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Brussels

What to See & discover

The 3 Brussels must-sees,

that you must have seen, but somehow not

If you are looking for sights in Brussels, you will be recommended three sights in particular: The Grote Markt (or Grand Place), the Manneken Pis and the Atomium. All of them are must-sees when you're in Brussels. At the same time, you don't have to have seen them (with the exception of the Grote Markt). In my opinion, the sights are over-hyped (especially the Manneken Pis). And yet they are what make a trip to Brussels special. That's why I'm also presenting them to you here:

Grote Markt

When I entered the Grote Markt for the first time, I was stunned. Because when the sun is reflected in the gold of the beautiful houses on the square, it just feels magical.

So the Grote Markt is definitely something you should see! And preferably when the sun is out, because that's when it's at its most impressive. Make sure you leave yourself a little time to take a longer look at the impressive buildings. You can even visit the town hall from the inside, as well as the Brussels City Museum directly opposite. Here you can also learn more about the history of the square and how it was rebuilt after it was destroyed by a French attack in 1695.

You should then discover the alleyways around the Grote Markt. Just like the square, they are lined with beautiful old buildings. Take a leisurely stroll through them, pop into a shop here and there and soak up the atmosphere!


Manneken Pis

Now let's move on to a rather overrated sight: the Manneken Pis. I hope all Brussels residents will forgive me for saying this. But the Manneken Pis is simply over-hyped for what it is. Because the statue of the little boy blissfully peeing in a fountain in the center of Brussels is really smaller than many people imagine. He is therefore cute to look at, but not worth the attention he gets.

What's more, the Manneken Pis is always very crowded due to its popularity. This ruins the atmosphere immensely. So make your way to the sister of the Manneken Pis: the Jeanneke Pis. You will find her in the Impasse de la Fidélité. You can even touch the peeing girl there. So you can get much closer to the Jeanneke than the Manneken!

Afterwards, you can go in search of Zinneke Pis, the peeing dog of the two.


Atomium

In my opinion, the Atomium also has a bigger reputation than you might expect. Nevertheless, I liked it a lot! Because the building is interesting from an architectural point of view. It was built in 1958 for the Expo. Its construction is supposed to represent a model of nine atoms and thus symbolize the atomic age.

You can visit the various spheres of the Atomium from the inside. Various staircases lead you through the arms and there is an elevator that takes you to the top floor. This was even the fastest elevator in the world when it opened!

Before my visit to the Atomium, I was particularly looking forward to the view from the top dome. However, I realized that the view from my office was even better. This is because the Atomium is outside, which is why all the interesting buildings are far away.

Instead, I was all the more impressed by the light show inside the Atomium. Make sure you take the time to take it in! You can easily buy tickets for the Atomium online here.


What you should see instead,

because Brussels has so much more to offer!

Admittedly, I only learned to love Brussels at second glance. Because when I was only a tourist in the city before, I thought it was beautiful, but I wasn't really blown away by it. In hindsight, I'm not surprised! I didn't even see the best places back then. This was partly due to the fact that they are not mentioned in the conventional travel guides, or are neglected. All the better that I was able to pay much more attention to the city over the three months and still get to know all its beautiful corners.


The Inn neighborhoods

Brussels has many beautiful corners, but not all of them are right in the city center. Much of the action tends to take place in the individual districts outside the inner ring road. Ixelles and Etterbeek are particularly popular. My favorite, however, is the Quartier du Châtelain. There, one beautiful house follows the next. There are also many good restaurants and bars as well as an after-work market on Wednesday evenings. In addition to fresh food, you can enjoy a delicious dinner or an after-work drink here.

I liked to go to Etterbeek on Sundays to stroll through the market at Place Jourdan, then have a drink at OR Café and then walk through one of the parks or show my friends the EU buildings. You'll find most of the EU institutions in Etterbeek. In addition to the EU Parliament, you can also admire the main building of the EU Commission (Berlaymont) and the European Council.

However, Ixelles is the most popular address for going out or shopping. There are many good bars, restaurants and stores there. If you need some peace and quiet, you can also sit by the Ixelles Ponds.



Marolles, the Palace of Justice & Avenue Louise

One of my favorite districts is Marolles. There are mainly good vintage stores here (both for furniture and clothes) and concept stores (e.g. Urban Therapy and Belgian Once). There is also a flea market on the Place du Jeu de Balle every day until 3 pm. All in all, shopping here is very sustainable!

From Marolles, you can then take the glass elevator “Ascenseur des Marolles” up to the impressive Palace of Justice. Unfortunately, this monstrous building has already seen its best days and the renovation work is very expensive, which the country cannot afford. Nevertheless, the Palace of Justice is impressive - both from the outside and the inside. During the week, you can just walk in there. Definitely recommended!

You can also get a good view of the city from the square in front of the Palace of Justice. If you want to go a little higher, you can take a ride on the Ferris wheel “The View” (cost: 8 EUR per person). Then head to Louise, the popular shopping street with stores such as Tiffany, Gucci and Louis Vuitton.



Going out in Brussels

If there's one thing you can do well in Brussels, it's going out! Because there are countless bars, pubs and trendy clubs. A real insider tip is “Le Corbeau”. However, you shouldn't turn up here before 10 pm. Because the bar is rather dull until then. But the atmosphere loosens up around 10 p.m., so that at some point people are simply dancing on the tables! And every time! I couldn't believe it myself until I saw it and then I had the time of my life.

