What to see in Brussels in one day
I have been to Brussels three times. In my opinion, one day is enough for it.
You can walk around the center in a few hours. You can get a sense of the atmosphere of the city and see the main attractions. If you have more time for traveling to Belgium, Bruges and Antwerp are much more comfortable.
Brussels Cathedral, or Saint-Michel e Güdül Cathedral, is built in the Gothic style. It resembles Prague’s St. Vitus Cathedral and Notre Dame de Paris. Inside are stained glass windows and massive columns with statues. It is worth going in to feel the power and grandeur of medieval art. Admission is free.
Brussels Park, the royal palace and royal museums are a historic part of the city. The park can be called a masterpiece of park art: there are beautiful fountains, hedges and statues. Nearby is the official residence of the Belgian King and museums: art, musical instruments, Belgian history and the surrealist painter René Magritte.
The Art Mountain is a park overlooking the city and the spire of the city hall. It is especially nice here at sunset. To the left of the Art Mountain is the Royal Library of Belgium, or Albertina. Inside is a museum of the history of books, writing, and libraries. It is open Monday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and admission is free.
Peeing boy is a symbol of Brussels and Belgium. According to one legend, the sculpture was installed in memory of a child who, during the siege of the city, peed on an explosive fuse and put it out.
The Peeing Boy is worth seeing more for the tick than for the experience. The famous attraction disappoints many tourists: it is very small. It is easy to walk past it if you don’t follow the markings on the map.
Comic Book Street. In Brussels, comic book characters are drawn right on the walls of houses. This genre was actively developed in Belgium in the early 20th century. It was here that many famous characters were invented, such as Smurfs and Tintin.
You can see the addresses of the houses with cartoon characters on the official Brussels website
The Stock Exchange in Brussels was founded by Napoleon. Rodin himself worked on the building – a true architectural masterpiece.
On the steps there are many locals listening to music, having lunch, meeting with friends. At the exchange, you can just sit and watch the city. To avoid getting dirty, I suggest picking up a free newspaper at any cafe.
“Delirium” is a legendary bar with 3,000 varieties of Belgian beer. It’s delicious and unusual – it’s worth a try even if you, like me, don’t like beer. There are lots of interesting flavors like mango, grapefruit, banana and chocolate. For those who prefer classic flavors, there are hundreds of light, dark, filtered and unfiltered beers. Every Thursday, the Delirium hosts live impromptu performances by local musicians.
The Great Market, or Market Square, is best visited when it’s dark: the illuminated buildings look prettier and more majestic than they do during the day. Every Christmas they put a huge Christmas tree on the square, and once every two years in mid-August a carpet of flowers appears.
The next carpet of flowers will appear on the square from August 13-16, 2020. Official website of the event
Sometimes there are concerts on the Market Square in Brussels. To appreciate their scale, watch the performance of the Belgian rapper Stromae.
European Parliament. Brussels is the capital of the European Union. The European Commission, the European Parliament and NATO headquarters are located here .
The parliament, a futuristic palace with a glass facade, is free any day of the week. There you can watch the work of parliamentarians. A visit to the parliamentary hall must be booked three months in advance. You can see the schedule and find out more on the official website of parliament.
French fries and Belgian waffles are popular dishes in Belgium. Don’t leave until you’ve tried them. They are a must on the tourist program, like the brezel in Germany or the trdelnick in the Czech Republic.
French fries began to be made in Belgium in the late 17th century. Now they are sold on every corner. Belgian fries are cooked in beef fat, not butter like McDonald’s. It’s similar to home fries, only with a crispy crust. It’s also not as salty as fast food.
An average French fry portion costs 2-4 € (150-300 R ). You can try them in Fritland, Maison Antoine, Frit Flagey cafes.
Wine. Those who don’t like beer can have wine cocktails at the bar Coupil Le Fol. It’s a very atmospheric place: the interior is decorated with things from flea markets, and a vintage jukebox plays in the hall.
What to see in Brussels, Belgium?
In contrast to the frivolity of the main symbols of the city, the Grand Place, in whose immediate vicinity is the Pissing Boy, is built in a strict Gothic style.
Royal Palace in Brussels
The Royal Palace in Brussels sits on a small hill in Brussels Park. The strategic advantages of its location have made it an attraction for the monarchs for centuries.
Brussels Royal Museum
The Royal Museum in Brussels is a complex of art museums and has one of the largest collections of sculpture and painting. The replenishment of the museum collection takes place either by purchases of works or simply by gifts from private individuals, which is very common in Belgium.
One of the symbols of the Belgian capital, Brussels, is the Atomium, a monument symbolizing the limitless peaceful possibilities of atomic energy. Shiny with metal, the monument is a model of an iron molecule magnified 165 billion times.
One of the most famous and popular attractions in Brussels, Piss Boy or Manneken Pees is a small bronze sculpture of a boy peeing in a fountain. Several times a week the “Peeing Boy” is dressed in costumes, of which there are now several hundred.
City Hall in Brussels
On one of the most beautiful squares in Europe, the Grand Place, in the historic center of Brussels, stands the famous Brussels City Hall, built in the late Gothic architectural style, one of the most important symbols of the Belgian capital.
