From the history of some of the world’s favorite comics to the most famous chocolate on the planet, Belgium’s capital offers something to enjoy for every type of traveler. While the city can often seem somewhat business-oriented, it’s also home to a thriving nightlife as well as a rich landscape of cultural and historical attractions that welcome guests of all ages.
Whether you’re stopping by the Grand-Place to browse goods from local merchants or you’re eating some of the country’s best chocolates at the famous Choco-Story, no trip to Brussels, Belgium, is complete without visiting one of these top 10 attractions in the city.
- Watch the World Go by in the Grand-Place
One of the best ways to start your trip around Brussels is to visit the Grand-Place, one of Europe’s most beautiful squares. The heart of Brussels began as a thriving market, soon spreading out into the surrounding maze of little streets: the rues au Beurre (Butter Street), the rue des Bouchers (Butchers Street), and the marchés aux Poulets, aux Herbes, and aux Fromages (Chicken Market, Herb Market, and Cheese Markets).
In the Grand-Place itself, rich merchants built glorious guild houses as headquarters for the different trades, and it’s these gilded, ornate buildings—along with an astonishing town hall—that give the very grand square its wow factor. Many of the guild houses now have pretty ground floor cafés that spill onto the terrace, making the Grand-Place the perfect place for a leisurely coffee or a Belgian beer as you watch the world go by.
At establishments in the Grand-Place, you’ll be paying tourist rates but getting great entertainment for your money. Try La Brouette, which has a roaring fire inside during the winter, plenty of outdoor seating during the summer, and a balcony open throughout the year for a bird’s eye view over the scene below.
2. Get Up Close to Tintin at the Belgium Comic Strip Center
Walk into the Comic Strip Center (Centre Belge de la Bande Dessinée) and the first thing you see is a large model of the rocket in Tintin’s “Destination Moon” adventure.
Tintin is definitely the hero of the center, but you’ll also see other characters of the famous Belgian comic including Tintin’s companions, Snowy and Captain Haddock, as well as Lucky Luke, the Smurfs, and several others. The Center also features a permanent exhibition that explains how the comic strip developed, an exhibition on Tintin’s creator Hergé, and a whole section on Peyo with a realistic 3D Smurf village.
Temporary exhibitions cover everything about the Ninth Art, housed in a beautiful Art Nouveau industrial building designed by the Belgian architect Victor Horta in 1906 for a textile tycoon. While you’re there, you can also eat in the Horta Brasserie and stock up your bookshelves in the excellent shop.
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