Brussels, the capital city in Belgium has so much to offer. It has wonderful streets with restaurants, cafés, beautiful architecture, green parks, museums, and incredible food and beer! Here’s our ultimate guide on what to do in Brussels, what to see, where to stay and where to eat!
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I think Brussels is an underrated city since there is so much to do. It is much smaller than Paris or London, but it has something for everyone.
In this guide, we will showcase what we did during our time in Brussels and also share with you some of the items on our list that we didn’t get a chance to visit due to limited time.
During our time in Brussels, we walked everywhere, so the places we visited are only within walking distance of our hotel encompassing downtown Brussels. We didn’t visit any museums or take a taxi/uber to different locations outside of the main downtown area.
Below is a list of the top things we did during our stay in Brussels. We also listed the things to do in order by preference starting with number 1.
Below is a complete list of what to see in Brussels and if we had more time in Brussels we would have checked these off our bucket list!
Grand Place is the historic city square in the middle of the walking-only streets in Brussels and an absolute must-do! It’s the place to be during the day and night, thriving during the weekends. You can people watch, listen to live music, take in the architecture of Brussels Town Hall, and grab a bite to eat or a cold drink to enjoy.
Brussels Town Hall is made up several buildings connected together. The first building of the Brussels Town Hall was finished in 1421 and the spiral towers were refinished back in 1695
Grand Place has several restaurants along the square and if the weather’s nice outside it’s the perfect place to sit, enjoy a meal, and people watch the crowd as folks pass on by. At night, you can enjoy a light show spanning across the beautiful architecture surrounding the square.
Grand Place is even a Unesco World Heritage Site and a great spot to check off your bucket list!
If you are a beer drinker then the Delirium Village is your place! Delirium Village is tucked away down a small alleyway that leads you to a multi-level bar, taproom offering over 2000 beers! They won the Guinness World Record for the most beers available in a bar in 2004. Here you can find the woman can pee statue which is explained in more detail below.
There are two main sections, the basement level has most of the bottled beer while the upstairs level has the taphouse offering over 25 beers on tap.
If you get excited about shopping then the Les Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert is a must-do! Les Galeries Royales Saint Hubert is a beautiful glass arcade featuring local boutique shops, coffee cafés, and cute restaurants. This arcade was built in the 1840s and is one of the oldest glass arcades in Europe.
Belgian Waffle’s are quite popular in the streets of Brussels. However, they aren’t the first choice for Belgian’s when it’s time to eat breakfast.
You can find plenty of Belgian Waffles along the streets of Brussels as well as food carts throughout the city.
Belgian waffles aren’t the only treat you can get in Brussels. There are plenty of chocolate stores where you can taste a bunch of free samples and try your favorite Belgian chocolate treat.
We recommend visiting Elizabeth’s Chocolates, but not only one. There are several in the city and some specialize in different treats!
Halles Saint-Grey is a historical building showcasing the history of World War II and its impact on Belgium. There is a self-tour educating you about the end of the war for Brussels on September 4, 1944, when Germany surrendered and fled the country. There’s a café in the building as well where you can purchase coffee and other snacks while you explore.
Outside of Halles Saint-Grey has plenty of outside seating and a few neat looking restaurants.
Southwest of the Grand Place sits Mont des Arts which offers a great view of Brussels City, here you can find street performers, locals relaxing enjoying the views, and outdoor refreshments from street vendors. This is a great place to enjoy a sunset and take in the views.
There are three interesting statues in Brussels that are quite comical but reflect the symbol of the city. To our surprise, we learned that the symbol of Brussel’s is Mannekin Pis or “Little Pissing Man”. You can see this statue in the center of downtown, where you will find countless tourists capturing pictures of the statue.
Manneken Pis (“Little Pissing Man”) is the symbol of the people of Brussels and dates back to as early 1400s. The actual statute meets the description of its name since it actually is a statue of a little boy pissing. There are a few legends or rumors of the statue and why it was created. The most famous legend is from the 1100s where a little boy urinated on the losing troops of the Berthouts.
Be Aware: The statue is not big in size, standing only 2 feet or so!!!
It is located 3 blocks southeast of the Grand Place on the corner of an intersection. It is surrounded by neat bars and restaurants where you can grab a bite to eat after checking out the statue.
Jeanneke Pis (“Little Pissing Woman”) is the female version of Mannekin Pis and is located near Delirium Café. It doesn’t have the same historical meaning or legend as the Mannekin Pis, since it is relatively new. Tt was created in 1985 and given the green light to install it in the city in Delirium Village in 1987.
Similar to Mannekin Pis, the statue is small only standing 2 feet or so (less than one meter).
East of the Grand Place is the Grand Royal Palace, which is the official palace of the King and Queen of Belgium. However, the Grand Royal Palace is not where they live, instead, it is used for the head of state purposes and government meetings.
