Not only the capital of Belgium, but also the administrative seat for the European Union, Brussels is a dazzling city that has a lot going on. A Brussels vacation can be a very busy one, and even if you spend a full week here, you’ll be hard-pressed to fit in all that Brussels travel has to offer. Spectacular monuments, eye-catching buildings, vibrant squares, attractive city parks, and alluring cafes are just some of the things that make Brussels travel so attractive. Bring a comfortable pair of walking shoes for your Brussels vacation, and be prepared to take in a most satisfying array of Brussels attractions. The Grand Place alone warrants a visit, but there’s plenty more to see and do when in town.
Hailed unofficially as the Capital of Europe, Brussels Belgium has historically been a meeting ground for French and Flemish cultures, which is still very much true today. You will hear both French and Dutch being spoken by the locals when enjoying a Brussels vacation, and English is widely understood here. The Brussels attractions, as well as its streets, are in both French and Dutch, with the French names being increasingly preferred on the international scale. The Brussels Belgium metropolitan area is divided into nineteen communes, or government districts, which are home to around 1 million people. That’s almost ten percent of the entire population of Belgium. Most Belgians live in the country’s urban areas, in fact, with the area known as the Flemish Diamond being the most densely populated. The Flemish Diamond is outlined by Brussels, Antwerp, Ghent, and Leuven, and all of these cities deserve a look when touring about Belgium.
The city of Brussels is split between the Lower Town and the Upper Town, with the Mont des Arts Square linking the two. Most visitors to Brussels Belgium will focus first on the small city center, where most of the top Brussels attractions can be found. The aforementioned Grand Place, or Grote Markt as it is called in Dutch, is a good place to begin your Brussels city center tours. This central square has long been the heart of Brussels, and it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Grand Place is part of the Lower Town area, with the Upper Town beginning just to the east of it. Because of the square’s beauty, it is often the stage for some of the best free events in Brussels, such as the July Ommegang Festival. Come wintertime, a huge Christmas tree is erected in the Grand Place. Adding to the festive setting is the Christmas Market, where you can peruse some interesting goods and indulge in continental cuisine while you take it all in.
One of the great things about the Grand Place is that it is where you will find the main Brussels tourism office. This office is housed in the impressive Hotel de Ville, or Town Hall, and you can get all kinds of help making Brussels travel plans here. Guided tours of the city can be booked at the Brussels tourism office, and the multilingual representatives can even help you find an ideal room in one of the Brussels hotels. Consider picking up a map and city guide of Brussels while you’re at the tourism office, as this can help you get a better idea of the city’s layout. This guide will also help you figure out where all the top Brussels attractions are. Brussels travel can be overwhelming for new visitors, so grabbing one of these guides when you get here is ideal.
You won’t have to go far from Grand Place to find one of the most endearing Brussels attractions, which is known as Manneken Pis. Much like it sounds, this fountain is graced with a urinating boy who appears quite gleeful. The small bronze sculpture of the boy is not the original, which was prone to thievery and other mischief in the past. Don’t be surprised if the boy sculpture is dressed in a costume, which is a long-running custom in the city. Once you’ve explored the Grand Place and visited the nearby Manneken Pis fountain, there are a number of Brussels museums that are worth checking out. Among the best are the Horta Museum and the Royal Museums of Fine Arts. The former consists of the one-time home and studio of Victor Horta, who is widely credited with being responsible for the Art Nouveau art and architectural movement that Brussels is famous for. The latter is split into two museums, one being a Museum of Historical Art, the other being a Museum of Modern Art. You can find works by some of the most renowned Flemish masters at the Museum of Historical Art. For a different spin on art, you can also stop by the Centre Belge de la Bande Dessinee, or Belgian Center for Comic-Strip Art. This intriguing center for all things cartoon is housed in a restored Art Nouveau building that dates from 1903.
For those looking for even more attractions to enjoy during their Brussels vacation, there’s always nearby Mini Europe, where you can view miniature models of some of Europe’s most identifiable buildings. Over at Parc du Cinquantenaire, or Golden Jubilee Park, the Cinquantenaire Arch deserves a look, and you’ll enjoy great city views from the terrace above it. Fans of famous battles can head just six miles south of the city, where Waterloo is found. Near the town is the historic battlefield where Napoleon and his French army met defeat at the hand of Belgian, British, Dutch, German, and Prussian troops. As mentioned, a Brussels vacation can be a very busy one. The list of attractions is much to long to cover here, so plan your Brussels getaway today, and see for yourself just how intriguing this capital city is.