Brussels: Belgium’s Capital – the Top 10 Places of Interest
A city trip is always a good idea. Usually, it doesn’t require too much effort, but you still get the chance to explore a completely new place for a few days. And we’ve got just the place for you: Brussels. Even backpackers need a bit of inspiration from time to time. However, you may ask yourself the following questions: Where to go? Which city is suitable for a backpacker city trip? What is there to do? We will answer these questions for you!
You probably haven’t heard much about Brussels, since it’s not necessarily the most popular European city for backpackers. But we want to change that, and introduce you to this capital city.
Are you excited to know what Brussels has to offer, and what sights await you? Get ready for your next city trip with this exclusive guide. Let’s go!
Brussels in a Nutshell
But what is Brussels like? Say hello to Brussels, the capital of the Kingdom of Belgium. It borders Germany, the Netherlands, France, Luxembourg, and the North Sea. The Belgians call Brussels “Bruxelles”. This is French, one of the national languages of Belgium, along with German and Dutch.
Brussels, located in the center of Belgium, has more than 1.2 million inhabitants if you take the entire region into consideration. The capital itself is home to 185,000 people, making it only the fifth-largest city in the country. Nevertheless, Brussels is Belgium’s capital as well as its economic and social center. Both the royal family and the European Union reside there. Therefore, a trip to Brussels is a must for those interested in politics.
While in Brussels, we recommend you try one of the favorite dishes Belgian cuisine has to offer: Brussels waffles. The dessert, which originated in the 19th century, consists of a sponge cake baked in a waffle iron. It’s often topped with fresh fruit, ice cream, or whipped cream. If you prefer hearty food, then you should try waffles with cheese and bacon. Delicious!
Temperatures are usually mild, and the climate is generally humid. So be sure to pack a rain jacket on your trip, especially if you want to visit one of the amazing festivals in Brussels. As the saying goes: there’s no bad weather, only bad clothing.
Therefore, make sure to be well-equipped when going to the world-famous Tomorrowland Festival in July, where you can dance to electronic dance music tracks. Are you more into hip hop, blues, and rock? No problem, the music festival Couleur Café in June is the right place for you! A similar variety of genres awaits you at the end of August at the Brussels Summer Festival. It’s not only an open-air event, but also consists of many small concerts in bars and clubs throughout the city. In our opinion, every one of these festivals is incredible!
If you are only interested in sightseeing around the city, that’s absolutely fine, too. There are a lot of sights in Brussels! You can reach everything by public transport, but you can also explore the city by renting a bike, e-bike, or e-scooter. It’s a great way to casually cruise around the city. You can also get to the city by bus from the Brussels-Zaventem airport without any problems. Funnily enough, the airport is the biggest point of sale of the famous Belgian chocolate. That will make your stay all the sweeter!
The Top 10 Places of Interest in Brussels
Besides the great music festivals, Brussels boasts many amazing sightseeing spots. Here, one amazing sight follows the next, which is one of the reasons why you can spend so much time in the city. Book a tour in order to experience all of the capital’s attractions. That way, you’ll learn about the history of the city and the buildings from one of the locals. You should also consider taking a hop-on/hop-off bus. Naturally, you can also explore the city on your own!
If you haven’t seen this sight, then you haven’t truly been in Brussels. It’s the city’s landmark and probably also the most photographed attraction. But what exactly is Manneken Pis?
It’s a small bronze statue, urinating into a fountain’s basin. You won’t believe it, but this figure actually characterizes the city’s image. Sometimes, people even dress up the statue, which makes it look even funnier.
As is often the case, there is a legend behind it. Whether you believe it or not is up to you. Once upon a time, a little boy extinguished a fire by pissing on it, thus saving Brussels from being burned down. Hence, its name, which literally means “Little Pissing Man”. Both travelers and backpackers enjoy this extraordinary fountain in the center of the city. It’s truly a highlight!
Besides Manneken Pis, there is another sight that characterizes the city. It’s probably the most popular building in Belgium. We’re talking about the Atomium, a big stainless-steel structure that is one of Brussels’ main attractions. The Atomium consists of several enormous spheres connected by big tubes, meant to represent the chemical element iron.
Admire the Atomium not only from the outside, but also from the inside by going into the spheres. From there, you’ll get a great view of both the Atomium itself and Brussels. Mere picture can’t do this enormous structure justice. Each sphere measures 18 meters in diameter, and the whole structure is more than 100 meters high! The Atomium really is an extraordinary attraction and highly popular among backpackers in Brussels.
