There can only be words of praise for Brussels, Europe's political capital. This is a truly cosmopolitan city, a place where you can find fragments of every nation on earth; this is indeed like a modern version of the ancient tower of Babel. Brussels has an intriguing old town and you are invited to discover its hidden corners step by step - a concoction of cultures, built on the basis of two of the world's greatest civilizations - Dutch and French. If beer is testimony to its Dutch influences, Belgium’s sophisticated cuisine points us to world-renowned French gastronomy. The best place to confirm this premise is right around Grand Place, where most of the streets, some of them classic narrow European blind alleys - "impasses" – make one think of ancient craftsmen and their commercial guilds. Among these, Petite Rue des Bouchers or "Butchers' Street" is famed for its seafood restaurants, not surprising with the North Sea at less than one hour’s drive away.
Talking about driving, considering Brussels’ location, so close to umpteen other worthy destinations, you will surely wish to book a car right from the start of your journey. There is no better car hire option than Autoclick when it comes to comfort, pricing and contractual conditions. We offer you the chance of a truly independent itinerary, giving you the means to handle directions and traffic with our totally free GPS and Wi-Fi systems. We will take care of you right from the start, assisting you at the airport and, if needed, during your entire travels. Firstly, you would probably explore Brussels’ downtown area, and then, depending on your time, you would like to explore the metropolitan area, and maybe even a bit further afield. But first, what is there to see within this city?
The first thing that will amaze you is the size of Brussels's largest square, Grand Place or Grote Markt - 100 m in length and 68 m wide, the size of your average football pitch. Every year, in August, the square gets transformed by a glorious giant flower carpet made from over one million Begonias. Here you’ll also find the Hôtel de Ville, or City Hall, and La Maison du Roi, or King's House, built in the 16th Century to compensate for the feared local commercial power just cross the street, now a museum.
La Maison des Ducs de Brabant is a Renaissance building, much more like an Italian palazzo, sheltering under its roof the guilds of tanners, millers, carpenters, sculptors or stonemasons, to name but a few. The busts of the Brabant dukes are carved into the structure's pillars, thus displaying the building's heritage.
Horta Museum is a UNESCO World Heritage Site; it used to be the residence and workshop of Victor Horta, an Art Nouveau pioneer.
Beguinage Museum shelters the old retreats set up by locals to protect widows of crusaders in the 13th Century. The retreats used to serve as places of meditation and peace, without any religious status. Some of these are still intact, even today, transformed into either museums or social housing facilities.
Manneken Pis is probably the least understood attraction of Brussels, as bizarre as it is unorthodox, but nonetheless it is the most photographed sight of all of Brussels, by far.
The Atomium is a landmark you should not miss; over 600,000 visitors explore it every year. The Atomium is composed of 9 large spheres, each one 18 m in diameter, connected by 20 tubes, representing a large size model of an iron atom, at a scale 165 billion times bigger than the genuine atom.
Near Atomium you can see Mini-Europe, a theme park that includes over 350 miniatures (at a scale of 1:25) of some of the best-known attractions of Europe.
Koekelberg Basilica is among the largest religious buildings in the world and is one of the best observation points in Brussels.
When coming to Belgium you should definitely taste the delicious chocolate, of all kinds, flavours and colours, and you must not miss the Musée du Cacao et du Chocolat, located in a small building on Rue de la Têre d’Or, close to the Grand Place. Elsewhere, you must also sample a few types of the local beer, as Brussels will attempt to change your thoughts towards flavoured beer.
What to visit other than Brussels
100 km / 1 h 10 min
Recommended for: artworks, medieval old town, history.
Locals name it "mooie Brugge", or the beautiful Bruges - capital of West Flanders. The first attraction you should see here is Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk or Church of Our Lady, a grandiose edifice made of red bricks, completed over a span of 200 years, sheltering "Madonna", the only Michelangelo masterpiece that ever left Italy during the artist’s lifetime.
45 km / 50 min
Recommended for: jewellery, architecture, religious sights, medieval buildings
The city of diamonds is as wealthy as it sounds. The Antwerpen-Centraal is a must-see, being one of the world’s most beautiful train stations with two monumental neo-baroque façades, a town-within-a-town building tiered on 4 levels. At the Diamond Museum you can see an overwhelming collection of precious stones, housed in a building as impressive as the contents within.
62 km / 55 min
Recommended for: cathedrals and churches, art, medieval sights
Dating back to Neolithic times, Namur, the capital of Wallonia is located at the confluence of the Meuse and Sabre rivers. Namur has 3 beautiful cathedrals, Saint Pierre, Saint Aubin and Notre Dame, a number of other lovely churches and monasteries, a gorgeous UNESCO listed citadel and a couple of interesting museums displaying archaeological exhibits and different types of artworks.
98 km / 1 h 10 min
Recommended for: music history, architecture, medieval sights
You will be very impressed by Dinant, a town 100 km from Brussels and 25 km from the caves of Grottes de Han. This is where the saxophone was invented, an event extensively commemorated all around the city - celebrations on the bridge crossing the Meuse are, interestingly, painted in colours of European countries. Aside from the gorgeous cathedral, you should see the citadel perched on a cliff, accessible by cable car.
217 km / 2 h 20 min
Recommended for: business, history, architecture
When you think of Luxembourg, you might think of luxury and immediately you become curious. A nice, clean city, a mix of new and medieval architecture, beautiful streets - remarkably empty, nice parks and luxury stores, another Babel Tower capital some 200 km away from Belgium's capital.
Some sights simply cannot be missed. Others, once seen, are unforgettable, or maybe will merge with previous memories from various places in Europe, because somehow, Brussels is truly a synthesis of many a place in this part of the world. However, Europe's capital has its own charm and an alluring appeal, with features expanding beyond the city limits, quite possibly changing your expectations on cultural and historic travel in general. And about going beyond the city limits, if you have only 2 or 3 days, you should definitely think about contracting Autoclick for a car rental service in Brussels. Your trip will be guaranteed to surprise you with many stupendous impressions.