Added on 09 Sep 2016,
last edited by »biroto-Redaktion« on 28 Dec 2022
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Brussels (French: Bruxelles, Dutch: Brussel) is the capital of Belgium and one of the three administrative regions within the country, together with Flanders and Wallonia. Apart from its role within its country, it is also an internationally important city, hosting numerous international institutions, and in particular the core institutions of the European Union. Due to that, it is sometimes referred to informally as the capital of the EU.
Brussels blends the heritage of a medieval Flemish town with the grandiose projects initiated after it became the capital of what was then a French-speaking country, as well as some impressive modern architecture erected in a large part to house the aforementioned institutions. Brussels is now bi-lingual, hosting and officially recognizing both the Dutch- and French-speaking communities of Belgium, and has become increasingly international with the influx of people of various origin who came there to work, many of them for the European Union. This all makes Brussels a rather unique blend, sprinkled with a number of Belgian peculiarities, and for the inquisitive tourist a large treasure chest to discover.
When Brussels became the capital city of a new country in the 19th century, the old town was destroyed to make way for brand new ministries, palaces, schools, army barracks and office blocks constructed between 1880 and 1980. Only a small historic centre (one square and four adjacent streets) was preserved.
A Brussels Card is available for discounts at many attractions. Available in 24 hr (€24), 48 hr (€36) and 72 hr (€43) versions, it offers a free guidebook, free entry to many museums, free use of public transit, and discounts at various shops, restaurants and attractions. May not be worth it to those who already receive discounts (children, students, etc.). The card can be purchased on-line in advance for a discount, or at the tourist offices at: Grand-Place, Midi/Zui station, BIP. Some museums also sell the card.
- ⊙Grand Place-Grote Markt. Surrounded by the city tower and a range of beautiful 300 year old buildings. In the evening, surrounded by bright lumination, it is simply ravishing. Some evenings a music and light show is provided with the buildings serving as a canvas. Have a "gaufre de Liège-Luikse wafel" here (Belgian waffle with caramelized sugar) - the best ones are available from the little shops off the northeast corner of the Grand Place-Grote Markt. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
- ⊙Manneken Pis. Just a short walk from the Grand Place-Grote Markt is the Manneken Pis, a small bronze statue thought to represent the "irreverent spirit" of Brussels.
- ⊙Jeanneke Pis. Female counterpart to the Manneken Pis.
- ⊙The Bourse. Former stock market building. Locals like to sit on the steps, sometimes with fries. A local restaurant owner has proposed turning the unused building into a beer hall.
- ⊙Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula
The Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula, usually shortened to the Cathedral of St. Gudula or St. Gudula by locals, is a medieval Roman Catholic cathedral in central Brussels. It is dedicated to Saint Michael and Saint Gudula, the patron saints of the City of Brussels, and is considered to be one of the finest examples of Brabantine Gothic architecture.
- ⊙Palais Royale/Koninklijk Paleis (Royal Palace), Place des Palais/Paleizenplein, ☎ +32 2 5512020. Royal Palace with a park out front. Free.
- ⊙Egmont Palace
The Egmont Palace, also sometimes known as the Arenberg Palace, is a neoclassical palace in Brussels. It was originally built between 1548 and 1560 for Countess Françoise of Luxembourg and Lamoral, Count of Egmont, though its appearance was heavily modified in the 18th century. It was partly destroyed by fire in 1892, after which it was once again reconstructed. Today, it houses the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
- ⊙Royal Conservatory of Brussel
The Royal Conservatory of Brussels is a historic conservatory in Brussels. Starting its activities in 1813, it received its official name in 1832.
- ⊙Church of Our Blessed Lady of the Sablon
The Church of Our Blessed Lady of the Sablon is a Roman Catholic church located in the Sablon/Zavel district, in the historic centre of Brussels, Belgium. It is dedicated to Our Lady of the Sablon.
Built in the 15th century, the church was patronised by the nobility and wealthy citizens of Brussels, and is characterised by its late Brabantine Gothic exterior and rich interior decoration including two Baroque chapels. Its neo-Gothic decorative elements date from the 19th century.
