Free Things to do in Brussels – Belgium
The first things that come to mind when we think about Brussels are chocolate, fries, waffles, and beer. Understandably we couldn’t miss a visit to the capital of Belgium to dive into their culture. In other words, eat and drink everything in sight! But don’t worry, there’s also a ton of free things to do in Brussels, so read on to find out our favorites.
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1. Explore Brussels on a Free walking tour
Many major European cities now offer ‘free walking tours’. You meet at a pre-arranged meeting point with a group of other tourists and are taken around the city. Although this activity is technically ‘free’, at the end of the tour, you can choose to tip what you think the tour was worth.
A cheap and cheerful way to see what Brussels has to offer. Furthermore, it’s a fantastic way to learn about the city and its interesting history.
Top tip: Take the tour on your first day in Brussels. It’s a great introduction to the city and you’ll then have a better idea of how to explore yourself and what to see.
More information: Brussels Free walking tour
2. Admire the Grand Place
The Grand Place is where Brussels comes to life. A beautiful cobblestoned square right in the heart of the city.
Dominated by the magnificent Town Hall and surrounded by many other architectural delights, the Grote Markt square is a great place to people watch and admire the beautiful buildings.
Top tip: The small streets surrounding the square are just as worth a visit. Visit all of the chocolate shops and take advantage of the free samples. This is definitely one of our favourite free things to do in Brussels! Who says no to free chocolate?
3. Visit Cinquantenaire Park and arch
Cinquantenaire Park is the perfect place for a summer’s day picnic. Although a little further out from the centre, it’s worth the 40-minute walk in our opinion (and a way to burn off all those extra calories). Deciding to enjoy a picnic during your trip to Brussels is a great, cheap alternative to eating in one of the city’s expensive restaurants.
Not only is it a beautiful park, but the stand out feature is the giant picturesque arch. Great for architect lovers and those wanting some cool photos for Instagram.
The park also houses 3 museums: The Autoworld, an art museum and an army museum.
Top tip: Go to the army museum and find the entrance where you can climb to the top of the giant arch to see great views over Brussels. Another great free activity to do in Brussels.
4. Seek out Manneken pis
A trip to Brussels would not be complete without visiting one of the most underwhelming tourist attractions in the world! Yes, you read right. Manneken Pis is continuously voted one of the most disappointing tourist landmarks.
But, this doesn’t stop the bronzed sculpture of a little naked boy, being the most visited place in Brussels. People flock from all over the world to see the boy ‘urinate’ into a fountain.
Legend has it, that this little boy saved the city of Brussels from disaster by peeing onto the enemies gunpowder fuse. Either way, this 58cm statue now is the symbol of the city.
Top tip: Visit here on the same day you decide to go to Grand Place. It’s only a very short walk and worth it to see just how tiny Manneken Pis really is. Plus, it’s free!
5. Visit The Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula
Follow the sound of the bells chiming to visit this stunning Gothic Style Cathedral. Only a short distance from the famous Grand Place, the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula is another one of Brussels’ stunning architectures.
If you have time to spare during your trip to Brussels, visit the interior of the Cathedral for free to marvel at its beauty.
6. Wander the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert
Dating back to the 1840s, these shopping arcades were once where the rich and fashionable hung out. Today, this gorgeous glass-roofed gallery comprises of luxury shops, cafes, and restaurants. Some of the best chocolate shops in Brussels can be found here.
We decided to stop by Neuhaus, one of the original and best chocolatiers. Spending €7.50 on a couple of Belgian chocolates may sound steep, but boy, were they worth it.
Although there are plenty of ways to splash the cash here, if that’s not your thing, it’s worth visiting just to admire the unique and beautiful architecture.
Top tip: Visit here early in the morning before the shops open for a great photo opportunity.
7. Check out the free Comic Strip Walk
Wander along the Brussels Comic strip walk to admire the many murals along the lane. Expect to see a lot of Belgium’s most famous comic strip hero TinTin, along with various other colourful art of the Smurfs and other characters.
Find out more about the comic strip walk HERE.
8. Watch the sunset at Mont des Arts
Something you cannot miss on your trip to Brussels.
