Buzzing with historical landmarks, fascinating museums and captivating street art, Brussels is a true gem worth the visit. Besides being known as the capital of the European Union and one of the most cosmopolitan cities on the continent, Brussels is also popular thanks to its unusual statues and buildings that appear to be taken straight out of a sci-fi movie.
#1 Let the Grand Place take you away
A definitive must-visit of Brussels is the Grand Place—a big square waiting for you in the heart of the city. With buildings dating back to the 17th century, this square is famous for its rich architecture in Baroque and Gothic style and has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Grand Place is surrounded by the guildhalls of The Guild of Brussels, the Town Hall and the King’s House or Bread House. Pay a visit to take some stunning photographs of the buildings’ impressive motifs.
#2 Take a selfie with Brussels’ funniest statue
A few minutes’ walk from the Grand Place you’ll reach Manneken Pis, a landmark of the city of Brussels. This small (only 61cm long!) bronze statue of a naked little boy peeing in a fountain is one of the city’s most famous attractions and a symbol of the local humor. A few times per week, the locals dress Manneken Pis with different costumes.
#3 Do a tour of Brussels’ museums
Eager to discover Brussels’ history and folklore traditions? The Brussels City Museum will take you on a time-traveling adventure from the foundation of the city to the modern days.
Are you a fan of galleries and sculptures? Then pay a visit to the Royal Museum of Fine Arts of Belgium which contains 20,000 artworks from renowned Flemish artists.
Are you interested in less traditional museums? In the Comic Art Museum you will learn about the rich history of comics and meet famous Belgian comic characters, such as Tintin and the Smurfs.
#4 Take a walk through the beautiful gardens
Have you ever dreamed of having a picnic surrounded by a mixture of nature and astonishing architecture? The Cinquantenaire Park offers you plenty of green space for the perfect picnic. You can also walk under the massive Triumphal Arch built in 1880 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Belgian revolution. Something you can’t miss if you have one day in Brussels!
If you’re searching for a great view of the city, don’t hesitate to go to Mont des Arts and enjoy its artistically arranged garden. The complex connects the lower and upper parts of the city and provides a stunning panorama of Brussels.
#5 Step inside the Atomium
You cannot visit Brussels without seeing the most iconic building of the city. The 100 meters high landmark, made of steel and aluminum, is an accurate representation of an atom but a billion times bigger. Enter the nine metallic spheres and learn about the construction of the building, watch exhibitions or sit at a restaurant with a full panoramic view of Brussels.
Address: Pl. de l’Atomium 1, 1020 Bruxelles, Belgium
Opening times: Mon-Sun (10AM-6PM, Thursdays closed)
#6 Feel the royal spirit
Are you curious to learn more about the life of Belgian royalty? Then visit the Palais Royal located in the center of Brussels. Although the royal family now lives outside of the city in the Palace of Laeken, this remains their administrative residence and main workplace. The gorgeous building and its garden will leave you marveling at their beauty. During the summer months, the palace is open to tourists.
Address: Rue Brederode 16, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium
#7 Try Belgian food
Brussels is the origin of waffles and therefore your trip shouldn’t go without trying this traditional dish. You can find them everywhere around the city. Another must-try is the famous Belgian chocolate, and you’ll find a great variety of it here. We recommend allowing yourself the pleasure of tasting it when you have only one day in Brussels.
Brussels is also known for its beer and fries. You should consider visiting the local bars or breweries where you can see how beer is made. At Delirium Café you’ll find one of the longest beer lists with around 2000 different types.
#8 Stroll through the most interesting neighborhoods
Is there a better way to spend one day in Brussels and get to know the local spirit than walking through Brussels’ popular neighborhoods? The Sablon neighborhood used to be the home of the nobility and remains one of the most charming corners of the city, with its Petit Sablon square, the Egmont Palace and the church Notre Dame du Sablon.
The Marolles is known for being the most authentic neighborhood. Here you’ll hear people speaking the local dialect and find the oldest bars in town, plenty of street art and a flea market. Another area where you’ll find many locals going shopping or grabbing a drink is the center of Saint-Gilles—which is a popular home for artists.
#9 See Europe in one day
Near the Atomium, there’s a miniature park where you can see reproductions of 80 European cities. Stroll around Mini-Europe and you’ll discover Big Ben, the Eiffel Tower or the Cathedral Santiago de Compostela—everything displayed at a scale of 1:25. Many of the recreations are interactive and produce visual and sound effects that can be activated by the touch of a button. Watch the Vulcan Vesuvius erupt, or the Berlin wall fall! Not only will kids love it, but it will amaze adults too.
Address: Av. du Football 1, 1020 Bruxelles, Belgium
Opening times: Mon-Fri (9:30AM-5PM)