Brussels is the capital of a small country and nevertheless this city has a lot to offer. It’s built on a hill and therefore you should bring comfortable shoes for your DIY free walking tour. Read on to find out about the things to see in Brussels.
Things to see in Brussels city center
Let’s start in the big square with the impressive ancient houses. Sourrounding it are many cute souvenir and chocolate shops (read my post about the best hot chocolate in Brussels).
Highlights of Brussels
Near the square you will also find Manneken Pis (google maps). On the way there, there is the famous mural of the comic figure Tintin. Unfortunately, Manneken Pis wasn’t dressed on the day we were there but 200m up the road there is a shop with all his uniforms and a huge mural of “Manneken Peace”. Did you know that there also is a female version called Janneken Pis? They are about 5 min apart from each other (google maps).
Cathedrals and churches
Similar to Rome, Brussels reminded me of a huge outdoor museum. There are so many beautiful cathedrals and churches and it’s worth it to check them out from the inside. The nicest one was The Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula. Now you are at the top of the hill and can walk downward.
Rene Magritte Museum
Half way down the hill you can visit the BOZAR museum or the museum of the surrealist painter Rene Magritte. His paintings are fun and he is famous for “This is not a pipe” since it’s only an image of a pipe. The entrance fee to tge exhibition is €8 and the museum shop has some cool items as well. From the museum you also have a great view over Brussels.
The court and the waffel with the best view
A little to the left of the museum if you are facing downtown you approach the impressive court building. Next to it is a terasse from which you probably have the best view over Brussels. There also was a truck selling waffels. It smelled delicious and I couldn’t resist. However, that was a hard Belgium waffel. The soft and bigger Brussel waffels that you find in the tourist area look better.
Brussel’s 5th Avenue and something to do with kids
All the expensive brands like Gucci and Prada are situated along Blv de Waterloo. If you are in Brussels for several days you might enjoy some window shopping (or actual shopping?) Along this road there also is an awesome playground for kids.
Castel and beer
The last prominent building on your DIY free walking tour is a building looking like a castle. It seems a bit out of place between all the normal houses and maybe that’s what makes it so special. Around the castle there are quite a few pubs and you can’t spend a day in Belgium without trying one or two beers. That country probably has about 1000 hand crafted beers and so it would take a while to try them all. I can recommend La Chauffe but all the beers I had were good.
Sights on the outskirts of Brussels
One of the main things to see in Brussels is of course the famous Atomium. It’s visible and shining from far away and if you are lucky you can even see it out of the plane. You can easily get there from the city center by metro. Just take line 6 and get off at Heysel metro station. From there it’s about a 5 minute walk.
From the airport it’s also possible to get to the Atomium but the ride with the bus takes one hour and you still have to walk about 1 km from the bus stop. If you have wifi (which there is at the airport) just check google maps and then public transportation to check the current connections. To find the Atomium one you are there you could use the free offline map maps.me.
Prices are as following:
- Senior citizens [>65]: €13
- Adults [18-65]: €15
- Teens [>115cm-17]: €8
- Kids [≤115cm] : €0
- Students [with student ID]: €8
- Persons with disability: €8
- Person with reduced mobility: €0
However, you don’t necessarily need to go inside. The Atomium looks great from the outside and there are some nice parks and other interesting sights in that area. For example Mini Europe.
How to get to and from Brussels airport
Getting to Brussels city center from the airport is easy. You can either take the airport link train that will get you to Brussels Central Station and some other important train stops in 30 minutes for 10 to 12 Euros. Or you take a bus, which is slower but therefore only costs 3 Euros. Best check google maps if it’s convenient to get to where you want to go by bus.
Check out some other cities in Belgium. Ghent for example.