- ⊙Church of Our Lady of the Chapel,
The Church of Our Lady of the Chapel or the Chapel Church, is a Roman Catholic church located in the Marolles/Marollen district, in the historic centre of Brussels, Belgium. It is dedicated to Our Lady of the Chapel.
The church, in a Romanesque-Gothic transitional style, was built between the 12th and 13th centuries above an earlier chapel. Following a fire in 1405, its nave was rebuilt in the Brabantine Gothic style and enlarged with side chapels. Its Baroque slate bell tower dates from the 18th century.
- ⊙Brigittines Chapel
- ⊙Palais de Justice/Justitiepaleis (Law Courts of Brussels), Place Poelaert/Poelaert Plein, ☎ +32 2 5086410. 08:00-17:00 Mon-Fri. Larger than St. Peter's basilica in Rome, it cost 45 million Belgian Francs to construct in 1866. Free.
- ⊙Halle Gate. a former medieval city gate and the last vestige of the second walls of Brussels , Belgium. Built between 1381 and 1383, it was heavily restored in the 19th century in its current neo-Gothic style by the architect Henri Beyaert. It is now a museum dedicated to the medieval City of Brussels, part of the Royal Museums of Art and History (RMAH).
- ⊙Basiliek van het Heilig Hart / Basilique du Sacré Coeur (Basilica Koekelberg), Basiliekvoorplein/Parvis de la Basilique, ☎ +32 2 4211660. The fifth biggest church in the world, with an impressive interior and an amazing view over Brussels and its surroundings.
- ⊙Thieffry metro station. 24h open. Famous metro station named after Belgian WWI air ace Edmond Thieffry. Contains some interesting sculptures of modern art. €2.50 Adults; €0.80 under 12.
- ⊙Parc du Cinquantenaire-Jubelpark. Definitely check out the Arc de Triomphe-Triomfboog on the east side of town. It's in the Parc du Cinquantenaire-Jubelpark. It is possible to go up to the terrasse above the arch, from where you'll have a good view of the city. Entry is through the Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and of Military History and is free. Take Metro line 1 east, exit Schuman and walk east or exit Mérode and walk west.
- Red Light District. Just like Antwerp and Amsterdam, Brussels also has its own Red Light District. It is located mainly in Rue d'Aerschot/ Aarschotstraat, behind the North Train Station. Contrary to The Netherlands, prostitution is NOT legal in Belgium, they exploit a loophole in the local legislation presenting brothels as "bars". Do not expect to actually get a drink in there though. Despite heavy police presence, it still remains a fairly seedy area, not the kind of place where you'd want to walk alone at night.
Museums and galleries
- ⊙Musée du Cinquantenaire - Jubelpark Museum, Parc du Cinquantenaire-Jubelpark 10, ☎ +32 2 7417211. Open Tu-Fr 9:30AM-5PM, Sa-Su and holidays 10AM-5PM, closed Mo and various holidays, last entry 4PM. Adults €8.
Part of the Musées Royaux d'Art et d'Histoire (MRAH) - Koninklijke Musea voor Kunst en Geschiedenis (KMKG) (Royal Museums of Art and History) group of museums. This museum has an important collection of art objects from different civilizations from all over the world. The museum was founded in 1835 and was located in the Hallepoort/Porte de Hal, one of the last remaining medieval city gates of Brussels. The gate is still operated as a separate museum by the same museum foundation.
- ⊙Autoworld, Parc du Cinquantenaire-Jubelpark 11 (Metro: Merode or Schuman Train Station (Line 1)/Train: Merode or Schuman Train Station/Bus: 20, 28, 36, 67, 80/Tram: 81), ☎ +32 2 7364165. 10:00-18:00 (4/1-9/30) 10:00-17:00 (10/1-3/31). Adults €6, children €7-133, children 6 and under free.
Automobiles from the dawn of the motoring age to 1970s including the earliest Mercedes, Renaults, BMW Isettas, Tatras, Ford T-birds, even a jeepney from the Philippines.
