When it comes to cities in Europe, Brussels is often overlooked. But with its rich history, stunning architecture, and delicious food, this city definitely has a lot to offer tourists. Here are the best things to see and do in Brussels.
Brussels is the capital of Belgium and one of the most important cities in Europe. Brussels’ history that dates back to at least the 90th Century, with the oldest know record mentioning Brussels being from the 10th Century.
There are many things to see and do in Brussels that make it a great city to visit. Some of the highlights include its stunning architecture, delicious food, amazing art museums, and lively nightlife.
What is Brussels best known for?
Brussels is best known for being the capital of Belgium, as well as being the de facto European capital and home to the European Union.
The city is also known for its large number of museums, art galleries, and theaters. Other attractions in Brussels include the Grand Place, Manneken Pis, and the gleaming Atomium. There are also a significant number of stunning parks and gardens, most notably Brussels Park (aka Royal Park).
As well as vibrant nightlife, Brussels is known for its culinary delights. Brussels is home to 25 Michelin Star restaurants which is astounding considering Brussels is no bigger than Minneapolis.
Fun & Best Things in Brussels, Belgium
If you’re looking for things to do in Brussels, here are some of the best options:
1. Visit the Grand Place
The Grand Place is the primary tourist destination in the city of Brussels, Belgium. It has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is widely considered one of the most beautiful squares in all of Europe. The Grand Place is located in central Brussels and dates back to at least the 17th Century.
The central square is surrounded by several notable buildings, including the Brussels Town Hall and the Royal Palace. Visitors can enjoy people-watching, dining at one of the many cafes or restaurants, or simply admiring the architecture.
It is a beautiful attraction to see on a Belgium City bus tour.
At Grand Place, you’ll find all sorts of shops selling Belgian chocolate, waffles, and other delicious treats on this square. There are also plenty of restaurants where you can try out some traditional Belgian cuisine such as carbonade flamande (a yummy beef stew) or moules frites (classic mussels with fries).
2. See the Manneken Pis
The Manneken Pis is one of Brussels’ most famous landmarks. It’s a small statue of a boy peeing, and it’s located in the center of the city.
The Manneken Pis is pretty easy to find; just look for the little guy in the center of town, peeing freely. He’s often dressed up in different costumes, so it’s worth checking out to see what he’s wearing.
The Manneken Pis is more than just a peeing statue; he’s a symbol of the city. Locals even have their own annual festival celebrating this little guy. When you’re in Brussels, make sure to check out the Manneken Pis. You won’t be disappointed – maybe just confused.
If you’d like to see more effigies of things peeing in the streets, make sure you also check out Jeanneke Pis and Zinneke Pis!
PRO TIP: Only these three are allowed to pee in public like this – none of them are inviting you to do the same.
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3. Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History
The Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History is one of the best things to do in Brussels if you’re interested in military history. The museum is located in Cinquantenaire Park and has a large collection of military artifacts dating back to ancient times.
This military history museum covers a wide range of topics, including the Belgian Revolution, the Napoleonic Wars, World War I, and World War II.
There are also exhibits on the Belgian Congo and other Belgian colonies. The museum is incredibly well done and definitely worth a visit if you’re interested in military history.
This is one of the best army museums in all of Europe and is a must-see if you want to take in the history of the continent.
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4. Visit the Atomium
If you want to see a piece of architecture that is both beautiful and massive, the Atomium is the place for you. The Atomium is a large structure located on the outskirts of Brussels. It was built for the World Expo ’58 and is made up of nine spheres connected by tubes. You can take an elevator to the top of one of the spheres for views over the city.
The sculpture was designed by André Waterkeyn a student of Le Corbusier, symbolizing a magnified iron crystal and stands 102 meters tall, and it’s the most popular tourist attraction in Brussels.
When visiting the Atomium, make sure you take your time exploring all levels—it has nine different levels in total, which includes an on-site restaurant on top and a museum on the ground level.
You can also enjoy panoramic views from one of its observation decks (there are two).
The Atomium was built using 925 tons of iron in order to create this iconic structure that represents an atom with its nine spheres stacked together as atoms do inside a molecule or compound. Visit Atomium and get your admission ticket now.
