Things to do in
Brussels

Belgium’s capital mixes craft beer, bespoke chocolate, and waffles with a melting pot of European culture.

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Our most recommended things to do in Brussels

Brussels: Atomium Entry Ticket with Design Museum Ticket

1. Brussels: Atomium Entry Ticket with Design Museum Ticket

The Atomium symbolizes an iron crystal, magnified 165 billion times, referring to the power of nuclear energy that in 1958 was intended for peaceful use. Today it carries on the debate of 1958: What kind of future do we want for tomorrow? It was not intended that the Atomium survive beyond the 1958 World Fair but its popularity soon made it a key landmark, first in Brussels, and then internationally. It has become one of the icons of Brussels, and since its inspired restoration in 2006, it is referred to as the most Belgian of monuments. The panorama alone is worth a trip to the Atomium. Thanks to its location on a naturally elevated plateau on the outskirts of town, the Atomium offers the only true 360-degree panoramic view of the 19 municipalities of Brussels. The permanent exhibition, Atomium, tells the history of this pavilion. This year there are also two temporary exhibitions. The first, ID#2021, is an immersive experience. Discover an exciting sound and light digital creation. The second, View from My Window, consists of a selection of more than 400 photographs depicting a Belgian success story that started with a Facebook group initiated in March 2020 at the start of the pandemic. The audio-visual installations, prints, webcams, and time-lapses give you an insight into the perspectives of the individuals involved. At 95 meters above ground in the top sphere of the monument, the Atomium Restaurant offers an extraordinary experience. Whether you choose Belgian specialties or seasonal dishes, Alexandre Masson revisits tradition, with the clouds at hand.

Brussels Mini-Europe Admission Ticket

2. Brussels Mini-Europe Admission Ticket

Discover Europe's most popular attractions in miniature. Encounter monuments from across the continent recreated down to the smallest detail. See a 4-meter high Big Ben, and 13-meter tall Eiffel tower, with all attractions recreated at a scale of 1 to 25. Be amazed at the eruption of Vesuvius and the fall of the Berlin Wall. Watch the launch of Ariane V and marvel at many other working models. Both young and old will enjoy spending a couple of hours exploring Mini-Europe. Experience also a fascinating and interactive Spirit of Europe exhibit that takes you through the history of the European Union, its place in the world. A catalog brimming with interesting anecdotes is included with the purchase of an adult ticket.

Brussels: Magritte Museum Entry Ticket

3. Brussels: Magritte Museum Entry Ticket

Visit the world's largest collection of works by René Magritte. Enjoy access to more than 230 works and archives of the famous surrealist artist. View oil paintings, sketches, and sculptures, as well as posters, photographs and films made by Magritte himself. After viewing the surrealist masterpieces, take a relaxing break at the on site café and restaurant. Stop by the shop for an impressive selection of posters, postcards, gifts and books.

Brussels Pub Crawl

4. Brussels Pub Crawl

Experience the diverse and vibrant nightlife scene of Brussels with a fun and friendly guide, and taste some refreshing beers and great cocktails at discounted prices. Avoid the usual tourist bars and make new friends from around the world as you crawl from venue to venue over 3 hours. Get a wristband at the start of the night that gets you discounted drinks, including €1 beers at local pubs. Enjoy a welcome beer to start the evening, and then make your way to 4 of the best bars and clubs in town. Dance the night away at the last club, where the DJ spins top tunes every night. Benefit from free entry, a happy hour which lasts all night and a late closing time of 6:00 AM.

