Brussels Sights & Attractions
What to See and Do in Brussels
MANNEKEN PIS is perhaps Brussels' most famous image, a tiny bronze statue of a naked boy urinating. It serves as a fountain, and on some special occasions it is dressed in costume.
But the most monumental sight in the city is the GRANDE PLACE. It is one of the world's most beautiful squares, lined with grandiose 17th century baroque façades. It is overlooked by the magnificent 15th century town hall, which you may admire from one of the many (touristy) cafes in the square.
A grand neoclassical building you'll also see in the center of the city is the Royal Palace of Brussels, an official residence of Belgium's royalty, although the royal family lives in the Royal Castle of Laeken outside Brussels.
Brussels was chosen as the capital of the European Union, hosting the official seats of the European Commission and European Council. The area where all of the European institutions are located is called the EUROPEAN QUARTER, and that's where you'll find the Berlaymont, a huge European governmental building with a groundbreaking technical design when it was built in the 1960s.
The complex of the Royal Museums of Fine Arts is home to several museums, with the Ancient Art Museum housing paintings and sculptures from the 15th to 18th centuries, and the Modern Art Museum dedicated to the art of the 19th century to the present.
A unique collection is that of the Musical Instruments Museum, housed in a fabulous 19th century iron and glass building. It is one of the world's best collections of musical instruments, and you can see a delightful display of accordions, bagpipes, and pianos before heading to the rooftop café for city views.
The Horta Museum is named after Victor Horta, one of Art Nouveau's founding fathers. The building was his 19th century residence, and a visit will take you through a journey of fabulous interior design, with marvellous details in everything from the armrests of couches to doorknobs.
The David and Alice van Buuren Museum is another private residence-turned-museum, a beautiful Art Deco monument housing an eclectic collection of furnishings and paintings. Be sure to also pass by the romantic gardens.
The iconic Atomium is a steel reproduction of a unit cell of an iron crystal blown up 165 billion times in size. It was created for the 1958 Expo, and you can go inside to see its retro interior and go up to the panoramic café.
ST-MICHEL ET STE-GUDULE CATHEDRAL is Brussels' cathedral, a Gothic monument with some outstanding stained-glass windows. Its construction took place between the 13th and 15th centuries, and is still the site of royal weddings today.
After a stop at a café in or around the Grande Place, head to RUE ANTOINE DANSAERT, a wide 19th century street in the center of the city gentrified in the 1990s to now be home to some of Brussels' trendiest boutiques and best shops.
TOURS & DAYTRIPS
Go on a Tour of Brussels, allowing you to see the city's highlights in a short period of time, or go outside the city on a daytrip.
No trip to Belgium's capital is complete without seeing at least one of the country's two most beautiful cities nearby. Both Bruges and Antwerp are easily reached from Brussels, and are both known for their stunning architecture. Bruges is arguably the most beautiful of the two, a World Heritage city crossed by canals.
The highlight in Antwerp is its magnificent main square (Grote Markt), while in Bruges you have mouth-watering chocolates in almost every shop in addition to the architecture.