Its unique design has inspired many other monuments around the world such as New York City’s Unisphere at Flushing Meadows Park.
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5. See the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula
The Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula is a Gothic cathedral located in Brussels. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s one of the most important religious buildings and a beautiful attraction in Belgium, and it’s definitely worth a visit.
Dedicated to Saint Gudula, the cathedral incorporates a chapel dedicated to Saint Michael. Built-in Gothic style, this cathedral is one of the largest churches in Belgium. The tower of this mighty Gothic church reaches 210 feet high.
Join the Brussels walking tour to explore the basilica and see its beautiful interiors.
The artwork inside includes many different statues that represent Jesus Christ as well as other religious figures. The stained glass windows are beautiful too. The cathedral is free to enter, but there is a small fee to climb the tower.
6. Shop at the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert
The Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert (or the Royal Gallery Saint Hubert) is a covered shopping arcade located in the center of Brussels. It’s one of the oldest shopping malls in the world, and it’s a great place to find souvenirs. It is one of the spots to enjoy a Brussels discovery and food tour.
The mall was originally built in 1847 as an open-air market. In 1885, it was enclosed and became one of the first covered malls in Europe. The mall is home to over 200 shops, cafes, and restaurants. It’s a great place to spend an afternoon shopping and people-watching.
You can find everything from Belgian chocolate to traditional Belgian lace here. The mall is also home to several incredible chocolate shops, so it’s the perfect place to stock up on chocolate for friends and family back home.
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7. Visit the Royal Palace of Brussels
The Royal Palace of Brussels is the official residence of the Belgian royal family. It’s located in the center of the city, and it’s open to visitors from April to September. The palace is free to enter, but there is a small fee to tour the royal apartments.
The Royal Palace of Brussels is one of my favorite attractions for photo ops – the largest structure in the square is the Royal Palace (Palais Royal), the official residence of the Belgian royal family. A set of cultural structures surrounds the palace, adorned by Neoclassic architecture.
The Royal Palace is one of the notable sights to see on a sightseeing tour.
Belgium flags fly on roofs and show sovereign presence while ceremonial alterations take place every evening. The Guard changes each day. During summer, a free private tour of the palace interior is provided.
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8. Enjoy café culture at Le Cirio
The elegant grande café Le Cirio‘s history dates back to 1886 and has catered to countless famished locals as well as international visitors ever since.
Inside there is a collection of special touches such as polished brass and artwork dating back to the time of its opening.
But the main reason you’re here of course is for some strong coffee and some delicious Belgian fare. Their baked goods are out of this world.
Outside, you can relax on the patio while the crowd watches to your heart’s delight. I sat in the restaurant to enjoy a home specialty – “the half” – which consists of both fresh and sparkling wines.
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9. Taste Belgian Chocolate
Belgian chocolate is some of the best in the world, and it’s definitely worth trying while you’re in Brussels. In fact, Brussels is one of the world’s leading exporters of cocoa and chocolates.
It has been said that the Belgians are “obsessed with chocolate” and this obsession can be seen in every corner of the country – but nowhere more so than in Brussels; these folks are cocoa bean crazy.
You will find chocolates everywhere you go—from truffles to bars to pralines and everything in between! It’s a chocaholic’s delight I tell ya!
The best way to taste Belgian Chocolate is by joining a chocolate appreciation tour and visiting a chocolatier (or several) and Brussels Chocolate Museum.
There are many shops offering different kinds of Belgian Chocolate which could be a little overwhelming at first – but don’t worry you’ll have plenty of guidance from shop owners along the way. You may just adopt a new hobby.
I mean, it’s chocolate; how bad could it be?
10. Go to the Belgian Museum of Fine Arts
The Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium is a series of museums that has a collection of over 20,000 works spanning centuries.
Consequently, it is one of Europe’s most important museums for art from the Middle Ages to the 19th Century. The museum was founded in 1801 and its first director was Jacques-Louis David.
The museum’s collection includes paintings by Brueghel, Rubens, and Van Dyck, and sculptures by Michelangelo.
Also drawings by Da Vinci and Rembrandt, and prints by Piranesi and Dürer, as well as a large number of important examples of decorative arts such as ivory carvings, goldsmithing, glasswork, and much more.
