things to do in Brussels

Belgium’s capital is a buzzing hive of historical sights, swanky restaurants and world-class museums. If you like medieval architecture and craft beer, then you’ll love Brussels.

The city has many layers and peeling them back is all part of the adventure. It’s a place where politics and culture merge, to make you feel like you’re exploring the beating heart of Europe.

Looking for more obscure things to do in Brussels? Then scroll down to find out where you can climb inside a giant atom, go urban diving and discover statues that pee!

1 – Begin your adventure at Grand Place

Grand Place in Brussels
Flower Carpet festival

This UNESCO World Heritage Site in the center of Brussels is where you should start your explorations. Dating to the 15th century and lined with striking guild houses, Grand Place boasts the best architecture in town.

The Town Hall is the focal point, with its ornate tower providing a handy landmark if you get lost. Meanwhile, behind the doors of the magnificent Brussels City Museum, you’ll discover masterpieces and artifacts showcasing local history.

Don’t miss the Flower Carpet festival – a must-see for flowers lovers.

2 – Soak up the views from the Atomium

Atomium tours in Brussels

Climbing inside a giant atom isn’t an everyday sort of experience, but it’ll be one of your most memorable Brussels moments. Constructed in 1958 for the World’s Fair, the Atomium represents an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times. It quickly became a city icon.

You can explore the spheres, which hold exhibitions and even a restaurant right at the top. The science is fascinating, but the 360-degree panoramas are even more mind-blowing.

3 – Listen to exhibits at the Musical Instruments Museum

Musical Instruments Museum, Brussels

Architecture aficionados love visiting the Old England Building with its unusual Art Nouveau façade. Inside you’ll discover the Musical Instruments Museum, where 2000 exhibits vie for your attention.

It’s about listening as well as looking, with audio experiences transporting you to other places and times. Don’t miss the shepherds’ bagpipes, the African drums, or the quirky theremin. There might be a concert on during your visit so do check the schedule.

4 – Make a pilgrimage to the Church of Our Lady of Victories

Church of Our Lady of Victories, Brussels

Dominating the historic center of Brussels, the Church of Our Lady of Victories in the Sablon district makes a worthy photo stop. Marvel at the flamboyant 15th-century Gothic carvings, then pop inside to appreciate the huge scale of the building. Prepare to be wowed!

See how the light brings the stained-glass windows to life, and feel at peace as you wander through the spiritual Baroque chapels.

5 – Take a hop-on hop-off bus tour

bus tours in Brussels

See the city sights in style as you cruise the historic streets on a hop-on hop-off bus tour. You’ll be stopping at all the major landmarks, so you can pick and choose which to visit.

This is a great option for travelers who like their independence as well as hassle-free sightseeing. Will you be checking out the Grand Place or the Atomium, or is the Royal Palace more your cup of tea?

6 – Explore the Palais Royal

Palais Royal, Brussels

Of all the things to do in Brussels, visiting the Royal Palace is one of the most memorable. Standing imperiously at the end of a landscaped park, the King’s residence is the heart of royal life in Belgium.

You can take a guided tour during summer and imagine for a few moments what it would be like living here. Have your fill of marble staircases, gilded mirrors and glittering staterooms as you explore.

7 – Cycle through the Parc du Cinquantenaire

Parc du Cinquantenaire in Brussels

Discover iconic landmarks and hidden gems as you pedal through historic neighborhoods on a small-group bike tour. Swing by the Grand Place and European Parliament before stopping for fries to keep your energy levels topped up.

The star of the show is the stately Cinquantenaire Park. Built in 1880 to celebrate 50 years of Belgian independence, these manicured gardens are dominated by the Triumphal Arch. Climb to the top and enjoy the view.

8 – Browse the Musee Royaux Des Beaux Arts

Musee Royaux Des Beaux Arts, Brussels

Put yourself in the shoes of famous painters as you consider some of the most prestigious artworks in Europe. The Royal Museums of Fine Art are home to over 20,000 exhibits, each telling their own unique story.

Stop by the Magritte Museum to admire over 230 works by Belgian surrealist Rene Magritte. Then head to the Fin-de-Siècle Museum for a dose of 20th-century Brussels, when Art Nouveau and impressionism ruled the roost.

