The Top Things To Do & See In The Northern Quarter, Brussels

View over the Botanical Gardens Brussels  -  Northern Quarter | WikiCommons
View over the Botanical Gardens Brussels - Northern Quarter | WikiCommons
Photo of Nana Van De Poel
9 February 2017

Characterized by its towering high-rises of blue glass and streets filled with business people, Brussels‘ Northern Quarter seems all business and no play at first sight. Yet, if we dig a little deeper, the neighborhood has some surprises up its professional sleeves. How does an urban beach and a petting zoo in the heart of the capital’s financial center sound?

Catch a matinee at the Kaai Theater

Fans of the performing arts get theirs at the far-west side of the neighborhood, in a white art deco building formerly known as the Luna Theater. Current resident, the Kaai Theater offers up a varied program of legendary names mixed with lesser-known ones. Intent on championing upcoming creative voices, the organization works with artists-in-residence and invites young makers from all corners of the globe to take over their stage.

Square Sainctelette 20, 1000 Brussels, Belgium

The Kaai Theater façade, a mix of art deco and modernism | © Hans Roels, courtesy of Kaaitheater

The Kaai Theater façade, a mix of art deco and modernism | © Hans Roels, Courtesy of Kaaitheater

Treat your ears to alternative tunes at Le Botanique

International dance and theater on one side, indie and rock concerts on the other. The Northern Quarter has the luxury of being caught between two of Brussels finest cultural institutions. To the east, we have Le Botanique, housed in the greenhouses of the former National Botanic Gardens, as the gorgeous setting to many a memorable evening of alternative tunes. The cultural center of the French Community boasts three concert halls with utterly distinct vibes – such as the Witloof (or ‘chicory’) Bar – to make every night unique. Combine those with cutting-edge programming and it’s no wonder their annual spring festival Les Nuits Botanique has become one of the city’s musical highlights.

Rue Royale 236, 1210 Saint-Josse-ten-Noode, Belgium

The Rotonde, one of three unique concert halls in Le Botanique | © Kmeron, Courtesy of Le Botanique

The Rotonde, one of three unique concert halls in Le Botanique | © Kmeron, Courtesy of Le Botanique

Admire one of Brussels’ loveliest gardens

With its panorama once described as a world wonder by Victor Hugo, the garden of Le Botanique now finds itself surrounded by skyscrapers as far as the eye can see. But while capitalism may have caught up with the world around it, the music venue’s garden remains as lovely as ever. The former national botanic garden has kept a series of rare trees and historical statues, making it one of Brussels’ most beloved green oases.

Rue Royale 236, 1210 Saint-Josse-ten-Noode, Belgium

Take the family on a picnic at Espace Gaucheret

With business deals taking place all around you, it can be tricky to find a spot where it feels appropriate to take a load off on a sunny day. The go-to place on those lazy hazy days of summer is Espace Gaucheret, a hilly green space designed especially for the neighborhood’s families to come together. Fly your kite amidst the gleaming high-rises, enjoy a picnic, or watch your little ones go crazy for the fun waterfall that jumps around randomly.

Espace Gaucheret, 1030 Schaerbeek, Belgium

Let loose at Brussels Beach

The Belgian capital understands all too well that a canal in the middle of the city is simply begging for an urban beach during summertime. For over a month in July and August, the Quai des Péniches becomes Ibiza in Brussels, complete with pop-up cocktail stands, palm trees, rows of beach chairs and boat parties. A little more child-friendly during the daytime are the exciting sand figure competitions, beach sports and water bike rides where mom and dad are stuck doing all the peddling.

Opening Hours: July – August, Tues – Sun

Quai des Péniches, 1000 Brussels,Belgium

Pet some alpacas at Brussels’ urban farm

In a charming turn of events, a small park in the middle of Brussels’ business district has become home to a real life animal farm. A joy to inhabitants and visitors alike, the Maximilian Farm tries to educate young and old city folk on country life and biodiversity. Many schools come here to learn about the benefits that small animals, vegetable patches and compost heaps have to offer. And what better way to retain all the information than to receive it while petting some adorable pony, goat or one of their two curly-haired alpacas.

Opening Hours: Mon – Sat 10 am – 5 pm (Dec – Feb 10 am – 4 pm), closed on Sun and holidays

Quai du Batelage 2, 1000 Brussels

Get your healthy snack on at Season Box

Healthy fast food exists and Season Box is here to prove it to you. Nutritionists Sylviane and Marie smartly set up shop in the neighborhood where busy businessmen and women were in desperate need of an alternative to greasy take-away lunches. With a constantly changing supply of ingredients depending on the season, the knowledgeable ladies are constantly thinking of new healthy recipes. Enjoy them at your own pace, whether it be relaxing on the Season Box’s brightly colored terrace or crushing it back at the office.

Opening Hours: Mon – Fri 8 am – 2:30 pm

Chaussée d’Anvers 84, 1000 Brussels,Belgium