Brussels Visitor Guide 2023: Everything you need to know
Perched upon the Senne River, Brussels is among the most interesting places to visit in Belgium. With an array of impressive landmarks, unique Flemish culture, and an important political history, Brussels offers vacations like nowhere else in the world. As well as being the capital of Belgium, Brussels is also the capital of the EU and the headquarters for NATO, making it one of the most influential cities in Europe.
Initially a modest settlement, Brussels grew into a major city due to its position along the Senne River, making it ideal for trading with the likes of Bruges and Cologne. Brussels became the capital of Belgium in 1830 following the Belgian Revolution. In the wake of World War II, Brussels underwent significant modernization before becoming the capital of the EU.
Modern-day Brussels is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in Europe, offering something for travelers from around the world to enjoy.
9 Best Ways to Experience Brussels in 2023
As the capital of Belgium, Brussels is the home of many of the country’s top attractions. You’ll find stunning museums, fantastic food, and tons of different attractions in the city. But if you want to go a little deeper and learn more about what the city has to offer, the following companies can help. Drop off your bags at a Bounce luggage storage in Brussels and treat yourself to one of the interesting experiences these companies offer. You’ll be glad you did.
Best beer and chocolate tour — Beer & Chocolate Tasting Tour
Belgium is famous for both its beer and its chocolate. If you’re a fan of either or both, this is the tour for you. Visit some of the city’s top bars and breweries and its famous chocolate shops, and you’ll get an exquisite taste of the things that Belgium does best. Along the way, you’ll learn more about why Belgium is so celebrated for its chocolate and beer. Contact the company at email@example.com or 32478236032 to book a tour.
Best alternative tour —Tuk Tuk Tourism
There is no shortage of tour companies in Brussels that can show you around the city. What sets this one apart is the vehicle they use. Tuk tuks are motorized rickshaws commonly used in Asia, but they are becoming increasingly popular around the world, especially in congested cities. This company offers historical tours that dive into the past of Brussels or a VIP tour where you can see some of the city’s most upscale locations. Either way, you’ll have a blast as you travel through the city in this unique mode of transport. Contact the company at firstname.lastname@example.org or 32484809506.
Best free tour — Brussels By Foot
Brussels isn’t known as a particularly affordable city. If you’re visiting on a budget, you can save money on sightseeing by taking a free tour with Brussels By Foot. They offer a variety of tours with voluntary payments, so you can pay what you can afford or what you think the tour was worth. They have tours based around celebrity sightings, Art Nouveau architecture, and other quirky themes that let you see another side to the city. Contact them at email@example.com or 32472398217.
Best cooking class — Brussels Waffle Workshop
Another culinary treat Belgium is known for is its waffles. If you’re the type that likes to come back from vacation with a new skill, try this waffle-making class. Classes operate in both Brussels and Bruges, and take around 90 minutes. Along the way, you’ll learn how to make the perfect Belgian waffle, and you’ll be able to eat as many waffles as you like. Bring your appetite and a sense of curiosity for this quirky cultural experience. Book a class at firstname.lastname@example.org or 3228810178.
Best e-bike tour — Once in Brussels
Brussels is a city that’s practically made to be explored by bike. However, peddling around town can quickly tire you out. E-bikes solve this by using electric motors to power the bike so that you can either pedal or cruise depending on your energy level. Once in Brussels will train you how to use your e-bike and take you out on a tour of the city that will visit some of the most iconic locations in Brussels. They also run champagne tours if you’re feeling particularly fancy. Contact them at email@example.com or 3228506090.
Best private tour — Brussels Private Tours
If you’re the kind of person who hates a crowd, a private tour could be just the thing for you. If your budget allows, there’s no better way to experience a city that on a private tour. You’ll have the full attention of your guide and be able to ask whatever questions you like, plus the tours can be customized to your interests. Brussels Private Tours offers private tours of Brussels and the surrounding area, so you can visit places like Luxembourg and Antwerp during your Belgian vacation. For more information, contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org or 32485452202.
Best chocolate tour — Cocoa Journey
Who isn’t a fan of chocolate? Belgians certainly are, and Brussels has a proud history of chocolate manufacture. Learn more about the historic links between Belgium and chocolate and try some of the most exquisite sweet treats the city has to offer with a Cocoa Journey tour. They also offer workshops where you can learn to make your own chocolate and see what makes Belgian chocolate so special. Contact them at email@example.com or 32471714484.
