Visiting Brussels: 10 beautiful places you should not miss

Do you want to visit Brussels soon and take a nice city trip? The capital of Belgium has a lot to offer. One of the most beautiful places is the famous Grote Markt, a UNESCO World Heritage site for good reason. But Brussels has many other pleasant squares and streets. Just think of Korte Beenhouwersstraat or Stoofstraat, where you will find the city’s most famous resident, Manneken Pis. Add a number of beautiful sights such as the Atomium, the Cinquantenaire Park and a large number of fascinating museums and you have all the ingredients for a fun weekend out. What should you see and do and which beautiful places should you not miss?

  • Visiting beautiful places in Brussels: what to see and what to do?
  • Grand Place of Brussels
  • Manneken Pis
  • Sablon
  • Sint-Katelijneplein
  • St. Hubertus Galleries
  • Korte Beenhouwersstraat
  • European district in Brussels
  • Atomium
  • Museum of Ancient Art
  • The Cinquantenaire Park of Brussels

Beautiful places and sights in Brussels / Source: Ssalae, Pixabay

Visiting beautiful places in Brussels: what to see and what to do?

Brussels is ideal for a short city trip or a fun weekend away. Due to its central location in Belgium, you can get there by train in no time. From Amsterdam you can reach Brussels in a maximum of two hours by rail.

Beautiful places and sights

Brussels certainly has no shortage of beautiful places with picturesque streets and squares. There is the Sint-Katelijneplein, the Sablon and the Muntplein with the beautiful Muntschouwburg.

Museums

Brussels has a number of world-class museums. Depending on your preference, there is probably something interesting there. In the vicinity of the Kunstberg, the Museums of Ancient and Modern Art are an absolute must. The musical instrument museum is also recommended. Don’t forget the Cinquantenaire Museum and the Museum of Natural Sciences. Just outside the city center is the famous Horta Museum, located in a small house designed by architect Victor Horta.
Also nice is the Belgian Comic Strip Museum where you can learn everything about making comic strips. Because make no mistake: Belgium has always been a breeding ground for cartoonists. Just think of Tintin (Hergé), Guust Flater (André Franquin), Suske and Wiske (Willy Vandersteen), Lucky Luke (Morris), Bollie and Billie (Roba) or the Smurfs (Peyo). All Belgian cartoonists.

Churches

Anyone interested in ecclesiastical architecture should not miss the Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Koekelberg. The 90-meter-high mastodon with dome is one of the largest structures in the city. The Cathedral of Saint Michael and Saint Gudula, near the center, is also worth a look.

Shopping in Brussels

Those who like to shop should go to Nieuwstraat, Brussels’s main shopping street. Avenue Louise and the Saint-Hubert Galleries are also interesting, although the boutiques there are more exclusive and therefore more expensive.
Grote Markt with flower carpet / Source: AlexSky, Pixabay

Grand Place of Brussels

The square that no one wants to miss is the famous Grand Place of Brussels. It is part of the UNESCO world heritage. The entire square is surrounded by impressive historic buildings. Two buildings, the Town Hall and the Broodhuis, dominate the Grote Markt. In between there are numerous centuries-old guild houses with richly decorated facades. In the Broodhuis you will also find the interesting Museum of the City of Brussels, where you can see the many costumes of Manneken Pis but also centuries-old beautiful tapestries.
In the evening, the Grote Markt is attractively illuminated and becomes a fairytale backdrop for an unforgettable evening walk in the city!

Manneken Pis

This statue is the symbol of Brussels. You will find it within walking distance of the Grote Markt, on the corner of Stoofstraat and Eikstraat.
Every tourist wants a photo or selfie with the famous statue of the peeing boy. The original statue dated from 1619 and was made by Hieronymus Duquesnoy the Elder. The current version is a replica from 1817. There are many interesting legends associated with the statue, but originally it was simply a fountain in the sixteenth century to provide the neighborhood with drinking water.
People are often a bit disappointed because the statue is much smaller in real life than it appears in photos. It was also stolen a few times throughout history. Hundreds of costumes have been made for it over time. On special occasions the statue is sometimes dressed with it.

Sablon

The Sablon (‘Sablon’ in French) is one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in the city. You can stroll around among the many restaurants and shops.

Squares

The Zavelwijk actually consists mainly of two pleasant squares. The Kleine Zavel is a green, pleasant square with columns and bronze statues. The Grand Sablon is a beautiful square with historic facades and many antique shops, restaurants and cafes. You will also find many shops in the side streets and surroundings. The late Gothic, imposing Zavelkerk dominates the square.

Environment

The Zavel district is located near Poelaertplein with its impressive Palace of Justice. The monumental building was erected by architect Poelaert between 1866 and 1883. Pass by the colonnade and take a look at the beautiful central hall. But don’t forget to enjoy the beautiful view of the lower city from Poelaertplein. The popular Marolles district is also not far away. The heart of ‘the Marolles’ is the Vossenplein. A flea market takes place here every day. The Kapelle Church with its beautiful and impressive interior is located on the edge of the Marolles.

