Last updated on February 15th, 2022
Brussels is a city of history, architecture, and food, with no shortage of things to do. When you think of Brussels, you may think about famous landmarks such as Grand Place or drinking Belgian beer. Brussels offers a unique European experience, so while it’s known for its main attractions, it offers much more.
This list contains fun and unusual things to see while in Brussels. You will want to spend at least a few days exploring Brussels.
Here are 15 Fun and Unique Things to Do in Brussels:
15. Visit Brussel’s Arc de Triomphe
The Cinquantenaire Arcade, known as the Arc de Triomphe, is a monumental triple arch in Parc du Cinquantenaire. The centrepiece of the park, the Arc de Triomphe, faces towards the center of Brussels. Commissioned in 1880 to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Belgian revolution, the Cinquantenaire Arcade was not complete until 1905, just in time to mark 75 years of Belgian independence.
Take in the view, and relax in Parc du Cinquantenaire. If you wish, you can visit the top of the Cinquantenaire Arcade, which overlooks Brussels. You can access the top of the arch through the museum in the park.
14. Thrift Shop at the Brussels Vintage Market
The Brussels Vintage Market is a large vintage, secondhand, and homemade items market in Brussels. Located in a warehouse with 70 vendors, it is the largest vintage market in Belgium. With limited hours, Brussels Vintage Market is open on the first Sunday of each month, with food and drink available. A unique spot to visit in Brussels for those who love to thrift.
13. See the Female Version of Mannequin Pis
Janneke Pis is a 20-inch high bronze statue of a cheeky little girl squatting to pee. A counterpart to the famous Mannequin Pis, Jeanneke Pis is less known. Located north of Grand Place since 1987, Jeanneke Pis is on a quiet little street. The statue is protected by a fence to prevent vandalism. Thought to be a wishing fountain, people are encouraged to throw coins into the bottom of the Jeanneke Pis Fountain.
12. Explore Castle Ruins
Coudenberg is the ruins of a castle and the former Coudenberg Palace. The Palace burned down in a fire in 1731. Located underground, the ruins of Coudenberg are now a museum. The museum sits under Place Royale and is open on weekdays. A piece of history buried underground yet accessible, Coudenberg is a unique place to visit. During our visit, we had the whole place to ourselves.
11. Take a Local Chocolate Making Class
A fun experience resulting in delicious souvenirs, a chocolate class is something you should do in Brussels. There are a few vendors in Brussels which offer chocolate-making classes. You will spend a few hours learning about chocolate and making some delicious chocolate treats. When the chocolate class is complete, you take home all the chocolate you made. For more details, check out my Chocolate and Waffle Workshops in Brussels post, where I share my experience. This class was a highlight of my Brussels trip.
10. Relax in a Beautiful Garden
Jardin du Monts des Arts is an urban garden in Brussel’s art quarter. The park connects the upper and lower parts of Brussels. A picturesque garden, Jardin du Mont des Arts is a perfect spot to sit, relax, and soak in Brussels’ beauty. A quiet place to pause among the business of the city. With scenic views of the lower city, Jadin du Mont des Arts is one of the most beautiful gardens in Brussels. Located not too far from popular Brussels attractions, it is easy to add Jardin du Monts des Arts to your itinerary.
9. Bike Around Brussels
Being a bike-friendly city, you will find bike rentals throughout Brussels. Bikes are available to rent by the hour, and you can use them to travel pretty much anywhere within Brussels, especially outside tourist areas. You can pick up a bike at one location and drop it off elsewhere, where there is a bike station. We spent an afternoon biking around and having fun exploring like a local. You will be able to explore more of Brussels faster on a bike.
8. Get Chocolates from Godiva
Godiva is a luxury chocolate brand that originated in Brussels. For more than 80 years, Godiva has become a chocolate brand loved worldwide. There are a few locations across Brussels, including in Grand Place. During my visit to Godiva, I ordered a delicious chocolate drink. I hadn’t had Godiva in drink-form before.
