Brussels is a busy city no matter the time of year, and even after many trips of exploring you will never run out of ways to pass the time. The city is full of museums, experiences, and tours, perfect for both locals and visitors.
The atmosphere in Brussels is lively and creative, expressed through cartoon wall designs, chocolate shops, and architecture. While modern and keeping up with modern trends, Brussels maintains its classic elements.
The most beautiful areas of the city are the ones that date back centuries.
Many significant buildings have been restored to their former glory in recent years and the city has managed to achieve UNESCO World Heritage Site Status. Exploring the narrow streets of the city is enough to entertain visitors for hours at a time but there are many things to do that will give you a greater insight into the history of Brussels and the things that make the city so famous.
This blog post is a compiled list of just the 10 best things to do in the city of Brussels, a tiny fraction of what is on offer but all of them are great fun and allow sightseeing and learning a lot about what makes the city so special. Plan your trip around some of these attractions and
10 Things To Do in Brussels
Brussels is famous for many things – being the capital of Belgium, the chocolate capital of the world, home of EU politics, and delicious waffles. When you travel to Brussels, you have to take advantage of at least 2 or 3 of these popular Belgian traits and explore their importance.
1. Take a Chocolate Tour
Brussels is infamous for delicious chocolate creations and imaginative designs. The city has been dubbed the chocolate capital of the world for honing the skill of chocolate making and becoming one of the first in the world to do so. When in Brussels, you have to stop by the top chocolate shops to have a look around and admire the heavenly treats.
Brussels is chocolate crazy, with shops on every corner selling every flavor imaginable and it is nice to see the city is so proud of their creations. You will find crowds just waiting in line to sample so plan to come early.
The best way to explore the history of chocolate in Brussels, taste all of the best flavors, and give chocolate making a go for yourself is by booking yourself a chocolate tour in the city. A self-guided or guided walking-tour are perfect to work up an appetite as you explore the popular spots and hidden gems here.
2. Parlamentarium and Hemicycle
Brussels is also the home of EU politics and is the meeting point for many large debates between EU representatives. Parlamentarium is a huge interactive museum that takes you through the history of the EU and helps you to understand politics so much more.
Even complete politics beginners can enjoy Parlamentarium as the information is so in-depth and easy to understand. The museum’s multimedia guides are the highlight of the experience, allowing visitors to listen to information in multiple languages, translate information and quotes, and change videos. Entry is free but booking is highly recommended as it can be very busy.
The Hemicycle is just a short walk from the Parlamentarium Museum. It is a very recognizable building, often appearing on European news channels, and is the location Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) put forward their voices and make decisions.
The huge circular room with hundreds of seats has impressive technology which translates any language that is being spoken on the floor in real-time. The viewing gallery allows visitors to watch debates or see the Hemicycle when it’s not in action. The experience also has a multimedia guide to enhance visits.
Be aware that both attractions will require you to input identity details on the booking form and you will be subjected to a security search on entry to the buildings.
3. Enjoy a Waffle in Grand Place
If chocolate isn’t your go-to treat then maybe waffles will be more to your taste! Brussels and Belgium are well-known and loved for waffles and having one during your trip is a must! Make it part of your foodie experience while traveling.
Where to go to enjoy one is in the Grand Place – Brussels’ central square with some of the most magnificent buildings you will ever gaze at. The square is a place for relaxation and meeting new people. Perching yourself at one of the corners with a waffle in hand to do some people-watching is a fabulous way to pass some time in Brussels.
As waffles are in such a high demand in the city you’ll find it very easy to find vegan alternatives. Veganwaf makes some fantastic waffles, suitable for vegans or people with dietary intolerances. They also taste very much like authentic waffles, meaning everyone can enjoy the Belgian delicacy!
Whether you’ve got one day in Brussels or an entire week, you have to visit the Grand Place to admire its beauty – with a waffle or without!
4. Visit the Atomium and Mini Europe
The Atomium is one of Brussels’ most grand attractions. The 102m tall iron atom-shaped structure is stunning to look at and even better to explore.
With each sphere acting as an exhibition or viewing area, the Atomium is designed to showcase Brussels’ finest features. The top sphere is the most impressive with a complete 360-degree view of the city that goes on for miles and miles.
You travel to the top sphere via elevator and between other spheres by using escalators or stairs. It isn’t the most accessible attraction in the city, but getting a view of it from the outside is still marvelous too!
