Are you considering a trip to Brussels, but not sure if it’s worth your time and money? Look no further! In this article, we will provide you with all the information you need to decide is Brussels worth visiting.
Brussels is worth visiting for its stunning architecture, fascinating history, and delicious Belgian chocolates, waffles, and beers. As the capital of Belgium and the headquarters of the European Union, Brussels is a vibrant and diverse city that offers a unique blend of culture, politics, and art.
In this article, we will explore the top reasons why Brussels should be on your travel bucket list. Let us help you discover what this exciting and cosmopolitan city has to offer so that you can plan your trip to Brussels.
Is Brussels Worth Visiting? 21 Reasons to Visit Brussels
1. Enjoy the Splendour of La Grand-Place
La Grand-Place has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1998. The name Grand-Place means big square and it is very big, maybe the biggest in Europe. On top of that, it is beautiful and very impressive.
You will find Gothic-style buildings dating from the 17th Century. In one part of La Grand-Place, you will find the Hotel de Ville (Town Hall) and La Maison du Roi (City Museum). You should also visit La Grand-Place at night to see the magical lighting.
2. Visit the Gothic-Style Town Hall (Hotel de Ville)
The Hotel de Ville (Town Hall) is part of La Grand-Place and definitely deserves a visit. It is a 15th century Gothic-style building and the most extravagant in the square with dozens of arched windows and sculptures of monks.
The interior is a mix of Gothic and Renaissance architecture. If you want to visit inside, you need to buy tickets at the Tourist Office which is situated on the Grand-Place.
3. Window Shop in Les Galleries Royale of Saint-Hubert
Les Galleries Royales are one of the best places to visit! You can walk inside and imagine you were the King or the Queen. These galleries transport you back in time and you can sense this atmosphere as soon you enter inside. In the past, this was the place where writers, including Victor Hugo and Alexandre Dumas, and painters came to meet.
Today, the galleries are home to nice shops, restaurants, elegant cafés and cultural spaces like the theatre and cinema. If you want to avoid the crowds, you need to come here early to take pictures without no-one around.
4. Enjoy a Beer at Delirium
Delirium is a bar in Brussels where you can find any type of beer. Beer is very popular in Brussels, like wine in France! This bar holds the Guinness World Record for the number of different beers on the menu.
Delirium has more than 2,000 beers from around the world but also beer specialities from Belgium. For example, you can try Trappist beer, or you can even taste some more original flavours like chocolate or banana! If you don’t know which beer to choose, just ask the staff and they will guide you with their recommendations.
5. Marvel at the Stunning Royal Greenhouses (Les Serres Royales)
The Serres Royales are the best greenhouses in Brussels. These majestic greenhouses are impressive even if the beautiful flowers aren’t to your taste.
If you love photography, this is a good place to visit and you won’t be disappointed. No matter if you are a pro or amateur, you will come back with plenty of great photographs. The greenhouses are only open for 3 weeks in April and May.
6. Enjoy Panoramic Views from the Basilica of the Sacred Heart
The Basilica of the Sacred Heart is the largest church in Brussels and the fifth largest in the world (89 meters tall and 167 meters long). It was constructed in an Art Deco style. The first stone was laid in 1905 but the Basilica was not finished until 1977 owing to the two World Wars.
If you are looking for the best view of Brussels, you can climb 53m to the top of the dome. From here, you can access the observation deck which offers a 180-degree view of the city.
You can also visit the Basilica itself and your ticket includes entrance to a museum. This Basilica is beautiful, but the downside is the distance from the centre of Brussels. The Basilica is quite far from the city centre and you should check before you decide to visit.
7. Take Time to Enjoy the 9th Art in the Belgian Comic Strip Centre (Centre Belge de la Bande Dessinee)
Brussels is famous for beer but also for comic strips. Many comics strips were created here, like Tintin. If you like comic strips, I recommend you visit the Belgian Comic Strip Centre (Centre Belge de la Bande Dessinee).
This museum is in the heart of Brussels and is dedicated to the ninth art. They change the exhibitions on a regular basis and this museum is great for all the family.
