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The Best Things To See & Do In Koekelberg, Brussels

ELISABETH PARK | William Murphy/Flickr
ELISABETH PARK | William Murphy/Flickr
At the East side of Brussels, only 30 minutes from the touristic center, is a small and largely unexplored neighborhood. Easily accessible by public transport and home to various interesting sights, there’s no reason to ignore this municipality on your to-do list.

Basilica of The Sacred Heart

This impressive church on Koekelberg hill was built fairly recently, in the 20th century. Architect Pierre Langerock wanted it to be a neo-Gothic church, but due to lack of finances another architect, Albert Van Huffel, changed the plans, turning it into an Art-Deco building. The tower stands about 89 meters (292 ft) high and can easily be spotted on the Brussels skyline. If you’re not afraid of heights, taking the stairs to the top of the tower is a great experience, since the view on Brussels is breath-taking. Besides being a church, the Basilica also hosts various exhibitions and conferences, and has its own restaurant, theater and holds two museums inside the building.

Opening hours: Monday-Sunday 9am-5pm

Basilica of the Sacred Heart at Koekelberg, Brussels © Uppploader/Wiki Commons

Museum of Modern Religious Art

This is one of the two museums within the Basilica (the other one being The Black Sisters Museum). The works exhibited in this museum offer a very different view on religion, and Christianity.

Opening hours: Thursday-Sunday 2pm-4pm

Belgian Chocolate Village

Ever wanted to try a chocolate workshop, or just learn more about the magic of chocolate in general? Then the Belgian Chocolate Village is the place for you. The museum will not only inform you on how chocolate is made, but it will also guide you through a history of Belgian chocolates and the importance of the sweets in Belgian heritage.

Opening hours: Tuesday-Friday 9am-6pm (last entry at 5pm); weekend and holidays: 10am-6pm

Belgian Chocolate Village, 20 Rue De Neck, Brussels, Belgium, +32 242 070 76

Parc Elisabeth

Located right in front of the Basilica, this park is not hard to miss. It’s a very long walkway that spreads out in front of the Basilica like a red carpet. You can enjoy it while walking to the Basilica, or you can take your time to take in the sights. It was designed during the reign of King Leopold II. With a bit of imagination, you can see the king’s monogram in the design.

Parc Elisabeth, Koekelberg, Brussels, Belgium, +32 241 214 11

Aquarium de Bruxelles

This little museum is very fishy, in the best possible way. With about 48 aquariums filled with small fish, amphibians and other sea creatures, it’s like visiting a cozy little part of the sea. Aquarium de Bruxelles also owns various fish that are threatened with extinction, or worse, which are already extinct in their natural habitat. The goal of this museum is to show its visitors the importance of respecting the environment, the sea, and even the tiniest of its inhabitants.

Opening hours: Tuesday-Friday 12am-6pm; Weekend and holidays: 10am-6pm

Aquarium de Bruxelles, 27 Avenue Emile Bossaert, Brussels, Belgium, +32 241 402 09

Vintage Brussels

Whether this piano bar is actually vintage is debatable, but the delicious food and friendly service are a sure thing. It’s a great place to have lunch or to enjoy an evening drink. The live music concerts just add to the fun, relaxed atmosphere of Vintage Brussels.

Opening hours: Monday-Thursday 10am-11pm, Friday-Sunday 10am-12am

Vintage Brussels, 1 Place Henri Van Huffel, Brussels, Belgium, +32 241 165 05

Vintage Brussels | Courtesy of Vintage Brussels

Vintage Brussels | Courtesy of Vintage Brussels

Ristorante San Daniele

This Italian restaurant isn’t actually in Koekelberg, but it’s situated so close to the Basilica, it might as well be counted amongst the Koekelberg restaurants. Named after a ham from Northeast Italy, this ristorante lives up to the great expectations of Italian cuisine.

Opening hours: Tuesday-Saturday

Ristorante San Daniele, 6 Charles Quint Avenue, Brussels, Belgium, +32 242 679 23

San Daniele | Courtesy of San Daniele

San Daniele | Courtesy of San Daniele

By Ayla Sileghem