Brussels travel guide
Brussels travel guide
Come to Brussels for the architecture, stay for the culture. The capital of the European Union blends medieval masterpieces with modern designs, shaping a city that is both avant-garde and historical.
Belgium’s cosmopolitan capital promises plenty of entertainment, from world-class galleries and Art Nouveau villas to innovative street art and vast parks. But Brussels is much more than this. It’s the homeland of hot Belgian waffles and tasty beers. It boasts nightlife to rival Berlin and a cafe culture to rival Paris.
Want to learn about the best attractions, restaurants and places to stay? Our travel guide is here to help. Read on as we take you through the city’s main wonders for an unforgettable visit and, when you’re ready to plan your trip, use GetYourGuide to plan an itinerary jam-packed with fun activities.
Why visit Brussels?
With its impressive Grand-Place and charming cobbled streets, a city break in Brussels is sure to steal your heart.
So, where do you start exploring? The Grand-Place itself! Stroll around this picturesque square, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and sit on its fringes to enjoy Brussels’ unique atmosphere.
If you’re passionate about museums, you’re in luck. Belgium’s capital is teeming with exhibitions of art and culture, from its multi-purpose Centre for Fine Arts, Bozar, to the Musical Instruments Museum.
But it’s only once you spot the world-famous Manneken Pis that you can say you’ve been to Brussels. This 400-year-old bronze statue depicts a young boy urinating into a fountain. It symbolises Belgian folk humour and is one of the country’s most beloved landmarks.
You can easily explore the landmarks of Brussels on foot, and local guides can provide you with fascinating insights and hidden gems on a guided walking tour. Alternatively, a hop-on, hop-off bus tour allows you to explore the city at your own pace while enjoying informative audio commentary along the way.
Things to do in Brussels
Your first stop should be the Grand-Place. This central square is enclosed by a 15th-century town hall, 40 elegant guild houses and the luxurious Maison du Roi. Once every two years, it welcomes a flower carpet that only adds to its beauty, making it one of Europe’s best landmarks.
The Atomium is engineer André Waterkeyn’s brainchild and one of Brussels’ key buildings. This 335-foot-tall iron structure represents the composition of an iron crystal and was designed for the 1958 World Fair to symbolise scientific advancements. Today, it is a dominant fixture on the capital’s skyline.
St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral
This medieval Roman Catholic cathedral sits in the heart of Brussels and took a whopping 300 years to complete. Attracting thousands of visitors yearly, the cathedral is dedicated to the city’s patrons and considered among the finest examples of Brabantine Gothic architecture.
Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert
The Galeries Royal Saint-Hubert is Europe’s first covered shopping arcade. It’s divided into three beautiful halls: the King’s Gallery, the Queen’s Gallery, and the Prince’s Gallery. It brims with culture, offering dance and painting classes, watercolour lessons and photography exhibitions.
Where to eat and drink in Brussels
Brussels dominates Europe’s culinary scene, making it the perfect destination for food lovers. Here are some of the best restaurants and bars in the Belgian capital.
- Le Local: Nestled on Brussels’ northern outskirts, Le Local offers a seasonal menu with reasonably priced options. Try the three-course meal for just over 20€ and enjoy delicious meat and fish-based dishes.
- La Marée: Seafood enthusiast? Look no further. La Marée’s menu includes tasty starters like raw mussels and oysters, mains like cod with in-house tartar and a wide selection of French wines to accompany your meal.
- Cantillon Brewery: Belgium is the homeland of beer, and this venue encapsulates the city’s rich brewing heritage. Cantillon Brewery has preserved its beer-making methods since its opening in 1900, with plenty of delicious options for visitors to try.
- La Porte Noir: La Porte Noir is a haven for whiskey lovers, with over 70 varieties. The bar also stocks over 20 rums and 120 Belgian craft beers and holds live music performances.
Places to stay in Brussels
From luxurious villas and prestigious hotels to family-friendly options, the city caters to everyone’s tastes and budgets. Here are some of the best places to stay in Brussels.
- Maison Flagey: Treat yourself to a stay at Maison Flagey for an Art Nouveau experience like no other. This beautiful B&B overlooks the ponds of Ixelles and boasts a unique design, with original mosaics and fireplaces.
- Hôtel de Galeries: Less is more at this stylish hotel. Housed in a shopping arcade in the heart of Brussels, it offers contemporary rooms and a restaurant serving delicious seasonal dishes.
- Le Châtelain: Elegant and intimate, Le Châtelain is perfect for all visitors. Its 107 rooms are minimal but carefully furnished, spacious and neat. There is also a gym, a spa, a courtyard garden and a rooftop terrace, ideal for summer evenings.
- Sofitel Brussels Europe: If you’re visiting the city with your kids, Sofitel Brussels Europe is your best pick. It offers a laid-back atmosphere and fantastic facilities for little ones, including bathtime toys and tepees.