This Tourist Map of Brussels is interactive and downloadable for offline use. Best of all, it includes all of the top tourist attractions in Brussels as well as recommended restaurants, bars and chocolate shops. Use this map as your Brussels guide, and don’t miss out on any of the incredible experience this charming European city has to offer.
If you are looking to explore Europe, you might find cheap airfare or a convenient train ride to Brussels. That’s because Brussels is a huge transpiration hub. With some of Europe’s busiest airports and railway stations, Brussels thrives as one of Europe’s important financial and political centers.
Table of Contents
- Brussels Tourist Map
- Brussels Tourist Attractions
- Uniquely Brussels
- Scenic Locations
Brussels is as important today as it was throughout history. You can visit many UNESCO World Heritage sites and observe interesting architectural styles. Walk down Medieval cobblestone streets and check out one of the world’s first shopping malls.
Brussels is an eclectic melting pot of European cultures. You’ll hear French, Dutch and German spoken here (although, many people also learn English). With great cultural influence comes great food. Brussels is a excellent place to sample Belgian namesakes like fries, waffles & chocolate. Also, Belgium is highly regarded for beer.
Okay, now that I’ve peaked your interest and gotten your mouth watering… let me show you all the cool things to do in Brussels!
This interactive tourist map of Brussels includes top attractions, comic murals, chocolate shops, recommended restaurants and more! The blue pins are the top places in Brussels like museums, squares, churches and historic sites. The dark blue pins with the art icons are comic strip murals (more on this later). For food, you’ll find restaurants in green and chocolate shops/dessert places in pink. You can select and deselect any of these layers to limit what you see. Also, save this map and download it for offline use.
I’ve divided up all the top Brussels tourist sites into a few distinct categories. These are the places that are uniquely Brussels, museums, churches and scenic locations. Learn more about these interesting places you’ll find in the Brussels Tourist Map.
Much of Europe has stunning examples of Gothic and Romanesque style architecture. Every famous European city has a stunning cathedral and a hundred different museums with priceless works of art. These are the Brussels tourist attractions that are uniquely Brussels, setting itself apart from any other city in the world.
Menneken Pis is one of the cutest and most famous Brussels attractions. This is the statue of a naked little boy peeing, and it’s become one of the best known symbols for the city of Brussels. In the picture below, you can see Manneken dressed up for the Tour de France.
This is a very small statue located in Brussels city center. It’s often surrounded by swarms of tourists, so you might want to visit early in the morning or later in the evening. Manneken Pis also has two friends, Jeanneke Pis (little girl pees) and Zinnek Pis (dog pees). Zinnek is Jeanneke and Manneken’s dog, by the way.
Why is Manneken Pis so important?
Manneken Pis can be traced back in Brussels history all the way in to the mid 15th Centry. In texts as early as the 17th Century, Manneken is described as an object of glory! In the beginning, he was an important source of drinking water. He gained fame over the years by surviving bombardments and being stolen by famous rulers. Today, Manneken is dressed up on special occasions and generally adored by most everyone.
Brussels loves comics. They even have a Comic Book Museum (more on this later). One of the best things to do in Brussels is the Comic Walk. Walk from comic to comic, you’ll explore Brussels city center as you discover enchanting works of art.
In the Brussels Tourist Attractions Map, the Comics are marked by dark blue pins with an art symbol. They can be found in a separate layer named ‘Murals’. You can select this layer and use the map to find all the comic murals. Deselect this layer if your map becomes to busy.
You’ll notice there are quite a lot of these comic book murals across Brussels…I recommend you focus on the ones nearest to city center to guide your Comic Walk. Then, later, as you make your way towards other Brussels attractions, see what murals you can catch on route. There are well over 50 of these cute and colorful artworks. Don’t pressure yourself to try to see them all!
What’s with all the comics in Brussels? The city of Brussels has long since had a love affair with comic books. Most famously, the magazines Tintin and Spirou were born in Brussels. The Smurfs were also created by a Belgian comic artist. Overall, Belgian comics helped to shape the history of European comic art. Belgian comics have always had a distinct style which is heavily influenced by the bilingual culture of it’s people.