9 – Scout out unusual sculptures

Het Zinneke sculpture, Brussels

Keep an eye out for some of the city’s most quirky sculptures as you explore the historic center. First up is the Manneken Pis, a bronze statuette known as “Little Julian” who tinkles into a fountain.

Next is the Jeanneke Pis, which features a young girl squatting and peeing over a limestone rock. You can see there’s a bit of a theme here! A urinating bronze dog called Het Zinneke is the grand finale.

10 – Taste the best chocolate in town

chocolate tastings in Brussels

Delve into the scrumptious world of Belgian chocolate on a fun-packed tour at Choco-Story Brussels. You’ll learn how the humble cocoa bean was transformed into chocolatey goodness by the Aztecs and the Mayans. It’s their legacy that allows us to indulge in this sweet treat today.

Take a tour around the museum and then get hands-on in the chocolate workshop. Making pralines and lollipops is your first step to becoming a master chocolatier.

11 – Relax at Brussels Park

Brussels Park, Brussels

Looking for a green space in the city center for a stroll or a picnic? Sprawling across 32 acres, the former royal hunting grounds at Brussels Park ticks all those boxes.

To enter, just find the Belgian House of Parliament and follow the wide avenue down to the large pond. You’ll enjoy views of three of the major landmarks in Brussels: the Royal Palace, the Palace of Justice, and the Place du Trône.

12 – Feel like a giant at Mini-Europe Park

Mini-Europe Park, Brussels

One of the unmissable things to do in Brussels for families is to visit Mini-Europe Park. Travel the world as you explore the tiny kingdoms with their scale models.

See the miniatures of Big Ben in London, the Acropolis in Athens, and the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Visual and sound effects bring it all to life – don’t miss the eruption of Mount Vesuvius or the fall of the Berlin Wall!

13 – Embrace politics at the Parlamentarium

Parlamentarium, Brussels

Delve deep into the secretive world of politics at the world’s largest parliamentary visitor’s center in Brussels. You’ll learn all about the workings of the European Parliament as you take a self-guided tour.

The Parlamentarium is free to enter and takes you on an eye-opening journey through centuries of European history. There’s a cinema showing 360-degree views of the continent and an interactive floor map offering a virtual tour of the member countries.

14 – Go super-sleuthing in an escape room

escape rooms in Brussels

You’ll need to muster all your detective powers to emerge triumphant from the escape rooms in Brussels. There are several themed scenarios to choose from, some indoors and others out in the city.

You might be robbing banks and escaping with swag bags, or prowling around bars in the search for redemption. Find clues and solve puzzles as you battle against the clock on your mysterious mission. Do you have what it takes?

15 – Let off steam at Train World

Train World, Brussels

Surround yourself with vintage railway locomotives as you explore the city’s famous Train World at the old Schaarbeek station. A highlight is the 19th-century “Pays de Waes” – Europe’s oldest preserved steam train.

Glimpse into the past as you wander through the post carriage and visit the authentic railway cottage by the side of the tracks. You’ll discover the stories of those who worked on the trains and the passengers who used them.

16 – Walk around Mont des Arts

Mont des Arts, Brussels

Connecting upper and lower Brussels, Mont des Arts has one of the best panoramas in town. Just head up the steps towards the fountain and get your camera ready! Come at sunset for a splash of romance.

Art lovers will enjoy strolling around this elegant city garden, stopping at monuments, and enjoying a bit of fresh air. Stunning architecture surrounds the park, with the bell tower of the local Neoclassical church dominating the skyline.

Directions in Google Maps

17 – Get into the groove at the Hard Rock Cafe

Hard Rock Cafe, Brussels
Various guitars hanging on the wall in Hard Rock Cafe

Soak up the American vibe at this bustling restaurant that overlooks the Grand Place. You’ll be whisked away to an era of rock and roll, as you admire the memorabilia from Madonna and Elvis that adorns the Hard Rock Cafe interior.

Feast on burgers or mac and cheese before checking out the interactive wall for a global music tour. Leave room for the scrumptious chocolate brownies!

