10 Fun Things to Do in Brussels Belgium

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Brussels, Belgium, is one of those cities that stays with you long after you’ve left. The beautiful architecture, the stunning Grand Place, the shopping, the eating… I could go on and on, really. If you like chocolate, beer, fries, and/or architecture, you will be in heaven in Brussels.

Even if you only have 24 hours in Brussels – and we really hope you have more than that – you can easily check off these 10 fun things to do in Brussels and feel like you’ve gotten a good feel for what this city is all about.

Grand Palace in Brussels - fun things to do in Brussels
Grand Palace in Brussels

There are so many wonderful things to do in Brussels – many of them are even free, which is a great benefit in a city that isn’t necessarily budget friendly. You can find plenty of things to do to fill a weekend in Brussels, even if it just involves eating and drinking.

The city center is a conglomeration of tempting things – unique beers to try over there, hordes of chocolate-covered waffles on every corner, cones of twice-fried frites with dozens of dipping sauces, tons of pubs and breweries to stop at for a rich Belgium beer.

Fun Things to Do in Brussels

#1 Free City Tours

Brussels City Tour
Brussels, Belgium has a lot of incredible landscapes to enjoy. A free city tour is a great way to experience Brussels on a budget.

If you want to see the most famous and beautiful places around town, but don’t want to wander around unsure of what you’re looking at, then a free city tour is just what you need. Remember that there are always quite a few tourists in Brussels and you can easily get swept up in the crowd and not learn a thing about the city (except how busy it is).

Sandemans offer free city walking tours that are easy to join. We’ve been on a few of them and have always enjoyed them. In Brussels, their 2.5-hour original Free Tour of Brussels covers many of Brussels top attractions, including the Manneken Pis, Grand Place and Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert.

All you have to do is sign up online so they know you’re coming. They have tours at 11am, 1:30pm and 4pm. The tour is free, but remember that the guides are working for tips and it’s pretty rude not to play along. After you’re done with the classic tour, you might find that you want to go on more tours.

Sandemans offers beer and chocolate tours, plus a pub crawl. Though, these ones aren’t free and you need a ticket in advance, but they aren’t expensive.

#2 Indulge Your Inner Foodie – Waffles, and Frites, and Mussels

Belgium Waffles

Waffles

One of the most famous types of street food in the world has to be the Belgian waffle. You can find them all over Brussels, at streets stands and kiosks in places that tourist frequent, like the train station and Grand Place.

In fact, there is an awesome waffle shop with a street window just around the corner from the Manneken Pis, where you can pick up one of these beauties for around €2-5. The line can get really long! There are more flavor combinations than you could ever dream of.

Belgium Frites

Frites

Another type of street food you have to try in Brussels is the Belgian frites (Psst, we don’t call them French Fries here!) These aren’t your typical fries, either. They can be found at friteries that are almost as ubiquitous as the waffle stands – all around the city.

What you’ll get is a paper cone or tray filled with pipping hot frites and a cup with your choice of dipping sauce. Remember all those flavor combinations? Well, there are an equal number of sauce choices.

Some of the best frites in the city center are at Fritland (Rue Henri Maus 49), Friterie Tabora (Rue de Tabora 2), and Cafe Georgette (Rue de la Fourche 37).

Mussels in Brussels

Mussels

I don’t know how Mussels became synonymous with Brussels, except that it’s super fun to say Mussels in Brussels. You should definitely have some. They usually come in a few different versions you can choose from.

I prefer the Moules marinière, which is the most popular, with a white wine base, shallots and parsley. There’s another version or two, but why not just stick with the tried and true? There are dozens of restaurant serving Mussels, but obviously some do it better than others.

Try Le Zinneke (Place de la Patrie 26) or the outdoor Noordzee – Mer du Nord seafood stand. Mussels always come with frites (which are always served with mayo). Go with the flow. It’s delicious.

⇒ A fun way to tackle this food challenge is by taking this Brussels Chocolate Beer Waffle & Belgian Whiskey (ALL-IN-ONE) tour. Get it done!

#3 Visit the Grand Place

Grand Palace in Brussels
Grand Place in Brussels

One of my favorite parts of Brussels — and soon to be yours too, I’m sure — is the Grand Place. Not only is it a massive and incredibly impressive square to look at, it’s also a really fun place to hang out. There are bars and restaurants lining the interior where you can sit with a yard of beer.

