If there is one thing that Brussels has to offer visitors to the city, it’s variety. Home to over seventy museums, fifty theatres and opera houses and eighty cinemas, it is immediately obvious that sightseeing is going to be somewhat of an experience. While the city’s status with regard to tourist attractions may not be quite as high as some of its European counterparts, there are some unique sights which you really cannot leave the city without exploring. And, with the exception of Le Grande Place and the nearby streets, the good news is that you can do this at ease because Brussels continues to remain relatively crowd free despite its increasing popularity among tourists.
The area around the aforementioned Grand Place is home to the more appealing museums and each can be reached on foot. It is also where you will see the Manneken Pis and the bronze statue of Charles–Everard de T’Serclaes which is supposed to bring all who visit it good luck.
But, you shouldn’t confine yourself solely to le Grande Place because while you could easily spend days visiting all the museums in the area, the city also has a lot more to offer. Among the further flung attractions which you should try to get to, and it is quite easy thanks to the public transport system in Brussels, are the Sablon near the Royal Palace, the Marolles which are south of the Grand Palace, St. Gilles and Heysel.
In order to get the best value for your precious cash, you should purchase the Tourist Passport which will cost you about 300BEF and will offer reduced admission to selected museums and attractions and two one-day travel tickets. Or, you can also purchase the Musts of Brussels which will cost you 600BEF and offers discounts to nine of the city’s top attractions.
Corner of Stoofstraat/Rue de L'Etuve & Eikstraat/R, Brussels, Belgium
Every major city has its own official or unofficial symbol and in Brussels it’s a statue of a little boy taking a leak. Despite the fact that nobody knows the origins behind the statue it has been a major tourist attraction for several centuries and a visit to the city is incomplete without going to see the boy and his collection of over six hundred different costumes.
16 Rue Brederode, Brussels, Belgium
The Royal Palace is only open to the public during the summer months and admission is free. If you are going to be in the city around this time, you should avail of the opportunity to see the magnificent structure which is now home to the Belgian Parliament. Rebuilt in 1815, the palace was used as the dwelling place of the Belgian kings up until 1935 when the royals moved their official residence to Laken.
10 Grand Place, Brussels, Belgium
Either before or after sampling the local beers, perhaps you might like to see how they came about in the first place. If so you should visit the Brewery Museum which is helping keep the tradition of Belgian beer alive. Here you are shown the implements which are needed to brew and ferment the beer, you get to visit the past in the old style café, you get to see the whole brewing process at work and at the end of your visit, you get to taste the finished product. Knew that would grab somebody’s attention!
La Maison du Roi, Grand Place, Brussels, Belgium
The building which serves as the city museum today is actually a reconstruction of a previous building which served as the city’s market. This new building was completed in 1887 and now houses all aspects of the history of Brussels including traditional arts and crafts and reconstructions of the original city. But, the most popular collection in the museum is the collection of outfits designed for the aforementioned Manneken Pis.
3 Rue de la Regence, Brussels, Belgium
This art museum is now home to an amazing collection of both national and international works. Among the favourites are those by the native Belgian artists themselves so check out the masterpieces by the likes of Van Eyck, Rubens and Bruegel. Even if art isn’t your thing, you will definitely see some paintings which you recognize and it is quite thrilling to see the real thing.
11 Parc de Cinquantenaire, Brussels, Belgium
If you’ve had enough of all the art in the city, and there’s a lot of it, then take yourself off to this fascinating collection of over four hundred vintage cars. As well as getting to see the history of the motor car unfold before your eyes, you will also get to see models owned by the Belgian royal family and John F. Kennedy and Franklin Roosevelt. And, at the end of your journey head to the museum shop where you can buy a miniature model of your favourite car.
20 Rue des Sables, Brussels, Belgium
A Belgian museum with a difference offering the visitor a unique look at one of the most typical new art forms in the country. You can see how a comic strip album develops from start to finish and the building itself offers an amazing setting. Don’t leave without visiting the shop where you can buy yourself an album of one of the different Belgian comic strip heroes the best known being Tintin.
1 Avenue du Football, Brussels, Belgium
A quirky theme park containing over three hundred models and sites of various locations throughout Europe. You will get to hear the chimes of some of the continent’s favourite clocks and bells, take a gondola through the canals of Venice or witness a true Spanish bullfight, and all this in just a few hours.
13 Grand Place, Brussels, Belgium
Everyone who knows anything about chocolate probably knows that the authentic Belgian variety is probably among the best in the world. And, you can see how seriously they take their chocolate when you realise that they have dedicated an entire museum to it. So, if you are pretty serious about the stuff too, you should certainly check out the cocoa and chocolate museum where you will see how they go about making it as well as giving you some to sample.
Sablon Square & Grand Place, Brussels, Belgium
Brussels is home to many different markets which usually take place at the weekend. The biggest flea market in the city, however, is open every day at Place du Jeu de Balles near the Palace of Justice. Here you will find all sorts of delights and will have to haggle with vendors who will inevitably try to rip off any unsuspecting tourist. Other markets in the area include the bird market at le Grand Place on Sundays, the antiques market on Sablon Square on Saturdays and Sundays and the food market at Place Bara near Midi station which also takes place on Sunday.