18 – Enjoy live music at Le Botanique

Le Botanique, Brussels

What do you do with a former orangery belonging to the National Botanic Garden? Why, turn it into a music venue of course!

Visiting Le Botanique is one of the top things to do in Brussels for those who enjoy live shows and art exhibitions.

It’s a great place to discover emerging artists, and in May there’s a music festival featuring international and local musicians. Book tickets in advance as it’s very popular.

19 – Take a day tour to Bruges and Ghent

Bruges day trips from Brussels

Escape the Brussels bustle with a day trip to the enchanting cities of Bruges and Ghent. Chocolate and lace are some of Bruges’ most famous exports but strolling the cobbled streets and cruising down the canals will reveal a different side to the city. Have a breather at the Lake of Love.

Over in Ghent, there’s enough medieval architecture to make your heart flutter, with cathedrals and castles stealing the show.

20 – Visit Antwerp on a day trip

Antwerp day trips from Brussels

Another worthy day tour from Brussels takes you to Antwerp, the diamond and fashion capital of Belgium.

You’ll explore the diamond district and learn how to cut these sparkly jewels in the workshop. Then there’s time for some retail therapy on “The Meir” before sipping artisan coffee in quaint cafes.

Don’t miss Napoleon’s palace or the towering Gothic cathedral. Watching the sunset over the ancient port is the icing on the cake.

21 – Explore historic Amsterdam

Amsterdam day trips from Brussels

Bag two countries in one day as you take a trip to The Netherlands for a jaunt around its vibrant capital city. Experience Amsterdam like a local by cycling through the quaint streets or hop on a boat for an iconic canal cruise.

Pause on a bridge for that all-important Instagram photo and admire the 17th-century gabled houses that line the waterways. Then chill out with stroopwaffels and coffee in a trendy café.

22 – Discover Luxembourg and Dinant

Luxembourg day trips from Brussels

Another worthy day trip from Brussels takes you over the border into Luxembourg for a whirlwind tour of the top city sights.

Feel like you’re stepping back in time as you explore the Old Town. The Royal Palace, the European Court of Justice, and Notre-Dame Cathedral are all must-sees.

You’ll stop in the pretty Belgian town of Dinant on your way back with free time to check out the ancient citadel. Don’t forget your camera!

23 – Check out Keukenhof and Delft

Keukenhof day trips from Brussels

There’s nothing that says The Netherland more than tulips and pottery, and you can enjoy both on a day trip from Brussels.

Walk through tulip fields on the Keukenhof Estate, where reds, pinks, and yellows stretch for miles. You’ll learn about how these 7 million flowers are grown as you tour the gardens.

Over in Delft, it’s time for pretty canals, charming streets, and shopping for the exquisite local pottery in craft boutiques.

24 – Seek out nature at Meise Botanic Garden

Meise Botanic Garden, Brussels

Hidden away in the grounds of Bouchout Castle, you’ll find the pretty Meise Botanic Garden. Allow plenty of time for your visit as it’s one of the biggest gardens in the world with over 18,000 plant species.

Head to the glasshouses for a dose of the tropics where orchids and exotic flowers will capture your imagination. Kids love the Evolution House which recreates the land of the dinosaurs, complete with bubbling mud.

25 – Browse the Comics Art Museum

Comics Art Museum, Brussels

Immerse yourself in a world of make-believe at the Comics Art Museum, which honors Belgian and internationally renowned creators. If you’re looking for quirky things to do in Brussels, this is it!

Travel through the mysterious realm of Midam, go adventuring with the Smurfs, and say hi to Tintin. The Art Nouveau building is spectacular too so remember to look up. Want some souvenirs? Then pop into the shop for comic books and figurines.

26 – Find peace at Brussels Cathedral

St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral, Brussels

Tick off the most important monument in Brussels, as you wander around the St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral. Like many of its European counterparts, Brussels Cathedral is Gothic in style, with all the stained-glass windows you could wish for.

This grandiose masterpiece survived a sacking by French Revolutionaries and today is the main Catholic church in the country. Highlights include a stunning Baroque pulpit and a collection of ancient chalices and crosses.

27 – Feel the thrills at Bobbejaanland

Bobbejaanland, Brussels

For a fun-filled family day out, head to Bobbejaanland which is just 90 minutes from Brussels. Founded by a popular Flemish musician, this quirky theme park has over 40 attractions to enjoy.

