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Is Brussels Worth Visiting Pin 1

If you’ve been debating whether to put Brussels on your travel wish list or not, get this:

Brussels is worth visiting for its rich history, top-notch landmarks, royal magnificence, and delectable chocolate, waffles, and beer. Don’t miss exploring the charming Grand Place, the astonishing Atomium, the quirky Manneken Pis, the fabulous Royal Palace, and the sprawling European Quarter.

On this list, you’ll find 33 reasons to visit Brussels.

From world-class beer to finger-licking foods, and from bizarre festivals to fabulous museums, you’ll have a total blast in Belgium’s capital.

Fasten your virtual seatbelts, and let’s discover!

Start Planning Your Trip to Belgium with Our BEST Recommendations:

Top Tours in Belgium

  • Brussels Highlights and Food Tasting – this is our top recommendation to see the most iconic sights of Belgium’s capital and sample the flavors of the city.
  • Ghent and Bruges Day Trip – explore two of the prettiest towns of Belgium on a day tour from Brussels. Join this unforgettable day trip before it’s fully booked!

Best Accommodations in Belgium

  • Pillows City Hotel Brussels Center – we’re sure this fantastic lodging with modern, luxurious rooms in the center of the Belgian capital will exceed your expectations.
  • YAYS Antwerp Opera – if you’re heading to Antwerp, you have to stay at this fantastic apartment hotel. You’ll love the privacy, funky designs, and great location.

Easiest Transportation Options in Belgium

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The Landmarks That Make Brussels Worth Visiting

Grand Place Brussels - Flower Carpet
Brussels is worth visiting for the incredible Grand Place which hosts the unbelievable Flower Carpet

The Belgian capital abounds with fantastic attractions. In the section below, we’ll show you the landmarks that make Brussels worth a trip.

