Great Places to See in Brussels
January 1, 1970
by Sabine Martinsone
Brussels is one of my favorite places in the world. I just love to return there even if I have been there already more than 20 times. The city just feels so busy but at the same time so peaceful and calm. I guess I like that these two feelings can be combined in one city, and I am sure that there are other such cities in the world, but I have not visited them yet to decide that. Moreover, it is interesting to see how office workers have their lunch on a bench in the park, and it can be seen how everyone enjoys the city and its own beauty. Not to mention that it really feels like the center of the European Union which gathers people from all around Europe.
So here I am going to share my favorite places everyone should see in Brussels.
First thing to see in Brussels is the old town, because it is always the main attraction in every country and this is not an exception. There are many beautiful and interesting things to see.
The main attraction is the Grand Place – the most beautiful place in the old town. All the houses or I would rather call them castles remind me of sand castles made by dripping sand, because of all the small details and all those golden accents. At the beginning of July an annual ‘Brussels Dance festival’ took place at the Grand Place, which I recommend to attend, because it is a huge event with interesting shows. Moreover, at the side of the Belgian Brewers Museum on the Rue Charles Buls there is a golden statue which people can touch and make a wish.
Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert
Nearby are the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert which is also a building with a beautiful architecture. Inside the gallery there are different shops with clothes, decors, and sweets. When I am usually in Brussels, I go there to one chocolate shop called ‘La Belgique Gourmande’ where you can buy various delicious chocolates and other sweets including ones that look like little rocks.
In the old town, there are also the peeing statues: Manneken Pis is the statue of a little boy who is peeing, and it is a must see, because it is one of the symbols of Belgium. The story behind it, which I remember, is that this boy extinguished a fire by peeing on it – I really do not know if that is true, but that is the story I have heard. Moreover, there are two other statues which were made like a parody (some say for gender and animal equality purposes) for the peeing boy – the Jeanneke-Pis- a peeing girl, which is located in a very small and narrow street which in the nights turn into one of the main places for people to go drinking, but in the day time it is quiet and empty, and the Zinneke Pis- a peeing dog.
Royal Palace of Brussels
Of course, there are other things to see and do in Brussels beside the old town, for example, it is worth to see the Royal Palace of Brussels. It is not the palace where the royal family lives, but it is the palace where the King does his duties. It is said that if the flag is taken down, the King has gone abroad.
Mont des Arts
It is a park near the old town. In summer it looks really interesting and magical, because of the tree alleys at both sides of the park. There is a beautiful view of the old town which can be seen from the elevated vantage point.
Music Instrument Museum
Next to the Mont des Arts you can find the Music Instrument Museum which consists of seven floors. The house itself is beautiful and ancient, and it most certainly stands out from the other buildings around. If you are interested in music, it is worth visiting this museum.
Another place which might be interesting to see is the Court house which is also near the old town. However, the Court house has been under reconstruction already for many years, but still it is interesting to see. Plus, there is a city-view spot from which the old part of Brussels can be seen (you can even see the Atomium from there).
In a different direction, you can find the European Parliament building. Next to is the Parlamentarium which is the European Parliament Visitor’s Center where you can discover and explore different things about the European Parliament, and it is free.
Parc du Cinquantenaire
Furthermore, near that area is the Parc du Cinquantenaire which is large and beautiful, and if you are lucky or really attentive you might see the green parrots there. You can also see there the Triumphal Arch and behind the arch there are two museums – the Autoworld and the Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History – which are worth visiting, especially the Autoworld, where I and my friend spent around four hours exploring everything.
More further away from the center you can find the famous Atomium which is one of the symbols of Belgium. Inside the Atomium there is an exhibition about its history and on the top floor you can see over the city.
Next to the Atomium is the Mini-Europe which is a small park where different important buildings from countries in the Europe are remade in a small size. It might be more interesting for children, but adults can enjoy it as well.
Royal Greenhouses in Laeken
Nearby the Atomium is the Royal Greenhouses in Laeken. It is possible to walk through some parts of the Royal family’s garden and their greenhouses where a lot of different flowers and plants from different parts of the world are growing. It is really amazing and beautiful, especially in spring – totally worth visiting!
An interesting activity which can be done while travelling is going to a local market. On Sundays from 7/8 am till 1 pm they have a huge street market around the Brussels-South Railway Station (Zuidstation or Rue de l’Argonne) and because of it they close the streets around the station. It is possible to buy anything in that market starting from cosmetics, clothes, carpets, toys and other stuff to food and plants.
Moreover, if there is no problem travelling a bit outside Brussels, you can go to the amusement park ‘Walibi’ and have some fun. It is easy to get there, only around 30 minutes by train from the Central Railway Station and the stop is called Bierges-Walibi, and the park is 5 minutes from the stop. On Halloween they make special activities and zombies walk around the park, so it is worth visiting at that time if you want to enjoy the Halloween spirit. Plus, there is also a water park ‘Aqualibi’.
To sum up, these are the places I have enjoyed visiting in Brussels, and still do occasionally, especially when travelling with new friends and when showing the city to them. So, I hope this helped you or inspired you a little bit to visit Brussels.