Belgium is a monarchy. Therefore, the royal family is an integral part of the country. The Belgians are proud of their form of government, and it is also interesting for backpackers to learn a little more about it. In Brussels, you will find the Palais Royale, meaning the Royal Palace, where the royal family lives.
The real fans of the royalty visit Brussels quite often. For them, the palace is heaven on earth. But even if you’re not that interested in monarchy, you can still make the most of it and learn something about it. During the summer months, you can book a guided tour of the magnificent rooms and immerse yourself in a whole new world. Even from the outside, the building is an attraction in and of itself.
Brussels’ old town is particularly beautiful. For instance, it’s where you’ll find the Town Hall, one of the city’s most rewarding attractions. This historical building is located directly at the so-called Grote Markt, a big square surrounded by picturesque buildings. It offers a picture-perfect backdrop.
Just sit down somewhere and watch the passersby, or visit the museum on a guided tour. That way, you’ll learn more about Brussels’ history and its politics. Moreover, the building’s architecture is just stunning! It’s really worth it, even when you’re on a budget!
Let’s go on an excursion through the city’s political scene. As mentioned before, the European Union has its headquarters in Brussels, which is why the city is also known as the capital of the EU. This makes it the perfect place to learn more about politics. If not in Brussels, then where? That’s why we recommend a trip to the European Quarter.
Here, you can visit the seat of the European Council and some other famous buildings, in which important decisions are often made. If you want to learn more about it, book a guided tour through the European Quarter and dive into European politics for a day. The House of European History will take you back in time and give you detailed information about the European Union and each one of its member countries. The Parlamentarium is also worth seeing, as it contains multimedia content explaining how the European Parliament works.
Mont des Arts
With some basic knowledge of French, you’ll quickly understand what this attraction is about. The “Mount of the Arts” was once the seat of government, but is now an art center.
If you like museums, then you’ve come to the right place. Additionally, a beautiful garden complex, a statue of King Albert I, and the Palace of Congress attract a lot of visitors.
But that’s not all! Apart from the chance to immerse yourself in the world of art, the Mont des Arts is also the ideal vantage point. From there, you’ll see Brussels from above, making you fall in love with the Belgian capital all over again. We’re sure of that!
Did you know that Belgian chocolate is considered one of the best in the whole world? Among backpackers, rumor has it that it is even THE BEST CHOCOLATE EVER. See for yourself by visiting Choco-Story Brussels, formerly known as the Museum of Cocoa and Chocolate. The tropical greenhouse is particularly impressive. There, you can admire cocoa and banana trees in all their glory! Who would have thought that?
Of course, you can try the chocolate in one of the many shops in the city, but the museum offers an all-around experience. Here, you will learn about the history and production of chocolate and, of course, you will have the opportunity to taste it for yourself. As long as there is chocolate, there will be happiness.
Comics Art Museum
If you’re already on a museum trip, you can’t miss the Comics Art Museum in Brussels. The country is famous for its many talented artists, but Brussels is also said to have the most! At the museum, you can admire many comic heroes and dive into another universe.
Are you wondering which comics are from Belgium? In fact, many of them were probably a part of your childhood. These include The Adventures of Tintin, The Smurfs, and Lucky Luke. Crazy, right? If that’s not enough for you, then take a comic tour through Brussels and see some of the façades decorated with comics. Amazing, isn’t it?
The name practically speaks for itself. Mini-Europe is a one-of-a-kind attraction. Think of it as a kind of adventure park where you can visit all of Europe, only in miniature.
From the Big Ben in London to the eruption of the Vesuvius in Italy – you’ll find everything in Mini-Europe. There is an entrance fee, but you simply have to visit this unique place.
You’ve had enough of sightseeing and are just looking for some relaxation? Then Brussels is the perfect place to do so, because there are plenty of beautiful parks. So, feel free to choose from the Botanical Garden, Leopold Park, Josaphat Park, the Sonian Forest, or the Bois de la Cambre.
If you want to see a wonderful sunset, we recommend Lake Genval. It is near the Zonian Forest and is ideal for relaxing. It’s the perfect spot to recharge your batteries.
We think we’ve made it clear now: Brussels is the right choice for your next city trip. Learn more about politics and get to know another European city. The Belgian capital won’t disappoint! It is a great destination, especially for backpackers! There’ s a lot for you to experience here.
Especially so if you’re interested in museums, the Belgian royal family, or impressive buildings like the Town Hall, the Manneken Pis, or the Atomium. There also are some much-needed places to take a break and relax.
You’ll relax even better if you combine your break with some delicious Belgian chocolate or Brussels waffles. Or what about an amazing music festival during summer? In Brussels, you’ll be spoilt for choice and will certainly not regret your stay there. So, what are you waiting for?