  1. The Grand Place. Brussels is a charming city with a unique treasure – Grand Place. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is a magnificent cobblestoned square surrounded by stunning 17th-century buildings. Located in the heart of Brussels, Grand Place (Grote Markt) is one of the world’s most beautiful squares, famous for its flower carpet event. Every two years between the 12th and 15th of August, locals unite to arrange 500,000 flowers on the square to form a gigantic, splendid display. If you’re a fan of UNESCO sites, visiting Grote Markt in Brussels should be at the top of your bucket list.
  2. The Atomium. One of the tallest and most famous edifices in Belgium is the 335-ft. (102 m) Atomium. Erected for the 1958 World’s Fair, the building is a glorious representation of an atom enlarged 165 billion times. Tubes and escalators connect the 9 spheres that comprise the Atomium. It houses many exhibitions and a restaurant that offers scenic views of the city. Even though local authorities planned to demolish Atomium after the 1958 Expo, people loved it so much that the government decided to keep the gorgeous creation. Nowadays, it’s a symbol of Brussels and embodies future ideas and universality.
  3. Manneken Pis. One of the quirkiest landmarks of the Belgian capital is a bronze statue of a naked 2-ft. (61-cm) little boy urinating in a fountain basin. The 15th-century Manneken Pis is a popular tourist attraction, known for its unique wardrobe. The peeing boy has over 1,000 costumes and a personal dresser. However, you should know that the fountain is a replica. You can marvel at the original sculpture at the Brussels City Museum. Like the replica, it also has an extensive wardrobe. Manneken Pis is a fun attraction that showcases the humor and the rebellious spirit of Brussels and Belgium.
  4. Mini Europe. Discover the magic of the Old Continent in a miniature form at Mini Europe. The theme park showcases 350+ European monuments scaled down 25 times. Explore icons like Big Ben, Grand Place, Acropolis, Eiffel Tower, Rila Monastery, and many others from 80 EU cities in just an hour. With live-action models, such as trains, mills, cable cars, and erupting volcanoes, you’ll have a blast at Mini Europe. Book your tickets in advance to skip the queues and check the park’s entry hours before your visit.
Mont des Arts
Seeing the gorgeous Mont des Arts makes a trip to Brussels worth it
  1. Mont des Arts. Explore the cultural heart of Brussels at Mont des Arts. Marvel at breathtaking scenes of the city, with the spire of the City Hall at Grand Place towering over the cityscape. Stroll through the stunning public garden and admire the landscaped plants, spectacular museums, and historic buildings. You’ll find many art and cultural institutions in the area, including the Royal Library of Belgium, the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, the Musical Instrument Museum, and the Magritte Museum. Get your camera ready for a visual feast of staggering beauty and art in this mesmerizing area of Brussels.
  2. The Royal Palace of Belgium. While the Belgian Royal Family resides in the serene Royal Palace of Laeken, the Royal Palace of Brussels is where they host ambassadors, heads of state, and official guests. The royal house opens to the public in summer, from July 22 to August 25, save for Mondays. The building is inspired by the neoclassical style of Buckingham Palace, but its façade is 50% longer. If you want to experience the majestic splendor of the Royal Palace, plan a summer trip to Brussels.
  3. Palais de Justice. The world’s biggest courthouse is in the central hub of Brussels. Palais de Justice is a stunning building with a total surface area of 280,000 sq. ft. (26,000 sq. m). Built in the late 19th century, the Justice Palace of Brussels was the largest edifice in the world at the time. Perched on the top of a hill, Palais de Justice presents a breathtaking sight with a 66 ft. (20 m) elevation difference between its lower and upper levels.
  4. Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert. Established in 1847, Brussels’ Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert is one of the oldest shopping arcades in Europe. Predating Milan’s Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and St. Petersburg’s The Passage, the Saint-Hubert Royal Galleries remain a popular destination in the Belgian capital. Nowadays, you can browse high-end stores, elegant cafés, and fine-dining restaurants in this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  5. Brussels City Museum. Located on the Grand Place in the King’s House (Maison du Roi), this UNESCO World Heritage Site epitomizes Gothic Revival architecture. Explore over 7,000 items, including antique artifacts, stunning paintings, and gorgeous tapestries in Brussels City Museum. Don’t miss the original Manneken Pis statue on the top floor. The museum is open daily (except Monday) from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. There’s no entrance fee on the first Sunday of each month.
Unusual Things to Do in Brussels
The comics culture is one of the top reasons to visit Brussels
  1. St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral. This age-old cathedral is a beautiful example of Brabantine Gothic architecture in Brussels. Named after the saints Michael and Gudula, the church has stunning stained-glass windows from the 16th, 17th, and 19th centuries. A selection of windows portrays scenes from the Legend of the Miraculous Statement. One of the craziest facts about Brussels is that the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula took 300 years to complete.
  2. The European Quarter. Mingle with diplomats from around the world and witness the stunning architecture of the EU institutions in the European Quarter of Brussels. The contemporary design of the buildings in this vibrant neighborhood is truly remarkable. The European Quarter offers a rich mix of places to see, including interesting museums, shopping points, memorial parks, and bustling squares. It’s one of the best areas to stay in Brussels and houses major EU institutions. These include the European Parliament, the European Commission, the Committee of the Regions, the Council of the European Union, and the European Economic and Social Committee.
  3. Parc du Cinquantenaire. Witness a green oasis at Parc du Cinquantenaire, a tremendous park and national landmark close to the European Quarter. Built during the reign of King Leopold II in 1880, Jubelpark (in Dutch) is home to a U-shaped complex of buildings, including the iconic triumphal arch from 1905. The arch houses three museums. The Royal Military Museum is in the northern part of the arch, while the Art & History Museum and the Autoworld Vintage Car Museum are in the south. For a breathtaking sight of Brussels and its European Quarter, climb to the top of the arch through an entrance in the army museum.
  4. The Comics Route. Brussels is famous for its comic history. With over 50 vibrant mural paintings, the city pays tribute to celebrated Belgian comic characters such as Gaston, Tin Tin, and The Smurfs.  The Comics Strip Route allows you to discover little-known neighborhoods while also admiring the stunning murals. You can bike through the route or join this private jogging tour of the comic strip. If that doesn’t tickle your fancy, check the Comics Art Museum. Hint: head to the third floor for stocking up on comics.