Unfortunately, you cannot go inside the palace, but you can take pictures of it from the outside. In front of the palace stands in front of the Brussels Park where you can visit and enjoy the outdoors.
Close to Grand Place stand’s Brussel’s Stock Exchange. This isn’t a must-do but if you’re into architecture or finance then this could be intriguing!
Not too far from downtown Brussels is Cinquantenaire Park, a large park celebrating the 15th anniversary of Belgian independence. It also contains 3 different museums. Autoworld a car museum, the Art and History Museum, and the military museum. Here you can enjoy a bottle of wine and some refreshing drinks in the park to watch a sunset and relax after you explored a museum or two.
One of ten largest Roman Catholic churches in the world, the National Basilica of the Sacred Heart is only a few minutes from downtown Brussels. However, it isn’t as old as you may expect. The Belgians began building the church in 1905 and completed it in 1969, 64 years later due to the two world wars.
You can visit the basilica and climb to the top of the cupola platform to obtain a panoramic view of the city.
Atomium is a large atom-like structure made out of steel back in 1958. It was originally created for the World Expo of Brussels and not a landmark of Brussels. You can visit the Atomium and go in it to the top to get a great view of the city.
Autoworld is Brussels’ largest automotive museum featuring over 250 vintage cars from the 1900s.
Located near Atomium, is a small attraction called Mini Europe. It holds all of Europe’s popular landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, and more. This is a great attraction for children where you can educate them of the popular landmarks in Europe.
If you’re a foodie and enjoy trying new things then Brussels (Belgium in general) is a great place for you! From a food perspective, Belgium is known for Belgian Waffles, Frittes (French fries) with sauce, Mussels with Frittes, BitterBallen (fried meatballs), Frinandel, and of course, beer!
In terms of beer you should try a Jupiler, a Chouffe, a Kriek, a Tripel, and a Duvel. I have a friend in Belgium who recommended we try one of each and he didn’t let us down! For those wondering what beers what, here’s a description from yours truly.
Please don’t criticize me on the beer descriptions, I am not a beer connoisseur!
Below are our recommendations on where to eat in Belgium:
Delirium Café is our favorite spot to eat in Brussels, however, it’s not known for their food. If you read the “what to see” section above, then you know it’s home to over 2,000 different beers. Delirium Café offers a wide variety of beers as well as meals to choose from. While here, Taylor, my parents, and I had a cheese plate which was the perfect complement to our beers.
Place de la Monnaie – Muntplein is a square in the middle of Rue Neuve – Nieuwstraat which is the street with the popular shopping stores. Here there are often food stands that range in some different foods, like Frittes or Belgian Waffles on a stick!
We absolutely recommend the Belgian Waffle on a stick, they are absolutely delicious.
Near the train station, there’s a line of fast-food restaurants, some to try of Chez Papy Belgian Fritz and Gaufre De Bruxelles.
At Chez Papy Belgian Fritzyou can get a crazy sandwich called a frikandel, which is filled with sausage French fries, peppers and more.
Right across the street, you can try a waffle at Gaufre De Bruxelles!
If you’re interested in trying Bitter Ballen, which are fried meatballs, you should go to Le Roy d’Espagne, which stands for King of Spain. I know you’re probably thinking why go to a restaurant named King of Spain while in Brussels, but they specialize in Belgian food and BitterBallen which is a popular dutch appetizer. It was named after the bust of Charles II who was the king of Spain in 1697.
Au Brasseur is a Belgian bar with beer flights available to test. This is the perfect way to sample the different type of beers Belgium has to offer. They offer free peanuts with your beers as well!
Brussels is a smaller city in Europe with wonderful walk-only streets. You can find these streets near the Grand Place, which is where we spent most of our time in Brussels.
We recommend staying anywhere within walking distance to Grand Place, preferably near the train station, Quarter Des Quais, or the Freedom Quarter.
We stayed at the Hilton Brussels City which is right off R20 and near walking street with all of the popular shopping stores, named Rue Neuve. We used Hilton points to cover the cost of our hotel instead of paying out of pocket. This helps us save money while traveling and allows us to travel more frequently.
If you’d like to learn more about how we save thousands of dollars traveling, then check out our Travel Secrets online course and learn how we got round trip tickets to Europe for less than $50!
Overall Brussels is a great city to visit and often overlooked. If you’re trying to determine how long you should stay in Brussels, then 2-3 full days in the city is sufficient. Taylor and I liked it so much that we now want to explore other cities and areas within Belgium.
We recommend using the train or Uber to get around partnered with Google Maps. If you don’t have phone service while you’re in Europe then we highly recommend using Google Maps offline mode as well as Maps.Me app. These two apps together are truly amazing to help you navigate your way around the city and we have a tutorial on how to plan a trip using Google My Maps.
Also, don’t forget to bring your universal charges as well as a raincoat because you may get rained on while you’re over there!
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If you have any questions about Brussels and our recommendations, drop a comment below!