The Belgian capital is also the location of the Royal Family and the headquarters of the European Union. But, it is also a fantastic holiday spot. Brussels is a fantastic destination for any length of stay, whether it’s a day trip to stock up on chocolates and beer, a weekend to immerse yourself in culture, or your annual break.
Top 10 Places to Visit in Brussels
The city is full of allure and refinement. Beautiful Gothic churches and other historical structures can be found there. Brussels’ modern attractions complement the city’s traditional ones.
There are several excellent art galleries, monuments to the past, and beautiful parks to relax in. Visitors visiting Brussels won’t be bored, that’s for sure.
1. Grand Place
The Grand Plaza truly lives up to its name. It is the heart of Brussels and a popular tourist destination, housing the Town Hall, City Museum, and several historic guildhalls. The Grand Place, or Grote Markt as it was formerly known, was an important marketplace in Brussels since the 10th century.
Every other August, a flower carpet fills the vast square. Now lined with cafés, it’s a great spot to try Belgian (not French) takes on Belgian (not French) classics like moules (mussels), waffles, and french fries.
The Atomium may appear to be a futuristic Ferris wheel, but first impressions can be deceiving. This famous structure in Brussels is actually a magnified (by 185 billion times) image of an ion crystal.
It was constructed in 1958 as the main pavilion for the Brussels World’s Fair, and in 2013 CNN rated it the world’s most strange structure. The Belgians, however, find it quite attractive.
There are nine globes making up the Atomium, however only six can be visited by the general public. Visitors ride an elevator to the top of the building and use escalators to move between the several circles.
3. Town Hall
Brussels has refused to replace its Gothic city hall, which dates back to the early 15th century, with a more modern one. It is the final surviving structure from the Middle Ages on the Grand Plaza. There is, of course, a more recent annexe, but it’s not nearly as engaging.
There are 137 statues of notable citizens, such as nobility and saints, adorning the old town hall. The originals are on display at a local museum, therefore all that is on display there are reproductions. A statue of the archangel Michael stands 5 metres (16 feet) atop the building’s magnificent tower.
4. Brussels Cathedral
Truly majestic is the Brussels Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral of St. Michael and Saint. Gudula. This Roman Catholic church was founded in the 11th century and completed in the 13th, when the towers were built. It took almost three hundred years to construct this magnificent stone church.
It is the largest church in Belgium and was named after its patron saints. The stained glass windows, notably those created by the 16th-century artist Bernard van Orley, are sure to wow any guest. At night, a light shines in through the Final Judgment window.
5. Manneken Pis
Without a doubt, the Manneken Pis is the most frequented attraction in all of Brussels. Many tourists pass up Brussels’ various museums in favour of its most famous landmark, the Manneken Pis, a fountain in the shape of a little boy’s nude genitalia.
Despite its reputation, the statue is rarely seen without one of its 900 interchangeable clothes, which would make even Kim Kardashian green with envy. The City Museum is the place to go to see them. It is unclear when exactly the little bronze figure was first installed, but it has been entertaining locals and tourists alike for at least two centuries.
6. Mont des Arts
The Mont des Arts is a hill in the heart of Brussels that gives the cat’s nine lines a run for their money. After the demolition of the neighborhood’s buildings, the area was abandoned for a long time. After that, a garden was established there before it, too, was demolished to make room for the present-day Royal Library and Congress Palace.
Today, a brand-new garden coexists alongside the structures. Some of the nicest views of Brussels can be seen from the “hill of the arts,” with the towering spires of the Town Hall standing out against the blue sky.
7. Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert
The Royal Saint-Hubert Galleries’s ability to stand out in a city full of amazing buildings is a tribute to its architects.
Taking the form of three magnificent, glazed shopping arcades, it towers over the Galerie du Roi 5 and is located just a short distance from the Grand Place. They were opened in 1847 and were designed and built by Jean-Pierre Cluysenaer under the supervision of the King, the Queen, and the Prince.
This historic landmark was built in the Italianate Cinquecento style and contains shopfronts with glazed arches, two stories, and pilasters. Neuhaus chocolates and Delvaux leather items are only two of the many high-end vendors available. Inside this structure is located the Royal Theater of the Gallery.
8. Musical Instrument Museum
If you play an instrument or even just enjoy listening to music, you should definitely check out the Musical Instrument Museum. The museum has about 1,100 musical instruments, from antiquity to the present day.
The museum, which is housed in a strikingly beautiful Art Noveau and Neoclassical edifice, is widely regarded as one of the finest collections of musical instruments in the world. Instruments from the mediaeval to the nineteenth century, as well as mechanical and computerised keyboards, are on display.
The most visited exhibit showcases traditional instruments from all across the world. Tourists may be shocked to hear that bagpipes weren’t exclusive to the Scottish in this area.
9. Notre Dame du Sablon
Located in Brussels’s ancient Sablon neighbourhood lies the beautiful Gothic Catholic Church of Notre Dame du Sablon, which dates back to the 15th century. Several members of Belgium’s royal family and nobility were among the church’s faithful when it was known as Our Holy Lady of the Sablon.
The chapel of St. Ursula is, in fact, the final resting place of some royals. The gray-and-white church is well-known for its stunning stained glass windows, which shine brightly when lit from within at night.
The statue of Saint Hobart, which was seized by Antwerp and returned to Brussels in 1348, and the two baroque chapels with burial emblems etched onto the marble are also noteworthy.
10. Royal Theater Toone
The Théâtre Royal de Toone is a must-see for families visiting Brussels or anyone who just wants to let their inner child out.
This folk theatre, known as Toone by the locals, is famous for its puppet plays. Established in 1830 by Antoine “Toone” Genty, it is the city’s oldest continuously running marionette show. The majority of the plays they put on are written in either Marollien or Marols. Brussels’ original language.
Languages other than English are often heard throughout the performances. Zwanze, a classic style of Brusselian sardonic comedy, is often at the heart of these performances. There is a pub and a miniature museum dedicated to puppetry in addition to the presentations.