Want to hit as many travel birds with one stone? We recommend this comprehensive 2.5-hour walking tour of Brussels that includes visiting Grand Place, Maneken Pis, Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert, the stock exchange, and many other landmarks.

Scrumptious Foods and Drinks That Make a Trip to Brussels Worth it

Mussels with fries
If you love delectable cuisine, then you should travel to Brussels

Per square mile, the Belgian capital has 138 restaurants on average. Given that Brussels is 62 sq. mi., this means that you’ll find more than 8,550 restaurants in the city. In other words, you’ll have tons of options to satiate your hunger. In the section below, you’ll find the foods and drinks that make Brussels worth visiting.

  1. Moules-frites / Mosselen met friet. You can find Belgium’s national dish – moules-frites (mussels with fries) – everywhere in Brussels. Chefs either cook or steam the mussels. Then, they serve them with generous amounts of celery and onions, and fries on the side. Belgians pride themselves on the world’s best mussels, with the ones from Oostende being particularly famous across the globe. In fact, the small coastal town supplied Napoleon Bonaparte with fresh mussels in the 19th century.
  2. Carbonade flamande / Stoofvlees.This is another iconic Belgian national dish you can sample in Brussels. Stoofvlees epitomizes beef that stews in a dark Belgian beer, and comes with a thick sauce made from mustard and bread. The trick is to simmer the meat on low heat for several hours until it’s tender enough to melt in your mouth. Restaurants serve Carbonade flamande with fries, mustard spread on gingerbread, boiled or mashed potatoes, and a combination of root vegetables, spices, cream, or bacon. Your chef may also season it with bay leaf, clove, juniper berries, or thyme.
  3. Gaufres / Wafels. If you’re a sweet tooth, you mustn’t miss some of Belgium’s most loved waffles – the Brussels waffles and the Liège waffles (Gaufre de Liège). The Brussels waffle is named after the Belgian capital and has right-angled corners. Despite its bigger size, it’s softer on the inside and crunchier on the outside. The Liège waffle is softer, sweeter, and smaller compared to its Brussels counterpart. Want to satisfy your craving for sugary treats? The waffles are available in supermarkets, ice cream parlors, and even small shops. 
  4. Chocolate. Belgium is famous for its incredible chocolate craftsmanship. Come and discover the world of rich, velvety, and premium chocolate in Brussels. Every year, over 2,000 Belgian chocolatiers manufacture more than 172,000 tons. You can’t go wrong with the delectable Belvas, Leonidas, Guylian, Neuhaus, and Côte d’Or. However, if you can’t find the time to sample the buttery, part-sweet, part-bitter drops of heaven, don’t worry. You can fix that at Brussels Airport, which is the world’s largest trade center for chocolate. 
Belgian Beer Variaties in a Brussels Shop
Brussels is a must-visit destination for any beer fan
  1. Cheese. Cheese production in Belgium first started in monasteries during the medieval era. Even today, you’ll find many cheese brands named after the abbeys that manufacture them. Most Belgians like pairing their strong beers with a variety of fragrant cheeses. Therefore, many abbeys, including Chimay, Maredsous, and Westmalle, also brew beer along with cheese production.
  2. Beer. One of the coolest facts about Belgium is that it’s as small as Hawaii, yet holds a Guinness World Record for having the biggest selection of beers in a bar. And rightfully so, because the country boasts over 2,200 beer brands. Brussels is home to 800+ of them. Looking for a suggestion for a distinct beer to try? Get your hands on the world-famous Stella Artois. For an unparalleled flavor, the sour cherry beer kriek or the Trappist Achel, Orval, Chimay, and Westmalle will exceed your expectations. 
  3. Jenever. If you’d like to try something stronger, order jenever. Also known as peket, genever, or genièvre – the liquor has been Belgium’s national spirit for over five centuries. The drink gets its name from juniper – the origin of gin. Mainly served in shot glasses pulled right out of a freezer, jenever is a must-try for thrill-seeking palates.
  4. French fries. One of the most widely loved dishes across the globe stems from Belgium. You can find French fries anywhere in the country because every town has a minimum of one fritkot – a fries shack. Unlike the rest of the world, Belgians serve fries as a complete meal, not just a side dish. You’ll see locals drenching the potato chips in various sauces, mostly curry ketchup or mayonnaise. Want to know how much Belgians worship French fries? They have a French fry museum. So, if you’re a French fries lover, this museum will give you one more reason to visit Brussels.  