- ⊙Musée Royal de l'Armée - Koninklijk Museum van het Leger en van de Militaire Geschiedenis (Belgian Army Museum and Museum of Military History), Parc du Cinquantenaire-Jubelpark 3 (Metro: Merode or Schuman Train Station (Line 1)/Train: Merode or Schuman Train Station/Bus: 20, 28, 36, 67, 80/Tram: 81), ☎ +32 2 7377809. 9:00-16:45. 8€.
The Belgian Army Museum and Museum of Military History occupies the north wing of the Palais Cinquantenaire. It provides an overview of the development of military technology and of the major campaigns fought on Belgian soil. The museum has three principal sections: Belgian military history (documents, uniforms and weaponry from the Middle Ages to the present day, including a most comprehensive collection of medieval arms and armor); the Armored Vehicle Hall with artillery, tanks etc. from the two World Wars; and the Air Section (Brussels Air Museum) with a collection of aircraft from World War I onwards. The Brussels Air Museum's high point is its collection of original aircraft from World War I.
- ⊙Natural Sciences Museum of Belgium, Rue Vautier-Vautierstraat 29 (near Luxembourg station), ☎ +32 2 6274238. Open: daily from 9:30AM-4:45PM; Saturday, Sunday and during school holidays (except the Summer break), from 10AM-6PM; during the Summer break daily from 9:30AM-4:45PM daily and in weekends from 10AM-6PM. Price between €4.50 and €7, free the first Wednesday of each month as of 1PM.
The museum is well-known for its famous collection of iguanodons (dinosaurs discovered in a coal-mine in Belgium). The dinosaur collection has been refreshed in October 2007 and includes discovery activities for the children. The other parts of the museum are also interesting, as an exhibit of all animals that live in our houses and a collection of mammals.
- ⊙Hortamuseum, Rue Américaine 25, Saint-Gilles/Amerikastraat 25, Sint-Gillis (tram 81, tram 92 (place Janson), bus 54), ☎ +32 2 5430490. Open daily 2PM-5:30PM, closed Monday. Adults €10, students/seniors €3.50, guided tours available by appointment.
The home of noted Belgian Art Nouveau architect and designer Victor Horta. Seeing where he lived and worked is a great way to get an introduction to the art nouveau style in Brussels. It is one of four Horta works to be inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. It can be very busy on rainy Sundays and the queue is outside, so don't forget your umbrella.
- ⊙Musée Juif de Belgique - Joods Museum van België, 21 Rue des Minimes-Miniemenstraat 21, ☎ +32 2 5121963. Everyday except Mondays from 10AM-5PM. Standard rate: €5, Concession €3.
Dedicated to the craft, folk art, culture and religion of the Jewish people in Belgium.
- ⊙Musées Royaux des Beaux Arts de Belgique - Koninklijke Musea voor Schone Kunsten van België (Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium), Rue de la Régence-Regentschapstraat 3, at Place Royale-Koningsplein, ☎ +32 2 5083211. Museum of Historical Art: Tues-Sun 10AM-noon and 1-5PM; Museum of Modern Art (Magritte Museum) Mar: Tue-Sun 10AM-1PM and 2-5PM. €8.00 adults per museum or €13 combo ticket, €2.50 students/seniors/disabled visitors, €1.25 children 12-18, under 12 free. Also free on the first Wednesday afternoon of every month.