Make sure the comic murals are a part of your Brussels sightseeing!
The Atomium is one of the most important landmark buildings in Belgium & one of the best things to see in Brussels. You can find the Atomium just outside of city center. On the map, you’ll notice it’s near to Mini -Europe and the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken. It makes sense to pair these 3 activities in half a day.
You can get to the Atomium by taxi or public transportation. It’s a 25 minute cab ride or about 45 minutes of commuting (by train and walking). There are also Ubers available in Brussels.
What is the Atomium?
The Atomium is a replica of 9 iron atoms magnified 156 billion times! It was built for the Exposition of 1958 —the first world fair post WWII. The theme of the expo was “a world for the better life of mankind,” and that was based on faith in technical and scientific progress. At the time of it’s construction, the Atomium was a massive technical endeavor. It even had the fastest elevator of its time!
Book a guided tour at the Atomium and find out why it is one of the most interesting places in Brussels.
Mini Europe is near the Atomium. It’s exactly what it sounds like —a park with miniature monuments meant to represent nations in the European Union. There’s over 350 mini-buildings and about 80 mini-cities. Mini Europe is the perfect place for all ages. Take a stroll through this scenic small world.
This park is one of the top Brussels sites. It’s a fitting tribute to Europe in the European Union’s political capital. It was founded to demonstrate a unified European spirit. Truly, a delight for anyone who loves miniatures 😊
No Brussels visit is complete without stopping at the European Parliament’s Parlamentarium (the Visitors Center).The Parlamentarium offers multimedia guides that take you through the history and function of the European Parliament and European Union.
Fun Facts About the European Parliament:
With over 700 members, representing more than 500 million citizens from over 20 countries…It’s the largest international body of directly-elected officials in the world! Also, the first president of the European Parliament was a women. Furthermore, a majority of European Parliament staff are women. Yay, feminism!
*More Fun Facts…*Brussels isn’t the only political center for the European Parliament —there are actually three official headquarters (also Strasbourg and Luxembourg). Also, the EU has 23 official languages. That means that European Parliament sessions are interpreted in each one… that’s 506 possible language combinations!
Find more interesting information about the European Parliament at the Parlamentarium, one of the best places to visit in Brussels.
The Gallery of Saint Hubert are a living, breathing, piece of history. Originally built in the 1840s as a luxury shopping mall for the rich and famous. Essentially, this was a protected runway for the bourgeoisie ladies of leisure to show off their fashionable attire (you have to remember that Brussels was essentially a dirty swamp at the time 😂).
Today, the Royal Galleries of Saint Hubert still house some luxury brands, cafes and chocolate shops. Although, what’s most striking is the architecture. Inspired by the Italian Renaissance, the structure is divided into two long galleries known as the King’s Gallery and the Queen’s Gallery. These galleries are separated by a row of columns. The columns, arches and glass ceiling tiles create a very dramatic effect.
Some of the best things to see in Brussels can be found within one of my many incredible museums. WARNING: They’re all closed on Mondays 😞 We ran into this problem on our most recent trip. Mondays can be an excellent time to take a day trip to Ghent or Bruges.
The Coudenberg Palace was considered one of the most beautiful palaces in Europe at its time. The history of the palace dates back all the way into the 12th century. Unfortunately, much of the original palace was destroyed by fire in the 18th Century.
A Royal Square was built on top of the ruins of the original palace, including the Royal Palace of Brussels. You can now visit the ruins of the Coudenberg Palace in the BELvue Museum. The BELvue Museum also has some interesting pieces from Brussels and Belgium’s modern history. It’s one of the museums you must see when you visit Brussels.
Even if you don’t go inside, the Brussels Town Hall building is one of the places to see in Brussels. It’s located in the famous square called the Grand Place. It’s one of the few Medieval structures still remaining in the Grand Place, and it’s also considered an architectural masterpiece.
The style is overwhelmingly Gothic. It was internationally renowned in the 19th Century and many town halls in Europe were modeled after it’s design. No wonder it’s considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s famously asymmetrical & unbalanced. See if you can spot the discrepancies!
