The Insider Guide

Brussels is the capital of Belgium, home to the European Union, Tintin and some of the best frites, waffles, chocolate and beer in Europe. Oh, and of course there’s the Manneken-Pis – a bronze statue of a urinating child which has, naturally, become the emblem of the city.

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The Main Attractions

Any tour of Brussels starts in Grand Place, a Unesco World Heritage site with elegant and opulent architecture on every side. The square is home to the town hall of Brussels and to the King's House, which now contains the Brussels City Museum. You’ll also find an array of gorgeous guild houses of all shapes and sizes, the architectural styles ranging from baroque to gothic and back again as you pan around the square, and each competing to be more beautiful and lavish than the last. Exit via Rue Charles Buls, past the beer museum and various chocolatiers and you’ll find yourself in front of the Manneken-Pis. Translating to English as the “little pissing man”, the statue is exactly what it says on the tin. Only 61cm (24in) tall, and urinating out into a fountain below, the Manneken-Pis has become an emblem of the cheekiness of Brussels, and also of pride and resistance in the city. Odds are you’ll see a whole lot of pictures, replica statues and souvenir models of the Manneken-Pis before you get to the real thing. The beer tours in the city and the snacks in Brussels might be legendary, but stay focused for a while longer and you’ll be rewarded with plenty of fantastic culture. The Palais de Justice courthouse is one of the most impressive, and largest, buildings on the continent, and there’s no lack of museums. Check out the Horta Museum, dedicated to Art Nouveau architect Victor Horta, the Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts, a haven for lovers of fine art, and the Art and History Museum, the Musée du Cinquantenaire. The Belgian Comic Strip Center is also fascinating. Grab lunch in the Place du Grand Sablon and for downtime, visit the picturesque Parc Leopold or Parc de Bruxelles, the latter of which is opposite the Houses of Parliament.

Neighborhoods in Brussels