Features both historical art and modern art in the one building. In a vast museum of several buildings, this complex combines the Musée d'Art Ancien-Museum voor Oude Kunst and the Musée d'Art Moderne-Museum voor Moderne Kunst under one roof (connected by a passage). The collection shows off works, most of them Belgian, from the 14th to the 20th century, starting in the historical section, with Hans Memling's portraits from the late 15th century, which are marked by sharp lifelike details, works by Hiëronymus Bosch, and Lucas Cranach's Adam and Eve. You should particularly seek out the subsequent rooms featuring Pieter Brueghel, including his Adoration of the Magi. Don't miss his unusual Fall of the Rebel Angels, with grotesque faces and beasts. But don't fear, many of Brueghel's paintings, like those depicting Flemish village life, are of a less fiery nature. Later artists represented include Rubens, Van Dyck, Frans Hals, and Rembrandt. Next door, in a circular building connected to the main entrance, the modern art section has an emphasis on underground works - if only because the museum's eight floors are all below ground level. The collection includes works by van Gogh, Matisse, Dalí, Tanguy, Ernst, Chagall, Miró, and local boys Magritte, Delvaux, De Braekeleer and Permeke. Don't miss David's famous "Death of Marat."
- ⊙Musée Magritte Museum, 1 Place Royale-Koningsplein 1, ☎ +32 2 5083211. Tuesday to Sunday: from 10AM-5PM, Wednesday until 8PM Closed Mondays, January 1st, 2nd Thursday of January, May 1st, November 1st and 11th, December 25th. Standard rate: €8, Combi with Modern & Ancient Art Museum: €13, Students 18-25 years and school groups min. 12 pers.: €2. Audioguide: €4.
This museum is dedicated to the life and art of the Belgian artist René Magritte. It holds a multidisciplinary collection containing more than 200 of Magritte's works.
- ⊙Musical Instruments Museum (Musée des Instruments de Musique or Muziekinstrumentenmuseum), Montagne de la Cour-Hofberg 2, ☎ +32 2 5450130. Open Tu-Fr 9:30AM-16:45PM, Sa-Su 10AM-16:45PM. Adults: €8; over 65: €6; under 26: €2.
The museum houses more than 7000 instruments, from all times and all over the world. The museum’s reputation is built on its extraordinary collection. The exhibits are displayed on four different floors featuring a wide range of instruments from all time periods and areas of the world. The MIM is a place to experience music. An infrared headphone system allows each visitor to enjoy the sound and melodies played by the instruments presented. The restaurant on the roof is also famous because of its panoramic view over Brussles. You need around 3 or 4 hours to really enjoy the whole museum, make sure you have enough time! The ornate façade of the building was decorated as such to promote the work of local tradesman and to protest the loss of jobs due to automation.
- ⊙Musée BELvue - BELvue Museum, Place des Palais-Paleizenplein 7, ☎ +32 70 220492. Tuesday to Sunday, from 10AM-6PM (June to September), from 10AM-5PM (October to May). BELvue: €3, Coudenberg: €4, BELvue + Coudenberg: €5.
Features Belgium's history. Before it became a museum, the former 18th century luxury hotel was a royal residence.
- ⊙Belgian Comic Strip Center (Centre Belge de la Bande Dessinée, Belgisch Centrum van het Beeldverhaal), Rue des Sables-Zandstraat 20, ☎ +32 2 2191980. Tue-Sun 10AM-6PM. €10 adults, €6 students/seniors.
Located in Europe's earliest Shopping-Mall (a shiny Jugendstil/Art Nouveau palace). There is a permanent exposition featuring the early beginning of comics as well as it's development. There is enough room for other varying expositions. The bookshop at the ground floor sells many different comics. A readers' library operates on the ground floor, where, for a low entrance fee, you can read many different comic books and buy fries.
Brussels is considered to be the de facto capital of the European Union, having a long history of hosting the institutions of the European Union within its European Quarter. The EU has no official capital, and no plans to declare one, but Brussels hosts the official seats of the European Commission, Council of the European Union, European Council, as well as a second seat of the European Parliament.
- ⊙European Parliament, Rue Wiertz/Wiertzstraat 60 (European Quarter), ☎ +32 2 2842111. Mon-Thu at 10.00h and 15.00h; Fri at 10.00h only; Closed official holidays. Multimedia-guided tours in all official EU languages. Don't forget to bring an ID card/driver's license with you. Free.
- ⊙European Commission,Rue de la Loi 200. Guided tours not available. Presentations available for groups of 15 or more, booked in advance.