Brussels: Guided Walking Tour

5. Brussels: Guided Walking Tour

Get an overview of the fascinating city of Brussels, with a tour through the medieval and Baroque city, the industrial city, the bourgeois city, and on to modern Brussels. This tour ensures you get to see all the parts of this multi-faceted city. With your informative tour guide, learn about the city’s museums, where the best bars and local beers are, and where to buy the best chocolate at a reasonable price. Your guide will also answer any practical questions you might have about restaurants, attractions, nightlife, or even just getting around on public transport. During your walking tour of the city, the tour will be split into two different areas: the Upper City and Lower City. The tour is structured this way to help you better understand the origins and historic development of Brussels.  During your tour of the Lower City, you will see highlights such as The Grand Palace, The Everard t'Serclaes monument on Charles Buls street, The Manneken Pis and Grands Carmes street, Marché au Charbon street, Anspach Boulevard, The covering of the Senne, Riches Claires street and Grande Île street and The Saint-Géry island amongst many others.  Whilst perusing through the Upper city, you'll notice a very different style. During this portion of the tour you will see landmarks such as The Grand Place, the power of merchants, The Galeries Royales St Hubert, The Mort Subite, The Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula (visit inside: stained glass windows, the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, the pulpit), The Royal Park, the Royal Palace, the Royal Square and The Palace of Coudenberg amongst many others.

From Brussels: Ghent and Bruges Day-Tour

6. From Brussels: Ghent and Bruges Day-Tour

Discover two of Flanders’ most enchanting cities and follow your guide back in time! Ghent’s medieval architecture and vibrant atmosphere will impress you as you visit Saint-Bavo’s Cathedral, home to famous Mystic Lamb painting (option), and pass by the Castle of the Counts of Flanders the picturesque medieval harbor Graslei and much more. In Bruges, you will enjoy the peaceful Lake of Love and the old beguinage. Furthermore with your guide you discover the city on foot and you also have the option to enjoy a pleasant boat trip along the narrow canals. Do not forget your comfortable shoes to brave the cobbled streets! Choose between a private and a shared option.

Brussels: 2.5-Hour Chocolate Museum Visit with Workshop

7. Brussels: 2.5-Hour Chocolate Museum Visit with Workshop

Begin your chocolate experience by touring the museum for approximately one and a half hours. Peruse with your audio guide and discover the history of cocoa and chocolate in an interactive and fun way. Enjoy chocolate tastings and watch a demonstration on Belgian's famous artisanal pralines. Afterward, learn to make your own chocolates with the help of a professional chocolate maker. Create mendiant chocolates, personalized chocolate bars, and lollies to take home with you. The chocolate making workshop takes about one hour.  

Brussels: Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour

8. Brussels: Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour

Explore Brussels with a flexible one or two-day hop-on-hop-off bus tour. Enjoy the flexibility and freedom to jump on and off when you desire. See sites such as the Charles Rogier Square, Grote Markt, the Grand Place, and many more.  Choose a 1 or 2-day ticket to suit your schedule and start your sightseeing journey. Use your ticket on the blue and red routes and hop off wherever you like. See the sites you want to and spend as much time as you want there at your leisure. Pick a seat in the open-top for panoramic views or in the covered cabin to stay warm. Listen to the recorded commentary about the highlights, sit back, relax, and enjoy unlimited travel for 24 or 48 hours. Follow the blue bus route to see the Saints-Michel-et-Gudule Cathedral, the Belgian Comic Strip Centre, and Botanical Garden. This route also passes the Charles Rogier Square, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, the Church of Our Lady of Laeken, the Royal Castle of Laeken, and Royal Greenhouses. Don't forget to stop off and take pictures at the Atomium, the Magritte Museum, Sainte-Catherine Square, the Manneken-Pis, and the market square to see the Grand Place. As well, explore the outstanding City Hall and the Art Nouveau major townhouses, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Jump on the red route to stop at the Place Royale to see the best viewpoint over Brussels, Mont des Arts. Hop off at the Palace of Fine Arts, the Sablons quarter, and the European Parliament, if you like. On this route, you can also see the Coudenberg Palace, the Musical Instruments Museum, the Horta Museum, or the Royal Museums of Art and History.