Sint-Katelijneplein

Sint-Katelijneplein (Place Sainte Catherine) is one of the nicest squares in Brussels. It is especially pleasant in the evening. People mainly come there to enjoy one of the many fish restaurants. The beautiful St. Catherine’s Church is located at the end of the square.
Originally there was no square here, but a dock of the Brussels port. When port activity decreased, it was decided in 1870 to fill in the Sint-Katelijne dock and both the square and the Sint-Katelijne Church were built on the site of the former dock.
The Saint-Hubert Galleries, one of many beautiful places in Brussels / Source: MrsBrown, Pixabay

St. Hubertus Galleries

One of the most atmospheric places in Brussels are the beautiful Saint-Hubert Galleries. The entrance to Bergstraat alone is impressive: an elegant facade with statues and pilasters. Walking through the static glass-covered galleries is a fun experience. You will find restaurants and shops, luxury boutiques and bookstores. There is also a theater.
There are three interconnected galleries in total: the King’s Gallery, the Queen’s Gallery and the Prince’s Gallery. They were built in 1846 according to a design by architect Cluysenaer and have lost none of their former charm and class.
From the Queen’s Gallery you can walk seamlessly into the Beenhouwersstraat, because the gallery crosses the picturesque narrow street.

Korte Beenhouwersstraat

The Korte Beenhouwersstraat is one of Brussels’ most beautiful and special places. Sure, it’s very touristy. But also very pleasant.

Restaurants

The narrow and picturesque street houses one restaurant next to the other. The restaurants are located on both sides of the street. Friendly waiters try to convince you to join them.

Puppet Theater

In the Korte Beenhouwersstraat you will also find the famous Theater Toone. Attending a performance is definitely recommended. The authentic puppet theater for adults has been around since 1830 and you can still attend a performance (in Brussels dialect) every evening at 8:30 PM. There is also a small museum where dolls from the past are on display.

European district in Brussels

Brussels is not only the capital of Belgium but also of Europe. That is why many important institutions such as NATO, the European Parliament and the European Commission are located in Brussels.

Architecture

Near Luxembourg Square, within walking distance of Troon (Trône) metro station, you can see the impressive glass building of the European Parliament. Feel free to take a stroll around and watch the activity. A little further away on Schumanplein is the Berlaymont building, where the European Commission has its headquarters.

Museum of Natural Sciences

The European Quarter is also home to one of the best museums in Brussels. The Museum of Natural Sciences has changing exhibitions and exhibits. You can often catch an interesting event there. Check the website for current information.
The museum is particularly interesting for its collection of 29 iguanodon skeletons. These extinct herbivores lived during the Cretaceous Period. The skeletons were discovered in 1878 in a mine in Bernissart in the Belgian province of Hainaut. They stand upright here and are about ten meters long and five meters high. You will also find a lot of fascinating information about other dinosaurs such as the Tyrannosaurus rex here. Another showpiece of the museum is the skeleton of a Neanderthal, the so-called ‘Spy man’. It was discovered near Namur in 1886. You will also find many taxidermy animals, information about minerals, shells and insects and impressive skeletons of whales and blue whales, the largest mammals of all time.
The famous Atomium of Brussels / Source: 821292, Pixabay

Atomium

The Atomium, like Manneken Pis, is one of the symbols of the city. The structure was erected for the World Exhibition in 1958. It represents an iron molecule, but enlarged billions of times, and is 102 meters high. You can reach the highest sphere with an elevator, from where you can enjoy a beautiful view of Brussels and the surrounding area.
The spheres are made of steel but covered with a layer of aluminum. Each of the nine spheres has a diameter of about eighteen meters and they are connected by tubes. Why were nine spheres chosen? Because Belgium had nine provinces at that time. This has no longer been true since 1995, because Belgium has ten provinces since the division of the province of Brabant into Flemish Brabant and Walloon Brabant.

Museum of Ancient Art

This museum is known as one of Brussels’ best museums. It has an impressive collection of paintings by the Flemish primitives and artists such as Bruegel the Elder and Rubens. World-famous, important works by these masters can be seen here, making this museum an absolute must for art lovers.
You can see important art treasures from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries here. There are paintings by Rogier van der Weyden, but also well-known works by Dirk Bouts. Here you can see ‘Mary with Child’ and ‘The Torture of Saint Sebastian’ by Hans Memling. Hieronymus Bosch and Hugo van der Goes are also present. Masterpieces by Jordaens and Van Dyck can also be admired.
If you can’t get enough of it, you can also visit the nearby Museum of Modern Art. Ask about combination tickets for access to both museums at a competitive rate.
The Cinquantenaire Park / Source: Waldomiguez, Pixabay

The Cinquantenaire Park of Brussels

The Cinquantenaire Park is located a bit outside the city center but is worth a trip. It was constructed in 1880 to mark the fiftieth anniversary of Belgium.

Cinquantenaire Museum

The Cinquantenaire Museum in particular is famous for its fine collection of objects and art from antiquity and non-European civilizations. You will see interesting remains of Roman, Greek and Etruscan culture. In the section about Egypt you will see a fragment of a very old Book of the Dead and a beautiful bas relief of Queen Teje, the wife of Amenhotep III.

Royal Museum of the Army and Military History

This museum is also located in the Cinquantenaire Park. It tells Belgian military history from 1789 to the present. A nice visit for those interested in the subject. You will see numerous weapons, uniforms and decorations. Also fascinating is the section with armor and weaponry from the Middle Ages.

Autoworld

Autoworld is an impressive museum in the Cinquantenaire Park with a stunning collection of old, rare cars. Some date from the early twentieth century. For example, you will see an old Ford and Cadillac from the 1920s. For car enthusiasts, a visit to Autoworld is an unforgettable experience!

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