Along with tickets for Atomium, many people opt to also book into Mini Europe, which is an attraction park full of scale models of important European buildings. The attention to detail on the buildings is incredible and you can tell a lot of time has gone into their creation. Mini Europe is also quite interactive. There are buttons by many ‘cities’ which allow you to make parts move or make sound.
If you have time on your itinerary to do both the Atomium and Mini Europe then you should consider visiting them!
5. Museum of Natural Sciences
Brussels’ Museum of Natural Sciences is one of the most fascinating museums in the country. The huge number of artifacts on display is incredible and the exhibitions are so well laid out.
There is plenty of information around, in multiple languages to educate visitors on what they are looking at. But the most impressive exhibition by far is the one that focuses on the human body. The animal collection is also worth mentioning. There are hundreds of animals on display in many sections of the museum and the layout means that everything is easy to see and nothing is hidden away out of sight.
Entrance to the museum is very affordable and worth it. There is a cafe, gift shop, and lockers all on-site, and a visit could easily last for several hours.
6. Musical Instruments Museum
The Musical Instruments Museum in Brussels houses over 8,000 interesting instruments and is very popular among tourists. There are over 1,000 musical instruments on display and the museum has been running for over 20 years and its collection has grown rapidly since then.
The exhibitions cover the history of music and its refinement over the decades, geographical influences on music, and celebrate how music unites us all. From rare to everyday instruments, the Musical Instrument Museum in Brussels has so much to offer and is an affordable attraction.
Autoworld in Brussels is the perfect place for vehicle enthusiasts and is right in the center of the beautiful Parc du Cinquantenaire. Autoworld is a relatively small museum that showcases modern and vintage vehicles in the exhibits and charts their evolution through history.
The museum has put a lot of effort into restoring vehicles over the years to their former glory, displaying them to be admired by car lovers. Over 300 vehicles, ranging from cars and trucks to motorcycles, are on permanent display highlighting the progress of motors from 1896.
8. Take a Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour
One of the best ways of seeing a city is by getting a ticket for a hop-on hop-off bus tour. While they are most useful to get you from one place to the next, bus tours are also very informative and give lots of details that you may not have otherwise known.
The best Brussels hop-on hop-off bus tour has stops near all of the top sites, allowing passengers to explore the most interesting areas of the city and not get worn out by walking.
The tours are convenient and flexible with multi-day tickets available, allowing you to cover more of the city. The stops are frequent and well-located, allowing passengers to get off wherever they please to explore.
An onboard audio guide gives details to passengers about what they are passing by and is available in many languages. If you’re only in Brussels for a short time but want to see as much as possible then a hop-on hop-off bus tour is one of the best ways to go about it.
9. Visit Garderobe Manneken Pis
Manneken Pis is one of Brussels’ most beloved tourist attractions and appeals to the locals’ great sense of humor. The statue of a peeing boy is visited by thousands of tourists every year, all desperate to get a picture of him.
He is so well-loved by locals that he even gets dressed up for special occasions and he has accumulated over 1,000 outfits through the years.
While Manneken Pis is an attraction in itself, not many travelers know that you can view all of his outfits in one place. Garderobe Manneken Pis is home to all of the little statue’s clothes and a comical way to spend some time.
Visitors can browse through all of Manneken Pis’ best runway looks and have a giggle at some of the strange occasions he has been dolled up for. The museum is located just a short walk from the statue and entrance is very cheap.
10. Comic Strip Walk and Comic Strip Museum
Brussels is also infamous for the creation of many well-loved comic book characters. The most prominent are TinTin and the Smurfs which are celebrated throughout the city.
Brussels highlights its passion for comic book design through a huge number of painted walls around the city. You’ll spot many when walking around but to see them all, you are best taking the Comic Strip Walk. It’s a perfect way to stroll through the city neighborhoods.
There are dedicated routes that take participants around the city in search of over 70 comic strip-inspired walls. They are fascinating to look at and photograph and each one is very different from the next. There is a range of styles of Belgian comics showcased on the walls highlighting the city’s creativity and imagination.
If walking isn’t your favorite activity but comic strips still appeal to you then the Comic Strip Museum might be more suited to you. Located close to Brussels Central Station, the museum acts as a reflection on the world of comic books and Brussels’ place in designing beloved characters.
Conclusion: Things To Do in Brussels
Brussels is full of personality and there is something for everyone in the city. There is so much to do that you could easily go back time and time again, and still find things that interest you.
Whether you’ve only a short time in the city or are there for longer, filling a day itinerary is easy, with some attractions filling half a day and others being quick pit stops.