If you visit this collection of museums, you will find yourself immersed in an atmosphere that allows you to understand better how people lived during these times (for example: how they dressed or what their homes looked like back in the Middle Ages).
You can also see many masterpieces here such as paintings by Vermeer, like Girl with a Pearl Earring, as well as Jan Steen’s The Merry Family, and Caravaggio’s Medusa.
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11. See the Brussels Christmas Market
If you’re visiting in winter, the Christmas market in Brussels is a great place to find gifts and decorations, and gorge yourself on festive food stalls. It’s also a lot of fun for kids!
It’s located in the center of Brussels and is open from late November to early January. The market features a wide variety of stalls selling everything from toys to food to Christmas ornaments. You can also enjoy a festive atmosphere with music and Christmas lights.
If you are looking for something to do in winter in Brussels, you need to spend a night or two at the Christmas market and experience Christmas in Brussels taking in all the sights and sounds. It’s the perfect way to get into the holiday spirit!
12. Go Ice Skating at the Grand Place
Ice skating is a popular activity in Brussels during winter, and there are several places where you can go ice skating.
One of the most popular is Place du Grand Sablon, which has an open-air rink, and also the iconic Grand Place is transformed into an ice skating rink. It’s a great activity for both adults and children, and it’s a great way to experience the square in a different way.
The rinks are open from mid-November to early January. If you’re visiting Brussels during the winter, ice skating is a great activity to add to your list. It’s a lot of fun, and it’s also a great way to stay active.
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13. Take a Day Trip to Bruges or Ghent
Want to space out those fun things to do in Brussels?
Bruges is a beautiful city located in Belgium, and it’s only a short train ride from Brussels.
It’s definitely worth spending a day exploring all that the city has to offer. Some of the highlights include Markt square, the canals, and the Church of Our Lady.
If you’re looking for another day trip from Brussels, Ghent is a great option. It’s only a 30-minute train ride away, and there’s plenty to see and do in the city. Some of the highlights include Market Square, the Gravensteen castle, and St. Bavo’s Cathedral.
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14. Visit the Horta Museum
Horta is widely considered to be one of the most important architects of the Art Nouveau architecture movement. The Horta Museum is the perfect place to learn about his life and work.
Located in the former home of the architect, the museum is full of Horta’s original furniture, art, and architectural drawings. The whole place is delightfully zany and elegant!
Take a self-guided or private tour through the different rooms of the house, and don’t miss the audio guide, which offers insights from Horta experts. The Horta Museum is one of the most unique museums in Brussels, and it’s a must-visit for anyone interested in architecture or Art Nouveau.
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15. Have a Beer at Delirium Tremens and go on a Brewery Tour
If you’re looking for a good place to stop for a classic Belgian beer and some great conversation, we highly recommend Delirium Tremens. This bar is located right on Grand Place and serves up a variety of beers from all over Belgium. It is the ideal place for beer tasting in Belgium.
The atmosphere at this bar is lively and fun, but it also has an old-school charm that makes it feel special. If you find yourself in Brussels with some time to kill before dinner or just want to relax after a long day sightseeing, then definitely check out Delirium Tremens.
Brussels is home to many different breweries beyond Delirium Tremens, and a beer tour is a great way to learn about the brewing process and taste some of the local beers.
If you are a beer lover, you’ll be in love with Brussels and even Belgium as a whole. There are several companies that offer tours, so you can find one that fits your schedule and budget.
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16. Visit the Palace of Justice
A visit to the Palace of Justice, Brussels is a must. The Palace of Justice is an ornate building in the center of Brussels that houses many courts and departments of law, including the Law Courts, the Court of Cassation, and the Supreme Court.
You can also visit the Palace of Justice Museum which has exhibits on popular trials throughout history including those involving Marie Antoinette and Dr. Petiot.
If you’re into art or architecture, then you’ll love visiting this museum because it boasts some amazing works!
If you want something more interactive than just looking at paintings, then try visiting their Library or the Gardens located behind the court building itself. The library is free to enter, but donations are most welcome.
