Things To Do In Brussels
Things to do in Brussels for a great holiday. Our travel magazine team have visited Brussels to see what is on offer for UK tourists. If you are looking for places to visit in Brussels then you are in for a treat. Brussels is a magical place and attracts millions of visitors each year. There are lots of things to do in Brussels for people of all ages. Come on my journey and let me introduce you to Brussels and all the fun things you can do.
Brussels, the capital of Belgium which many call the best city in Belgium has become a popular destination for couples wanting a romantic getaway. But, its not just for the romantics. Brussels, with its stunning architecture, packed with history and vibrant nightlife, is the perfect holiday destination for all ages.
One thing that really makes Brussels stand out as a great city to visit is all the wonderful food that is available down every street you walk. A word of warning, if you are on a diet, don’t visit Brussels as you will pile on the pounds.
Not everything has to cost money when you are in the Belgium city. There are so many great free things to do in Brussels which includes a visit to the Jeu de Balle flea market, or a visit to The Cinquantenaire Park.
For those looking to find out what to do in Brussels then have a look at some of our suggestions. There are lots of activities in Brussels for people of all ages.
See All The Wonderful Things To Do In Brussels
Grand-Place, Brussels, Belgium
One of the best places to see in Brussels for all culture lovers is the Grand place. The Grand Place (Grote Markt in Dutch) is hidden away in the centre of the city enclosed by a 15th-century Town Hall. With architecture from eras of Baroque, Gothic and Louis XIV, this must be one of the most magnificent and the most photographed medieval squares in Europe.
The Grand-Place has become the number one place to visit on the Brussels tourist map. It’ a UNESCO World Heritage site. It started off with wooden houses being built around the market, but in the 14th century stone mansions were built by wealthy families. In 1402 came the Town Hall, turning it into a main commercial administrative centre.
One of the sad things about the Grand-Place in Brussels, is that it was once used for executions. However, today the cobbled medieval centre is a place of beauty. People from all over the world who visit Brussels come and enjoy its beauty.
I have not known anyone who has visited the Grand-Place not to be awestruck.
Basilica of the Sacred Heart (Koekelberg Basilica)
If you are looking for places to see in Brussels, then the Basilica Of The Sacred Heart must be on your top ten list. This amazing church with its Art Deco is the fifth largest in the world. The Roman Catholic Minor Basilica and parish church in Brussels, Belgium is 89 metres high and 167 metres long.
The famous Brussels church is in the neighbourhood of Koekelberg. The church was built at the request of King Leopold with the first stone laid in 1905. However, there was a delay in building the magnificent church where construction was halted due to two world wars. It was finally completed in 1971.
The Basilica Of The Sacred Heart provides amazing 180-degree views from the observation deck. It’s the perfect place to propose to a loved one.
The church which is open 8am-6pm from April to September and 8am-5pm October to March can be reached by the Metro Simonis and then bus 87.
Palais Royal in Brussels, Belgium.
When looking for places to see in Brussels, you must go and visit the Palais Royal. There are not many Palaces around the world that you can visit, but this one is open to all.
The Palais-Royal, which was originally called the Palais-Cardinal is the official residence of the Belgium Royal Family. However, don’t expect to see the Royal Family of Belgium during your visit as they spend most of their time at Laeken.
The official residence of the Belgium Royal Family was built on the site of another Palace which was the Palace of the Dukes of Brabant. In 1731, the Palace of the Dukes of Brabant was destroyed by fire. The current palace construction started in 1820 under the reign of King William.
The Belgium Palace is open for tourist to visit in the summer months. It is truly one of the best things to do in Brussels. The artwork in the Palace is truly stunning. Make sure you take notice of the ceiling which is covered in the wings of beetles.
The Palace which is situated in front of Brussels Park has a façade which is 50% longer than Buckingham Palace. The façade was built after 1900 on the initiative of King Leopold II. However, the floor area is smaller than Buckingham Palace which stands at 77,000 m2 while The Palais-Royal is 33,027 m2.
When visiting the Palais Royal, make sure you take your camera as there is so much to see and the construction of the Palace is amazing, and the artwork is truly stunning.