Peculiar Facts That Make Brussels Worth Visiting

European Quarter Brussels
Brussels is worth going to for the modern European Quarter

One of the top reasons to visit Brussels is to learn about its crazy facts. Let’s take a look at some of the most interesting ones below.

  1. Belgium’s capital has two official languages. French is widely spoken in Brussels as many private, governmental, and global organizations have their headquarters in the city. Next to French, Brussels folks also speak Flemish Dutch. However, the Belgian capital has a massive international presence, so you can get along in Brussels by speaking English. 
  2. You can converse in over 110 different languages. The city is a melting pot of different cultures from around the world. So, even though Brussels has two official languages, the cosmopolitan city is home to people from 180+ countries. Non-Belgians comprise 32% of the city’s population, making it one of the most multicultural cities worldwide. This diversity in culture, race, and ethnicity results in over 110 spoken languages, which pales in comparison to the 800 languages spoken in New York City
  3. Brussels is the capital of Europe. An astonishing fact about Brussels is that it’s not only the capital of Belgium. It’s also the unofficial capital city of the European Union. Brussels hosts liaison offices, as well as the headquarters of NATO, Benelux, and dozens of EU organizations, including the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union and the European Commission, and the European Council. This makes Brussels the world’s premier hub for the diplomatic community hosting 40,000+ diplomats. From being a tiny rural settlement to evolving into Europe’s capital, Brussels now enjoys a strong standing among global economic and political organizations.
  4. Brussels enjoys a top-tier reputation in the world for international significance. The Capital of Europe hosts over 120 international governmental organizations, 180+ embassies, and more than 1,400 private enterprises. The city is a hub for the headquarters of many multinational companies. Numerous international conferences and events in the city attract foreign students, democrats, and expatriates. With its 300+ foreign diplomatic missions, Brussels takes second place in the world after New York.
  5. Brussels has a small geographical size. The multicultural city houses over 1.2 million citizens and covers only 62 sq. mi (161 sq. km). That explains the jam-packed roads, especially during rush hours. Apart from the narrow streets, you’ll also experience a shortage of parking spots in the city center, which furthers the traffic congestion. However, this road jam can be a blessing in disguise if you’re up for exploring the vibrant city on foot.
  6. Many European capitals are at the same distance from Brussels. Take a high-speed train, and you’ll reach Brussels within 2 hours from Amsterdam, London, and Paris. This central locality from major European capitals is perhaps one of the reasons why Brussels hosts most of the organizations of the European Union. 

Brussels Is Worth Visiting for Its Amazing Festivals

Brussels Festival
Brussels’ Grand Place hosts incredible concerts and parades worth seeing

Dig music or culture? The Belgian capital’s diverse festivals will surely keep you entertained. Dip yourself in art fairs like BRAFA or Art Brussels, watch a few cinematic scenes during BIFFF or Offscreen Film Festival, or relax and enjoy the chill sounds of the Brussels Jazz Festival.

