weekend in brussels

Let’s visit Brussels! From lush parks to gorgeous medieval architecture, there’s something for everyone in this small European city. Here are 12 things you should absolutely see and do during your next weekend in Brussels, Belgium’s capital!

What to visit in Brussels?

Brussels might not be your first choice when it comes to visiting a European city but we think it’s a great choice if you have a couple of days to spare or if you’ve already been to France and want to practice your French in another Francophone country. Even though Belgium used to be completely Dutch-speaking, the majority of people in Brussels speak French as well as Dutch so it is the perfect time for you to use your new language skills.

Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts

This museum is actually a group of six art museums all clustered together. It is located in the downtown area of the city on the Coudenberg. There are more than 20, 000 art pieces from drawings to paintings and sculptures. There are many paintings by Flemish painters like Bruegel and Rogier van der Weyden, Anthony van Dyck and Peter Paul Rubens. If you enjoy spending lazy afternoons in museums on rainy days then this is the perfect place for you. Get lost in the six museums and enjoy the beautiful art.  

Musée Magritte Annexe

René Magritte is one of the most famous Belgian artists. His surrealist paintings are thought-provoking and very witty. Even though this museum is part of the Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts, we added it to the list so you won’t forget about going there. The museum has only been opened since 2009 but it boasts 200 works from Magritte like drawings, sculptures and paintings. If you are interested in knowing more about this celebrated artist, this is the place to learn everything about him.

Grand Place

Grand Place (also known as Grote Markt) is in the center of the city. It’s a must-see during a weekend in Brussels… This large square in the middle of Brussels is surrounded by tall buildings like the city’s Town Hall and the Museum of the City of Brussels. The architecture of the surrounding buildings is quite remarkable with medieval and Gothic Revival style. The square has gone through a fire, wars, revolutions, etc. You’ll undoubtedly see this square at some point in your visit since it is so central but do take the time to look around.  

Parc d’Egmont

The Parc d’Egmont is a public park situated near the Egmont Palace. This park used to be part of the Egmont Palace gardens but in 1918 it became open to the public. There is a beautiful orangery built in the 1800s, a statue of Peter Pan and some ionic columns from the palace. If you’re in Brussels during the late spring or in the summertime, enjoy a nice walk in this park if you want to get out of the city for a few hours.

The Street art in the Sainte Catherine area

If you’re a fan of street art or you are interested in knowing more about the French artist OakOak, then visit the area around the old fish market in Brussels (near the Sainte Catherine church) to see all his whimsical and creative street art. He transforms the mundane into something funny and beautiful. The bleak and very gray environment has been completely transformed into an art-filled area.

St-Gilles Town Hall

When you visit the Grand Place, you’ll automatically see and be able to visit the St-Gilles Town Hall. The Napoleon III-style palace really stands out. You can visit inside and get to know more about its history.

Église Notre-Dame du Sablon

Located in the historic center, the Catholic Church of Our Blessed Lady of the Sablon dates back to the 15th century. It took approximately one century to finish the church and went through quite a bit of work. The Belgium government undertook a huge restoration that lasted fourteen years to completely restore the church to its former glory. The church is located close to the Egmont Palace, the Royal Palace and the Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts so you can easily visit all these sights in a day.  

Parc du Cinquantenaire

The Parc du Cinquantenaire is also quite close to the Church of Our Blessed Lady of the Sablon. This is another great park to visit when you just feel like taking a picnic outside and enjoying some delicious local food. The park has a huge arch and U-shaped arcade and boasts gardens, ponds and waterfalls as well as the Great Mosque of Brussels in the north-western corner.

Cantillon Brewery

If you’re going to Belgium, you need to visit a brewery! This brewery is in the outskirts of the city center but is worth the visit. The family-owned brewery (four generations have been brewing) was founded in 1900 and only brews lambic beers. It is important to note that you must reserve to make an appointment to visit the facilities. Bringing back some beer for friends and family is always a great gift idea!

Le Botanique

This cultural complex/music venue/botanical garden is a truly special part of the city. There are numerous events all year long like concerts and expositions. If you want to go to a hip and cool event at night, this is the perfect place for you.   

The Palais Royal

Did you know that Brussels still had a king and queen? They do! And, you can visit their palace located in the city center since they don’t use this palace as their royal residence but as the King’s administrative residence (the family lives in the Royal Palace of Laeken just outside Brussels). The current facade was constructed after 1900 but the first building built on the Coudenberg hill dates between the 11th and 12th century. If you are lucky, you can visit the palace but only between July 21st and September.

Flagey Market

After sleeping in and enjoying a lazy breakfast, head to the Flagey Market open from 7 am to 1:30 pm on weekends (it is also open during the week but a lot of stalls will be closed). You can find some fruits and vegetables as well as meats, pasta, other multicultural foods, flowers and clothes. It is a great way to see how many different cultures there are living in this city. It is located outside the city center in the Place Flagey but is really worth the trip.

Where would you go first during a weekend in Brussels?