Brussels is the capital city of Belgium which is located in the EU and Schengen community. Brussels offers the following points of interest for tourists and photographers;
- Downtown Brussels, the Grand Place and Brussels Town Hall
- Manneken Pis
- Atomium and Mini Europe
- St Michael and St Gudula Cathedral
- Royal Palace
- Parc du Cinquantenaire
- Parliamentarium and EU Buildings
- Law Courts of Brussels
- Kings House
- Museum of Cacao and Chocolate and various other museums
Hotels in Brussels are quite reasonably priced for this part of the world, you can probably find a great hotel deal in downtown Brussels.
Around downtown Brussels you’ll find incredible architecture to photograph, you must visit the Grand Place where you’ll find Brussels Town Hall. A top spot to photograph close to the Grand Place is the Manneken Pis which is a bronze statue of a small boy peeing.
Around Grand Place you’ll find shops selling Belgian waffles and chips (french fries). I’m not always a fan of trying the local food but a Belgian waffle covered in nutella or sugar cannot be turned down. Being from England where we have fish and chips, I preferred the British chips, after saying that, the Belgian chips were still a must.
A short walk from the center of Brussels, on the way to the Royal Palace, you’ll find the St Michael and St Gudula Cathedral (above).
The Royal Palace is a must visit in Brussels, it’s the home of the King and Queen of Belgium. A few months of the year it’s possible to visit the palace, the rest of the year you’ll be able to view from the street. A visit here is the equivalent of visiting Buckingham Palace in London. Opposite the Palace is the Brussels Park which is surrounded by beautiful Belgian architecture including the Center of Fine Arts and Chamber of Representatives.
A short walk from the Royal Palace is the Parlamentarium which is the visitor center for the European Parliament. If you are interested in politics, this is the largest parliamentary visitor center in Europe and you won’t be disappointed as you get to visit the Hemicycle you’ve probably seen on CNN or BBC. Make sure you check the schedule before arriving to see if it’s open (entrance is free). You’ll also find many other significant European parliament buildings around this area of Brussels.
Belgium has it’s own Arc de Triomphe also know as Arc du Cinquantenaire which is the centerpiece of Cinquantenaire park. Translated into English. Cinquantenaire park means park of the 50th anniversary. The park was created in 1880 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Belgian independence, the arc was completed in 1905.
The Atomium is probably the most popular destination in Brussels and one of the cities most important landmarks. It’s possible to go inside each of the atoms and once you’re in the atom at the top you can take a great panoramic shot of the surrounding area. Right next to the Atomium is the Mini-Europe theme park where you’ll find a miniature version of Europe. Here you’ll find small scale and very detailed landmarks from European cities such as Big Ben, Eiffel Tower and the leaning tower of Pisa.
The Heysel football stadium is where Liverpool infamously played Juventus in 1985 European Cup Final and is located close to the Atomium. An hour before kick off the Liverpool fans charged at the Juventus fans which led to a wall collapsing and lots of Juventus fans being killed. Subsequently English teams were banned from all European competition for several years. There’s now a plaque at the stadium in memory of those who died on this day.
Trains leave Brussels for Ghent very regularly and take less than 40 minutes for around €7. You can take the train from any of the major Brussels train stations as they pass through all of them. Make sure you buy your ticket from a machine before boarding the train.
Ghent to Bruges