  1. Art Brussels. Happening every year in April, Art Brussels has been welcoming visitors since 1968. Though it’s fairly small in attendance, the festival makes up for that with its quality. Dive into a journey of pure art discovery – explore up-and-coming artists, absorb new knowledge, and exchange insights on art and collections.
  2. BRAFA. Founded in 1956, the BRAFA Art Fair is one of the oldest and most prestigious art fairs globally. At the expo, you’ll have a chance to marvel at antiques, design, fine art, as well as modern and contemporary art. Every year, an international committee selects the exhibitors through a rigorous process to ensure quality and buyer confidence. Some of the items you can find date back 5,000 years.
  3. BIFFF. Shorts. Masterclasses. Lively debates. World-class exhibitions. All this and more await you at the Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival (BIFFF). Throughout its 40+ years of history, BIFFF has screened over 4,000 films. Every year, more than 50,000 visitors frequent the event which attracts locals and foreigners alike. Note that BIFFF focuses mainly on horror, sci-fi, thriller, fantasy, action, and black comedy movies.
  4. Offscreen Film Festival. This fairly new festival started in 2008. In its 15 years of existence, though, Offscreen Film Festival has gained a lot of fame in Brussels. It takes place in three locations – Kinograph, Cinematek, and Cinema Nova. Make sure to grab your tickets in advance because the organizers can’t guarantee you’ll always have access to a seat.
  5. Brussels Jazz Festival. In just a weekend, the Brussels Jazz Festival offers over 200 free concerts. The events happen at four squares and many indoor stages throughout Belgium’s capital. You can find more information about the upcoming events on their official website here. You can’t go wrong with the concerts at the Grand Place.
  6. Zinneke Parade. This biennial parade has been taking place in Brussels since 2000. Each edition of the Zinneke Parade brings together around 1,500 participants. The great thing about this event is that every parade has its own theme. The next procession will occur in 2024. Bookmark the parade’s official website to get updated information.

Now You Know Why You Should Visit Brussels

Day Trip from Amsterdam to Brussels
The Atomium and Mini Europe make Brussels worth a visit

This wraps up our list of 33 top reasons to visit Brussels.

Belgium’s vibrant capital abounds in history, landmarks, museums, and royal splendor.

Whether you’ll explore humongous atoms, sip a strong Belgian ale, marvel at Gothic and Brabantic architecture, or salivate over a waffle doused in decadent chocolate, one thing is for certain – you won’t get bored in the Capital of Europe.

To better prepare yourself, don’t miss our guide with the most unusual things to do in Brussels.

Start Planning Your Trip to Belgium with Our BEST Recommendations:

Top Tours in Belgium

  • Brussels Highlights and Food Tasting – this is our top recommendation to see the most iconic sights of Belgium’s capital and sample the flavors of the city.
  • Ghent and Bruges Day Trip – explore two of the prettiest towns of Belgium on a day tour from Brussels. Join this unforgettable day trip before it’s fully booked!

Best Accommodations in Belgium

  • Pillows City Hotel Brussels Center – we’re sure this fantastic lodging with modern, luxurious rooms in the center of the Belgian capital will exceed your expectations.
  • YAYS Antwerp Opera – if you’re heading to Antwerp, you have to stay at this fantastic apartment hotel. You’ll love the privacy, funky designs, and great location.

Easiest Transportation Options in Belgium

Now, we’d like to know:

In your opinion, is Brussels fun to visit?

Share with us in the comment section below.

Is Brussels Worth Visiting Pin 5
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Svet has lived on three continents. He graduated from his Master’s in Belgium, did a Work & Travel program in the USA, and in 2015, spent several months working, traveling, and exploring the Chinese culture. As a result, he found how challenging yet fun it is for a Westerner to live in China. Fun fact: Svet loves doing push-ups in public places and has a crush on tractors.

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