Did you know that Belgium appears to be the brightest country in the world, when viewed from space, due to the nearly 100% illumination of its highways and roads? I didn’t read it in a travel magazine or online article but heard in on Top Gear program Valters was watching shortly before our trip.
Yes, a few summers ago we had a chance to tick off yet another country off our bucket list – Belgium. Belgium capital is a place with a unique character that’s bursting with art galleries, distinctive architecture, waffles, and street murals.
The best thing we can suggest for a first time visitor to do before diving into everything Brussels has to offer is to walk around to soak up the atmosphere.
As you probably already know, Brussels is best known as a home to The European Parlament, the Manneken Pis that locals like to dress up for fun, waffles and Belgian beer.
If you are in the city, head over to Délirium Café (they broke The Guinness World Record by having the most bear on tap) where they have over 3000 different types of beer to choose from and make sure you visit the Waffle Factory or Maison Fondo for the best waffles!
A Short Guide To the best things to Do in Brussels
If you are planning a trip and wondering about what this beautiful European city has to offer, keep on reading!
After spending three days in Brussels, our hearts and souls were happy, and we came up with a couple of things worth seeing. Below is the list we managed to complete while visiting Brussels and can recommend every single of them to make your visit more fun!
It doesn’t matter whether you visit Brussels in spring, summer or in December for its famous Christmas markets, one thing for sure, you’ll have a great time!
#1. Be amazed by the Grand – Place
Let the first impression count and start your day right! First-time visitors should begin exploring Brussels city with a visit to one of the biggest tourist attractions-The Grande Place or Grote Markt.
This historic central square is now UNESCO World Heritage site famous for its impressive flower carpet displays.
Those who want to see it, remember that it takes place every two years, in the second week of August, with the next one coming up in 2020. More than 100 volunteer gardeners decorate the Market Place with hundreds of thousands of colourful begonias.
If you want to find more about the historical background, you can visit the Museum of the City of Brussels, and this is where you can see an early version of Mannekin Pis, one of the most recognisable symbols of Brussels.
During our stay, we visited The Grand Place a few times. Once, during the day to appreciate Gothic style architecture and once at night to enjoy the view when all the guild houses are beautifully lit up.
#2. Discover Brussels murals
We didn’t even know anything about the Brussels Coming Book Route before our arrival in the city. There are more than 50 paintings of famous comic book heroes painted on walls throughout Brussels.
From The Adventures of Tintintin to Lucky Luke all the motifs are bold and bright! We only came across a few during our stay, but if you are interested, head over to the Tourist Information Bureau, they offer maps of the actual route.
#3. Wander around Les Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert
Situated in the centre of Brussels, this beautiful piece of architecture is filled with a great selection of shops selling jewellery, books, antiques, and chocolate. We recommend a stroll through this 19th-century arcade to admire its windows, arches and pilasters all designed and built by architect Jean-Pierre Cluysenaer.
Les Galeries Royales Saint Hubert is split into three different sections – Prince’s Gallery, the King’s Gallery and the Queen’s Gallery providing beautiful displays for window shopping and a great place to hide from the rain.
Once inside, try to look past the fancy Rolex watches, let your imagination run wild. Imagine what it looked like once finished for the official opening in 1847, providing a meeting point for artists of the time, including Alexandre Dumas and Victor Hugo.
#4. Visit Heysel Park and Atomium
By visiting the Tourist Information Bureau, we learned that all the museums are closed on Mondays and that the only places open for visitors are Atomium and Mini-Europe. As it was pouring rain, we opted to visit Atomium.
The best way to get to Atomium is by Metro, and the journey takes around 30 minutes. Representing leisure and recreation, Atomium is 102 m high model of an iron crystal magnified 165 times. The best part where the 360-degree panoramic views we could enjoy from the upper platform.
Opening times: Every day from 10 am to 6 pm
Admission: Adults EUR 15, kids EUR 8
#5. Go for a walk around The Mont des Arts
We loved this place at night time. Sitting side by side at the very top of the steps, as the sun was setting, and waiting for City Hall tower to light up was one of the highlights in Brussels and one of the best views over well-manicured gardens.
Situated near Brussels Central Station, Mont Des Arts (Mount Of The Arts) is a place where you can find lots of museums like Fine Art Museum, Magritte Museum, Bozar and Museum of Music Instruments to name a few.
#6. Try Belgian chocolate
No trip to Belgium would be complete without chocolate. Did you know that some of the chocolates are even encrusted with real and edible gold? Belgian chocolate is world famous and to make sure it’s not imitation, try these tips:
- Place chocolate on your tongue, before slowly moving it around your mouth. The flavour of well-made chocolate will develop gradually and lingers for a while.
- Ensure the flavours are very well balanced and that the sweetness, bitterness or sharpness of the chocolate is not overpowering.
#7. Visit Église Sainte-Catherine
Our hotel in Brussels was right next door to Église Sainte-Catherine, a very well preserved and charming church. Exterior shoved signs of wear and tear, but despite this, we found it very pretty, especially at the night time.
The area itself was once a famous fish market but nowadays its a place for the finest seafood restaurants in Brussels. In the evening the red Mojito truck would arrive with fresh drinks, and in December, Christmas Market takes place selling mulled wine and gingerbread biscuits.
How to get to and around Brussels
Brussels is the capital of Belgium, a country located in the Northern part of Europe. The handiest way to get there from other European cities is to fly into Brussels Airport which is located 11 kilometres northeast.
The fastest way from the Airport to the city centre is to travel by train that operates every 10 minutes, from 5 am to midnight. Train tickets cost EUR 12,70, and it should not take more than 20 minutes to arrive in Brussels Central.
Brussels public transport system is very advanced and easy to use however if your time in the city is limited look no further than hop on hop off buses. They offer tours which allow you to sit back and enjoy your day.
We joined the red line tour, starting at the Central Station and managed to see and visit the Royal Palace, European Parlament, Leopold Park and more.
» Be a mindful traveller
Travelling is so much fun and it has also enlightened us to the importance of protecting our environment and not leaving a trail of plastic behind.
We believe that one person can make a huge difference and that we should all try to produce less waste, conserve water and electricity, buy local goods, dress appropriately, protect wildlife and always give back to local communities.
Be a mindful traveller, set a good example and try to incorporate as much as you can even if it isn’t your country. On the road or at home, keep The Planet clean by picking up plastic bottles and other rubbish you spot along your travels.
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Now, over to you!
Have you been to Brussels? Let us know in the comments below!
Let us know if you are plotting a visit to Brussels and have travel related questions!