Practice your swagger in the cowboy town and brave a virtual reality journey deep inside a fiery volcano if you dare. Then hit the roller coasters in the Land of Legends or take on the Big Bang flume in your rubber ring.

28 – Breathe in the fresh air of the Sonian Forest

Sonian Forest, Brussels

If trees could talk, the Sonian Forest is where you’ll find them! This ancient woodland sprawls across 5000 acres, with 40% of it lying in the Brussels area. There are several nature reserves to discover making it a peaceful escape from the city bustle.

Hike the forest trails and see what wildlife you can spot, or head to the fishing lakes and see if you can land a carp.

29 – Admire classic cars at Autoworld

Autoworld, Brussels

Autoworld is your chance to get up close and personal with cars that were once used by Belgian royalty. See your reflection in the shiny finish of limousines and Bentleys, and imagine what it would be like to take the wheel of a 1930s Bugatti.

There are 250 vehicles to check out, giving you a peek into the transformational story of the motor car. Don’t miss the authentic workshop and the sports car paddocks.

30 – Meet dinosaurs at the Museum of Natural Sciences

Museum of Natural Sciences, Brussels

What do you call a tribe of Iguanodons? We’re not sure either, but it’s fun guessing as you explore the Museum of Natural Sciences. As well as gawping at the impressive collection of dinosaur skeletons, you’ll learn about the evolution of humankind too.

The giant crystals in the Mineral Hall will surely grab your attention, while over in the Living Planet exhibition you’ll come closer to discovering the meaning of life.

31 – Have the ride of your life at Walibi Belgium

Walibi Belgium, Brussels

Scream in delight as you zoom along on some of the country’s most fearsome roller coasters. Walibi Belgium is one of the top amusement parks in the region, with something for both families and thrill-seekers.

Test your nerves on the mighty Buzzsaw and hang on tight as you plunge down the precipitous Werewolf. Meanwhile, kids can meet the kangaroo mascot, ride on mini trains, and whirl around on carousel swings.

32 – Wander through Laeken Park

Laeken Park, Brussels

The former royal stomping grounds of Laeken Park now incorporate several gardens and estates. Landscaped in the English style, Laeken was the setting for the 1958 Universal Exposition.

Stroll around the fragrant Florists’ Garden, which still has greenhouses dating back to the time of King Leopold II. You’ll enjoy spectacular city views from here too.

Other highlights include the greenery theater in Osseghem Park and the Castle of Laeken which is still a royal residence.

33 – Make friends with meerkats at Pairi Daiza Zoo

Pairi Daiza Zoo, Brussels

Meeting the wild residents of the Zoo de Pairi Daiza is one of the top family-friendly things to do in Brussels. This animal theme park is home to thousands of creatures, including elephants, panthers, and hippos.

Journey around the world as you amble through the different habitats. You’ll understand the meaning of “cute” as the giant pandas charm you in the Chinese Gardens, while orangutans strike some poses in Ganesha’s Kingdom.

34 – Get your thinking caps on at the Banksy Exposition

Banksy Exposition, Brussels

It’s a real privilege to stand before a work of art by enigmatic British artist, Banksy. His true identity remains a mystery, but his thought-provoking creations have stirred the souls of many admirers across the globe.

The Banksy Exposition brings together over 80 authenticated artworks by the man himself, on loan from private collections. See if you can work out the truth behind the artist using the interactive multimedia installation.

35 – Go urban scuba diving at Nemo 33

Nemo 33, Brussels

Did you know you can go diving in Brussels? Nemo 33 was once the deepest indoor swimming pool in the world and today makes the perfect venue for a bit of city scuba diving.

Beginners can splash around on diving courses or snorkel sessions, while the experts can explore the depths to their heart’s content. Come on in, the water is warm and there are no sharks to worry about!

36 – Take an Art Nouveau tour

Art Nouveau tour in Brussels

See Brussels in a different light on an immersive Art Nouveau guided tour. You’ll find out how this striking architectural style has influenced so much of the city’s visual heritage, with stops at all the top photo spots.

