trip from Brussels
Great to visit a local cheese factory.
star-4
As far as I'm concerned, you can't...
Marie D, Oct 2017
Brussels Hop-On Hop-Off Tour
With only a few days in Brussels, we were able to see most of the city and enjoyed at several of the stops, specifically the Atomium and nearby Mini-Europe.
star-4
An absolute must, me and my son had...
Abeer E, Jan 2018
The Grand Brussels Experience Coach Tour
If you don't have time to visit everything on your own take this one really worth it!
star-5
Super funny and knowledgeable guide...
expert128sg, Oct 2017
Brussels Chocolate Walking Tour and Workshop
He also take his time to explain the various attractions around in Brussels and included his own recommended places for food.
star-4
A good short tour to visit the City...
Amostin161, Jul 2016
Luxembourg and Dinant Full-Day Tour from Brussels
A good short tour to visit the City of Luxembourg from Brussels with minimal hassles.
star-4
The tour was great! We were staying...
Emma J, Jul 2016
Ghent and Bruges Day Trip from Brussels
We were staying in Brussels for 2 nights so this was a fantastic way to see more of Belgium in a short space of time.

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