I had another good evening in Brussels at the “Mirano” club. When I walked in through the golden hallway, I thought I was going to some underground club. But it was a converted movie theater with several bars and a large dance floor, and the music was amazing! Really recommendable.

However, the most famous places in Brussels are the Delirium Café and Café Belga. These are actually both bars/pubs. But at the weekend, the party and dancing here gets louder and louder. The music is very good.

If you're in Brussels during the week, there's another thing you shouldn't miss: Thursday evenings at the “Place du Luxembourg”, also affectionately known as the “Plux”. This is where all the EU trainees and young people meet on Thursdays to have an after-work beer together (which can sometimes turn into two, three or four after-work beers...). The atmosphere is great, especially in the summer months, when everyone sits on the grass in front of the EU Parliament and enjoys the good weather!

Another place to go for a drink is St. Catherine and the streets around the St. Géry market hall. There's always something going on there. St. Catherine is also a nice place to enjoy a glass of wine with some delicious food from Noordzee during the day at the weekend.

But if I'm honest, you can't really find a wrong place to go out. There are cool bars and pubs everywhere in Brussels and lots of young people who just want to enjoy their lives. So new contacts are included!



The beautiful galleries

No matter where I am, beautiful galleries like the gallery in Milan always inspire me. And Brussels has several of them! Probably the most famous are the Galerie de la Reine and the Galerie St. Hubert, which are located in the heart of the city and are connected. There you will find all the delicious chocolateries, some cafés, a theater, a cinema and some stores. And despite the wonderful atmosphere, everything is not even much more expensive than anywhere else. So you can afford to have a coffee here and enjoy the lovely atmosphere.

I also really like the Galerie Bortier. Their vintage book store makes you feel a bit like you're in Harry Potter, I love it! There are also small art galleries with changing exhibitions.

Another small but lovely gallery is the Passage du Nord. It connects Rue Neuve (a major shopping street in Brussels) with Boulevard Adolphe Max, from where you can get to St. Catherine. It makes your walks through the city even more beautiful!



The green Brussels

Brussels is very green, by the way! The city has so many parks! My favorite park is the Bois de la Chambre, which is a bit out of town but easy to reach by streetcar. There are beautiful walking paths here and a nice restaurant, the Charlet Robinson. The Chateau de La Hulpe is also located at the foot of the Bois de la Chambre. This cute little castle is surrounded by endless nature!

If you prefer to stay within the city, you can visit the Parc de Bruxelles in front of the Royal Palace. Or you can make your way to Parc Cinquantenaire, which is probably the most interesting park in Brussels with its impressive triumphal arch and surrounding museums and EU buildings. If you are visiting the EU Parliament, you can also take a short walk through Parc Leopold.

Another nice park is Parc Josaphat in Schaarbeek, which was practically on my doorstep. In addition to the park, there are sports facilities for many sports and the surrounding houses are very beautiful. A little further out is the Parc de Laeken. If you stroll through there, you can take a look at the Atomium on the one hand and enjoy the city skyline on the other.



Buying Chocolate & Co.

What is Belgium known for? Of course, for its chocolate and pralines. So you simply have to buy some - whether for yourself or your loved ones at home.

The best place to do this is the Galerie de la Reine, as roughly all the chocolateries in the city have a branch here. A good (but expensive) address is “Neuhaus”. “La Belgique Gourmande” is a little cheaper, but still good. You can get good macarons at “Corné Port-Royal Brussels”.



The countless museums

There are plenty of museums in Brussels. You could spend weeks visiting the various museums. Particularly popular museums are the Magritte Museum, the Comic Museum and the Musical Instrument Museum. If you have time or have a rainy day, why not visit one of these museums?

If you happen to be in Brussels on the first Sunday of the month, then you are particularly lucky. Because then admission to some museums is free, such as the Brussels City Museum or the Fashion & Lace Museum. In my opinion, the latter is only worth a visit if you don't have to pay admission.

The House of European History and the Parlamentarium are also always free. However, you should bring time instead of money. Because the exhibitions are huge. You actually have to visit the House of European History several times to absorb all the information. But it's worth it!



Other sights worth seeing

I liked to start my tour of the city with my visiting friends at the Congress Column and strolled from there towards the Royal Palace. We then went to the Mont des Arts, where we admired one of the best views in the city, and then ticked off the must-sees.

But if you're looking for something a little more special, then you should drive out and visit the Saint-Gilles prison. The building looks like a small castle! Also just outside, but in the other direction, is the Pannenhuis metro station - a spot to take some cool photos. Something unique is the Passerello Tondo, a sculpture between two building facades in the city center.

You should also always check to see if there is an event going on in the city. Because there is always something going on in Brussels. At the end of October and the end of February, for example, there is always the Light Festival. Here, amazing light installations are beamed onto well-known buildings, accompanied by electronic music.



Riding around by train at the weekend

Seen enough of Brussels? Then hop on the train! Because train tickets are always 50% off at the weekend. A trip to another city such as Antwerp, Bruges or Ghent is a good idea. I particularly liked Ghent. One of my Belgian friends also gave me some good tips for this, which I would be happy to send you if you write to me!

A lesser-known place that is still worth a visit is Dinant. The town of 13,000 inhabitants is not particularly large, but the skyline is unique. There is also the Maison Leffe, where you can do a beer tasting of the popular Belgian beer. We had a lot of fun!




I have put together a list of all the places on Google Maps.

You can find the list here.