The Capital of Europe, Brussels: Top-Rated Attractions, Restaurants, and Hotels

Brussels

Updated On: April 23, 2024 by   Ciaran ConnollyCiaran Connolly

Luxurious chocolate, UNESCO sites, lavish castles, comic strips, some of the weirdest carnivals, and fashion… no one ever runs out of things to see and do in Belgium.

Home to many historical cities, Belgium offers different entertainments, catering to the tastes of every traveller. Its capital city, Brussels, is a multi-layered hub with many European staples, namely architecture and art. It’s a city bustling with artistic creation and history, and it doesn’t offer even a minute of boredom to its visitors.

Earning the nickname of being the “capital of Europe,” Brussels is a paradise for history and architecture lovers, but it’s also the perfect spot for laid-back travellers, offering unusual —and quite funny— attractions, such as Manneken Pis. We don’t recommend visiting the city if you’re on a diet, though. You won’t be able to resist indulging in the fries, mussels, beer, and lots and lots of chocolates. To help you plan your visit to Brussels, we’ve compiled a short list of the must-see attractions and top-rated restaurants and hotels to indulge in Belgian culture and relax during your trip, along with some travelling tips like when to visit the city.

Best Time to Visit Brussels

Tourists can visit Brussels year-round (with the appropriate clothing) due to the city’s warm oceanic climate. However, the time between March and May and September and October, the shoulder seasons, is the best time to visit the city when the weather is mild.

Winter may be an intriguing time to visit Belgium’s capital if you don’t mind the cold. You’ll undoubtedly save money on your airline tickets, plus you’ll get to see Brussels decorated for Christmas. Additionally, Brussels has a particular melancholy charm when it rains, which draws travellers during the winter.

In Brussels, the hottest months are June, July, and August. Average temperatures range from a high of 73.4°F (23°C) to a low of 57°F (14°C). However, the temperature can also get above 90°F (30°C), and the humidity is typically so high that visiting the city can be exhausting.

Remember that even if you travel during the summer, you must pack an umbrella because of the year-round rain.

Top Attractions in Brussels

Brussels features many attractions that allure people worldwide. Let’s have a look at the best attractions to see while touring the city:

Grand Place of Brussels

Brussels

La Grand Place, also known as Große Markt or Great Square in English, is Brussels’s historic centre and one of the most iconic squares in Europe

This bustling cobbled square is a component of Belgium’s most exquisite collection of seventeenth-century buildings. Most of La Grand Place’s buildings were destroyed in 1695 when the French troops shelled Brussels, but a lot of them got restored. The most significant and stunning structures are the ones listed below:

  • Maison des Ducs de Brabant: Seven houses in the Neo-Classical style are grouped under one colossal façade.
  • Maison du Roi: 1536 saw The King’s House’s completion, which was renovated in 1873. The Duke of Brabant, also known as Charles V, oversaw both the Holy Roman Empire and the Spanish Empire and was the owner. It is home to the Museum of the City of Brussels (Musée de la Ville de Bruxelles), which displays tapestries, miniature suits from the Mannekin Pis’ wardrobe, and paintings from the sixteenth century.
  • Le Renard and Le Cornet: Maison du Renard (Fox House) from 1690 and Le Cornet (boatmen’s guild) from 1697 are both housed in the same structure. 
  • The most well-liked bar in La Grand Place, Le Roy d’Espagne, formerly the baker’s guild headquarters, has spectacular views of the central square and superb Belgian beer. A bust of Charles II of Spain, who reigned as king of Belgium in the seventeenth century, is shown on the building’s façade.

Musical Instruments Museum

Brussels

Over 7,000 musical instruments, from the Middle Ages to the present, are housed in the Musical Instruments Museum (Musée des Instruments de Musique), located in the heart of Brussels. It occupies the space that Old England formerly occupied. The structure was constructed in 1899 and is a masterpiece of Art Nouveau.

The MIM (Musical Instruments Museum) features interactive exhibits that add to the fun of going there. You will be given headphones at the start of the tour that will spring to life as you approach the various instruments on display and begin playing excerpts from that particular instrument.

Four levels make up the museum, which contains more than 7,000 instruments arranged in various styles. A floor is devoted to a collection of traditional musical instruments, mechanical, electrical and electronic instruments, Western classical music, and keyboards.

