Brussels things to do

By Emma Thomson, your Brussels expert

I write for Bradt Travel Guides, Travel Africa, Africa .... Read more

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#2/20
expert-rated things to do in Brussels
Best for Culture -
Expert overall rating:4.9 (out of 5)

Best-stocked art gallery in Europe.

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Musée Magritte

Price guide: Mid-range
#4/20
expert-rated things to do in Brussels
Expert overall rating:4.7 (out of 5)

World’s most extensive collection of René Magritte art.

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#14/20
expert-rated things to do in Brussels
Expert overall rating:4.3 (out of 5)

Awesome Law Courts overlooking the Marolles district.

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Brussels is bursting at the seams with things to do — I’ve been visiting for more than nine years and I still find something new on each occasion.

I always recommend visiting (or returning to) the historic heart of the city, the Grand Place, first to get your bearings and begin your weekend break with a showstopper. After this, you’ll be driven by your niche tastes. Culture vultures should climb the Mont des Arts to the Place Royale museum quarter; backpackers/students should make a beeline for the markets and gritty Marolles district ; and if you’re a seasoned/business traveller in search of something ‘a little different’, head to the outer communes of Anderlecht (west) or Ixelles (south).

A few tips

  • Several museums are closed on Mondays, so plan accordingly.
  • If you’ll be staying for a few days and want to pack lots in, then consider buying a Brussels Card or The Must of Brussels voucher booklet — see Brussels insider tips — which grants you free access to most of the museums I’ve suggested.
  • Some of the larger, established museums — such as Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts and Musée des Sciences Naturelles — allow free entry on the first Wednesday of every month; I’ve marked when this is the case in the ‘expert’ field of the relevant museum entry.
  • Try not to cram too much in. Follow the locals and take some time to kick back with a beer or coffee and soak up the sights and sounds of the city.
How I’ve picked my things to do: 

I’ve tried to provide a varied spread of attractions: from the ‘must-see’ classics like the Grand Place, Mannekin Pis and Atomium and heavyweight museums like Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts and Musée Magritte , to off-the-beaten-track gems such as Béguinage d’Anderlecht and Cantillon Brewery and fun options for the kids like Océade and Musée des Sciences Naturelles.

I’ve also included as many ‘free’ sights of interest as possible for backpackers/students or families on a tight budget.

Finally, I’ve attempted to provide a balanced list of indoor and outdoor things to do, so you can adjust your sightseeing itinerary depending on Belgium’s fickle weather.

Set focus

I’ve tried to provide a varied spread of attractions: from the ‘must-see’ classics like the Grand Place, Mannekin Pis and Atomium and heavyweight museums like Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts and Musée Magritte , to off-the-beaten-track gems such as Béguinage d’Anderlecht and Cantillon Brewery and fun options for the kids like Océade and Musée des Sciences Naturelles.

I’ve also included as many ‘free’ sights of interest as possible for backpackers/students or families on a tight budget.

Finally, I’ve attempted to provide a balanced list of indoor and outdoor things to do, so you can adjust your sightseeing itinerary depending on Belgium’s fickle weather.