There are guided tours of the Town Hall offered at 2PM every Wednesday and Sundays 10 AM, 3 PM and 4PM. No need to reserve or pay in advance. You can purchase tickets for 7 euros the day of your tour at the Visit Brussels Information Desk inside City Hall.
The Royal Palace of Brussels is the official palace of the King and Queen of Belgium. Although, the royal family doesn’t live in this palace. It’s used primarily to host government functions, special guests and large receptions.
It’s located in front of Brussels Park & right next to the BELvue museum. It was built on top of the complex that was once the Coudenberg Palace. Unfortunately, you can only visit the palace late July through September.
Preview a few rooms at the Royal Palace of Brussels.
The Royal Museums of Fine Arts are some of Brussels top attractions. Together, they include some 20,000 works of art from drawing, to sculptures and paintings. Works from the early 15th Century and well into present day. They are a group of 6 museums, and they are the best places in Brussels for art lovers.
Unfortunately, each museum has it’s own admission ticket. All of them are free on the 1st Wednesday of every month after 1 PM! See if your trip falls on this day and save a few bucks. 😉 The Musée Wiertz Museum & Musée Meunier Museum are also free for everyone to visit! Musée Wiertz is dedicated to Antoine Wiertz who was a painter, sculptor and controversial figure during the Belgian Romantic movement.
Fun Fact about Antoine Wiertz: He choose to have his remains embalmed in the Ancient Egyptian burial style. He was in some ways obsessed with death and the fragility of life. Many of his paintings depict horrific scenes.
Musée Meunier focuses on the artist Constantin Meunier —the subject of his works was often social & industrial parts of Belgian life. The theme of his museum is the art of labor & labor of art.
Of the paid museums, the Musée Magritte focuses on the Surrealist style and specifically René Magritte. You can pay an extra 5 euros to view the special collections. The Old Masters Museum shows works created during the 15th – 18th Centuries, and the Fin-de-Siècle Museum provides a wide array of art produced from the late 19th Century to the very early 20th Century.
The Comic Book Museum (also called the Belgian Comic Strip Center) is one of the best attractions in Brussels. The building itself is a masterpiece of Art Nouveau architecture. It’s located in historic Brussels, just a few blocks from the Grand Place.
The Belgian Comic Strip Center collects anything related to European Comics. Merging the styles of Ninth Art and Art Nouveau. It’s also a great place to learn more about the Brussels Comic Strip Route.
It’s a very cute museum with a library and reading room on the first floor. Special focus is on Victor Horta and the magazines Spirou and Tintin. The also offers guided tours within the building and along the Comic Strip Route.
Another gem, the Musical Instruments Museum is one of my favorite places in Brussels. It’s an an incredible building that has two very different styles. The first part is Art Nouveau and the other is neoclassical.
The Musical Instruments Museum displayed over 1000 different instruments! It’s one of the most visited museums in Brussels. During your visit, you’ll get headphones so that you’ll be able to listen to over a 100 different sample pieces. The museum’s most famous pieces include a Rottenburgh Alto recorder, giant Chinese stone chimes and one of the only luthéal pieces in existence. FYI a luthéal is a special type of piano.
Located in the heart of the action, at the Brussels Grand Place, the city museum is one of the important Brussels sights. It tells the dramatic history of the city of Brussels from Medieval times to present day. The story is told through tapestries, paintings, sculptures and photos.
The Brussels City Museum is inside an incredible Gothic Revival building, the building itself is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Make sure to appreciate the architecture.
We’ll now discuss some stunning churches you can find in Brussels. Before we do, I wanted to touch on the religious diversity and cynicism in Belgium. Almost a third of the Belgian population identifies themselves as non religious people (atheists or agnostics). Wow! That’s a lot. I think it’s pretty cool. While most of the god fearing citizens are Christians, there’s also a growing Muslim population in Belgium. Now, on to the churches…
Also, know as the Brussels Cathedral. This is the most famous church and one of the top tourist sites in Brussels. Historical reference of this place dates back to the 9th Century. At that time, it was a Romanesque church. The present day structure of the church took 300 years to complete! It’s architectural style is Brabantine Gothic.
