Exploring a new city is all the more exciting when you’re with someone who knows the history and most interesting places to visit. Plenty of companies offer tours around Brussels, but when you sign up for a tour of the European capital through the Greeters Network, you’ll be paired with a local who shares your hobbies and speaks your language. Each tour is unique and catered to your specific interests. You’d rather cycle instead of walk? You want to know the best bars in town? Locals have got you covered.
Quite possibly the quirkiest tourist attraction in Brussels is the statue of a peeing boy, Manneken Pis. Attracting crowds since as far back as 1619, most visitors are unaware the tiny bronze sculpture is part of a small family predisposed to urinating in public! There is also Jeanneke Pis, a peeing girl, and Zinneke, a peeing dog. Zinneke is a Brussels slang term referring to a mixed-breed dog and is used as a symbol of the cosmopolitan and multicultural nature of the city.
One of the nicest things to do to really get a feel of a new city is to visit a flea market. Brussels’ most famous bazaar filled with used items is at Place de Jeu Balle in the Marolles neighbourhood, open daily from 7am to 2pm. As an added bonus, browsing what’s on offer is free, so flea market-hopping won’t cost you a penny. If something does catch your eye, haggling is mandatory.
As you’re casually wandering around Brussels’ city centre, you’re bound to come across at least one graffiti mural dedicated to a Belgian comic book hero. Belgium has a rich comic book tradition and classic paper heroes such as Lucky Luke, The Smurfs and Tintin all have Belgian roots. There are already over 50 of these comic strip themed frescoes all over town and new ones are added regularly. For the avid comic book fan, you can follow several routes around the city that mark a trail and a map is available for just €1 at Brussels’ tourist centres.
Brusselaars love a bit of culture and the city hosts numerous free festivals and concerts every year. The free festival season starts off around 21 June, with the Fête de la Musique which features outdoor performances all over town. In September, jazz fans can enjoy Saint-Jazz-Ten-Noode and October is for alternative music fans with Nuit Blanche. Local concert hall Ancienne Belgique traditionally rounds off the summer holidays with two free festivals in the Royal Park, the magical Feërieën and the Belgian music-focused Boterhammen in Het Park.
Brussels has many fascinating museums, and if you plan your visit well, you can get in for free! The Magritte Museum, the MIM, and the Museum of Natural Sciences all have a free day during the first week of the month, either on Wednesday or Sunday. If those dates are not within your stay in Brussels, don’t worry, because the city also has a number of museums that are always free to visit. The most interesting ones among them are the Wiertz Museum, dedicated to the work of Romantic painter Antoine Wiertz, and the sculpture garden at the Brussels annex of Leuven University. Find a full list of museums that are free to enter at brusselsmuseums.be.