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Best Things to Do in Brussels

Why you should visit Brussels in 2022!

Visit Brussels in 2022!

20 Must-Visit Attractions in Brussels

Have you ever been to Brussels? If you're like me, you may have dismissed or thought there wasn't a whole lot to do in Brussels as an exciting place to stay in a European city. But I'm here today to change your mind and show you that there are so many things to do in Brussels!

Brussels is a beautiful, exciting, and affordable city with plenty to see and do. Not only that, but it's also a great base to explore other cities in Belgium.

So prepare your hand luggage, let's go for a spontaneous weekend in Brussels!

I had crossed Brussels four or five times before leaving the station to visit the city.

I had always thought of Brussels more as a hub than a real destination. I have stopped here several times before traveling elsewhere in Belgium. It hadn't occurred to me to stay in town.

I've always seen Brussels as a city of business and the seat of many European Union institutions, so it didn't seem particularly exciting or glamorous for a weekend!

And it might not be the most interesting city in all of Europe, but here's why I think you should make Brussels your next weekend destination…

Why visit Brussels in 2022

Four cities in one: base yourself in Brussels and day trip to Bruges, Ghent, and Antwerp

The advantage of being based in Brussels is that you can easily catch a train to the surrounding cities of Bruges, Ghent, and Antwerp. These charming towns are beautiful, but they're small enough that you can easily see the highlights of each in a day.

If you managed to spend a day in each city, you would have a beautiful, varied, and interesting four-day break!

Belgian trains are amazing

To make it even better, Belgium trains are fast, simple, and reliable, making it so easy to get from Brussels to Bruges, Ghent, or Antwerp and back in a day.

The journey times are also quite short:

Brussels to Bruges: 1h15

Brussels to Ghent: less than an hour

Brussels to Antwerp: 50 minutes

All rides are reliable and cheap too!

It's not very often that you can take a long weekend and visit four unique cities during your stay!

During my last trip to Brussels, I stayed from Friday to Monday. We spent Friday afternoon exploring Brussels, Saturday in Bruges, Sunday in Ghent, and Monday morning in Antwerp before returning to Brussels to return home on Monday evening. Sounds like a lot, but I didn't feel rushed and it was one of my favorite weekends of the year!

If you'd rather not negotiate the trains and everything yourself, you can easily join an organized tour to nearby towns.

Traveling to Brussels is cheap

Brussels is a travel hub, so you'll find flights from most of Pakistan’s airports. It is not uncommon to find return flights to Brussels for around PKR 74,882.

I just checked YUGO.pk and found weekend flights in May to Brussels from Pakistan for PKR 20,000 return! It's tempting...

Pakistan to Brussels Flights

If you're traveling on a budget, I recommend traveling with hand luggage only, as the cost of checked baggage can often be more than your tickets!

Business Hotels in Brussels are great value for the weekend

There are many business hotels in Brussels. OK, this may not be the boutique hotel of your dreams, but they are stylish, comfortable, and in a great location. And to make them even better, you can usually find great deals on weekends when they have fewer business travelers and hotels need to fill their rooms!

We have established that Brussels is a great city to visit as it is cheap and easy to travel to elsewhere. But what are you going to do during your stay in Brussels?

Here are some of my favorite things to do in Brussels

20 of the Best things to do in Brussels

The Grand Place

The Grand Place Brussels

Brussels' Grand Place, or Grote Market, is certainly the most impressive part of the city and is the first port of call for most visitors.

The Grand Place is the central square of Brussels with decorative Baroque guild houses lining it. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is such a beautiful first impression of the city where grand buildings sparkle in gold.

I recommend visiting the Grand Place in the afternoon. There are some lovely little restaurants along the side streets of the main square where you will find traditional dishes and lots of Belgian beer!

Take your time to take lots of photos as this is truly the best photo spot in Brussels.

If you visit in the winter, there are winter and Christmas-themed light shows and festivals, so keep your eyes peeled for that.

The Grand Place Flowers

The Grand Place Flowers Brussels

So we've established that the Grand Place is a great reason to visit Brussels, but it's even better. Every two years, the Grand Place is adorned with around a million begonias! A new theme and a different decoration each time the flowers are displayed… which makes it a perfect excuse to go back every two years!

It is the most beautiful carpet of colorful flowers and brings this historic square to life with so much joy!

The Atomium

The Atomium Brussels

The Atomium was built in 1958 for Expo 58, a major exhibition dedicated to culture and innovation. It is an enlargement of an elemental iron crystal cell and the beautiful sculpture can be appreciated for its impressive scientific scale (it is magnified 165 billion times) but also from an artistic point of view.

Expo 58 was the first to be held after World War II, so it has major significance and represents human progress and how scientific innovations will help us grow. The Atomium would have been built as a temporary structure for the exhibition, but it became such a popular symbol that it stuck.

Notre Dame du Sablon

Notre Dame du Sablon Brussels

This huge Gothic church dominates the Place du Sablon and is equally impressive inside and out.

There's plenty to see inside the church, so be sure to pick up a flyer on the way for more information on the statues, decor, and colorful stained glass.

Place du Sablon is a lively hub in the center of Brussels. A 30-minute visit to Notre Dame du Sablon offers a peaceful escape. It's cool, calm, and quiet here, so if you're visiting on a hot summer day, it's a wonderful retreat. Be respectful of worshipers inside the church, but it's a lovely place to sit and watch the world.

Visit the Parlamentarium

Visit the Parlamentarium Brussels

The Parlamentarium Visitor Center is an interactive experience to learn more about the European Parliament and how it works.

I know, it sounds dry as toast, but they made it as engaging and exciting as possible with the subject matter! There is a 360-degree cinema, role-playing games, and a huge interactive floor. The visit is free, so the Parlamentarium could be a good activity for rainy days with the children!

