As a student of international affairs and former Erasmus student in Liège (Belgium), I had the chance to explore Brussels more than once. Here a list with tips on Things To Do In Brussels. Below find the map with all mentioned locations.
1. Visit Mini-Europe
Mini-Europe is a small „village“, where you can admire European architecture presented by historically important buildings and sights. It’s nice to see how different but cohesive European culture is. If you are coming from Europe, you can check out how your country is presented. Costs 14,50 EUR per person (no student discount). Follow the Metro Line 6 to Heysel to get there.
2. Check out the Atomium monument from the outside
Atomium is the symbol of Brussels. It was built over 50 years ago and from the top you have a view over the city that looks like this. It`s interesting to look at but only from the outside. From the top there is not really much to do, you walk once in circle and if you don’t want to stay at the restaurant where the cheapest meal cost about 20EUR, you get bored quite fast. I suggest you save yourself the 8 EUR (with student discount) and the one hour waiting line to get up and spend it elsewhere. Check it out from the outside and visit Mini-Europe which is right next to it.
3. Taste Belgium Beer
This is a very important point. Belgium is known for their beer. There are around 180 breweries that produce this liquid gold. In Brussels you are able to taste more than 2000 different beer flavors. Belgium beers are very strong, the alcohol content of most sorts is around 8%-12%, but you can find also some above 20%. In case you need a checklist click here. For cheap beer visit the Irish Pub Celtica, afterwards check out the Delirium (the place with 2000 different beer sorts).
4. Taste Belgium Waffles and Fries
Forget McDonald fries, forget the French fries, try Belgian fries, because there is only one original. I guess the name “French fries” was invented by some English speaking guy who did not know that Belgians also speak French. You should also go for homemade waffles, you can choose from different toppings and fruits.
5. Visit Grand Place and Galeries Royales St. Hubert
While walking in the center, you can’t miss the Grand Place. A nice square in the heart of Brussels dominated by the city town hall. If you are looking for your friend which you have lost in Delirium at 3am, go check out the Grand Place, even if he/she is not there, the square is very peaceful and looks great at night. It’s also surrounded with souvenir shops, which are rather expensive. Right next to the square you can walk through the Galleries Royales St. Hubert which is very nice to look at but filled with luxury souvenir shops and expensive coffees.
6. Visit the EU District
Take the metro line 1 or 5 to the “Schuman” station. Here you will find the EU Commission and some other EU buildings. If you are in a group, there is a chance to get in, but it is not that interesting unless you are a big fan into the EU politics. For more info on tours click here. Next to the “EU” district you will find the Parc du Cinquantenaire which is very nice for a small picknique or a walk.
7. Check out the Parlamentarium
For all of you interested in the organization of the European Union, visit the Parlamentarium (metro station MAELBEEK) or walk from “Schuman”. Here you will find very interactive exhibitions that tell you the story behind the EU. You can explore it in 24 languages and the staff is also very helpful and kind in case you need some help. It’s open MO- SU until 18:00 and it’s for FREE. I highly recommend this.
8. Get yourself the Belgium chocolate
.. but don’t buy it at the souvenir shops in the center. They are way too expensive. Go find a supermarket and get some Belgian chocolate for 2 EUR.
Some tips to the end
If you are staying couple days and you know you will be using the metro a lot. Buy yourself the multiple fare ticket 10 rides for 14 EUR (you can use it together with your friend). If you arrive with train, you might get confused by the name of the train stations. There are three, Brussels Nord, Brussels Centraal and Brussels Midi. You need to get out at Brussels CENTRAAL to get into the historical downtown.
If you look for accommodation, check out the Meininger Hotel (it is actually more a Hostel), it is 30min walk to the Grand Place, clean and good value for your money. They do charge extra for breakfast but when I was there they did not checked so maybe you can also slip through 🙂
Here the Metro Map Brussels in case you need it and also a map with all the locations mentioned above. If you found this post about 8 Cool Things To Do In Brussels of value, feel free to spread the word.
Enjoy your stay in Brussel, à bientôt 🙂