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17. Stroll through Cinquantenaire Park (Parc du Cinquantenaire)
If you’re looking for a place to relax and enjoy brunch in Brussels, Cinquantenaire Park (or Parc du Cinquantenaire) is the perfect location. This park has many restaurants, cafes, and museums that are sure to delight all visitors.
A park is also a great place for taking pictures. It’s surrounded by beautiful buildings such as the Palais de Justice (Palace of Justice), Palais de la Nation (National Palace), and the Royal Palace of Brussels.
In addition to these wonderful landmarks, there are also several sports facilities including an ice rink where you can skate during the winter months or even rent bikes if you prefer riding on two wheels instead of two blades.
If you decide to visit during the summer months then be sure not to miss out on their annual music festival called Rock Werchter.
If you are looking for hotels to stay near the park you can find great deals on Booking.com and VRBO.
18. Watch a performance at the La Monnaie Opera House
The La Monnaie Opera House is one of the most prestigious opera houses in Europe, and it’s located right here in Brussels.
If you’re a fan of opera, attending a performance at the La Monnaie is a great way to experience the city’s cultural scene. The theater was built in 1819 and is home to the National Opera of Belgium.
Make sure you check the concert schedules in advance of your arrival in Brussels as tickets are booked quite frequently. Depending on the performance, this is one of the best things to do in Brussels at night or for couples.
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19. Visit the Bourse
This beautiful building is one of the most popular sights in Brussels. It’s a great place to visit for history buffs, art lovers, and anyone who has an interest in architecture. The Bourse is a building that houses many different museums, galleries, and educational exhibitions.
A tour through the building will take you through several different chambers on both ground level and below ground level.
You’ll see famous frescoes and paintings from famous artists such as Rubens, Delacroix, and Jan van Eyck. You can even climb up onto the roof of this historic landmark where there are some amazing views of Brussels’ skyline.
You can also take a look around by yourself – just walk around freely inside the dome or up into any part of it that catches your eye (there are no restrictions).
There are plenty of places where you can get lost within these walls so make sure you have enough time if visiting during busy hours when crowds tend to gather at certain spots like near statues/statuesque features like staircases which lead up towards large windows looking out onto modern skyscrapers nearby.
Yeah, you can tell I’ve fought crowds here before.
20. Visit the Musical Instruments Museum
The Musical Instruments Museum is a must-see for any music lover. Located in Brussels, in the Old England Building, the museum houses a collection of over 10,000 musical instruments from all over the world. You can see everything from ancient Egyptian harps to Indian sitars to antique French horns.
The museum also houses special exhibits on different topics and themes, so there’s always something new and exciting to discover. The Musical Instruments Museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday, making it the perfect place to visit on your next trip to Brussels.
This Musical Instrument Museum opened in 1987 and was created by Dominique Serruys, who wanted it to be a “museum for all people with an interest in music,” not just professionals or experts like those at other musical instrument museums around Europe.
This means that this particular museum isn’t afraid of having fun—there are even interactive games set up throughout the building so visitors can test their skills at playing different instruments while they’re here!
If you’re looking for some great art or music history lessons while traveling through Europe, then this should definitely be one of your top choices.
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21. See the view of the cupola at Basilique du Sacré-Cœur de Bruxelles
Perched atop Mont des Arts, this basilica is one of the most popular attractions in Brussels. It’s such a huge draw that it’s hard to snag a spot at its stairway viewpoints, which offer panoramic views of this iconic city from any angle.
The best time to visit is at night when the city lights reflect off the church’s dome and make for some magical photos. If you want to see it for yourself during sunrise or sunset, make sure you get there early—the line builds up fast.
22. Explore the Belgian Comic Strip Route & Belgian Comic Strip Centre
Brussels is known as the capital of the comic strip. It’s the birthplace of some of the most famous comic strips in the world, like Tintin and Snowy of The Adventures of Tin Tin fame.
If you’re a big fan of comics, you’ll love seeing them come to life in Brussels through stunning street art and murals. The Belgian Comic Strip Route marks off an area where many famous Belgian cartoonists lived, worked, and hung out.
The Belgian Comic Strip Route will take you past their houses and studios as well as many other sites that were used in their stories. You can see it on foot or by bike (the city has plenty available for rent).
Make sure to include The Belgian Comic Strip Center (or Centre if you will). It’s one of the finest comic strip museums in the world and a must for families with kids.