Centre Belge de la Bande Dessinée – Belgian Comic Strip Center
If you are looking for free things to do in Brussels with kids, then you must visit the Belgian Comic Strip Center or Centre Belge de la Bande Dessinée as it is known. The Comic Art Museum is not just for kids, adults will love it as well. The museum is famous all around the world and has been honouring the creators of comics heroes for the past thirty years.
What many people may not know is that Belgium has more comic strip artists per square kilometre than any other country in the world, and that includes the USA. So, it is no wonder why the museum which holds more than 5000 original drawings attracts so many comic fans from around the world.
The comic museum located in the Rue des Sables /Zandstraat 20, is open every day 10am-6pm except Monday
Visit Brussel’s Notre Dame Du Sablon
If you love churches and you are looking for what to do in Belgium, then Brussel’s Notre Dame Du Sablon, which is a spectacular Gothic cathedral is a must. It’s not just about finding somewhere in Brussels to visit, this amazing church will allow you to improve your Belgium history.
Brussel’s Notre Dame Du Sablon, which comprises of five naves separated by round pillars started its life way back in the 14th Century. The church which was built in the same style as the Cathedral of St Michael and St. Gudula was erected in 1304 was used as a chapel by the Archer’s Guild.
The interior of Brussel’s Notre Dame Du Sablon is very pretty. Many people say that is looks very similar to the Brussels Cathedral which I would have to agree with. One of the things that really does make the church stand out is the wooden pulpit which was made in 1697.
With so many great churches, it is no wonder why many history lovers say the best city in Belgium is Brussels.
The Atomium in Brussels, Belgium
Before people visit the best city in Belgium one of the problematic things is deciding where to go in Brussels. With so much to do in Brussels, it can be hard trying to fit everything in. This can be made even more difficult if you are bringing children to Brussels and needing to find things for them to do and enjoy. One great place to take children in Brussels is The Atomium.
By visiting the Atomium you and your children will get the chance to climb inside which is 165 billion times its normal size. The Atomium which was built in 1958 was supposed to be a temporary structure, but due to its popularity it became a permanent structure.
The 335-foot-tall giant iron crystal structure was designed by Andre’ Waterkeyn. It is in the Northern part of the city and is just a five-minute walk from the Heizel metro station, right opposite Mini-Europe.
The Old England Building
If you are looking for places to visit in Brussels, then you must visit The Old England Building. It was built in the last year of the 19th Century and was formerly a department store. The Old England Building has become one of the most popular Brussels tourist attractions and when you visit this magnificent building you will understand why.
This 19th Century building is now a museum that is home to more than 2000 musical instrument. Once you have finished listening to the instruments and exploring this amazing building, then why not take yourself to the top of the Old England Building to the café which has panoramic views of Brussels.
The Cantillon Brewery Brussels
If you are looking for things to do in Brussels and you like your beer then a visit to the Cantillon Brewery is a must. Here you can go for a tasting session as well as seeing how the beer is made.
The Cantillon Brewery is a popular Brussels activity. The historic brewery which was founded in 1900 makes only lambic beer. When the Brussels brewery was built there was more than 100 breweries but now is the only one left.
The Brussels Peeing Fountain – Manneken Pis
This may not be on top of your list of Brussels things to do but you can’t visit Brussels without seeing the world-famous Peeing Fountain and taking a selfie. The Manneken Pis is a statue of a little naked boy urinating into the fountain’s basis, and was built in 1619. It’s a 61 cm bronze sculpture but what you see in the centre of Brussels isn’t the original Manneken Pis.
The original Peeing Fountain is now kept in the Museum of the city of Brussels. The one that you see is a replica which was put there in 1965. It has become one of the most photographed statues in the world with lots of tourists taking selfies.
Visit The Cinquantenaire Park
There is so many places to see in Brussels but a great place to visit is The Cinquantenaire Park. When people think about what to do in Brussels a lot of people think about activities that involve a lot of walking but it doesn’t have to be like that.