There are chocolate shops that will make your eyes bulge with delight. There are souvenir shops with just about every imaginable trinket. There are museums to explore.

I would recommend doing a little bit of research (at least looking at Trip Advisor first) to make sure the restaurant you choose is a good one. It is a big tourist area, so the food can sometimes not be great.

#4 Manneken Pis

Manneken Pis

Only a short walk away from the Grand Place is the famous Manneken Pis – the statue of a naked little boy peeing into a fountain. I can’t imagine walking around Brussels without seeing this little guy. He has over 900 outfits that have been sent to him by admirers around the world.

When I was there last, he was wearing a police uniform. One note about visiting him – he’s located down a small side street and it can get crowded during peak days and hours, so go see him early or late in the day to avoid crowds.

There’s also a museum located just up the street that houses many of his outfits on little mannekens. It only costs a couple euros and all those little outfits are really impressive to see.

#5 Go on a Beer Tour

Brussels Beer

Would you believe that there are more than 150 breweries in Belgium? Do a Google search right now and you’ll find a dozen or more guided beer and brewery walking tours for as little as $20.

A tour is a great way to try a bunch of different beers and learn some history at the same time. Tours are also fun because you get to meet some people. But if you’re on a budget, you can taste beer relatively cheaply by sitting down at any of the bars or restaurants in the Grand Place.

Look for one that has a sampler tray and you’ll end up with a great variety. You could do that every day of your trip and end up trying a dozen or more beers for a pretty low price.

» We recommend this Belgium beer tour that includes 8 beer samples and a visit to the oldest tavern in Brussels. 

#6 Sample All the Chocolate

Brussels Chocolate shop

Chocolate is another big draw for visitors to Belgium. There are dozens of chocolate brands in Belgium and each of them seem to have their own shop.

If you just want to try a few brands in Brussels and do some sampling, head to Chocopolis underneath the Best Western Hotel in the Grand Place. They carry several brands and allow you to sample the chocolate. They also offer a discount the more boxes you buy.

If you want to try a few more of the brands, chocolate tours usually drop in to up to 6 different vendors, trying up to 12 different chocolates. They can be pricey, so shop around!

» Here’s a chocolate tour we recommend. Not only will you eat all the chocolate, you’ll also learn how to make it!

#7 Go on a Self-Guided City Photo Tour

Brussels is a very photogenic city!
Brussels is a very photogenic city!

Everyone wants to return home with fabulous pictures of their vacation to show their friends, and with the rise of Instagram these days, you want to be able to impress with your photography. The best way to do that is to go on a photo tour that will take you to the most photogenic and picturesque places in a city.

If you do a little research online before going, you can put together your own list of top spots and embark on a self-guided photo tour. Brussels is one of the most photogenic cities in the world.

Within a small distance there are statues, world-class architecture, cathedrals, panoramas and street art. Instead of buying cheap souvenirs, take photographs of the city back home with you.

Some of the top spots to photograph include the Grand Place and its side streets, Brussels Cathedral, The Atomium in Heysel Park, and the train station (where you’ll find some interesting street art and graffiti).

#7 Atomium

Atomium, Brussels

The Atomium is a landmark in Brussels, originally constructed for the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair. It’s symbol of the progress made in the 20th century, in which the atom was fully mastered and became widely used by our society and affecting the development of our standard of living.

The main attraction inside the Atomium that you can visit is the observation deck on the top level that offers panoramic views of the city, a restaurant, and the interesting walk through the tubes that connect the pieces of the atom. The museum is also interesting, especially if you like architecture and design.

#8 Fashion & Lace Museum

Museum of Fashion & Lace
Museum of Fashion & Lace (photo by Charlotte Powell via Flickr)

The famous Fashion & Lace Museum was created in 1978 And is located in the neighbourhood of the central Grand Place, not far away from the Hotel Amigo Brussels. It occupies a bourgeois house built in the 18th century. It contains rich and interesting textile and fabric collections.

Most of the precious lace are hand-made with bobbins or needles in Belgium, France and Italy. As far back as the 17th century these masterpieces are exhibited next to civilian costume mainly women’s clothes or fashion accessories.

The museum displays the essential complements to elegance, such as umbrellas, pieces of lingerie, leather purses, all kinds of hats, men and women shoes, and fans.

#9 Royal Museums of Fine Arts (Musée des Beaux Arts)

Founded in 1801 by Napoleon Bonaparte and opened in 1803 as the Museum of Fine Arts in Brussels, this is one of the museums you’ll want to spend some time in while visiting Brussels. There are six museums connected with the Royal Museums; two of them are located in the main building and the others are adjacent or a few kilometers away.

