I visited Brussels from 12 – 15 December 2009 and discovered that it’s an exciting, vibrant city, so I want help put paid to this myth that Brussels is a boring. There are so many interesting things to do in Brussels and some great Brussels museums. Here are four reasons why I loved Brussels:
1 Christmas events and decorations
The Christmas Light Show at Grand Place was absolutely amazing.
St Catherine’s Christmas Market had loads of stalls as well as a Big Wheel and an outdoor ice rink.
St Catherine’s Market ice rink and Big Wheel
I loved the alternative Christmas trees on display just up from Grassmarkt.
Alternative Christmas trees in Brussels
Although you may think they’ll be fewer things to do in Brussels in Winter, I found the opposite and would recommend a visit in December.
2 Sense of humour
Whilst almost everyone has heard of the Mannequin-Pis, the statue of the peeing boy, the canine equivalent is the Chien-Pis.
Le Chien-Pis, Brussels
Have you ever heard of the Belgian Irish Indian restaurant in Brussels and not just any old restaurant but a smart one?
The Shamrock Indian Restaurant, Brussels
Everyone knows that Brussels is famous for beer but you can avoid airline hand luggage liquid restrictions by buying a beer candle.
Beer candles for sale at Grassmarkt, Brussels
3 Art Nouveau
Brussels is one of the best cities in the world in which to see Art Nouveau style architecture and design. You can find many of the sites of note on this Art Nouveau map. The interior of the Museum of Musical Instruments has an art nouveau lobby.
The foyer of the Museum of Musical Instruments
There’s some beautiful Art Nouveau stained glass in the foyer leading to the Museum Brasserie at Place Royale 3.
Art Nouveau stained glass in the foyer of the Museum Brasserie, Brussels
4 Great Museums
I spent an afternoon visiting three Brussels’ museums. The first on my list was the City Museum in Grand Place. I didn’t really want to know every detail of the history of Brussels but was more interested in seeing the interior of the grand building. I discovered that the Mannequin-Pis has over 800 costumes from all the world which are stored at the City Museum where his personal wardrobe assistant changes the costumes every month of the replicas. He must have know I was visiting Brussels in December 2009, as the Scottish kilt costume was on display.
The City Museum (at the right of photo), Grand Place, Brussels
Then I moved on to at the Sexties exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts which showcases the work of four leading 1960s comic strip artists. As all the dialogue was written in French I was rather lost but there was one story about a Scot, the Loch Ness Monster and an attractive French girl.
Next it was the Magritte Museum which I really enjoyed despite not being a great fan of surrealist art (or knowing much about any art genre). I judged that I’d get more out of the museum if I just wandered around looking at the paintings which appealed to me, rather than the structured audio guide. So while I probably missed out on a lot of background information I spend my time studying the pieces that appealed to me such as the “Night Sky painted bottle, the “Red Model” depicting feet as boots and “Harvest” a multi coloured nude in a window looking out onto a meadow
Magritte Museum Brussels by foam
If you plan to visit several museums then a Brussels Card is a good investment as it allows free entry to the thirty main museums as well as carriage on public transport and discounts/offers at various stores and restaurants.
The “Belgium Travel Tips ‘n’ Tweets: What to do and see in Brussels” post collated from readers’ Brussels tips also gives some pointers about the diversity of activities available in the Belgian capital.
So don’t listen to this nonsense about Brussels being a boring city and try to visit soon to discover this wonderful European city for yourself.
More Brussels Tips
We’ve plenty more tips for things to do in Brussels.