A Book Lover's Guide To Brussels

Photo of Ana Stambolic
26 January 2016

Brussels is the city that has many fascinating bookstores, but here you can also find some great areas where you can dive into a variety of titles and attend some literary events. So, let’s take a tour and see some incredible places that will enchant your mind.

Interior of Tropismes | ©Luc Dujardin/Courtesy of Tropismes Bookstore


Starting in the city center, Tropismes is a mandatory stop for academics and book hedonists. This bookshop is located in the most beautiful and quiet part of Les Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert. It was built in 1847 by architect Jean-Pierre Cluysenaar as a ballroom for girls and was once home to a jazz club known as the Blue Note. This cozy and colorful place today has more than a few thousands books of different genres, from books on ecology, geography and economics to children’s literature and comics.

Tropismes, Les Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert, Galerie des Princes 11, Brussels, Belgium, +32 2 512 88 52

Galerie Bortier

Bookstore, Shopping Mall
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Bibliothèque royale de Belgique
Bibliothèque royale de Belgique | © Leandro Neumann Ciuffo/Flickr
A stone’s throw away is the much less popular Galerie Bortier. Originally, this shopping arcade was part of the Marché de la Madeleine and today houses several art galleries and plenty of secondhand bookshops and stands. One of them is Libraire Pierre Coumans, which specializes in old and rare books, early printing, antiquarian books, and applied and decorative arts. This bookstore contains real literary and artistic treasures from the 6th century.

Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique

Library, Building
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Book lover or not, you have to know about Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique. Also known as Albertina, this is a depository for all the books ever published in Belgium or abroad by Belgian authors. This center houses four million bound volumes, a rare book collection, more than 700,000 engravings, drawings and more. The library also contains a fascinating exhibit called Librarium, which provides free exhibits and presentations on the history of writing and books throughout the ages, ancient manuscripts, gospels and excerpts from memoirs and notebooks of notable scientists and inventors. The best part of the building is the 5th floor where you can enjoy a spectacular view of the entire city.

WIELS Bookshop

Building, Museum, Bookstore, Brewery, Art Gallery
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WIELS Bookshop is settled in the hall of a building that used to be a brewery and is now transformed into a modern art center. It offers a large selection of publications (contemporary art, architecture, and photography), artist editions, CDs, DVDs, gadgets and rare fanzines. This bookshop pays attention to young and upcoming publishers of graphic design and art books. In addition, you can also enjoy exhibitions, events during the first Wednesday of the month, and attendees can join in for free.


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A fantastic bookstore that never closes (365 → 365), Filigranes offers an enormous collection of literary classics and books on art and travel. Although most of the feature titles are primarily French and Dutch, Filigranes also has an English language section. Get lost in the aisles and aisles of books, and then take a break at its coffee bar complemented with chords from the nearby grand piano. This place can be your one-stop everything — from books and magazines and little trinkets to events and exhibitions.

Anticyclone des Acores

Bookstore, Shop
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Interior of Brüsel
Interior of Brüsel | Courtesy of Brüsel Anspach Bookstore
If you need inspiration for your dream vacation or you want to prepare your next cycling or walking route, you may want to consider visiting this next shop. Anticyclone des Acores is a travel bookshop settled in the heart of Brussels where each country of the world has its place. This is a bookshop where you can dream about every corner of the world, but also experience it through the numerous selection of travel books, maps and globes.


Bookstore, Store
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TASCHEN Store Brussels
TASCHEN Store Brussels | Courtesy of TASCHEN Store Brussels
This specific bookstore is more than a place to search for books; Brüsel is an adorable bookstore and gallery. This magical place with its iron interior is based on the famous book Brüsel by the great Belgian comic book artist François Schuiten. The store is divided into two floors: the ground floor offers you the opportunity to experience comic culture, while the upper floor is a gallery showcasing exhibitions, which take place on a regular basis, about a variety of graphic art. In addition, you can also find postcards, posters, toys, statues and gadgets related to this subculture.


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FoAM | © foam/Flickr
In the heart of Sablon, you will find Taschen, a bookshop dedicated to art, architecture, photography, film, music and much more. The interior is designed by French designer Philippe Starck, and it is absolutely stunning and will literally dazzle you because it is golden. When you enter this golden cave, you will stay longer than expected because you will want enjoy all of the beautiful books by this famous publisher.


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Interior of Passa Porta
Interior of Passa Porta | Courtesy of Ana Stambolic
If you are into science or research, FoAM is the right place for you. FoAM is a cultural laboratory that imagines the future in the interspace of science, art, and nature. This place is inhabited by scientists, artists, engineers and other people who share an interest in taking knowledge from their respective areas of expertise and applying it to new public contexts. They have their own multi-sensory library with books, media and materials related to their activities and interests. It is accessible by appointment, for one person or a small group, allowing visitors to explore an eclectic collection of scientific and philosophical texts, software manuals, alchemical manuscripts and some material samples (textiles, seeds and active materials).

Passa Porta

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Book Fair
Book Fair | © Ines S./Flickr
An international house of literature, Passa Porta is a symbol of Brussels’ opulent and lively cultural life. This place is a bridge that connects philosophers, writers and an interested public of various linguistic and cultural backgrounds. They regularly organize seminars, workshops, expositions and meetings where journalists, writers, translators and others discuss their field of interests. In addition, every two years they organize the Passa Porta Festival, Belgium’s most important international literary festival. It is a paradise for everyone who wants to discover written word.

Book Fair

Over a period of five days (February 18-22, 2016), The Brussels Book Fair gives you an opportunity to follow the news and the evolution of the publishing world. It has become a major cultural event for more than 40 years, and it is located in the historic site, Tour & Taxis. Here, the various actors of the literary world (from the most important publishing houses to the local ones, from the young writers to the established authors and from comics to political science) will be brought together.