Brussels is a fascinating place with a stunning architecture found on every street. The capital of Belgium is both a laid-back city and very business-focused.
Brussels is a great city to visit as it has something for everyone: amazing art, fascinating architecture, delicious waffles and chocolate, frites, good beer, but also very unusual attractions, such as Manneken-Pis.
I visited Brussels with Luka on our Interrail trip across Europe. We stayed in the city for three days, which is enough to see all of the most popular sights, but if you have more time, you should for sure plan a week in Brussels as this gives you time to get a real vibe of the city.
I hope to go back to Brussels sometime soon as I was absolutely captivated by this city’s fun attractions and its delicious food. This guide gives you a glimpse of all the best things to do in Brussels, the city that utterly charmed me.
1. See Manneken-Pis
One legend about Manneken-Pis says that he saved the city from a great fire by peeing on it. That is how he got the spot so close to the Grand Place. However, there are many more legends about this “peeing boy” and some of them are more believable than others.
The statue of Manneken-Pis has been abducted and saved several times and has received many gifts from lords and kings.
Hundreds of tourists visit Manneken-Pis everyday, as he became the symbol and the mascot of Brussels. More than 800 different costumes were made for this little guy and you can see them in the Museum of the City of Brussels.
Manneken-Pis is a little bit hard to find but you will find it by taking the right lane away from the town hall or via tour.
2. Walk to the Grand-Place of Brussels
Grand Place must be my favorite main city square considering all of the cities I’ve visited so far. It’s so aesthetic and elegant, it makes for great pictures! It is also the best point from which to start your day and wander the city.
Grand Place is also awesome because it features so many important and majestic buildings, including Hôtel de Ville (City Hall) and Maison du Roi.
Maison du Roi (Broodhuis) is a gorgeous neo-Gothic style building that today hosts the Museum of the City of Brussels. The building has been listed alongside the Grand-Place as a UNESCO world heritage site since 2000.
The square is worth visiting several times at different times of the day. On certain days there is a flower market, beer stands or other festivals but visiting it at night guarantees you will be left awestruck.
3. Visit Musée des Instruments de Musique
Musée des Instruments de Musique was our museum of choice. There are many more great museums in the capital of Belgium but it’s hard to visit all in just three days.
Museum of musical instruments was very unique, displaying various gorgeous instruments from different eras and places around the world. Get your pair of headphones as you can hear how each instrument in the museum sounds if played.
After your visit to the museum we suggest you visit the restaurant and coffee shop Du MIM at the top floor – it has a beautiful view of the city!
4. Have waffles with your favorite toppings
I think even the Bible says you have to try Belgian waffles. Haha. Nevertheless, it is an absolute MUST try experience in Brussels!
There are numerous waffle stores in the city center, where you can choose among twenty different toppings and top it off with your favorite fruit! I bought waffles with strawberries and cream, but Luka tried them with strawberries and white chocolate. To be honest, I couldn’t choose my favorite among those because both tasted like heaven!
5. Walk through Sablon
Visit Place du Grand Sablon where antiques market takes place over the weekends. There’s a beautiful church on the square, too, that you should absolutely visit!
Notre-Dame du Sablon Church is a Gothic cathedral that dates back to the 14th century. It has a Madonna statue located within that is supposed to have healing powers. The statues was later allegedly stolen and the location of the statue is today unknown but the story is commemorated by a life-size model inside the cathedral.
Check out the fancy bars and restaurants around Grand-Sablon or buy some delicious souvenirs from the chic chocolate shops.
Atomium is a symbol of science as it represents an enlarged iron crystal. The crystal is whopping 100 meters tall and has nine orbs each representing a separate province of Belgium.
Today, Atomium is a transnational symbol of peace and embodies hope that science can save humanity. It is one of the most popular attractions of Europe’s Capital.
You can go up on the Atomium to walk through tubes and spheres and get the best view over Brussels.
7. Try Belgian chocolate
Brussels is the best city for someone with a sweet tooth like me! Not only can you have waffles every day, but now you also have a good reason to try all the different kinds of chocolate.
Belgian chocolate is known around the world and you will find countless chocolate shops in the city center. Beware, the smells inside are heavenly and you might leave with a whole bag of chocolates and your wallet way lighter.
8. Cathedral of St. Michel and St. Gudula
Cathedral of St. Michel and St. Gudula or the Brussels Cathedral is one of the most important monuments in Brussels. It was built in the 13th century in a Gothic style and took 300 years to complete. It was restored at the end of 20th century and that’s why it is perfectly conserved today.
The royal family uses Cathedral of St. Michel and St. Gudula for weddings and funerals.
9. Try some Belgian beer
There are so many Belgian craft beers to choose from and enjoy in Brussels.
Sit down in a bar in the center of the city and have a glass of beer, enjoy the sun and observe people’s lives. I loved to sit down at a bar or restaurant outside and close to the Grand Place because it was so lively! Usually there were some great street musicians playing close by so I could enjoy my drink and listen to some great music.
Also, if you like to try some non-traditional beer, try a cheery one, it tastes a bit different, but we really liked it!
Belgians are very proud of their beer and offer beer tasting tours! Pick a tour to learn about the history of beer and experience the best pubs in the city!
10. Parc du Cinquantenaire
This lovely park in the city center is a true delight after a day of wandering around the city. The Parc du Cinquantenaire is surrounded by a stunning architecture that you can absorb and marvel at during your walk through the park.
Take some Belgian frites with you or buy them in a park, take a picnic cover and relax.
If you like to stay active during your travels Parc du Cinquantenaire is also a great option for you as you can use it for running or other forms of practice. There are many other athletes crossing the park that came to exercise, too, so you won’t be alone!
I have a few more things on my bucket list for when I go back to Brussels, including The Comic Strip Route, Musée Royaux des Beaux-Arts and Horta Museum. What would you love to see in Brussels? If you’ve ever been to the Belgian capital I would love to hear about your adventures!