St. Michael’s Cathedral in Brussels
St. Michael and Gudule’s Cathedral rises majestically on Trorenberg Hill, between the upper and lower town, and is rightly considered the main cathedral of Brussels. In the 11th century St. Michael’s Church, built in Romanesque style, stood on the site.
Autoworld in Brussels
Under the steel structure of the Autoworld Brussels, located in the Palais Mondial, over 300 cars are on display, the basis of the collection being the personal collection of Ghislaine Mai.
Waterpark in Brussels
For adults and children alike, a visit to the Oceade water park in the north of Brussels is a lot of fun. There’s plenty to do here: water slides, indoor and outdoor wave pools, baths, saunas and jacuzzis. There are bars and restaurants, so you can find something to eat.
Sacré Coeur Basilica in Brussels
The feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which symbolizes the love of God for people, the Catholic Church celebrates on the 12th day after the Trinity. Several beautiful churches are dedicated to it, the most famous being the Basilique Sacré-Coeur in Paris.
Brussels Botanical Gardens
A flowering corner surrounded by skyscrapers and highways – in modern Brussels the botanical garden looks like a small miracle. Nevertheless it has been in the north of the Belgian capital for almost 200 years.
The city of Waterloo has the status of one of the most popular places among travelers in Belgium, because the famous battle between the armies of Wellington and Napoleon’s army took place near it in 1815. And today all the sights of the city, in one way or another, are associated with this battle.
The powerful stone construction with a high tower is a monument of the Middle Ages, the only extant piece of the fortified wall surrounding Brussels in the 14th century. For 300 years the Halle Gate served as a customs post.
Charles of Lorraine Palace
The Palais de Charles de Lorraine, begun in 1757, was the Brussels residence of Charles Alexander of Lorraine, governor-general of the Austrian Netherlands from 1744 to 1780.
Palais de Justice in Brussels
“The slant-armed architect” is the most censorious nickname given by the malignant Belgians to Joseph Poulard, the author of the design for the Palais de Justice in Brussels. King Leopold II’s subjects reacted negatively to the fact that some 3,000 private homes were demolished to build it.
The Castle of Haasbeke Ball was built around 1236 as a defense against neighbors, and is located in the commune of Lennic, southwest of Brussels. The castle houses several valuable collections of art and everyday objects from different eras.
The Royal Galleries of St. Hubert
The Galeries Royales St-Hubert are located in Brussels and are a unique combination of cultural style and commercial spirit united under a magnificent glass roof.
The Royal Museums of Art and History
A large museum complex combines four institutions in the center of Brussels: the Museum of Art and History, the Halle Gate, the Museum of the Far East and the Museum of Musical Instruments. They were created at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries and preserve thousands of objects related not only to Belgium and its capital.
Back in the 13th century there was a village of the same name with a small church and a cemetery on the site of the Brussels district of Laeken. The city swallowed it up along with many other suburbs, and 500 years later it was decided to remove all the parish cemeteries outside the capital for hygienic reasons.
One of the youngest and most unusual museums in the Belgian capital opened in 2015 next to the symbol of Brussels, the Atomium. As its name suggests (Art & Design Atomium Museum), it is dedicated to art and design.
Brussels is an extremely interesting city for tourists, and it attracts travelers first of all by its rich architecture (buildings built in the Gothic style are especially impressive) and interesting monuments. Among the latter is the famous Pissing Boy, a peculiar symbol of Brussels and all of Belgium.
Crowds of tourists rush to this fountain and are usually disappointed by its size – in their imagination the fountain is usually disproportionately larger than the original.
Religious architecture in Brussels is represented primarily by the old St. Michael’s Cathedral, but no less interesting is the Sacre-Coeur Basilica, which was built from 1905 to 1969, with interruptions during the two world wars. The monumental brick-and-concrete church with two tall towers and a greenish copper dome, which is 89 meters high, is the architectural dominant of northwest Brussels and the sixth largest Roman Catholic church in the world.
For those with a more serious interest in art, however, the Belgian Royal Museum of Fine Arts will be a delight. It is close to the Royal Square and has a great collection of paintings and sculptures. The museum is divided into two large sections: the Museum of Ancient Art, famous for its collection of old masters, such as Rubens, Bautes, Memling, the oldest and youngest Bruegel, and the Museum of Modern Art, whose main pearl is a collection of works by René Magritte (although paintings by Paul Delvaux, Picasso, Chagall and Henry Moore are also certainly worth seeing).
Many city events are also associated with the Pee Boy, he is periodically dressed in national costumes from around the world, and to keep the Boy company, at the end of the 20th century, a Pee Girl and a Pee Dog were added.
The Royal Museum of the Army and Military History has a very different exhibit. Usually tourists bypass it because Belgium has never seemed to be a military power. However, the collection of uniforms, weapons and artillery is truly impressive, as is the hangar with 130 military aircraft.
Auto enthusiasts are advised to visit the Automir exhibition – it is one of Europe’s best collections of vintage cars. At the exhibition you can trace the entire history of automotive development – from the horse carriage to modern popular cars.