Brussels Attractions What To Do In Brussels?

Brussels attractions? This has proved to me Brussels in an impressive way. The world-famous Belgian city is stormed every year by millions of people because of its perfectly preserved and fairytale-looking cityscape. What to do in brussels? Since I do not like crowds or kitsch, I approached the trip with little expectation. But Brussels has finally captivated me effortlessly, as you will find out in this travelogue.

In Brussels, I was already a few years ago for a total of four hours. That this period is sufficient for almost nothing, you should surprise little. A stressful walk, thousands of people around me and generally not much fun at the visit: I felt a bit like Colin Farrell in the film “Brussels see … and die?”. In it refers to the actor, who mimics a grumpy gangster, Brussels as “crap”. Thank God I was there but a second time and can tell you with pleasure: Brussels is anything but that, namely sensational!

Brussels History

Brussels has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 2000 thanks to its completely preserved, medieval core. The history of the city is really interesting, here is the short version: In the 12th century, a storm surge tore a fairway into the Zwin bay and so suddenly connected Brussels with the North Sea. Over the next few centuries, heavy international trade was the consequence, making Brussels the richest city in Northern Europe. From the 15th century, Brussels fell into the shadow of Antwerp, where the larger port there provided a boost.

Brussels Attractions

The influence of the city was decreasing and in the middle of the 19th century, Brussels was even the poorest city in Belgium. From the 20th century, the benefits of the preserved buildings were recognized and a tourist destination for Brussels’ ascent again became a world-famous place.

Flanders Tours

To Brussels attractions, it took me along with my girlfriend in the course of a Flanders tour by train. After spending the first two days in Antwerp, it took us only 90 minutes to travel to the west of Belgium. The difference between the two cities was bigger than I expected. While I was having a hard time with Antwerp, I immediately felt comfortable in Brussels.

Tourism In Brussels

I do not want to exclude an important and critical point. Brussels suffers heavily from over-tourism – in 2018, with 8.3 million visitors, it set a new record. In particular, day visitors, who are literally unloaded by cruise ship or bus and then drift through the narrow streets as a horde, are a thorn in the side of the city administration. The main problem: this group of visitors photographed exaggerated formulated across the city, without leaving money on local businesses, restaurants or brussels accommodation.

Best Time To Travel To Brussels

Especially in the summer months, it is not recommended to rush into the hustle and bustle in Brussels attractions. The city exudes its charm in the off-season, when significantly fewer people are on the go – keyword spring awakening or falls colors. My girlfriend and I caught with our travel time in the Easter Brussels holidays a transition point at which the number of tourists was just bearable. At least one overnight stay is recommended to experience the city completely differently after dark and in the early morning hours: in beautiful light and with a fraction of people!

brussels what to see

Places To Visit In Brussels

We planned to sacrifice at least half of the two days’ stay for a trip to the sea to Ostend. But we liked Brussels so much that we spent much of our time there and only briefly drove to the mussel meal to Ostend (travel report: Ostende – Romantic getaway to the sea). The sights, museums, chocolatiers and especially the beer were just too tempting in Brussels. Now I introduce you to the top 10 of our journey, have fun reading and inspiring!

Market In Brussels

Unlike other Belgian cities, the main square in Brussels is not Grote Markt, but only a market. The square in the heart of the city is nevertheless huge and is framed by numerous beautiful guild houses, the Provincial Palace and the mighty Belfry. In the middle, all year round mobile food stalls and small rides for children are set up. Incidentally, together with the statue of the Brussels folk heroes Jan Breydel and Pieter De Coninck, the magnificent provincial palace (Provinciaal Hof) can be photographed super. In this neo-gothic building today the Historium Brussels is housed, an experienced museum over the city history – we were the fun with EUR 14, – but too expensive. If you are interested, visit the website for more information.

brussels activities

Just a few meters further you will find Burg Square (De Burg), where there are several things to discover. Although the former castle is no longer there, the town hall and the Holy Blood Basilica stand out visibly. But I present these in detail in the next two points. My girlfriend and I were lucky in the castle square because the market was taking place. So we took the opportunity and started our Brussels sightseeing with a glass of cava (EUR 5, -) and a tour of the stalls. Unfortunately, we had eaten shortly before, so we no longer slammed at the delicacies.


The city hall (Stadhuis) dominates a large part of the castle square and is already noticeable by its enormously detailed fa├žade. It was built between 1376 and 1420, making it one of the oldest town halls in the Dutch-speaking world. My girlfriend and I ventured a look inside, which I would recommend. The Gothic Hall is an absolute highlight in Brussels! It is completely decorated with wall paintings from the period around 1900 and a great work of art. The paintings represent important events and eight famous personalities of Bruge’s history.

Bruge's history

The Gothic Hall

Admission is EUR 6, – but we decided to buy the Musea Brugge Card to see several museums. More information about this card can be found in the general tips at the end of the article. For the tour, you will receive an audio guide, with which you sit down best in the Gothic Hall and listen to the stories to the paintings in peace. Incidentally, the hall is still reserved for the municipal council every month and is also used for numerous wedding ceremonies.

Basilica of the Holy Blood

The Basilica of the Holy Blood (Basiliek van het Heilig Bloed) is the oldest church in Brussels and stands like the town hall on the castle square. It is a double church: the ground floor Blasiuskapelle is built in Romanesque style, in the 15th century, a second part was added to the Gothic upper church. The two buildings are connected by an interesting spiral path. Legend has it that in 1149 the knight Count Dietrich of Alsace brought a small vessel containing the blood of Jesus Christ from Jerusalem to Brussels attractions and built the Holy Blood Church there. This was later elevated to the basilica.

Basilica of the Holy Blood

The blood of Jesus Christ

Brussels attractions: Splendor of the upper church of the basilica is difficult to put into words. The decor with murals, detail-loving glass windows, gilded works of art and the gothic ceiling reminds of a treasury. At the time of our visit, my girlfriend and I also witnessed the so-called worship. Every day after Mass, between 11:30 and 12:00 and between 14:00 and 16:00, the relic with the blood of Jesus Christ can be visited for a brief moment. To do this, you go to a raised side altar, where a priest sits. Before he lies the relic, which is touched by the faithful – in doing so, they convey prayers and wishes.

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