At the end of April I boarded Brussels Airlines to visit Brussels for my boyfriend’s birthday – I talked all about why we were going in my What I’m Taking to Brussels post, so I recommend giving at least the first half a read of that post! In a nutshell, Brussels is bloody B E A U T I F U L! Everywhere is so picturesque and there’s loads of different things to do in Brussels that’ll simply leave you wishing you had at least one more day to spare (or at least I did after our 3 night stay).
I want to give you an overall view of my experience of my travel to Brussels, my opinion on the best attractions to visit and things to do in Brussels, plus a couple ideas for accommodation and food whilst on your travels around Brussels City Centre – there’s quite the variety, I’ll tell you that now! I’m also going to give you a breakdown of costs throughout the holiday; flights, accommodation, travel around the country, plus food. This is just to give you an idea of how much things cost in general and will probably show you how much you’d be expected to take with you when getting your travel money sorted. Now, let’s get straight to it…
Things to Do in Brussels
Brussels will not leave you short of things to do, that’s for sure. We stayed for 3 nights, which actually worked out as 2 and a half days after counting travel time, and we were never left thinking, ‘What should we do now?’ – it was always a case of, ‘Okay, now let’s head to this, then we’ll go here’ and so on. We actually checked how many steps we’d done on the Health app on the iPhone, and it averaged out as around 20,000 steps/13km each day. Ouch!
Royal Palace of Brussels & Parc de Bruxelles
The first thing we did after getting a bite to eat shortly after arriving in Brussels City Centre, was head on over to the Royal Palace of Brussels through Parc de Bruxelles. This was only a mere 15 minute walk from our accommodation, and it was around 15c and the sun was shining, so it was such a lovely walk for us. I highly recommend walking through the park to/from the Royal Palace, as it’s huge, but also has great places to sit and relax and also pack a little picnic is you wish as well. Outside the gates of the park that are directly opposite the front of the Royal Palace, was an ice cream van which also sold waffles, so if it’s nice weather, consider getting a small treat from here – it smelt delicious!
Atomium | The Symbol of Brussels
Looking for the best place for panoramic shots of a location is always on the top of my list when it comes to travelling, and if it is for you too, then I highly recommend you visit the Atomium. It’s €12 for an adult, which is definitely worth it for the views you get. First you’re whizzed up to the very top sphere, where you get 360 panoramic views of Brussels City Centre and surrounding areas, then you can make your way down to each of the other spheres where you’ll find exhibitions, cool elevators, short films and a little gift shop at the end. You also get a photo taken at the entrance which are then available to buy at the exit, to which we bought ours on a keyring for €5. In the top sphere there’s also a restaurant, but you will need to book a space in this before hand. We went up hoping for panoramic views as we ate lunch, but were left a little disappointed to say the least!Mini Europe & The Planetarium
Just a 5/10 minute walk from the Atomium, is Mini Europe and The Planetarium, which are two must-see attractions in Brussels. You can buy a combined ticket for these two for €18 per adult at either attraction; I believe there are family tickets available too. We stepped foot into the Planetarium first, which is a free exhibition of all things space-related, with interactive models and quizzes, but the ticket you purchase (only if you want to) is for a 45 minute film in the big dome – this is something I highly recommend, even if your space knowledge is not up to scratch like mine. You sit inside this huge dome with theatre seats, where the room is dimmed and imagery is projected onto the roof of the dome by 199 projectors which are set up in the centre. It’s quite mesmerising this film is, and is really relaxing too – just try not to dose off! You’re given a headset which will speak your chosen language (I believe this is between English, French or German).
As for Mini Europe, if you’ve ever been to Legoland or are aware of it, then it almost feels like you’re visiting just that. You could easily spend a good hour or so walking around the grounds of Mini Europe in Brussels, admiring all the miniature versions of some of the world’s most famous landmarks. From the Eiffel Tower to Westminster, and even a replicate of an airport’s grounds, there’s loads of opportunities for fun photos here. Below are just a few! There’s also a little boating lake with remote-control boats you can pay €2 for around 10 minutes play.Grand Place
I would say the most stunning place to admire in Brussels, is Grand Place. It’s filled with a great selection of restaurants and bars, all of which are over in my food in Brussels blog post, but it’s also a really photogenic place that makes for some awesome selfies, plus has a great atmosphere – especially when the sun is out. As soon as we got into Grand Place, we quickly popped to Starbucks for a small coffee to perk us up (I highly recommend the White Chocolate Mocha) and then walked around the square taking lots of photos. There’s a ton of chocolate shops – of course – around this place, and also a large number of cafes and restaurants for you to pick and choose from, including Hard Rock Cafe.Where to Eat in Brussels
Talking of food, as I made my way through writing this post I realised just how much I had to share and figured the food deserved a blog post of it’s own. If you want to know exactly where I ate, what I ate and how much it cost when in Brussels, you can head on over to my Food in Brussels blog post for the full breakdown on where to go and my top picks from the menus.
Where to Stay in Brussels
Well, firstly, there’s lots of choice for hotels in Brussels, but for me as I was doing my long evenings of hotel-hunting during the months leading up to the trip, I found this beauty on Booking.com. Out of all the hotels in Brussels, I opted for B Apart-hotels Regent; a great hotel complex which is filled with numerous types of accommodation; standard hotel rooms, studio flats, and 1-bed or 2-bed apartments. I booked us the 1-bed apartment where we then had access to a bedroom, which was separate from the lounge, kitchen and bathroom, making us feel like we had our very own home away from home for the weekend.
On the opposite side of the road was a convenient store which, luckily for us, was open on Sundays and the May Bank Holiday Monday so we could stock up on travel snacks and water for the day’s agenda. There was also a Metro station right outside called Madou, which was perfect for getting us to and from all the main attractions in Brussels and also to the main stops in Brussels City Centre, and too and from Brussels Airport. The main attractions which were a mere 15 minute walk away from the hotel were; The Royal Palace of Brussels, the huge Brussels Park, Cirque Royal and also Botanique; an old botanical garden. There’s also another B Apart-hotels complex around a 15 minute Metro journey/walk away, which is located around the corner of Grand Place if you’re looking for somewhere that’s much closer to the nightlife if that’s your kind of thing.
In total, 3 nights in a 1-bed Apartment at B Apart-hotels Regent in Brussels cost £289. This included city tax per person, per night and was for the accommodation only; no food provided.
Travel to Brussels & Around Brussels City Centre
My biggest worry when travelling abroad, is how to get around the city and country (depending on how far you’re venturing during your travels). Luckily, Brussels has a very easy-to-navigate metro system that’s the same as London and pretty much an other metro/subway system you may use. We used this a lot each day to get us around Brussels City Centre because it saved us pushing our feet to the limit. A single trip costs anything between €1-2.50, but we decided to purchase the 24hr metro ticket each day for unlimited use around all the main zones, for just €7.50 each.
However, on the Sunday we took a trip to Spa-Francorchamps Circuit which is around 2-3 hours South East of Belgium, as this was the main reason we visited the country in the first place. Trains work just as nicely as the metro, but don’t run as often. For two adult returns down to Spa, it cost us €39.50 altogether – if you’re travelling far on the weekend when in Belgium, opt for the Weekend Ticket/Pass, as this will save you half the money. I initially planned just how much I’d need for this train journey down south and it worked out as €80, so the Weekend Pass was most definitely the best option for us!
I hope you’ve enjoyed my guide which talks all about the things you may need to know when you visit Brussels.
Make sure you check out my Brussels Food blog post too!