The Bailli district is home to some of the fanciest houses, while the Grand Place gets top marks for scale. Finish up at the Victor Horta Museum which celebrates the life of this acclaimed Belgian architect.

37 – Discover hidden gems on a scavenger hunt

scavenger games in Brussels

If you’re after fun things to do in Brussels, why not take part in a scavenger game? You’ll be following clues to some of the top landmarks in the historic center, as well as exploring well off the beaten track.

There will be challenges to solve and trivia questions to answer in order to complete your mission. This is a walking tour with a difference – will you make it to the end?

38 – Be inspired at the Horta Museum

Horta Museum, Brussels

Dedicated to the life and work of one of Belgium’s most illustrious artists, the Horta Museum is a must-see for all Art Nouveau admirers. As you explore the former home and workshop of Victor Horta, take a moment to appreciate the striking interior decoration.

There are brightly colored mosaics, intricate stained-glass windows, and swirling wall embellishments that really show off the Art Nouveau style. Would you recreate the look in your house?

39 – Visit the Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History

Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History, Brussels

Sitting imperiously in Cinquantenaire Park, the Royal Museum of the Armed Forces tells the story of Belgium’s military history. There’s everything from medieval armor to an F-16 fighter jet on display.

Reach into the past as you gaze upon real army uniforms that once belonged to King Leopold I, and documents rescued from naval ships. Check out the big guns in the tank department before you leave.

40 – Fantasize at the Black Tower

Black Tower, Brussels

Head to the Place Sainte-Catherine and check out the ancient city fortifications beside the small church.

This mysterious Black Tower is one of the few wall sections to survive the ravages of time and feels out of place overshadowed by modern developments.

Built in the 13th century, the tower is now overgrown with vegetation and looks like it belongs in a fairy tale. Close your eyes and indulge in some Gothic fantasy.

Directions in Google Maps

41 – Travel through time at the Art and History Museum

Art and History Museum, Brussels

Go on the trail of prehistoric axes and Egyptian mummies at the exquisite Art and History Museum. You’ll see a treasure trove of archaeological finds from across the world as you wander around the galleries.

Feel the weight of history as the exhibits reveal their stories to you. The Easter Island sculpture is one of the most powerful pieces, while Greek vases will conjure up visions of gods and warriors.

42 – Stroll around Petit Sablon Square

Petit Sablon Square, Brussels

Petit Sablon Square is one of the prettiest gardens in the city. Just a short walk from the Church of Our Lady of Sablon, the square is a pocket of peace in this urban jungle.

Designed in 1890 by a local architect, the garden is watched over by 48 bronze statues paying homage to the long-lost medieval professions of Brussels. See if you can spot the stonecutter or the tallow maker as you explore.

Directions in Google Maps

43 – Celebrate plastic at the Design Museum Brussels

Design Museum Brussels

Had your fill of ancient history? Then make your way to the Design Museum Brussels for something a little more modern. The exhibitions here are dedicated to design work from the 20th and 21st centuries, with everything from plastic to scaffolding on display.

There are playful staircases, mind-boggling chairs, and galleries showcasing Belgian design. Functional yet beautiful, many of the pieces here have been seen nowhere else in the world.

44 – Explore the Coudenberg Palace Archaeological Site

Coudenberg Palace Archaeological Site
credit to Coudenberg Palace Archaeological Site

Walk in the footsteps of our ancestors as you explore the Coudenberg Palace Archaeological Site. Imagine what it must have felt like to scrape away at the soil around Place Royale and discover the remains of the former palace of Brussels.

The hairs on the back of your neck may stand to attention as you wander through the cellars and kitchens beneath the Rue Royale. Who else once roamed these corridors?

45 – Sample traditional food at Fin de Siècle

Fin de Siècle, Brussels

This laid-back unassuming city eatery is a bit of an insider secret and a favorite with locals looking for a tasty evening out. Fin de Siècle serves up hearty portions of authentic Brussels cuisine, all washed down with a cold Belgian beer.

Tuck into piles of grilled shrimp and haunches of glazed ham while you reminisce about the day’s excitements. If you have room, give the tiramisu or mocha cake a whirl.

