Brussels, the capital of the European Parliament, the city of waffle, beer, chocolate and Mistake. Yes, you read that right. Most people that visit Brussels make one important Mistake. What is this? The fact that they do not devote the time needed to meet its real side. It might be one of the most well-known stop ‘n’ go destinations in Europe, but you should not just pass it by, as it has a lot of museums, attractions, parks, while it hosts thousands of events every year!
Walking under the city’s grey sky, you will quickly understand that the trip to Brussels is a trip full of experiences, images and flavors! This is why it is loved a bit more by two categories of visitors. The food-lovers and the museum-lovers. It is certain that the museum-lovers will never get bored, as they will find 100+ museums, some of them being the Autoworld, the Comic Strip, the Museum of Natural Sciences, the Royal Museum of Armed Forces, the Art and History Museum, the Musical Instruments Museum and dozens more! As for the food, the fact that it is the city with the most food and drink establishments (per square meter) in Europe says it all!
Brussels might not be a tourist juggernaut like Barcelona, Paris, Rome etc, but it grows in satisfying pace as it offers quality, experiences, while it has an interesting night life that will seduce you for many hours.
Visit Brussels is the tourism organization of the Belgian capital and is consisted of a group of young people who are full of passion and ideas for the city’s tourism growth. The dream of Visit Brussels is to change the previously prevailing point of view, that Brussels is a destination only for businesspeople, and attract visitors that want to know the culture, as well as the local cuisine, of the city. Through tours, happenings and cultural events, the organization aims to the education, entertainment as well as the connection between locals and visitors. Finally, Visit Brussels offers a system of electronic tickets, as well as the Brussels Card that make exploring the city easier..
Read the Brussels guide and visit the best places..
info Brusselsa) The Royal Gallery of Saint Hubert used to be Europe’s first mall (1847). b) The famous Flower Carpet is set at the Grand Place square every 2 years for 3 days, in mid-August. c) Brussels, apart from the capital of the European Parliament is also the capital of food, with more than 5,000 food establishments! d) The Brussels airport is the largest point of chocolate sales in the world. e) Belgium is the house of many cartoon heroes, two of them being Tin Tin and Lucky Luke!
What to do in Brussels
1) European Parliament The European Parliament is an entire chapter for Brussels, as the heart of Europe beats there.
You must simply..
a) Visit the Hemicycle and see live the plenary make important decisions for the future of Europe.
Open: a) September-June: Monday-Thursday 09:00-11:00, 14:00-16:00 & Friday 09:00-11:00. Presentations: Monday 11:00 and 15:00 b) July-August: Monday-Thursday 09:00-16:00 & Friday 09:00-12:00. Presentations: Monday-Thursday 11:00 and 15:00 & Friday 11:00. Closed: Saturday & Sunday
b) Explore the Parlamentarium and learn, through the most interactive ways, how the European Parliament operates and which are the responsibilities/jurisdictions of its members.
Open: Monday 13:00-18:00, Tuesday-Friday 09:00-18:00 & Saturday-Sunday 10:00-18:00.
Booking: Noc) Visit the House of European History and learn how many waves Europe had to go through, until it could reach its present form.
Open: Monday 13:00-18:00, Tuesday-Friday 09:00-18:00 & Saturday-Sunday 10:00-18:00.
Mini tip: Tours in English take place every Tuesday afternoon, 11:45-13:00, without booking.
d) Discover through The Role-play Games how the European legislation is created, how the forming of alliances, negotiations with actors and organizations come to be, and more. (Addresses only to students 14-18 years old.)
Open: Monday afternoon (one time) & Tuesday-Sunday (twice a day).
Booking: At least 4 months in advance (book HERE)
Important: Closed January 1st, May 1st, November 1st and December 24th, 25th and 31st.
2) AtomiumThe Atomium is the city’s landmark and one of the most original monuments worldwide! In its spheres you will find the permanent exhibition about the building’s history, as well as various temporary ones. You can also drink a coffee and get the best panoramic view from an altitude of 92 meters (top sphere)!