The Cinquantenaire Park is a great place to relax. This park really comes alive on a hot sunny day. People who visit or live in Brussels come to Cinquantenaire Park for many different reasons. Some like to come and relax for a few hours while others like to come with the family or loved ones for a picnic.
The popular Brussels park is not just a great place to relax, it has more to offer than that. The Cinquantenaire Park is home to the Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History.
Musee Royaux Des Beaux Arts
Art lovers looking for what to do in Brussels then how about the Musee Royaux Des Beaux Arts.
The Musee Royaux Des Beaux Arts is a very popular museum in Brussels. It houses a collection of modern and ancient art across different styles. You can expect to see paintings from Peter Rubens, Anthony Van Dyke and Hans Memling.
To really appreciate Musee Royaux Des Beaux Arts, I suggest a visit of at least four hours.
Palais de Justice
Palais de Justice is the perfect place to visit for crime novel lovers. This is possibly the biggest and the grandest courthouse in the whole of Europe.
Palais de Justice, also known as the courthouse of Brussels and translated into English as the ‘Palace of Justice.
Leopold II commissioned the building and architect Jospeh Poelaert designed it. Sadly, Joseph Poelaert died four years before the building was completed in 1883. Palais de Justice took 20 years to complete and in today’s money cost around $300 million.
Brussels Palais de Justice is located in the uptown area of Saint Gilles. With its location it provides stunning views of the city with many calling the building as the guardian of Brussels.
Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences
If you are looking for what to do in Brussels on a rainy day, then the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences is a great choice.
The Natural Sciences Museum has its own aquarium and even has a Dinosaur Hall which children will love.
Jeu de Balle flea market
You would not think the Belgium city which is full of culture would be known for having a flea market but it is. The outdoor market in the Marolles attracts local, national, and international visitors.
The Jeu de Balle flea market is a large outdoor market which has a huge sprawling collection of vendors. It sells everything you could possibly want, and things you didn’t think you wanted or needed. From vintage artwork to kitsch crockery, and wood carving, the Brussels flea market is a magical place to go shopping.
Chasseurs Ardenais Market
Jeu de Balle flea market is not the only great market in the Capital of Belgium. Chasseurs Ardenais Market, which is often overlooked by those visiting Belgium is a great market that takes place on a Friday evening. It is in the northern district and is well worth a visit.
Those living in Brussels visit Chasseurs Ardenais Market to get their fresh fruit, veg, and cheese. With lots of food trucks it is a great place to shop for all your food needs. However, the popular Brussels market is not just about shopping.
A lot of people visit Chasseurs Ardenais Market to socialise with family and friends. There are lots of mobile wine bars and café patrons to welcome the weekend. This market comes alive and is worth a visit.
Saint-Michel Cathedral (Sint-Michiels Kathedraal)
If you love culture then one of the places on your Brussels things to do list should be Saint-Michel Cathedral (Sint-Michiels Kathedraal). If you love Brussel’s Notre Dame Du Sablon, then you will love this church.
Saint-Michel Cathedral (Sint-Michiels Kathedraal) was founded in 1225. It was dedicated to St. Michael and St. Gudula (the patron saints of Brussels) but the Gothic church was not completed until the 15th century.
The church is a magnificent creation with twin 69-meter-high towers designed by Jan van Ruysbroeck. One of the things I really love about the church is the stained-glass windows. These are truly remarkable. They were created by Bernard van Orley and really make the church stand out.
Have a waffle at Maison Dandoy
There are a lot of fun things to do in Brussels, but for me and my stomach, this is one not to miss.
If you are in Brussels for a day trip, a weekend, or a holiday, you must visit Maison Dandoy. They make the best waffles you will ever eat. The Brussels favourite has been baking delicious treats since 1829, so maybe you could say all that practice has enabled them to make the perfect waffle.
A lot of places that serve waffles and bakery re-heat what they are selling. However, Maison Dandoy makes everything to order. When you bite into the waffle you will notice the difference between fresh and re-heated.
You can have lots of different toppings with your waffle from ice cream, caramel, or hot chocolate. There are a total of eight Maison Dandoy in Brussels including the one on Rue Charles Buls.