Brussels Things to Do
The capital and largest city in Belgium, Brussels has nearly two million residents. Travelers can find a place that easily incorporates both the French and Flemish character of the entire country.
From the medieval Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula to the Grand Place market to the Atomium, Brussels is one of the centers of cultural life in Europe.
The Grote Markt
The Grote Markt, Dutch for Grand Place, is the center of the city. Dating from the 12th century, it is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The plaza contains a public square surrounded by grand buildings. Explore the opulent guidhalls where the city’s businessmen once gathered. See the high decorated City Hall. The Museum of the City of Brussels is here. If you’re visiting during alternate Augusts, the city square comes alive with a huge carpet of flowers composed of Begonias and extending across the entire square. Look for ornate buildings gilded in gold leaf and incredibly intricate details that show off the classic architecture made possible by the accumulation of vast wealth when it was one of the trading centers of Europe
The Cathédrale of St. Michael and St. Gudula
This is the largest cathedral in Brussels. Admire the highly decorated outside. Then step inside for stunning lead glass windows in bright colors. This is a working church where you can participate in mass, listen to choirs sing and hear services. Each year, the cathedral also serves as a showcase for Belgium artists.
For a look at contemporary Belgium, take a visit inside the Atomium. Originally constructed for the 1958 World’s Fair, this building serves as a contemporary symbol of the modern city. The spokes of the atomium serve as escalators and stairs to connect the nine spheres of the structure. Inside, five of the spheres are open to the public. They contain contemporary exhibits demonstrating how it was constructed. At the top is a restaurant with a wonderful view of the entire city. You can get there from central Brussels by taking the Metro on Line 6. Get off at the Heysel station and then it is a ten minute walk.
Shopping, Parks and Gardens
The main shopping area of Brussels is the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert. Head here for world famous Belgium chocolates. You’ll find it divided into three areas: the Galerie de la Reine, the Galerie du Roi and the Galerie des Prince and over fifty shops. If you like the outdoors, head for the Gardens of Petit Sablon. Forty-eight statues dot the park while the area is a riot of flowers during the spring and summer. The Cinquantenaire was built to celebrate Belgium independence in 1880. It is surrounded by the Royal Museum of Art and History, and the prestigious Royal Institute of Artistic Heritage, both well worth a visit.
Editor’s note: The information contained on this page was compiled using real traveler reviews about things to do in Brussels.