Brussels is the capital city of Belgium and also the European Union. Things to do in Brussels include;
- Old Town Brussels, Grand Place and Town Hall
- Manneken Pis
- Atomium and Mini Europe
- St Michael and St Gudula Cathedral
- Royal Palace
- Arc De Triomphe and Cinquantenaire Park
- Parlamentarium and EU Buildings
- Heysel Stadium
Hotels in Brussels are quite reasonably priced for this part of the world, for this reason, you can probably find a great hotel deal in central Brussels.
Old Town Brussels, Grand Place and Town Hall
In old town Brussels you’ll be overwhelmed by the amount of incredible architecture. As it’s the capital city of Belgium, there’s the highest number of typical Belgian buildings. The central square of Brussels is known as Grand Place, additionally, it’s a UNESCO site. The most famous building of Grand Place is the Town Hall. As a matter of fact, I would call this the iconic building of Brussels.
If you visit Grand Place at sunrise it’s likely you’ll have it to yourself. As a result, photographers can take some wonderful Grand Place shots.
Around the Grand Place and central Brussels you’ll pass many kiosks selling Belgian waffles. In fact, you’ll find Belgian waffle kiosks all over the country! What is your favorite Belgian waffle topping? Whichever topping you prefer, I’m sure they’ll have it here. In addition, there’ll be many toppings you didn’t even know existed!
A top spot to photograph close to the Grand Place is the Manneken Pis statue. It’s a bronze statue of a small boy peeing. This statue is often dressed up and it’s even been dressed up as Dracula. If you’re lucky it will be dressed up when you visit and you can take a unique Manneken Pis photo. Additionally, there’s another statue in Brussels inspired by this one, Het Zinneke, which is in fact a dog urinating.
Did you know this statue is a copy? The original 400 year old statue is located in the Museum of the City of Brussels in Grand Place.
Atomium and Mini Europe
The Atomium is probably the most popular destination in Brussels as well as 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.
St Michael and St Gudula Cathedral
Brussels is home to a huge Gothic church. For such an impressive building, the St Michael and St Gudula Cathedral is quite a peaceful location. I highly recommend you add this church to your Brussels itinerary. Finally, make sure you explore the majestic interior.
National Basilica of the Sacred Heart
The National Basilica of the Sacred Heart is a must see in Belgian. If not for the fact it is one of the largest churches in the world, for the fact it’s also visually stunning. This church can get very busy but if you visit at sunrise you should have the surroundings to yourself. For those who like to pose for elaborate Instagram photos, you should consider this a top Instagram spot in Brussels.
Arc de Triomphe and Cinquantenaire Park
Belgium has its own Arc de Triomphe also known as Arc du Cinquantenaire. In fact, this triumphal arch 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. Lastly, the arch was completed in 1905.
The Royal Palace is a must visit in Brussels as it’s the home of the King and Queen of Belgium. In fact, a few months each year it’s possible to visit the palace, the rest of the year however, you must view it from the adjacent street. A visit here is the equivalent of visiting the famous London landmark, Buckingham Palace. Opposite the Palace is the Brussels Park which is surrounded by beautiful Belgian architecture including the Center of Fine Arts and Chamber of Representatives.
Parlamentarium and EU Buildings
Belgium is the de facto capital of the European Union. For this reason, there are several European parliament buildings. One such building is the Parlamentarium which is the visitor center for the European Parliament. If you are interested in politics then you must take a tour of the building. It’s the largest parliamentary visitor center in Europe and on a tour you’ll visit the famous Hemicycle which you’ve probably seen on CNN or BBC. Check the schedule before arriving to check opening times (entrance is free). In addition, there are many other significant European parliament buildings around this area of Brussels. Finally, security is tight these days so you may see military as well as tanks in this part of Brussels.
Heysel Football Stadium
The Heysel football stadium is where Liverpool infamously played Juventus in 1985 European Cup Final. 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. Heysel stadium is adjacent to the Atomium. I’m lucky enough to have taken both a Juventus stadium tour as well as an Anfield stadium tour.
How to get from Brussels to Ghent
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 and enjoy the journey!