Le Botanique

The Botanique was originally the orangery of the National Botanical Garden of Belgium and now hosts cultural events. It's a wonderful mix of past and present as this historic building comes alive with modern exhibits, concerts, and activities. It is now a paradise for nature and music lovers.

Even if you can't see a concert inside, it's a beautiful building to admire from the outside. Also, be sure to visit Café Bota at the Botanique!

Mont des Arts

The Mont des Arts is a magnificent garden. The line of colorful flowers leads your gaze to the spire of Brussels City Hall and creates the most beautiful contrast between the bright, natural flowers and the historic architecture of the city.

The best views of Brussels and photo opportunities can be found at the top of the steps.

Travel Hack Tip: This is where you'll want to be for your Instagram photos in Brussels!

The Musical Instrument Museum

The Museum of Musical Instruments (MIM) in Brussels houses more than 8,000 instruments. And while the instruments are fascinating, it's the building itself that's the biggest draw.

The exterior of the 'Old England' building will blow your mind, the interior is stunning and the rooftop bar and restaurant are the icings on the cake. You can enjoy a view of the whole city and I heard they serve the best Sunday brunch in town!

At the time of this article's update, MIM's rooftop restaurant was closed for renovations, so be sure to check it's open before you visit.

Musee Royaux Beaux Arts

The Royal Museum of Fine Arts, or Royal Museum of Fine Arts, is a collection of six museums. They feature visual arts from the 15th to 21st centuries with over 20,000 pieces spread across the six sites.

Mini Europe

You can see all of Europe in Brussels.

No, you can!

Mini-Europe is, as its name suggests, a Europe in miniature. It's filled with 80 miniature cities from across Europe and includes 350 of the most famous buildings such as Big Ben, the Eiffel Tower, Brandenburg Gate, and the Trevi Fountain. If nothing else, it's a great place to snap a few selfies and is one of the best things to do in Brussels with kids.

Brussels’ jazz clubs

Brussels is famous for its jazz scene, and the Belgiums love jazz! Throughout the city, you can find jazz bars featuring famous jazz artists. Also check out smaller, intimate venues with up-and-coming artists, or go to the Brussels Jazz Festival if you're a jazz fan.

Palais Royal

The Royal Palace of Brussels is the administrative residence of the King. He doesn't live here, but the magnificent palace is a symbol of the monarchy and is majestic, both inside and out.

The palace is open to the public in the summer and is just as grand and impressive as expected. It's usually open from late July to September, but if you're visiting outside of those months, it's still worth a look if you're nearby. The well-kept gardens are very pretty and a nice place for a photo stop.

The Parc Du Cinquantenaire

The outdoor spaces and parks of Brussels are beautiful, but Parc du Cinquantenaire is a highlight and is often cited as the "best park in Belgium". He had 74 acres of land planned by King Leopold in the nineteenth century. You'll walk past the Cinquantenaire arch and the beautiful museum buildings as you follow a U-shaped path.

Brussels Bread House

The Maison du Pain is one of the most spectacular buildings on the Grand Place and now houses the Brussels Museum and houses an impressive art collection.

The building is still called "the house of bread" because there was originally a wooden bread room in this place. The bread shack was supposed to be there as early as the 12th century and some names are hard to shake off! The building is also known as the "King's House", although no king has ever lived there.

Manneken Pis

One of the most unusual and lighthearted things to see in Brussels is Manneken Pis, a 61cm bronze statue of a little boy urinating into a fountain.

I know! When I first visited Brussels and a friend suggested we go and visit the statue, I was a bit confused too. Why, oh why, is a statue of a little peeing boy so famous!?

Little Pissing Man is said to be an icon of this cheeky, rebellious town. It's a fun thing to visit when you're in the area, so if you're nearby, check it out. The little boy also has over 900 outfits and he often wears something new!

Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula

This Roman Catholic cathedral stands proudly in the center of Brussels and is an incredible example of Brabant Gothic architecture.

It's a popular place to meet people and many tours will start from here, so you might end up here if you join an organized tour.

Eat all the waffles

All! You cannot visit Belgium without having at least one waffle. You'll find waffle carts and little shops all over Brussels and there are so many suggestions for finding the best ones.

I would normally recommend heading away from the main tourist centers for a local dish but I enjoyed buying my waffle from a busy little shop near the Grand Place and enjoying it surrounded by so much history and splendor.

If you love waffles and want to get authentic, you can even take a waffle-making class!

Explore Brussel’s comic culture

Explore Brussels comic culture Brussels

Comic culture in Brussels is strong and Belgium is home to comic book icons like Tintin and the Smurfs. You'll spot comic-style street art all over the city and there are plenty of ways to find out more. Visit the Belgian Comics Museum and take the Comics Route (there's a brilliant Kirstie Will Travel article on the walking route!) Or take a Comics and Art Walking Tour from the street to have a local expert explain it all to you!

Visit the Bourse

The Brussels Stock Exchange might not seem like the most exciting place to visit, but look at this building! Wow, that's amazing. The ornately decorated building was created in 1873 and is well worth stopping by if you are passing by.

Visitors can't go inside, but be sure to plot this building on your map so you can navigate it when you're in the area.

Palais de Justice

This impressive building is the most important courthouse in Belgium. The monumental building has been surrounded by scaffolding for almost 40 years during reconstruction works, but the works should be finished soon, so I hope you will see it without the scaffolding! Don't worry if construction is still ongoing as you can still see the exterior of this magnificent building.

Belgium Visa from Pakistan you should apply for your visa in person at the Belgian embassy or consulate which is competent for your country of residence, where you will be requested to communicate your travel destination as well as the circumstances of it.

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