Atomium in Brussels

Brussels

What the Eiffel Tower is to Paris, the Atomium is to Brussels. Landmarks built for the World Fair exhibition’s residents and visitors, which initially drew harsh criticism, have evolved into the most significant icons of each nation. The 1958 Brussels World’s Fair’s centrepiece was the Atomium.

Each sphere contains both ongoing and one-time exhibits. The 1958 Expo display, which includes papers, videos, images, and much more, deserves special mention among the permanent exhibits. Additionally, there is a restaurant in the top sphere.

Palais de Justice

Brussels

One of the biggest and most spectacular European structures is Le Palais de Justice (The Palace of Justice). It continues to be Belgium’s most significant courthouse today. The building is visible from most areas of the town because of its large size—160 by 150 metres with a total ground surface area of 26,000 m2—and its location in the upper Town of Brussels.

The primary entrance of the building is located on Poelaert Square, which also offers the best views of Brussels. Joseph Poelaert built the structure between 1866 and 1883; he passed away four years before the Palace was opened. Three thousand homes had to be demolished to finish the design.

When the Germans were driven out of Belgium at the close of World War II, they set fire to the Palace, causing the dome to collapse. The new crown is significantly different from the old one in height and width.

The Palace’s interior will wow you if the exterior catches you off guard. Exploring it is undoubtedly worthwhile. Its open entryway is incredibly lofty at 328 feet (100 metres). Visitors can access the court’s two floors, basement, and levels.

Cinquantenaire

Brussels

The Palace of Cinquantenaire is one of Brussels’ most iconic structures from an architectural perspective. The Palace is visible because it has a triumphal arch with a bronze chariot in the centre, like Berlin‘s Brandenburg Gate, and is situated east of Cinquantenaire Park (Parc du Cinquantenaire).

The Palace and arch were constructed to mark Belgium’s 50th year as an independent state. The Cinquantenaire Museum, Autoworld, and Royal Military Museum are the three museums now housed in the structure.

The second-most significant urban park in Brussels is the Parc du Cinquantenaire. The employees of the European Union frequently visit during lunch because it is so close to the European quarter.

Although this park is typically less bustling than Brussels Park (Parc de Bruxelles), if you’re in the neighbourhood, you can take a quick stroll through it and admire its many monuments.

Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert

Brussels

The Royal Saint-Hubert Galleries are a covered shopping complex in Brussels that opened its doors in 1847. It is still among the most abundant because it was Europe’s first glazed shopping arcade. 

Approximately 656 feet (200 metres) long, Saint Hubert is neatly covered by a glass roof that allows the sunshine but keeps out the periodic rain. Galerie de la Reine, Galerie du Roi, and Galerie des Princes are the three sections that make up the Galeries.

The “Galeries” are incredibly serene and full of exquisitely crafted window displays. There are several jewellers, significant chocolate shops, upscale boutiques, restaurants, and pubs, as well as a small theatre and a movie theatre.

The arcade connects La Monnaie, Belgium‘s federal opera house, and La Grand Place, joining the city’s old and new districts. From la rue des Bouchers, la rue du Marché aux Herbes, or la rue de l’Ecuyer, you may access the shopping centre.

In Brussels, seven glazed arches were constructed between 1820 and 1880. Currently, only three of them remain: the Northern Passage, the Galeries Saint-Hubert, and the Galeries Portier.

Since 1850, the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert has been a favourite gathering place for intellectuals and artists. It is also famous for tourists who browse the shops or enjoy a warm coffee.

Best Restaurants in Brussels

Brussels

Do you like eating out and trying different foods? Brussels is famous for its restaurants. They serve tasty food and drinks with varied menus that suit everyone’s taste. Here are some of the top-rated restaurants:

Comme Chez Soi

One of the many notable restaurants in Brussels’ upscale dining scene is Comme Chez Soi. It has been open since way back in 1926, and since 1979, it has been awarded at least two renowned Michelin stars. It’s located on the city’s southwest edge, right off the Avenue de Stalingrad.

For many years, the kitchen has significantly impacted the European fine dining scene. The menu at Comme Chez Soi features signature dishes, including fish with confit lemon and urchin butter and Ardennes mousse of ham. 

