Brussels Isn’t Just About Sprouts – 12 Gorgeous Sights in Belgium’s Capital
Brussels is the seat of today’s European politics. And it’s also a city with gorgeous and unique landmarks.
Brussels has two parts – the old part of town and the new part of town. As such, it is a very diverse tourist destination that makes it Belgium’s most visited city. What’s even better? The city is small enough for you to easily visit all the important landmarks and monuments.
When you’re done munching on Belgian fries and sampling the local beers, here are some places you might want to visit.
1. Take a Grand Tour of the Grote Markt
The Grote Markt, or Grand Place, is the center of Brussels Old Town. This main plaza is well-preserved and features unique architecture. Don’t forget to check out the stonework – it’s amazing and everything is highly detailed.
Most of the buildings and sculptures here date back to before 1700. While there is some Flemish influence in the style, everything is predominantly Baroque.
The town hall building still looks great for a building commissioned in 1402. But then again, so does everything else in the Grand Place.
2. Tour the Saint-Michel Cathedral
Construction on the Gothic Saint-Michel Cathedral started in 1225 but was only finished in the 15th century. And over time, numerous artists contributed to the cathedral’s artwork and stained-glass windows.
A majestic building with twin high towers and a lavish interior, it’s a top Brussels attraction for anyone, especially architecture students and history buffs.
3. Photo Shoot at the Royal Palace
The Royal Palace is still the official residence of the Belgian royal family. That’s why the iconic Changing of the Guard event still happens here at 2:30 pm every day.
You can also take photos of various Neoclassical buildings surrounding the palace. Don’t forget to walk around the garden. It looks perfect all the time and makes for a great photoshoot location on a sunny day.
Here’s an interesting fact: if you see the flag flown up on the roof, it means that the sovereign is home.
4. Enjoy Some Pop Culture Exhibits
Brussels isn’t just about the old part of town and historic buildings.
The Comic Strip Center, commissioned in 1906, is a different kind of attraction. This spot hosts some of the largest cartoon and comics exhibits around. In fact, many Belgian and French artists have rotating exhibits here.
Don’t forget to check out original artwork, drafts, and manuscripts of various artists. It will leave you in awe at their talent.
5. Tour the Royal Museum of Fine Arts
The first collection in this museum dates back to 1797. And today, it hosts not just one of Belgium’s greatest art galleries but also the world’s.
Most of the paintings on display here are by Flemish and Dutch painters. There’s a good selection of classic pieces here, as well as artwork mainly from the 19th century and 20th century.
6. Take in a Surreal Landmark Attraction
One of the most popular things to do in Belgium is to check out the Atomium. This unique building, designed after a molecule of iron, is made of steel and aluminum. It stands 334.6ft tall and is very unusual from an architectural standpoint.
What surprises people the most is that the building is fully functional. You can go inside in four of the nine existing spheres. That’s where you can catch the show known as Biogenium. And it’s an interesting presentation, particularly if you’re interested in biology, chemistry, and human life.
7. Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth
Belgium is famous for its chocolate and beer. And for chocolate lovers, a tour of the Museum of Cocoa and Chocolate is a must.
It’s also one of the most intriguing museums in Brussels, featuring sculptures, exhibits, and demonstrations. The small entry fee and free samples make it worth your while. But if you’re not interested in history, go here at least for the spinning wheel that pours melted chocolate.
8. Look at More Weird Attractions
Interested in more unique attractions in Brussels? Belgium has no shortage of weird landmarks. A case in point is Manneken Pis. This little bronze statue of a boy “filling up” the fountain underneath gathers huge crowds.
What makes it most interesting, and hilarious, is that the statue gets dressed for various occasions, depending on what events are taking place. While it is a bit weird that it gets so much attention, it’s also a free tourist spot.
9 Relax and Take in the Scenery
While many know Brussels for its majestic historic buildings, it’s also home to a huge park. The Bois de la Cambre spans 247 acres and is an ideal place for anyone to relax.
You can go on a bike ride through the park, have a picnic or enjoy a boat ride while enjoying the view and fresh air. You don’t even have to pay an entrance fee to enjoy the park.
There aren’t any cars allowed on the weekends, which makes it even better.
10. Tour the Cinquantenaire Park
Dating back to the 1800s, its construction marked Belgium’s 50th year of independence. And this park is host to amazing gardens and fountains. But, it’s not the only attraction here.
The park houses several museums, too. These include the Royal Military Museum and the Autoworld museum, which are among the most popular. Various events also happen here throughout the year, so it’s best to plan ahead.
11. Enjoy the Winter Festivities in Brussels
Summer is not the only time to visit Brussels. Because if you go during the winter you can experience the Christmas markets, which are famously known as Winter Wonders.
During this time, the Grand Place turns into a Christmas-themed location where you can get your trinkets, drinks, light shows, and more. There are even live performances and traditional carnival rides, not to mention parades, that you don’t want to miss out on.
12. Check Out the European Union’s Headquarters
Believe it or not, the European District is one of the most unique places to visit in Belgium.
While it’s undeniably an important district for European politics, economics, and social rights, it’s also a very lively spot in the evening. There are many parks and bars around where you can spend some time while feeling the culture and history of the EU around you.
Brussels – Go for the Food and Drinks, Stay for the Scenery
Many visit Brussels to sample some of the best beers, fries, and chocolates in the world. But the city is more than that – it’s also rich in history and art. And given the size of Brussels, you can easily see a lot of everything even with limited time here.
There is plenty to do in the summer and winter. Whether you want to see a car museum, military exhibits, or take a boat ride, nothing is off-limits.