There are some really impressive collections of work at the museums. Whether you have time for all of the museum or just to wander through one, you’ll find some great things. Be aware that tickets must be purchased separately for each museum. You can buy them here.

#10 St Nicholas Church

St Nicholas Church Brussels

Constructed in the 11th century, this fine example of medieval architecture is the oldest church in Brussels. It’s located behind the Bourse (market) in Brussels. It’s named after Saint Nicolas, the patron saint of traders, because of its proximity to the market.

If you are lucky, you may even catch one of the occasional services given in English. Given it’s long history of issues – having been plundered in the 16th century and completely burned in 1695, then fully restored in 1954, it’s an iconic building in Brussels.

Where to Stay in Brussels

The city is really easy to walk, but you’ll want to be staying somewhere central to make it easier on yourself. We highly recommend the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel. It’s just one block from the train station and two blocks to the center of the action.

If you want to stay super close to the Grand Place the Rocco Forte Hotel Amigo is a beautiful hotel with many different styles of rooms and it’s just a 1 minute walk away.

Conclusion

How much do you want to pack your bags, get on a plane and head to Brussels right now? I love spending a weekend in that city and doing all of these fun things to do in Brussels. The thought of it brings up instant memories of frites and Belgium beer! Have you been to Brussels before? What were you favorite things you did there?

Be Prepared For Travel

Planning and preparing to go travelling is the boring part, but it has to be done and can have a huge impact on the success of your travels. Do it the easy way with our guides:

🧳 Travel Packing List | ✔️ Why You Need Travel Insurance | ✈️ What to Do Before You Leave Home

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10 Fun Things to Do in Brussels Belgium

15 thoughts on “10 Fun Things to Do in Brussels Belgium

  1. Meg Jerrard says:

    Ooooh I love Brussels! And I agree that it’s one of the best places to embrace your inner foodie … all those pastries would make my mouth water just walking the streets. The smells were delicious!!

    Totally agree the free walking tours are a great way to see a city. Good point to mention that the guides expect tips – I usually try to keep a few dollars handy as a thankyou for their work leading us around 🙂

  2. Jenna says:

    Great suggestions!! We didn’t completely connect with Brussels on our first visit, but I’d love to give it another shot sometime! The waffles were definitely delicious and I love the architecture! I would love to take a chocolate tour on our next visit!!

    • Laura Lynch says:

      That happens sometimes. I’ve felt that way about a few places, but usually it’s just because the itinerary didn’t click or something.

  3. Lotte says:

    It’s actually a little embarrassing I have never visited Bruxelles despite the fact that it’s really close to the Netherlands… Your photos are absolutely gorgeous, a very photogenic city indeed! The number of chocolate shops alone has convinced me to plan a visit to Bruxelles in the near future. After all, it’s only a 2,5hour drive from Utrecht, my home town.

    • Laura Lynch says:

      Oh, it’s so close, Lotte! You have to go! I actually think that Brussels feels quite a bit like Amsterdam.

  4. Christopher says:

    Love this city. Too much of my Favorite things on one place. Chocolate, beer, waffles and fries. It’s a great city.

  5. Jackie says:

    Brussels looks so nice! It’s one of the places I always seem to skip over but your photos and ideas really show why I should plan to visit. I’d love the chocolate tour and to see the architecture of the grand palace. I always like to leave time for a photo tour of a city. Even though it can be hard to get up, wake up at dawn and get the city to yourself with the perfect light. You’ll be so happy with your photos!

  6. Mar Pages says:

    I would probably do everything on this list, as soon as possible! Starting every morning on a walking tour with a waffle in my hand, before moving on to a chocolate tour. Thanks for the delicious suggestions! The photo tour will definitely help in walking off my extra desserts.

  7. Hung Thai says:

    Great tips and great pictures. If I were on a budget, I would probably skip most of these things and just do what the locals do: drink coffee, talk with my travel companions and people watch. I love doing this in Europe. It’s just so… relaxing and costs basically nothing.

  8. Trisha Velarmino - P.S. I'm On My Way says:

    Thank you for the tip about the free city tour! I really love walking around and I wouldn’t mind learning a thing or two about the history of the city and the country! Can’t wait to EAT and devour some beer as soon as I end up there! Hopefully I could spend more time in Brussels this time around!

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