Talk to the local residents of Brussels, and they’ll proudly proclaim that their great city is the capital of Europe. Brussels is the home of the EU, but it’s also home to plenty of other things as well. It’s a city that’s full of many different subcultures, and one of the best places to go in Belgium.
If you’re interested in spending some time here, then we’ve got a treat in store for you! Before you plan your trip, it makes sense to know a little bit about the place you’re visiting, and some of the things you can do while you’re there. So, have a read of our Brussels tourist information guide, and you’ll soon plan the perfect trip.
Brussels is the capital of Belgium and a city that’s at the epicentre of Europe. It’s draped in European politics, cultures, and so much more as well. Many people see this city as a diplomatic place that’s more of a business hub than anything else. Well, this couldn’t be further from the truth! Brussels is home to so many amazing attractions, things to do, things to eat, and plenty to drink as well.
There’s very much a medieval feel to the place, which is all thanks to the classic architecture that litters the area. The main buildings are all grand and intricately designed, creating a unique feeling as you walk around. It’s a very beautiful city as well, and the locals are all extremely friendly and happy to help point you in the right direction.
No one can deny that Brussels is home to some wonderful attractions. Anyone that’s planning a trip here can feel safe in the knowledge that they won’t be bored at all. There are loads of things to do, and there’s a diversity to these attractions as well. So, you should be able to find something to enjoy, regardless of what type of trip you’re hoping to create.
In this section of our guide we’ll list some of the main tourist attractions and the best things to do during your stay, enjoy!
Possibly the most iconic attraction for you to see is the Grand Place. Look for signs pointing you to it (they may say Grote Markt instead), and you will soon stumble into a vast plaza that rests in the gorgeous Old Town area of Brussels. This plaza is massive and still maintains that olden 1700’s feel to it. This is all thanks to the buildings around the square – they’re huge, unique, and incredibly well designed. It’s a must-visit place – especially if you’re keen to take the best travel photos possible.
If you’re interested in learning about Belgian culture or the history of Brussels, then there are some really great museums to visit here. However, a few of our favourite museums are more focused on other things. There’s a Lace Costume museum – which may sound strange, but Lace Costumes are synonymous with Brussels, and it has loads of wonderful exhibitions that are well worth your time. Then, there’s the museum of fine arts that boasts one of the biggest and most popular galleries in the whole world. Lastly, take a trip to the Old England Building, which used to be a large department store full of loads of different things. Nowadays, it’s another key landmark in the city and contains a remarkable musical museum inside. If you’re a keen museum hopper, then these three should make your list.
This next attraction is probably the smallest of the bunch, but it’s quickly become an iconic thing to see in Brussels. Manneken Pis loosely translates as Little Man Pee, which is pretty much exactly what you think it is – a statue of a little man peeing. As we said, it’s an iconic part of the city, so get your camera out and go hunting for it.
It’s definitely worth paying the Palais Royal a visit if you want a taste of Belgian royalty. The royal family officially lives here, and you can take tours during the summer to have a nice long look around. It’s incredible to look at, and certainly worth spending a few Euros on.
What we love about Brussels is that it’s a charming city to walk in and take in everything on offer. Plus, it’s home to a few gorgeous gardens and strikingly vibrant parks. The Parc Du Cinquantenaire is an excellent place for a picnic, while Le Botanique is one of the most beautiful botanical gardens in Europe.
Of course, you can’t really come to Belgium without sampling some Belgian Beer. Brussels is popular for its many brilliant tours that will take you around the city tasting some of the best beers on offer. If you think you’ve tasted proper Belgian beer, then think again!
Along with beer, Belgium is also known for its chocolate. In Brussels, you can go on a walking tour to see some of the best chocolate in the city, and even take part in a workshop where you can make it yourself!
When it comes to food and drink, there are almost too many options to choose from. The best advice we have is to try and find places that offer you an authentic taste of Brussels. With that in mind, here are the best places to eat if you want to try authentic Belgian cuisine:
This is a trendy restaurant in the Grand Place that serves up a plethora of Belgian treats with some French dishes as well. Be warned, Belgian cuisine can be a bit…strange…but if you’re interested in trying some savoury dishes, then this is the most authentic place to go.
What’s a trip to Brussels without waffles?! There are so many places and cafes you can go to get Belgian Waffles in this city, but Mokafe is the best of all. This is because it gives you a proper traditional Belgian Waffle – which is entirely different from the ones you usually get.
Another crucial part of Belgian cuisine is the humble chip (or fry for you Americans). In any case, they call them frites here, and there are loads of kiosks selling them for you to try. Go to Frit Flagey if you want the best fries with the tastiest toppings.
Cafes are a big part of the culture here in Brussels, and you should always make time for a quick spot of coffee with a cake (or two). Again, you have so much choice, but our pick is Aksum Coffee House, which has pretty much got five-star reviews across the board.
Of course, everyone wants to take home some memories from their stay in Brussels. Thankfully, there are loads of great shopping destinations here for you to have a look at. Head downtown if you’re interested in the designer brands and boutiques with high-end clothing and accessories.
But, there are also plenty of quaint local businesses that are packed full of gifts for tourists to enjoy. We highly suggest you head to the Sablon et Marolles, which is a district in the city centre, as it boasts lots of vintage stores with some great and unique things to buy. Also, as a bonus, it’s home to the best chocolatiers in the city, so you may as well pick up a box of Belgian chocolates to take back with you!
Getting to and from Brussels is pretty much as easy as you would expect for a major European city. There are train links from other main cities in Europe, and two airports with flights from all over the world. You can also get various forms of transport to and from the airports, so this shouldn’t be an issue for you to worry about.
When it comes to getting around Brussels itself, then you have a few options. We suggest using taxis or renting a car as a last resort, as these are probably the two most expensive options you can choose. Instead, you should rely on the extensive public transport system and your feet! That’s right, you should do a lot of walking here as most of the main attractions we spoke about earlier are nicely packed together.
The primary forms of public transport here are buses, trams, and a metro system. The great thing is, they’re all operated by the same company and use the same ticket. So, you can easily purchase tickets that let you get around on any form of transport. Our top tip is to buy a Brussels Card, which gives you unlimited use of the public transport network – along with discounts on some attractions – for a specified period of time.
Hopefully, there’s enough information here to help you plan a brilliant trip to Brussels. Immerse yourself in this incredible city, take in all the sights, enjoy the local food, and make sure you bring lots of chocolate home in your suitcase!