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23. Catch a Game at King Baudouin Stadium, Brussels
If you’re a sports enthusiast, check out King Baudouin Stadium – it’s flipping huge.
This massive structure is the home of RSC Anderlecht, one of Belgium’s most popular football clubs. Built in 1930, it has a capacity of 50,000 and was named after King Baudouin I (1930-1993), who was the king of Belgium from 1951 until 1993.
The stadium has hosted many important events over its lifetime and is also used for concerts as well as other sporting events such as tennis matches and rugby games.
If you enjoy watching sports (or just like going to big stadiums) this one should be on your list.
24. Notre-Dame du Sablon
This place is a gem. First of all, it’s a beautiful Gothic-style church in the Sablon area of Brussels with stunning stained glass windows.
This church also has an interesting history: it was built in 1450 as part of Saint Gudule Cathedral before being turned into a parish church after the French Revolution and then being deconsecrated in 1797.
The Notre Dame du Sablon was restored between 1847 and 1851 by architect Joseph Poelaert, who added features such as high gables with stone pinnacles at each corner and added flying buttresses to support them (two are still visible today).
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25. Explore the Abbaye de la Cambre
Abbaye de la Cambre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most important buildings and is one of the top Brussels attractions. It’s also home to an excellent restaurant that serves traditional Belgian cuisine.
The abbey is located just 15 minutes from the main train station, making it easy to take day trips from the city center. To get there, take metro line 1 (green) to “Jette” and then walk 10 minutes towards Jette Castle. Alternatively, you can take tram 22 or 31 as well as buses 54 or 55 (from bus stop: Place Royale).
When visiting Abbaye de la Cambre during your trip to Brussels, wear comfortable shoes and clothes that you can move around in easily since there are many stairs throughout the complex!
You should plan on spending at least one hour touring this historic site—but if you have time left over after visiting other attractions in Brussels like Manneken Pis or Atomium Park then consider staying longer.
26. Eat Belgian Waffles
Waffles are a common treat in Belgium, and for good reason.
They are utterly delicious.
Belgian waffles are made from a yeasted batter that is cooked in a special waffle iron. They can be served plain or with fruit, chocolate, or whipped cream on top—but no matter how you eat them they will be tasty.
If you don’t have time to sit down for an entire meal at one of Brussels’ many restaurants, grab some waffles at street vendors throughout the city instead.
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27. Get to know your neighbors’ history at Mini Europe
Mini Europe is a miniature version of all European countries that allows you to learn about European culture while also spending time with friends or family members who are traveling together with you on vacation.
If you’re interested in learning more about how these countries came into existence, then this park is definitely worth checking out.
You’ll find plenty of entertainment options including rides like roller coasters, restaurants, and cafes where people eat food from different parts of Europe such as Italy and France.
Also shows that features different cultural dances throughout each country’s history, all based on real-life historical events and traditions that may interest anyone looking for something fun but educational at the same time.
28. Take a Look at Parlamentarium, Brussels
The Parlamentarium is a museum in Brussels that houses an interactive and educational display of the European Parliament. It’s located on Rue de Trèves, across from the European Parliament complex, which you can also visit.
The building itself was once home to Belgium’s Palace of Justice (and still is), so it has tons of history behind it.
It’s a must-see for tourists looking to learn more about what goes on at the EU headquarters—plus it’s free!
There are three floors with different exhibits: Europe: The Story of Its People, Democracy Under Construction, and How Things Get Done In Brussels.
The first floor offers a general overview of European history throughout time through multimedia displays as well as videos that depict how different civilizations lived together throughout history before creating EU institutions during peacetime after World War II.
You’ll also find out how these institutions came into being by watching some cool interviews with people who were actually involved in making them happen!
The second floor shows visitors how democracy works within each member state and how decisions are made within these countries’ parliaments so they can see firsthand what happens when politicians disagree about new laws being introduced onto the continent.
See the beauty of the museum and explore the city at the same time on a Brussels tour.
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29. Climb to the Top of Mont des Arts, Brussels City Center, Brussels
Located in the city center, Mont des Arts is an architectural landmark that has been around for over 200 years and is today one of Brussels’ most popular tourist spots. Located at the top of this hill is an observation tower called La Tour.
