Brussels has so much to offer, ranging from a statue of a peeing boy to the most beautiful market square in the world. The capital of Belgium has many different neighbourhoods, each with their own specific character. Because unfortunately we cannot visit them all in one day, we leave this extremely hard choice up to you. Several areas of the city can be combined on our day tour.
The main highlights are located in the historic centre around the Grand Place, the most beautiful market square in the world according to many. It is where we find Manneken Pis (the peeing boy), the City Hall but also the Old Stock Exchange and the monumental and fancy St Hubert Halls. This neighbourhood is without a doubt a must for first time visitors.
Two other neighbourhoods that should be on your program if it is your first visit to Brussels are the Royal Quarter and the Sablon area. These are still very close to the Grand Place and there is plenty to see. The current Royal Palace, for instance, but also several past royal palaces, including one underground, and the great view from the Mont des Arts.
The upscale Sablon area (Petit and Grand Sablon) is known for its former city palaces, antique shops and haute chocolatiers. We especially love the Petit Sablon park, the most elegant park in the world, if you ask us. Just up the road from Sablon, there is the majestic Justice Palace of Brussels. It is the largest building built in the 19th century and, while they have been renovating it for 20 years now, it is one of the most impressive constructions of Brussels. Hitler loved this building so much he wanted a copy of it.
Brussels is not only the capital of Belgium, but also of Europe. The European neighbourhood in Brussels is the heart of the European Union. This quarter is characterised by the large and hypermodern structures of the EU government buildings and museums. For those interested in learning more about the EU and its institutions or just politics in general, this could be interesting to add to the program. There are, however, also other sights, such as several Art Nouveau town houses and Art Deco buildings as well as the Cinquantenaire Park with its triumphal arch and museums.
The Marollen neighbourhood is the most authentically local neighbourhood in central Brussels. It has always been a working class neighbourhood (even though a lot less now) and even today this is the place to visit if you want to have more of a local experience. A stroll around the daily flea market or a visit to one of the local bars or restaurants is a great break from architecture and history. Actually, there is also plenty of history here. For instance, it was the Jewish ghetto during World War II. The large number of arrests that happened here can still be seen from the Stolpesteine (small plaques with the names of those deported).
The Flemish or Dansaert Quarter is another area of Brussels that is well worth a visit. It is known as the chic and hip district of central Brussels. Independent boutiques and vintage clothing. Cocktail lounges, live music bars and traditional pubs. The former fishmarket and the cobblestone square of Sainte-Catherine. A former market complex now housing an exhibition center. There is something for everyone.
In addition, it is possible to focus on a specific theme for the tour, for instance World War II, Brussels as the political heart of Belgium and Europe, Art Nouveau or architecture in general, Belgian food. (beer, chocolate, waffles, fries) and many more.
Any Brussels hotel or train station