From Brussels: Bruges and Ghent in a Day Guided Tour

9. From Brussels: Bruges and Ghent in a Day Guided Tour

Meet your guide in the center of Brussels and relax on the 100-kilometer journey to Bruges. Upon arrival, discover the charms of “the Venice of the North” and see why the entire historic center was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Marvel at highlights such as the Lake of Love (Minnewater Lake) and the 13th-century Begijnhof complex, founded in 1245 to house lay religious women. Go to Walplein Square, where the shady trees and cafes provide a perfect place to relax. Visit Stoofstraat on the site of the city's former Red Light District, and see medieval monuments such as the 11th-century Old St. John’s Hospital. Look at the world's second tallest brickwork tower at the Church of Our Lady, and see other historic monuments such as Gruuthuse Palace, the Dijver Canal and the tiny piazza of Tanners Square (Huidenvettersplein). Go to one of the city's most photographed spots at Rozenhoedkaai, and admire the Belfry on Castle Square. Admire the facades of the Gothic-style Town Hall and the 12th-century Basilica of the Holy Blood. Visit Market Square (Grote Markt) to see the Bell Tower (Belfort) and Sint-Salvator’s Cathedral. Then enjoy 1-hour's free time for lunch (at your own expense) and the chance to sample some of the city's delicious chocolates.  Next, drive to Ghent, where the inhabitants have been popularly known as "noose-bearers“ since the days of Charles V. Take a guided tour of the city's historic buildings, such as the Castle of Gerald the Devil and Saint Bavo Cathedral, where you can look at the painting of “The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb” by the Van Eyck brothers. Admire the Belfort (Bell Tower) and peculiar Gothic and Renaissance-style Town Hall. See one of the city's oldest monuments at St. Nicholas’ Church opposite the unusual facade of the Masons’ Guild House. Journey along the embankments of the medieval port of Graslei, and discover other highlights such as the majestic Castle of the Counts of Flanders, the charming Patershol neighborhood, the Great Butchers’ Hall, the Old Fish Market and Friday Market Square.

Choco-Story Brussels: Chocolate Museum Entrance with Tasting

10. Choco-Story Brussels: Chocolate Museum Entrance with Tasting

Journey through the story of chocolate at Choco-Story Brussels, and learn the origins of the precious commodity and its transformation to the finished product. Delve deep in the history of the Aztecs, and discover how cocoa arrived in Europe.  Admire the exhibits of the museum, including illustrations, informative panels and videos that explain the culture of cocoa and how it is turned into chocolate. Watch a demonstration by a master chocolatier on how to make artisanal pralines.  Enjoy several tastings throughout your visit, and benefit from the chance to purchase some chocolates in the gift shop.

Frequently asked questions about Brussels

What top attractions are a must-see in Brussels?

Which tours in Brussels are taking additional COVID-19 precautions?

Insider tips: Planning a trip to Brussels

Jurga Rubinovaite is an avid traveler, photographer, and chief adventure planner behind the popular family travel blog Full Suitcase. On her blog, you can find more information and all the details for planning a trip to Brussels.

What should I do on my first trip to Brussels?

When visiting Brussels for the first time, don't miss the Grand Place, one of the most beautiful town squares in Europe and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Often, you can also see a beautiful music & lights show here in the evening. Other must-sees include the iconic symbol of Brussels, Manneken Pis, and the Royal Gallery of Saint Hubert.

What are some hidden gems to see in Brussels?

Brussels is such a big city that you are bound to find many cool places and hidden gems everywhere you go. One of the nicest local areas to visit is the Sablon neighborhood. Located just a short walk from the main landmarks in the city center, Sablon is a charming area with antique shops, art galleries, quirky cafes, and some of the best chocolate shops in town. On the weekends, check out the Sablon Antiques Market, which is the place to be for quality antiques and some truly unique finds.

How much time should I spend in Brussels?

You can easily see the main highlights of Brussels in a day. However, if you want to explore the city deeper, check out several different areas (including the EU headquarters), visit one or two museums, or do some shopping, you’ll need at least 2-3 days.

What food is Brussels known for?