The Brussels Cathedral was made from the stone of a nearby quarry. It sits on top of the original Romanesque church and it’s ancient crypt has been excavated in the last few decades.
On the inside, the most prominent and impressive features of the Brussels Cathedral are the mesmerizing stained glass windows (some of which were made in the 16th Century). Also, the Grenzing great organ with over 4,000 pipes, 60 stops and 4 keyboards!
Entrance to the Cathedral is free for everyone! There’s a small charge to visit the archaeological site and crypt of the early Romanesque church (1 and 3 € respectively).
The Church of Our Blessed Lady is another one of the impressive sites to see in Brussels. This church was built at the turn of the 15th Century. It is also adorned in the Barbantine Gothic style. Interestingly, the inside has a few Baroque features.
You can visit this church for free. Step inside, and you’ll notice the striking pillars that appear to extend endlessly. Notice the apostles sculpted into the columns.
Interesting Folktale: The time was 1348, and the Virgin Mary appears in the dreams of a woman living in Antwerp. The Virgin Mary tells this woman to steal an important statue and bring it to a little chapel in Brussels. The woman sails to Brussels and delivers the statue. This little chapel goes on to become the Church of Our Blessed Lady.
Meaning, “hill of the arts.” It’s a historic place, a community meeting ground. Definitely one of the most beautiful places in Brussels at sunset. At the top of the Mont des Arts, you can see the tower of the Brussels Town Hall building in the distance. In the other direction, the Royal Square is in view.
Mont des Arts is the perfect place to relax with friends, have a bite and enjoy the outdoors. It’s steps away from some of the Royal Museums of Fine Arts, the Musical Instruments Museum and the BELvue Museum. We especially loved the chocolate shop Laurent Gerbaud near the Mont des Arts.
We’ve already discussed it a little bit, but this special place demands it’s own introduction. The Grand Place is one of the most noteworthy places to go in Brussels. It’s the central square of the city and home of the famous Town Hall building and the Museum of the City of Brussels.
The Grand Place is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As far back as the 11th Century, the land that would eventually become the Grand Place was being used as a marketplace. Over the next several hundred years, the small marketplace would blossom into a large merchantmen district and the seat of municipal power.
Throughout history, the Grand Place witnessed the tragedies and dramas of human existence. It was the setting for public burnings, beheadings and other executions. It withstood bombardments, fires and unimaginable damage. But, it was always rebuilt and restored.
Today, it’s one of the important Brussels tourist places. A bustling commercial district with many chocolate shops, restaurants and cafes. I recommend the Maison Dandoy speculoos confectionery and the Neuhaus chocolate shop.
The Cinquantenaire Park in Brussels was built to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Belgium’s independence (this was in 1880). It’s a huge urban park with gardens, museums and green space. Cinquantenaire Park is the perfect place to spend half a day.
Visit the Royal Museums of Art and History and check out the three giant triumphal arches. Near the arches, you’ll find sweeping panoramic views of the city. You can walk to the Cinquantenaire Park from Brussels city center. It will take about 35 minutes. Alternatively, public transportation will get you there in 15 minutes.
- Have a beer at the Delirium Café. Belgian beer culture is part of the UNESCO Cultural Heritage of Humanity list. Belgians have been brewing and drinking beer since the Middle Ages (because it was safer to drink than water 😋)
- Taste praline chocolates at a fancy chocolate shop. I’ve mapped some great ones in the Brussels Tourist Attractions Map. Don’t bother bringing them home, it’s nearly impossible to keep them from melting in a travel situation.
- Locals get their Belgian fries at Friterie Tabora.
- If you are trying to find fresh Belgian waffles, scope out the place first. If they grab waffles from beneath the counter or rack and then add toppings –steer clear. You want to see the waffles come straight from the press before they are served! Say no to soggy waffles!
More time in Brussels? Take a quick train ride to the fairy tale Medieval town of Bruges.
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