Le Rabassier

In the heart of Brussels, there is a small yet well-known restaurant named Le Rabassier. Six minutes walk from Brussels-Chapel train station is a letterbox-sized café tucked in between the townhouses on the little alley of Rue de Rollebeek. Its husband-and-wife developers provide a unique take on European surf and turf here. The already excellent dishes at Le Rabassier are improved by black truffle.

The tingling, sour fungus is served as a garnish with lobster bearnaise, scallops with beluga caviar, and roasted sea urchins. There are just a few tables left, so reserve early.

Restaurant Vincent

A short distance from Brussels’ Grand Place, on Rue des Dominicains, sits the Vincent restaurant . One wall is covered in tile murals depicting Belgian cows munching on Flanders grasslands, while the other is decorated with pictures of Low Country sailors braving the surf.

Restaurant Vincent is one of the most well-known restaurants serving regional food in the centre of the Belgian city. The kitchen is all about showing Moules-Frites (mussels and fries), succulent steaks, tartar, and so on. It is proudly Belgian through and through.

Bon Bon

Brussels’ Bon Bon advertises itself as a “sensory dialogue” instead of an average Belgian eatery. It aspires to make dining a holistic experience for the body and mind, going beyond the search for outstanding flavour.

That’s perhaps why you need to get away from the city’s attractions and go to Woluwe-Saint-Pierre, a quiet suburb 20 minutes from Grand Place. When you arrive, you’ll see an elegant mansion with white walls and well-kept grounds. In a chic dining room decorated in gold and beige, the 2-Michelin-starred chefs at Bon Bon serve cuisine with many locally sourced and foraged products.

Top-Rated Hotels

We think firstly of accommodation when we are on vacation abroad or on a trip inside the country. Brussels introduces its visitors to a wide variety of hotels with top-notch facilities. The following are some of the best hotels:

Juliana Hotel Brussels

The Juliana Hotel Brussels is a lodging option featuring a restaurant, private parking, a fitness centre, and a bar in Brussels, 100 m from Rue Neuve. This hotel offers family rooms as well as a terrace for visitors. The lodging offers visitors a front desk that is open around the clock, room service, and currency exchange. A flat-screen TV and air-conditioned are included in the rooms. 

A coffee maker is included in each room at the Juliana Hotel Brussels, and some of the rooms offer views of the city. Each hotel room is furnished with linens and towels. Every morning at the Juliana Hotel Brussels, options for a continental or buffet breakfast are provided.

The hotel’s wellness centre has a sauna, hammam, and indoor pool. The Belgian Comics Strip Center, the Royal Gallery of Saint Hubert, and the Museum of the City of Brussels are popular attractions close to the Juliana Hotel Brussels. Ten kilometres away from the lodging, Brussels Airport is the nearest airport.

All In One

All In One includes a terrace, a shared lounge, on-site dining, and free WiFi, and it is located in Brussels, 5 m from Rue Neuve. Rogier Square is about 3 minutes away by foot, while The King’s House is around 10 minutes. Grand Place is 800 metres away, while the Museum of the City of Brussels is 900 metres away from the property. Each room at the bed and breakfast has a patio with a view of the city. The closest airport is Brussels Airport, which is 20 minutes by rail from the lodging.

Rocco Forte Hotel Amigo

The five-star Hotel Amigo boasts exquisite accommodations with designer accents on the corner of Grand Place. It mixes a gorgeous historic setting with contemporary amenities like a gym and an award-winning restaurant. The Rocco Forte Hotel Amigo’s rooms have a work desk, a flat-screen interactive cable TV, a minibar filled with beverages and an AC.

Only 200 metres separate you from the hilarious Manneken Pis statue. At most, 15 minutes of walking will get you to the Magritte Museum and the Le Sablon antique district.

Eurostars Montgomery

In the centre of the European business sector, Eurostars Montgomery offers roomy accommodations in a historic Victorian setting. Both room service and WiFi are complimentary. You can unwind in the leather chairs of the Montys Bar at the Eurostar Montgomery or enjoy the sauna and fitness centre. Only high-quality food is served at La Duchesse to ensure a luxurious stay.

Europe offers some of the world’s unmissable destinations buzzing with its long and rich past. Being dubbed the Capital of Europe, Brussels combines history—mostly turbulent— with the alluring Western modernity so splendidly that it has to be your first stop if you’re touring the continent. If you want to visit some lesser-known destinations, check out our top 5 hidden European gems!

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