Brussels is a great place to try all kinds of Belgian food, including Belgian chocolates, Brussels waffles, and hundreds of types of different Belgian beers. But if you try just one traditional dish in Brussels, make it moules-frites (mussels and fries), which is said to have originated in Belgium. There are many restaurants serving moules-frites in Brussels, but for the most authentic experience, head to Chez Léon on Rue des Bouchers.

What is the best way to get around Brussels?

The best way to explore the city center of Brussels is on foot. However, there are also many landmarks and points of interest scattered all over the city, with big distances between them. The best way to see all the main areas and landmarks of Brussels in a short time is by taking a hop-on hop-off bus. The fastest way to cover bigger distances in Brussels is by metro.

What are the best months to visit Brussels?

Brussels is a year-round destination with plenty to see and do in all seasons. The months between May and September are the best weather-wise and there is always so much happening in the city in the summer.

What are the best neighborhoods for shopping?

Brussels is a real paradise for shoppers, with plenty of options for all tastes and budgets. Avenue Louise is the place to be for the most expensive luxury brands, whereas Rue Dansart is best known for boutique shops and local designers. Rue Neuve is the main and the busiest shopping street of Brussels, where you’ll find the more affordable brands such as H&M, Benetton, etc. Sablon and the Marolles are the best areas for vintage and antiques, and also for the lesser-known designer boutiques.

What are the best annual events in Brussels?

Probably one of the most popular events is the annual Brussels Christmas Market, traditionally held from the second half of November until the first weekend of January. With wonderful decorations and lighting, and hundreds of market stalls spread out through a big part of the city center, Brussels Christmas Market is one of the best in Europe. In addition, the city also offers an amazing (free) music and light show at the Grand Place, which makes a winter city trip to Brussels even more magical. Another world-famous celebration is the bi-annual Brussels Flower Carpet, which takes place in mid-August on even years.

Planning Your Visit

  • Beer lovers rejoice

    Belgium is justly famous for its beers. Brussels is ideal for discovering the country's rich brewing history, which spans several centuries—hit up any of the city's many beer halls and discover beer like you've never tasted it before.

  • French fries? Belgian fries!

    As any Belgian will proudly tell you, they are the true inventors of the deep-fried potato. Try out the Belgian fries and decide for yourself whether the much-touted double-frying method is worth all the hype (best enjoyed together with a steaming bowl of clams, which restaurants customarily serve with a bottomless side of fries).

Good to know

  • Language
    Dutch, German and French
  • Currency
    Euro (€)
  • Time Zone
    UTC (+01:00)
  • Country Code
    +32
  • Best time to visit
    Spring and fall are the nicest times to visit Brussels, when the weather isn't too chilly, and the summer crowds are not present.

Other Sightseeing Options in Brussels

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What people are saying about Brussels

Overall rating

4.4 / 5

based on 9,121 reviews

Thiago our guide was very informative with a nice personality, not only did he cover all historical events, also gave his local knowledge of best restaurants and hidden bars to visit Thiago made the tour relaxing and interesting BUT We had six people in our group and My husband and I was the only ones that paid in advance, when we arrived we found out that the other 4 people hadn’t paid due to it being a free walking tour Found this very annoying that a company can take money in advance and then offer it for free on the day Had we’d known it was free we would not have booked and just turned up

We met in a quiet square on the northern side of the city centre, picked up the bikes from a building on the square (they are not ebikes by the way, but they have 7 gears so the gentle hills on the ride are no issue). Rode around stopping from time to time for some history and explanation from our extremely on knowledgeable guide. We were lucky with nice weather but this was an awesome start to the weekend in Brussels...getting to see and learn at a comfortable pace. We also stopped at a very nice bar in the park near the end

HIGHLY recommend. You get fantastic views of all of Brussels. There is also an amazing lights show exhibit inside the Atomium. 10/10 this is a MUST for anyone in Brussels!

Great excursion. Lots of little kids running around. Seems like a popular area for school kids. Also neat for people that don’t know much about Europe. Fun times

Sebastian was a fabulous guide. He was full of useful information but didn't over load us.