Known as the most populated square in Brussels, the Grand Place receives tens of thousands of tourists each year and is one of Belgium’s most important landmarks. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Grand Place hosts annual festivals, light and sound shows (especially during the winter holidays period for the Winter Wonders festival) and twice a year tourists have the chance to see the colorful Flower Carpet.
Generally, every street starting from the Grand Place leads the visitor to a smaller square. The downtown squares are usually great locations to discover various street artists. Whether it’s performance art, painting or graffiti, walking around the city center with your eyes peeled is the best way to get the most out of Brussels’ art scene.
Brussels offers a wide array of book and music stores, with plenty of opportunities to enjoy a good novel or listen to old-fashioned classics on vinyl. Some local shops also carry antiques, where you can discover little treasures. Whether you are looking for a collection of Belgian or international literature, vinyl records, DVDs, comic books and/or collectibles, Bouquinerie Evasions is the place to go.
Bouquinerie Evasions, Rue du Midi 88, 1000 Brussels, Belgium +32 02/502.49.56
They say the best way to discover a city is by walking – which is also true for Brussels. That is why a group of young enthusiasts (Viva Brussels) have set up The Authentic Free Walking City Tour of Brussels. What is truly great about this particular tour is that it operates on a pay-as-you-want basis and part of the profits go to servicing social projects in the city. The tours take place every day from Monday to Saturday, at 10am and 13.30pm, and are conducted in either English or Spanish.
There are many panoramic views of Brussels, but one of them comes with a twist. In Place Poelaert, in front of the Justice Palace, this panoramic view is accompanied by the ‘Elevator to the Sky’ experience. For those not afraid of heights or see-through walls, the elevator is open every day until 11.30pm (bike access included) and allows the viewer to observe some of Brussels’ most popular tourist points.
If you are more of an indoor explorer, don’t forget to stop by one or more of Brussels’ museums or art collections. Stad Museum, the Museum of Chocolate or the Music Museum are all conveniently located near this area. If you would like to get the ‘full package,’ the perfect choice would be the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium. Housing a collection of 20,000 works of art, distributed over six galleries (four of them to be found on 10 different levels within the same building), the RMFAB is a worthwhile destination. Keep in mind that even the museum’s staff suggest to reserve a full day for visiting, if you really want to check out all the exhibitions.
Musée Fin-de-Siècle; Musée Old Master; Musée Modern; Musée Magritte – (entrance through) Rue de la Régence 3, 1000 Brussels, Belgium
Musée Meunier – Rue de l’Abbaye, 59, 1050 Brussels, Belgium
Musée Wiertz – Rue Vautier, 62 1050 Brussels, Belgium
If you are interested in a mixture of art, culture and architecture, there are also many options to visit in downtown Brussels. Theatre des Galeries, De Munt or BOZAR are the perfect destinations to enjoy a cultural fusion experience. The number-one pick on the list should be BOZAR, however. In the words of architect Victor Horta, Brussels’ first cultural center was imagined to be “immense and yet almost invisible, overlooking the city and yet buried underground, multiple and yet unified, prestigious and yet open to all.” This statement is a testament to how this esteemed organization functions today, as it continues to host a diverse program of artists, cultural figures and world-renowned leaders on its stage.
When it comes to getting a drink or two, Brussels surely has some aces up its sleeve. In the case of Delirium Café, the bar has a variety of more than 2,000 types of beer – both Belgian and international. Another place worth visiting is Gopuil le Fol: a bar with fascinatingly weird yet amazing décor, French music playing from the jukebox and more than four different rooms where you can enjoy their special vin au fruits.
Delirium Café – Impasse de la Fidélité 4, 1000 Brussels, Belgium
Goupil le Fol – Rue de la Violette 22, 1000 Brussels, Belgium
Many bars and restaurants in the city center are well-known for their open-stage nights, where local and international artists perform and then invite members of the audience to become part of the show. You can bring your own instrument or use the bands’, and share your love for music with the public.