Open: Every day 10:00-18:00
Cost: 15€ adults, 8€ Children/Students.
3) Mini EuropeNext to the Atomium we find another special attraction, Mini Europe. A large area that hosts the miniatures of Europe’s most important monuments! It is an amazing feeling to be able to “hug” Big Ben, the Tower of Pisa and see the Grand Place square from above!
Open: See the schedule
Cost: Adults 15.80€, Children 11.80€
4) Grand PlaceIt is, undoubtedly, Europe’s most beautiful square! Vast in size and busy, the Grand Place is a meeting and entertainment point for thousands of people, on a daily basis. It is surrounded by dozens of buildings of varying architecture, among them being the city hall and the Museum of Brussels.
5) Manneken pis & Jeanneke Pis Manneken pis is an attraction that has big fans as well as opponents! Many are those who wonder why a boy “peeing” has become the symbol of a whole country (Read its story). The only 61-centimeters tall statue was placed on the fountain in 1618, while a few years ago a respective girl statue, Jeanneke Piswas created.
6) Beers, Waffles, Chocolates!You are in the city of beer, waffle and chocolate. So you should simply try some of the 800+ (!) beers you will find in the city, taste the delicious waffles, as well as the original Belgian chocolates in every form!
7) Royal Palace of BrusselsThe Royal Palace of Brussels is probably the most imposing building in the city! It is the home of the King and Queen, while visitors have access only to specific rooms.
Open: From July 21st to early September, every day except Monday 10:30-17:00 (last entrance 15:45).
8) Jardin du Petit SablonThe Jardin du Petit Sablon is a park different from any other. The touches of green, the fountain, the splendor, the colorful flowers and statues render it as one of the best spots in the city to relax.
9) Art Walk BrusselsBrussels has evolved into one of the three best street art cities in Europe. Design your own route and see up close some of the 120+ colorful graffiti, of social, revolutionary, political as well as sexual content. In the city you will also find more than 50 colorful graffiti with cartoons.
10) Royal Museums of Fine ArtsThe three co-located museums of the Royal Museums of Fine Arts are the largest source of art in the entire Belgium! Among the 20,000+ exhibits of the museums you will see the incredible paintings of Rubens, sculptures and many works of abstract art.
Mini Tip: You can tour the museum’s central space or sit at the café without purchasing a ticket. (Pass the line waiting to get tickets and move to the central hall.)
11) Brussels City Hall (Hôtel de Ville) The imposing Brussels City Hall captivates the visitor from the very first moment, both with its height and with its gothic architecture. What you may don’t know is that you can visit it. See from the inside the hall of the municipal council, the weddings hall, the gothic hall, the main staircase, the mayor’s antechamber and climb up to the top of the tower for the endless panoramic view!
Tours (English): Wednesday 14:00 & Sunday 15:00 & 16:00
Cost: 7€ Adults, 5€ Children/Students/Retirees
Mini tip: You will find tickets only at the Visit Brussels office, located at the Brussels City Hall and only for the day of the visit.
12) Flagey MarketIf you are in the city on Sunday, do not miss a tasty walk by the Flagey Market. At the outdoor market you will have the chance to buy local products, fruit, meat, clothes and vegetables. Also, you can try tastes of the Greek, Italian, Moroccan, Indian, Spanish and French cuisines.
Mini Tip: Visit it around 9:30, so that all the shops will be open!
Open: Every day 07:00-13:30 – Special day Sunday 07:00-13:30
13) Walks in old Brussels In the city center, next to big streets and under the noses of contemporary buildings, hide small streets (usually blind alleys) that transfer the visitor to an older, more romantic era! Such is the beautiful Rue de la Cigogne, η Impasse Saint-Nicolas and more. Discover them!
14) Tram 44Are you ready for Belgium’s most romantic ride? If your answer is yes, Tram 44 awaits you for a ride through the Flemish area, the van Tervuren Park, the des Étangs Mellaert Park and many more places that will steal a lot of your looks!