7. Take a Stroll Through Les Galeries Royales de Saint-Hubert
Les Galeries Royales de Saint-Hubert is a collection of shops, restaurants, and cafes in Brussels in a historic building. Built during the 1800s, Galeries Royales de St.Hubert is one of the oldest glass-roofed shopping centers in Europe. The gallery is known for its beautiful architecture and luxury shops. Whether you choose to shop or take a stroll through the historic center, it is a lovely place to visit in Brussels.
6. Sign Up For an AYCE Belgian Waffle Making Class
All you can eat Belgian waffles? Say no more and sign me up. Going to Brussels, trying Belgian waffles is a must, and what better way to experience them than learning to make them yourself, the local way. You will spend a couple of hours learning how to make waffles Belgian-style and trying delicious combinations of toppings. A fun way to spend an afternoon, I enjoyed taking a waffle-making class.
If you decide a class is not for you, make sure you try Belgian waffles somewhere, it is a must-do for visiting Belgium. Tourist waffles are the ones loaded with toppings, traditional waffles only have icing sugar as a topping. Both options are delicious, and we made sure to try them both while in Brussels.
5. Visit a Unique Looking Museum
Brussels Atomium is an iconic Belgian landmark and museum. Built for the 1958 World Fair, the Atomium is a museum, cultural center, art exhibit, and tourist attraction. Uniquely shaped, the structure stands 335 ft tall and features nine stainless steel spheres, representing a magnified iron crystal. You will not find another museum shaped like the Atomium anywhere else in Belgium.
4. See the Iconic Smurf Statue
The Smurf Statue is a statue of a smurf sitting on a mushroom. At almost 16 ft in height, the Smurf statue is found outside the Smurf Store in Brussels. The Smurf statue was designed to be friendly and inviting by Studio Peyo. The Surf Statue provides some fun and unique photo opportunities.
Fun Fact: The Smurfs were created in Belgium by Belgian comics artist Peyo in 1958.
3. Grab a Beverage from a Unique Looking Starbucks
While you can find Starbucks around the world, this one is different. Located in Place Charles Rogier, you will find the most unique-looking Starbucks in all of Brussels. The location has a giant canopy, and the building is triangularly-shaped. With all the exploring around Brussels, you will get thirsty; this is the perfect opportunity to pause and grab a drink. You won’t find a Starbucks like this one anywhere else in Brussels.
2. Visit the Center Star of Brussels
The center star of Brussels is a giant blue star painted on the ground within Grand Place. While not in the center of Grand Place, it is within the Grand Place area and is the center point for Brussels, known as point zero. Point zero marks the exact center of the city. From this spot, directions and address numbers begin. I had never seen a city center marked so clearly. Worth a quick visit, point zero is a unique thing to see in Brussels.
1. Eat French Fries Where They Were Born
French fries may have French in their names, but they come from Belgium. Their history in Belgium goes back to the early 1700s. French fries history in France is from the late 1700s; however, the title over which country invented fries is highly disputed. Despite the dispute over their origin, Belgians eat more fries than other European countries; that makes them well worth trying in Belgium.
One of the best places to order fries in Brussels is Maison Antoine. A family-run business, Maison Antoine has been serving delicious fresh fries since 1948. Opening with two dipping sauces, mayonnaise and mustard, they have expanded their sauce options. The traditional way Europeans eat French fries is by dipping them in mayonnaise. One neat thing about Maison Antoine is they serve their fries in cones with a special dipping compartment. A must-try, their fries are delicious.
And there you have it, 15 things to do in Brussels while in Belgium. Outside the main tourist attractions, this list offers alternative activities and sites that Brussels offers. If you want a pre-made itinerary for Brussels, here is my 2-Day Brussels Itinerary. It includes the most popular attractions in the city.
Hope this information helps you find fun, unusual, and unique things to do in Brussels, Belgium.