8. Be Amazed at the Size of the Palais de Justice (Palace of Justice)
Usually it isn’t good to go inside the Palais de Justice as this is usually for criminals! However, you must go in to discover the interior of this building.
The Palais de Justice is one of the largest buildings in the world and it is impressive (160 meters by 150 meters covering a surface area of 26,000 square meters). You can’t miss it! The building is one of the highlights of Brussels and you can see it from almost anywhere.
If you want the best view of the Palais de Justice, you should go to Poelaert Square where the main entrance of the Palais is located. If you think the Palais de Justice is just a nice big building to look at, you are wrong.
Inside is even better! Imagine a room where the ceiling is 100 meters (328 ft) above you. On top of that, the Palais de Justice is free to enter and it is one of my favourite places to visit.
9. Enjoy the Sunset from Place Poelaert
After visiting the Palais de Justice, it’s a good idea to go back to the Place Poelaert to enjoy the sunset. This is the best place to take a nice picture of the sunset in Brussels and you don’t need to climb to the top of a building.
10. Explore the Royal Museums of Fine Arts (Musees Royaux des Beaux Arts)
The Musees Royal des Beaux Arts is perfect for any art lover. With a collection of 20,000 artworks, this museum can keep you busy.
Inside, you will find sculptures, paintings and drawings from the 15th to the 21th centuries. The Musees Royal des Beaux Arts is comprised of 6 different museums!
11. Find the Famous Manneken-Pis (Urinating Boy)
The Manneken-Pis is one of the most popular attractions in Brussels. It is a small bronze fountain statue. When I say small, it is small – just 61 cm (24 inches).
There are many stories about the origins of the statue. Some people say a little boy saved the town by urinating on explosives. Others say the son of a tourist was missing, and the villagers helped the father to find him and the father offered the Manneken-Pis statue to say thank you.
For the locals, the Manneken-Pis isn’t just an attraction, it’s part of Brussels life. The Manneken-Pis has an outfit for every occasion! The statue’s wardrobe is huge from Santa costumes to national costumes from around the world.
Did you know that there is also Jeanneke-Pis which is a fountain statue of a girl urinating? You will also find a statue of a urinating dog, but he’s urinating against a bollard on the pavement!
12. Enjoy Brussels Food Specialties
The food in Brussels is great and you can’t go wrong trying some local food specialties, whether you choose a nice waffle in the afternoon or mussels and chips.
Moules Frites (Mussels and Chips)
Moules Frites is a specialty of Belgium and you can eat them everywhere! Classic Moules Frites (moules mariniere) are cooked in onions, carrots, celery, white wine. This is my preferred way of eating mussels. You can also have mussels cooked in tomatoes.
When eating mussels, my tip is to use the shell of one mussel to eat the others. Basically, the shell of your mussel is your new fork. Locals eat mussels like this, as do I.
For tea or dessert, you should try a Belgium waffles which are always fresh and tasty.
Les Frites (Chips or Fries)
Les frites (chips or fries) are another speciality of Brussels and believe me they are very good. The chips are cooked twice to give them a crispy outside and a soft inside. You can buy them on the street and eat them while you walk.
Carbonade (Beef Stew)
Carbonade is another speciality from Brussels. It is a beef stew but made with beer and cassonade (brown fine sugar). If you like Boeuf Bourginon, you will love the carbonade. It’s best eaten with mashed potatoes.
13. Learn About the History of Brussels in La Maison du Roi (Brussels City Museum)
Located on the Grand-Place, La Maison du Roi (Brussels City Museum) is dedicated to the history and folklore of Brussels. Inside, you will find paintings, sculptures, prints and scale models.
The original Manneken-Pis statue is here as well. The building itself is a piece of art. All of the museum’s buildings were listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1936.
14. Make Your Way to the Top of the Atomium and Enjoy Heysel Park
One of the most iconic places in Brussels to visit is the Atomium. The Atomium was created for the Universal World Exhibition in 1958. Today, the Atomium is the most popular tourist attraction in Brussels.