The Tower provides a 360° panoramic view of Brussels City Center and its surroundings.
You can see everything from here: Brussels City Center, European Parliament, and Atomium (a museum dedicated to science).
Even the Waterloo Battlefield; the site of the famous battle between Napoleon Bonaparte and British, German, and Dutch forces under Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington in 1815.
You’ll get great shots standing right next to statues like Don Quixote de la Mancha and other famous landmarks nearby as well.
30. Enjoy an afternoon at Place Sainte-Catherine
This beautiful pedestrian square is one of the most stunning places in Brussels – do not miss it.
The square is surrounded by a number of charming shops, cafes, and restaurants.
It’s also home to an incredible church called St. Catherine’s Church, which was built in 1250 by Clement de Flandre, who was the second prince-bishop of Liege and brother of Godfrey IV de Namur who founded Anderlecht.
You can explore the square by bike and immerse yourself in its beauty.
The area around Place Sainte-Catherine offers plenty to do as well whether you’re looking for food, shopping or just want to take in some local culture. It’s also one of the best places to start a day out in Brussels.
This is because there are many museums nearby including the Royal Museums of Fine Arts and Musical Instruments Museum, Museum of Modern Art, History & Archeology Museum, and Institut Royal des Sciences Naturelles De Belgique (Natural History Institute), among others.
31. Visit Europe Square, Solbosch Campus, ULB, Brussels
Europe Square is a public square in the European Quarter of Brussels, Belgium. It is located in front of the Solbosch campus of the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB) and the European Parliament.
The square was designed by landscape architect Jacques van Meerbeeck as an extension of Rue de Trêves / Driesleutelstraat between Place du Luxembourg and Quai du Trésor.
It was inaugurated on 22 November 1993 by King Albert II during his visit to celebrate his 25th year since his accession to the throne.
On Europe Day 2016, it was renamed Europe Square after thousands of pieces of LEGO were dumped there as part of an art installation celebrating 50 years of EU membership.
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When is the best time to visit Brussels?
The best time to visit Brussels and see most of it is from April to May or September to October when the weather is mild and there are fewer crowds.
Summer is a great time to enjoy the cafe culture and public parks, but it does get a bit more crowded.
If you’re looking to save money and avoid crowds during your Brussels sightseeing, travel during the winter months from November to March. This way you’ll get to enjoy ice skating and potentially the Christmas Market.
Not to mention the Christmas light in Brussels are like something out of a postcard or a fairytale…or a postcard from a fairytale; it really is that magical.
What are the best places to stay in Brussels?
There is a wide range of accommodation options in Brussels, from budget-friendly hostels to luxury hotels. Some of the best places to stay in Brussels include the Hotel Metropole, Le Dome, the Warwick, and Les Trois Rois.
As we’ve seen, Brussels is a great place to visit. It has plenty of history and culture, but it also has some of the best food and drinks in the world. The city is also very walkable, so you can spend your whole trip exploring on foot or by bike.
With so many options for things to do in Brussels, you won’t run out of things to do anytime soon—and neither will your friends when they come along too!
Is Brussels worth visiting?
Yes! Brussels is definitely worth visiting.
The city has a lot to offer in terms of history, culture, and architecture. There are also many great restaurants, cafes, and bars to enjoy. Some of the best things to see in Brussels include the Atomium and the Manneken Pis n’ his pis’n pals.
Other popular sights include the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula, the Palais de Justice, the Brussels City Museum, and the Parc du Cinquantenaire.
What are the most popular things to do in Brussels?
Some of the most popular things to do in Brussels include visiting the Grand Place, exploring the city’s museums, and strolling through its parks and gardens. Other popular activities include shopping, dining out, and attending festivals and events.
What are the best things to do in Brussels with kids?
Some of the best things to do in Brussels include visiting Mini Europe, exploring the Belgian Comic Strip Route, wandering the Musical Instrument Museums, and trying as much chocolate as possible!
What is there to do in Brussels at night?
There are plenty of things to do in Brussels at night, including dining out, going to bars and clubs, and attending concerts and shows. There are also many great shops and boutiques that stay open late.
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