Mini Tip: Sit on the right side (as you are going) in order to get beautiful images.
Welcome to the foodie-est city of Europe…Brussels! As you have seen, food in Brussels is one of the most must-do things for anyone visiting it. And how could it be any different, since it has thousands of establishments serving food of good quality.
Firstly, you should know that the city is covered by a cloud of smoke, a by-product of the Belgians’ favorite snack…French fries, which are perfectly combined with mayonnaise!Another dish that you will find everywhere (even as fast food) is steamed clams, which are usually served inside a small pot. For dessert you will find the famous Belgian waffles, the Speculoos biscuits and the rich Belgian chocolates. Do not make the mistake of leaving Brussels without having tried Waterzooi (creamy soup with fish, eggs and butter), the vegetarian Stoemp (smashed creamy potatoes, carrot, traditional Brussels sprout, onions, cabbage), the tasty Carbonade flamande (beef slow-boiled in a pot with beer-mustard sauce) and the cold appetizer Tomates aux Crevettes Grises (tiny shrimp and mayonnaise in filled tomatoes). All of the above are bound to be accompanied by some of the countless local beers, of every taste, color and strength (in alcohol content)!
The best food in Brussels
Noordzee Mer du Nord: This is what we call…from the sea to your dishes! This restaurant is the no1 choice for fish in Brussels. Specialty: Steamed Clams.
Fin de Siècle: Huge servings, traditional dishes and very reasonable prices are everything Fin de Siècle offers. It is –probably- the top choice for traditional food in Brussels. Mini tips: They do not accept reservations and credit cards.
Tonton Garby: Ton, the master of the sandwich, is a solid choice for you to taste amazing sandwiches, according to your own culinary preferences. His motto “If you are happy, I’m happy” says it all!
Atelier: Atelier serves good-quality, freshly-fried potatoes, which are accompanied by various sauces or just salt. Servings are large and filling, while prices are pretty high.
Breakfast:Kosmos Place: Kosmos Place serves the most high-quality coffee in Brussels, which goes terribly well with their rich in flavor and size pies. Also, their wonderful cocktails are one more reason for you to visit it at night.
Paul Bakery: At Paul Bakery you will find high-quality and tasty breakfast delicacies, in reasonable prices. There are 10 stores in the entire city.
Boulangerie Charli: The day starts with a good breakfast from Charli’s shop. Low prices, high quality and very good service are his strongest weapons!
Entertainment:Mappa Mundo: Mappa Mundo is located in the most well-known square for entertainment, Saint-Géry. At the establishment you will find clean drinks and cocktails in reasonable prices (happy hour is 7:30-10:00).
Poechenellekelder: Poechenellekelder is the ideal place for beer nights, accompanied by cheese platters. Very nice atmosphere, many beers and very reasonable prices!
Juice Land: It might not have class, style and beautiful décor, but it serves the original, freshly-baked and economical Waffle! What else can one ask for?
Mini tips: a) Many restaurants close at noon and open again in the afternoon. b) Many restaurants have menus, which might be down to half price compared to the normal ones.
Accommodation BrusselsAccommodation in Brussels is pleasant and of good quality. The city is a stop ‘n’ go destination to Europe, as well as the rest of Belgium (Bruges, Ghent etc.), so the average stay period is just one night!
Nonetheless, hotels, wanting to keep the visitor for more than one nights, offer quality accommodation in pretty low prices. In the city you will find over 1,500 options among hotels, hostels and apartments, with an average price per night at 100€, without breakfast (in high season).
These are the best hotels for accommodation in Brussels
Boutique Hotel Saint-Géry: It is an excellent boutique hotel that is located at the entertainment square, Saint-Géry, just 3 minutes away from the Grand Place central square. It has modern and comfortable rooms and a rich breakfas.