46 – Visit the Basilique Nationale du Sacré-Coeur de Koekelberg

Basilique Nationale du Sacré-Coeur de Koekelberg, Brussels

The National Basilica of the Sacred Heart is the fifth largest church in the world. It’s still used for major national celebrations and acts as a social and cultural hub for the community.

The church is a photogenic Art Deco monument, and the sheer size has to be seen to be believed. Climb up into the basilica dome for jaw-dropping panoramas over Brussels – this could be the best view in town!

47 – Shop in the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert

Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert, Brussels

Proudly situated in the heart of the city, the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert is the most celebrated shopping mall in Brussels.

Comprised of three galleries that are among the oldest in Europe, this eye-catching arcade is home to upmarket boutiques, confectionary shops, and traditional cafés.

Purchase gifts or treat yourself to a bit of bling, before taking in a show at the onsite theater. There’s a cinema too with all the latest releases.

48 – Taste local delicacies on a food tour

food tours in Brussels

One of the best things to do in Brussels for foodies is to tour some of the top eateries in town and discover the flavors that make this city tick.

Café Georgette is a real find and is famed internationally for its fries. Enjoy them with burgers or a salad for the full effect.

Sweet-toothed adventurers will love the fluffy waffles at Maison Dandoy. Will you have chocolate or cream on yours?

49 – Watch the sunset from the Jardin Rooftop bar

Jardin Rooftop, Brussels

Live the high life as you sip craft cocktails or Belgian beers at the trendy Jardin rooftop bar. This is one of the hippest spots in Brussels, with incredible panoramic views over the city skyline.

As dusk falls the terrace feels enchanting with strings of lights giving it magical appeal. See the sunset behind the domes and towers of the historic quarter, while tucking into a charcuterie platter. Yum!

50 – Go beer tasting at the Cantillon Brewery

Cantillon Brewery, Brussels

Belgium is renowned throughout the world for its delectable beers, and there’s nowhere better to try some than here in Brussels.

Take a guided tour behind the scenes at Cantillon Brewery and discover the secret ingredients that make the beer so moreish. Check out the heritage machinery and modern operations at this friendly family-run business.

Don’t leave without tasting the authentic traditional Gueuze-Lambic brew, and maybe buy a bottle to take home.

51 – Feast on mussels at Le Chou de Bruxelles

Le Chou de Bruxelles, Brussels

This cheerful little eatery in the pretty Ixelles district is the place to go for traditional Belgian cuisine. Le Chou de Bruxelles is a favorite with locals, so you know your evening is going to be spot on.

Try the famous Zeeland mussels – there are at least 30 variations to choose from! Not into seafood? Then tuck into duck drizzled with cherry beer or lamb shanks simmered in Leffe. Delicious!

52 – Enjoy the views from the historic Halle Gate

Halle Gate, Brussels

Feel like you’ve stepped into a fairy tale as you explore the medieval rooms inside the 600-year-old Halle Gate.

This ancient monument is all that remains of the second city wall. It’s home to a remarkable collection of artifacts and displays documenting the fortification history of Brussels.

Climb up to the top of this Neo-Gothic fort and walk along the crenelated ramparts. The views out over Brussels are superb.

53 – Experience the beer scene of Brussels on a pub crawl

pub crawls in Brussels

Brussels knows a thing or two about beer, so going on a pub crawl or beer tasting with a local guide is a must for lovers of the iconic amber nectar. You’ll be stopping by trendy bars and authentic old taverns, including some hidden gems that few tourists ever experience.

Learn how to distinguish a Belgian beer from its European counterparts, and discover the process behind the country’s unique brewing style.

With all these incredible things to do in Brussels, you’re all set for a truly fun-packed vacation. Whether you want to focus on history, culture, or food, we hope you have a trip to remember.

If you’re visiting for a few days, it might be worth purchasing the Brussels City Card. This gives you free access to top attractions, discounts on some tours and in shops, as well as skip-the-line tickets. There are some great free walking tours on offer too.

Looking for somewhere to stay? There are plenty of hotels in Brussels to suit all budgets and tastes. Just make sure you book in advance to bag the best deals.

You should also consider arranging airport transfers online before your stay, for a hassle-free arrival.

As always, happy travels!