Best food tour — Brussels Walking Tours
Chocolate. Beer. Waffles. Belgium is known for all kinds of food, and its distinct culinary traditions are well worth exploring while you’re in the city. This company can take you on a food tour that will embrace all the traditional products of Belgian cuisine, plus some others you may be unaware of. And if you feel guilty about the calories you’re consuming, remember that walking from one place to another will help burn off at least a few. Contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org or 32479319003.
Best eco-tour — Emilia Cantero
This unusual tour will show you a side of Brussels most people never get to see. If you’re interested in sustainable shopping, there’s no better experience than that offered by Emilia Cantero. Discover the top brands and boutiques in Brussels that focus on sustainable fashion and learn the stories of how they are changing the industry to make it more environmentally friendly. This is the perfect tour for both eco-warriors and shopaholics, and will show you Brussels the way the local residents see it. Contact them at email@example.com or 32470189213.
A weekend in Brussels
You won't be short of things to do during a weekend away in the Belgian capital. From world-class museums to stunning monuments, planning a short break in Brussels is a magical experience. Make the most of your trip by booking in at a Brussels luggage locker, before heading to some of the best sights in the city.
- The Grand Place is among the most famous landmarks in Belgium. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Brussels' central square is encircled by stunning guild halls, including the Town Hall. You'll find plenty of cafes in the plaza where you can enjoy a snack surrounded by these beautiful buildings.
- Take a stroll by the Manneken Pis. Perhaps the best-known statue in Brussels, Manneken Pis is a small statue of a naked boy urinating into a fountain. The statue is considered a symbol of Belgian humor and independence.
- See how Belgian royalty lives at the Royal Palace of Brussels. While no longer used as a permanent royal residence, this opulent palace features lavish furnishings and dozens of formal rooms such as the Throne Room and the Grand White Drawing Room.
- Grab a bite to eat at one of the top restaurants in Brussels. Some of the best bistros in the Belgian capital include Le Rabbasier, 65 degrés, and Fin de Siècle.
Brussels is relatively easy to get around on foot, and crime levels are low; however, petty theft and muggings are more common in touristy areas. Keep your valuables safe while exploring Brussels by booking a spot at a Brussels luggage storage service. Bounce provides the best suitcase storage in Brussels, where you can safely store your bags before discovering the best of the Capital of Europe.
Off the beaten path in Brussels
Despite being a major metropolitan area, there are plenty of places in Brussels where you can escape the crowds and enjoy a relaxing vacation. From minor attractions to serene parks, here are some of the best ways to step off the beaten path in Brussels.
- Take a woodland walk through Sonian Forest. This huge forest encompasses over 10,000 acres of lush forests and tranquil lakes south of the city. Sonian Forest is perfect for travelers looking to hike, jog, or fish.
- Plan a picnic in Brussels Park. Brussel's royal park is the largest urban park in the city, with manicured lawns, ornate fountains, and kiosks serving refreshments.
- Gearheads will love visiting Autoworld. Brussels' classic car museum is home to over 250 vehicles, including rare prototypes and cars dating back to the 1920s.
What to do alone in Brussels
If you happen to find yourself alone in Brussels, whether you're in the Capital of Europe on business or you're backpacking across Belgium, you won't be short of things to do. Keep your luggage safe by stopping off a Brussels storage locker before heading to these attractions for solo explorers.
- Learn about one of Belgium's most influential artists at the Magritte Museum. The Magritte Museum houses an extensive collection of works by surrealist painter Rene Magritte, including some of his most famous paintings.
- A visit to the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken is a great way to relax during your adventure. These vast heated greenhouses cover over 250,000 square feet and feature exotic flora displays from around the world.
- Take a quick tour of the continent at Mini-Europe. This to-scale replica of the EU boasts intricate models of many famous landmarks from across Europe, including the Eiffel Tower, Trevi Fountain, and Brandenburg Gate.
The best souvenirs in Brussels
Brussels is the perfect place to pick up a souvenir to remember your adventures in Europe. You'll find plenty of unique consumable mementos in Brussels that you can surprise family back home with, including famous Belgian craft beers. The best place to pick up some Belgian beer is from Délices & Caprices. Other popular edible souvenirs are delicious Belgian chocolates and specialty coffees.
If you'd prefer a souvenir you can display proudly in your home, consider picking up a print on your visit to the Magritte Museum. Alternatively, you could purchase some classic Belgian lace or a handmade glasswork ornament from Val Saint Lambert.