Thon Hotel EU: Large and clean rooms, low prices and good service are Thon Hotel EU’s most significant advantages. The above, in combination with the location and modern decoration bring it high in preference. Cost per night: 80-90€
Motel One Brussels: Design, luxury, amenities and reasonable prices at a hotel, which is one of the best options for accommodation in Brussels. The rooms are comfortable, modern and clean and the staff is willing to attend. Cost per night: 90-100€
Hotel Made In Louise: A cozy hotel, which makes the visitor feel like they are at home! It is dressed with warm colors and wonderful furniture, while its rooms are large, bright and very clean. Cost per night: 150-200€
Aloft Brussels Schuman: Aloft Brussels Schuman has huge rooms, which are dressed with taste and modern touches, just like all of its areas. Cost per night: 85-100€
Yadoya Hotel: The 3-star hotel invites you to stay in its large and clean rooms. But its biggest advantage is the high Value-for-Money score. Cost per night: 75-95€
Transportation BrusselsBrussels is the city that you can explore on foot, as distances are –comparatively- short and most attractions are easily accessible. Nonetheless, it has a complete transportation network that consists of metro, tram and buses. Transportation by car is pretty hard, as traffic in the streets, sometimes, becomes unbearable, while the cost of parking facilities is pretty high. Taxis also stay stuck in traffic, as the taximeter is running!
The fastest and easiest means of transportation is the e-scooters by Dott. The eco two-wheeler has a strong build, so that it can withstand the bumps from the cobbled streets of the city center, and to transport you around the entire city fast and at a low cost. The Dott e-scooters are becoming the standard means of transport for many people daily. Finally, Brussels also has Waterbuses (May 1st – October 31st), which move unobstructed in the canal and are connected to plenty of bus-tram stops.
- The best period to take a trip to Brussels is April-May and September-October, when the temperatures are at normal levels and prices at hotels are low.
- The ideal number of days for staying at Brussels is three.
- High season is from early June until mid-September.
- The umbrella is the accessory that you should have with you no matter the season, as rain is always around the corner.
- The average temperature in the city is 11ºC, with the highest being 23 ºC and the lowest -4ºC!
- The sun makes appearances on 1 in 5 days, namely 74 days a year!
- The locals speak French, Flemish and English.
- In the city, 1 in 3 residents is not Belgian!
- Not all shops accept debit/credit cards.
- In the city you will find the “Sacré Coeur” Basilica. It is large, impressive and resembles the Basilica of Montmartre!
- The Les Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert hosts the most expensive shops in the city.
- Visit the Elevator at the square (Ascenseur des Marolles) and take a panorama of the city from another point of view (without cost)! Ideal time, during sunset.
- Apart from the well-known Manneken Pis & Jeanneke Pis, in the city there is also the least tourist-attracting Zinneke Pis ((the little dog peeing)!
- The 2-day beer festival takes place at the end of August. Learn about the dates and cost.
- What would you say about some exercise in a Museum? Check out the schedule
- The Eat! Brussels is organized every year in early September for three days. If you happen to be in Brussels during those days, you should not miss it.
- For a two-person meal with beer you will pay 45-60€
- Many coffee places serve coffee from an automatic machine (with capsules)!
- In order to disembark a vehicle of public transport, press the blue button and not the red one.
- On the ceiling of the Mirror Room (Brussels Palace) you will see the “Heaven of Delight” artwork, which consists of thousands of glued beetles!
- Atomium: Book your tickets online and avoid lines and waste of time. Otherwise, visit it at the opening.
- Many free walking tours, in various languages, start at the Grand Place.
- For the best photographs of the Grand Place you must be there during sunrise!
- Avoid the Rue de Bouchers street. The food is of mediocre quality!
- The Brussels Card is a valuable tool for the city, as it offers access to a lot of museums, free transportation and discounts at shops and activities.
- In order to enter the European Parliament, you must carry your ID or passport.
Brussels travel guide: Tips for Visiting
* Travelen was hosted by Visit Brussels, but all texts and opinions are completely personal and objective.