Mont des Arts is the perfect place to watch the sunset. Tourists and locals alike come here to sit on the steps, listen to the buskers and take in the view of some of Brussels famous landmarks, including the Brussels’ City Hall spire.
Watching the sunset is always one of our top things to do in any city but watching it at Mont des Arts might well be our favorite free thing to do in Brussels.
Top tip: Grab some snacks, which shouldn’t be hard to find in Brussels and end your day here.
9. Awe at Atomium
One of the most well-known landmarks in Brussels. The Atomium was originally constructed for the 1958 Brussels World Fair but is now a unique science museum.
You can pay to enter Atomium and visit the exhibitions but the fee is certainly not ideal for those on a budget. You don’t have to miss out on all the fun though, instead, take an epic selfie in front of the 9 glorious, giant silver balls!
More great things to do in Brussels
As previously mentioned and we’re sure you’re already aware, Brussels is well known for its epic food! Now, it’d be great if we lived in a world where all food was free, but unfortunately, we don’t. So instead, we’ve listed some of the things we think you must try in Brussels whilst keeping that all-important budget in mind.
Taste Belgian Fries
Sampling the local food on our travels is by far our favorite thing to do and that is why we just had to include trying out Belgian fries in our guide.
Now we’re not going to bore you with the facts about what makes Belgian fries, Belgian, but we can tell you that in order to qualify as Belgian fries, the potato needs to be fried twice and in a special type of oil.
Basically, Belgian fries are delicious and are a must-try for your visit to Brussels.
Head to Frit Flagey for some of the best fries in the city. Estimated Price: €3-€4
Eat a Belgian Waffle
You simply cannot go to Brussels and not eat a waffle.
The locals here eat waffles at any time of the day, breakfast, lunch, dinner you name it and they eat it!
Our number one tip for trying a waffle in Brussels? Buy your waffle from a waffle van. The waffle van’s cook them fresh, they’re cheap and delicious. Do as the locals do and buy from the van.
Top tip: The locals eat their waffles plain, no toppings, no extra fancy bits, just plain and simple. Give it a go!
Experience Delirium Cafe Brussels
Don’t let the name fool you. This is no ordinary cafe selling cakes and tea. Delirium Cafe holds the Guinness World Record for the number of beers available for tasting. With 2004 beers to choose from, you’re sure to have a good day or night visiting this unique bar.
Being fans of a drink or two, we had a blast at Delirium. Opting to sample various beers instead of just one, we tasted unusual flavors from cherry to chocolate, varying percentages and couldn’t leave without a traditional Belgium beer.
Top tip: Visit in the evening for a great atmosphere and opt for the beer sampling as we did. It’s a similar price to the standard sized beer but you can try a variety of flavors instead of just one.
Visit a Chocolate Museum
Love chocolate as we do? Then visiting a chocolate museum is something you need to add to your Brussels itinerary.
This is a great way to spend a rainy morning or afternoon. We chose The Museum of Cocoa and Chocolate as it’s just off the main square. Start off by watching the chocolate-making demonstration, taste the yummy pralines and then explore the rest of the museum to find out about the history of chocolate. But most importantly, gobble up all of the yummy samples on offer!
Top tip: If your budget doesn’t allow for visiting a chocolate museum, there are plenty of chocolate shops around Brussels center where you can try the chocolate for free.
Where to stay in Brussels
Budget – Meininger Hotel Brussel City Centre
A bright and colourful hostel/hotel in a central location. A great place if you’re looking to meet other travellers, want a clean room and a cheap place to stay. This is where we stayed in Brussels and can definitely recommend it. Even though Meininger is a hostel/hotel, there were many families staying here and is a great option for families on a budget!
Mid Price – EasyHotel Brussels City Centre
An affordable, clean and perfectly located hotel for you to easily explore.
Luxury – Sofitel Brussels Europe
A modern 5-star hotel that will exceed all expectations. This hotel is for those wanting a luxurious stay in Brussels in the heart of the action. You can’t go wrong with the Sofitel brand!
For more places to stay in Brussels you can check the latest prices here.
Airbnb is also a great option for those on a budget! Want to save £25 off your first Airbnb Booking? Use our referral code!
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