The shape of the building is impressive with its big spheres linked by tubes. You can walk inside the tubes to access the spheres. Inside the spheres, there is an exhibition to enjoy. The building is old, but it keeps a modern look outside and inside it is even more futuristic.
This is definitely an attraction to visit. In the top sphere, you will enjoy a splendid panorama of Brussels. Added to that, you could enjoy lunch inside the panoramic restaurant which is 95-meters high. Don’t forget to combine your visit with a walk around Heysel Park and Mini Europe.
15. Tour Mini Europe in a Couple of Hours
If you’d like to visit all of Europe in a couple of hours, Mini Europe is the place to go. You will be welcomed by a miniature version of Big Ben and your tour will continue around some of the most majestic places in Europe.
There are 350 model replicas of European sights and an interactive multimedia game. Next to Mini Europe is the Atomium, so why not combine the two attractions whilst you are here?
16. Discover Brussels’ Street Art Scene
As you may know, Brussels hosts a lot of artists, but did you know that you can enjoy impressive Street Art whilst you walk? There is plenty of Street Art on the walls of buildings around the city, including comic-style paintings. Put your phone in your pocket and open your eyes and you will discover some fabulous examples of Street Art.
17. Shop Until You Drop in Brussels
If you love shopping, the best shopping street in Brussels is the Rue Neuve which is the only pedestrian street in Brussels and the busiest. Chaussee d’Ixelles is the second-best shopping street in Brussels.
Some other streets to shop in include the Rue Antoine Dansaert, Avenue Louise and Avenue de la Toison d’Or or Rue du Bailli.
18. Visit the European Parliament
Brussels is the capital of Europe and when you visit here, you have the chance visit the European Parliament. It is interesting to see where European laws are voted and to experience the size of the Hemicycle.
You can also access the Parlamentarium which houses a museum inside. Here, you can learn about memorable moments in the creation and history of the European Union. Check the official website for availability before you visit. The best part is that it’s free to visit!
19. Discover What is Inside the Old England Building
The Old England building is an interesting building to go and see. This Art Nouveau building with a black façade and iron arched windows is a department store.
The building is also home to a music museum as well. The museum has more than 2,000 historic instruments with plenty of places where you can listen to them.
20. Relax in the Parc du Cinquantenaire
The Parc du Cinquantenaire is a series of vast gardens with monuments and a museum. There is also an enormous stone arch which is comprised of three smaller arches. There are plenty of activities in the park all year round like sporting events, concerts and fireworks.
The park was built for the 50th Anniversary of the independence of Belgium. It is a great place to have a picnic with friends. There are also two playgrounds for the kids.
21. Keep the Kids Entertained in Brussels
Brussels has many activities and experiences that will keep the kids entertained. Here are a few of our suggestions:
Every kid loves chocolate, so why not to go to the Chocolate Museum? Here, you will learn about the history of chocolate. At the end of the tour, you will enjoy a demonstration of how chocolate is made.
Museum of Natural Sciences
If the weather isn’t very good, you can go to the Museum of Natural Sciences. This museum is perfect for kids. They have an impressive collection of dinosaurs which is the largest in Europe.
Parks in Brussels
If the weather is good, I would recommend you relax in a park. You don’t need to go far in Brussels to find a park. The best example is the Parc de Bruxelles which is the largest park in the centre of the city.
Maybe your kids prefer to play with water? If so, you could head to a water park like Aqualibi which is approximately half an hour from the centre of the city. There are dedicated areas for young children and many other slides for all ages.
Where is Brussels?
Brussels is the capital of Belgium and the capital of Europe. Brussels is located more or less in the centre of Belgium and is surrounded by France, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.
Is Brussels Worth Visiting?
Brussels is certainly worth visiting! This destination is perfect for a weekend away. For UK residents it is even better because you can use the Eurostar for direct trains to Brussels.
There are also direct trains to Brussels from Paris. This is a good option because you are travelling from city centre to city centre.
For the best train ticket information in Europe, check out our other article about Eurail passes.
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For more information about Brussels you can go on the Tourist Information Desk