The Top Things To Do & See At The Brussels Canal

Bruxelles les Bains
Bruxelles les Bains | Courtesy of
Nana Van De Poel

A historic brewery repurposed to be an edgy new museum. An old slaughterhouse turned into a food hall. The recent opening of the city’s most environmentally conscious hotel. The powers that be are hard at work shedding Brussels Canal’s shaky reputation. Here, The Culture Trip shares eight ways to explore the up-and-coming neighborhood that was once considered the capital’s ugly duckling.

The old Belle-Vue brewery before its transformation

1. Pay a Visit to the Brand New MIMA Museum

Brewery, Building, Museum

Pay a Visit to the Brand New MIMA Museum

The Millennium Iconoclast Museum of Art is a powerful cultural presence in the neighborhood. Located inside the industrial setting of the old Bellevue brewery, the MIMA shines a spotlight on those disciplines often forgotten about by contemporary art museums. The museum focuses on work springing from the minds of subculture artists (think extreme sports, graffiti, tattoo, etc.), which is a refreshing approach much needed within the European art scene. When you’re there, don’t forget to take in the panoramic view of the city and its canal from the top floor of the glorious building.

MIMA Museum, Quai du Hainaut 33, Brussels, Belgium

The new MIMA museum with its logo | Courtesy of the MIMA Museum

2. Bump into the Statue of a Stumbling Agent 15

Bump into the Statue of a Stumbling Agent 15

If approaching the Sainctelette Square you can make out the figure of a policeman tripping from afar, don’t rush over to help him. Wait a second and you’ll see that the agent is actually suspended mid fall. The officer is a statue; emblematic of the often self-deprecating Belgian humor. The Brussels sculptor, Tom Frantzen, decided to immortalize the slapstick shenanigans of Agent 15 from Quick and Flupke fame by having his feet grabbed by a ‘canal urchin’ peeping out of a manhole cover.

Saincteletteplein, Brussels, Belgium

Agent 15 from Quick and Fluke fame in a perpetual falling state | © Amio Cajander/Flickr

3. Celebrate Summer at Urban Beach


Celebrate Summer at Urban Beach

Every summer, Brussels finds a way to make a little part of its city feel like a holiday resort on the Côte d’Azur. Sometime in June, 3,000 tons of North Sea sand will suddenly appear on Quai des Péniches near the canal, forming a beach of over a kilometer wide. Listen to a concert while lying in your lounge chair in the shade provide by palm trees or engage in a beach volleyball tournament or any of the other numerous family activities.

Quai des Péniches, Brussels, Belgium, +32 2 894 27 98

4. Take Part in the Brussels Canal Run


Take Part in the Brussels Canal Run

What better place to go for a jog than by the canal; at least, that’s what last year’s immensely successful first edition of the Canal Run has shown. Strap on those running shoes and explore the area in a sporty way by covering one, four, eight or 12 kilometers while friends and family cheer you on.

Quai de Mariemont 13, Brussels, Belgium, +32 2 487 90 78 13

The façade of the BELVUE Hotel, looking out over the canal | Courtesy of BELVUE Hotel

5. Spend the Night at Brussels Most Environmentally Conscious Hotel


A spacious room at Brussels first entirely passive hotel
Courtesy of BELVUE Hotel
Right across from the new MIMA, the small BELVUE Hotel overlooking the canal has recently opened its doors with a mission of its own. While turning a section of the old Bellevue brewery into the first Brussels hotel to have a carbon footprint of zero is impressive enough, this enterprise with a soul also pledges to look out for its neighborhood. Young students from the Molenbeek district are offered practical training where they can gain experience and hone their hospitality skills.

6. Enjoy a Fair at Tour & Taxis

One of the enormous halls at Tour & Taxis, with a ceiling of 25 meters high | © Sam Romilly/Flickr
© Sam Romilly/Flickr

Enjoy a Fair at Tour & Taxis

Tour & Taxis houses fancy restaurants, several offices, a circus school and a surprising air drone academy next to its main purpose of hosting hundreds of rotating markets, fairs and exhibitions. The mammoth urban site consists of four historic buildings, with the impressive Royal Entrepot rising up to greet you upon arrival. Walk through its tunnel to discover the Sheds, an old railway station with the tracks still running through. Its gorgeous metallic framework and sawtooth roof that lets in natural light makes it the ideal location for some of Brussels’ biggest events like the BIFFF Film Festival and the annual antiques fair.

Tour & Taxis, Avenue du Port 86c, Brussels, Belgium, +32 2 426 12 22

The stylish eating and drinking are at Tour & Taxis | © L’Amande/Flickr

7. Release Your Inner Foodie at the 'Foodmet'

Release Your Inner Foodie at the ‘Foodmet’

A historic slaughterhouse near the Brussels canal; it sounds more like the setting of a horror movie than anything else. Getting too scared to enter would be a shame because the Abattoir recently opened its new food hall filled with meat, cheeses, spices and other tasty fare. Buying the weekend groceries becomes a lot more fun in the southern European atmosphere of this new marketplace. As part of its master plan, the Abattoir will soon open an ‘urban garden’ on the rooftop where fresh vegetables will be grown in little greenhouses.

Abattoir, Rue Ropsy Chaudron 24, Brussels, Belgium, +32 2 521 54 19

Two bulls guard the entrance to the old abattoir, now housing a new food hall | © Ben2/WikiCommons

Tour the Canal by Boat

To get the full effect of a neighborhood in the middle of transforming itself, venture out onto the water for a guided tour of the area. Gliding under historical bridges while witnessing the shiny new architectural achievements or works in progress on the docks will leave you with an exciting feel for the district’s future, as well as its industrial beginnings.

Culture Trips launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes places and communities so special.

Our immersive trips, led by Local Insiders, are once-in-a-lifetime experiences and an invitation to travel the world with like-minded explorers. Our Travel Experts are on hand to help you make perfect memories. All our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.?>

All our travel guides are curated by the Culture Trip team working in tandem with local experts. From unique experiences to essential tips on how to make the most of your future travels, we’ve got you covered.

Culture Trip Spring Sale

Save up to $1,656 on our unique small-group trips! Limited spots.

Edit article