- ⊙European Council, Rue de la Loi / Wetstraat 175, ☎ +32 2 2812140. Guided tours not available. Presentations available for groups of 15 or more, booked in advance.
- ⊙Statue of Europe, Rue Van Maerlant 26. Also referred to as Unity in Peace, this sculpture symbolises peace through European integration, while at the same time aiming to demonstrate the motto of the European Union (EU), United in Diversity. It is located in the garden of Convent Van Maerlant (the library of the European Commission) Van Maerlant street, in the European Quarter of Brussels.
- ⊙Experience Europe, Rue Archimède / Archimedesstraat 1, ☎ +32 2 2965555. Open Mo13:00-18:00, Tu–Fr 09:00-18:00. Sa-Su 10:00-18:00.
Experience Europe is the new, permanent exhibition in Brussels where you can find out about the European Commission’s core work, priorities and policies, and about EU values, in a playful and interactive environment.
- ⊙Cantillon Brewery, Rue Gheude - Gheudestraat 56, ☎ +32 2 5214928. Monday to Friday from 8:30AM till 5PM; Saturday from 10AM-5PM; Closed on Sundays and public holidays.
The last traditional gueuze/lambic brewery in Brussels, Cantillon still uses natural yeast fermentation (not injected like almost every other beer). The lambics and gueuzes are made in original style with no sweetners or syrups added. Only 100% bio (organic) and natural fruits are used creating a distinctly sour drink. This museum-esque atmosphere is still a functioning brewery. The tour includes two small glasses of lambic and gueuze, and if you've never had a natural beer before, then you will be (pleasantly) surprised by the taste. An absolute must for beer lovers, save room in your luggage to take bottles back with you! Tour with tasting €10, tasting alone €2.
- ⊙Maison Antoine, 1, Place Jourdan, Etterbeek. Open Mo-Su 11:30-01:00.
The most famous of the many chip shops. Tasty fries with a large collection of sauces situated on a square close to the European Parliament. You can eat your fries (frites) in one of the several bars/cafés that carries the sign frites acceptés. Vegetarians be careful. Fries are cooked in Beef fat. Although this place has a very good reputation which can be guessed from the long line of people waiting to be served, purists will tell you that is certainly not the best place in town to get your fries.
- ⊙La Friterie de la Place de la Chapelle, Rue Haute-Hoogstraat (near Les Marolles/Marollen).
Another personal choice for the best frites in Brussels: the big chunks of potato, fried golden, and served with the usual dazzling array of sauces.
- ⊙La Friterie de la Barrière, Av. du Parc/Parkstraat 5, 1060 Saint-Gilles.
Golden and crispy frites just the way they should be. This exterior of this fritkot also serves as mini-museum with several tracts, articles and other literature on the fronts and sides of the shack on the good ol' Belgian frite.
- ⊙Friterie Tabora, Rue Taborastraat 2 (near the Bourse).
All natural frites with the widest selection of sauces available. It's open almost 24/7 and is a favourite among locals.
Inside the range of 4 km:
- ⊙ Hotel Sun, Rue du Berger 38, Ixelles/Elsene, PC IV
- ⊙ Aloft Brussels Schuman, Place Jean Rey, Brussel, PC V - IX
- ⊙ Housing Brussels, Rue Louis Scutenaire 3, Brussels, PC VIII
Inside the range of 4 km:
- ⊙ Tourist-Information Bruxelles Town Hall, Grand-Place, Bruxelles
- ⊙ Tourist-Information Bruxelles Rue Royale, Rue Royale 2, Bruxelles
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Wikivoyage contributors, 'Brussels', Wikivoyage, The FREE worldwide travel guide that anyone can edit, 9 August 2016, 16:21 UTC, https://en.wikivoyage.org/w/index.php?title=Brussels&oldid=3031903 [accessed 9 September 2016]
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09 Sep 2016 - 28 Dec 2022
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Nearby cycle routes and tours
|Route name||Type||Dist. to route|
Added on 09 Sep 2016,
last edited by »biroto-Redaktion« on 28 Dec 2022