Answers from Our Experts (1)
The attractions in Brussels are as diverse as the city’s international population. If you visit, be sure to bring your appetite and sense of humor and prepare for a great time. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ picks for the five best things to see and do in Brussels:
1. Grand Place. A visit to the Grand Place is kind of like a stop at the Eiffel Tower or the Statue of Liberty — obligatory, but totally worth it. Surrounded by gilded buildings and gothic towers, including the Town Hall and the City Museum, the 15th-century square is really quite stunning.
2. Peeing Statues. The Bruxellois have a quirky sense of humor, displayed never more clearly than in the three statues of peeing creatures located around the city. The most famous, the Mannekin Pis, is a 15th-century statue of a peeing boy, who has an enviable wardrobe featuring more than 800 outfits. His clothes are changed a few times each month and the rest of his wardrobe is on display at the City Museum. The Jeanneke Pis — rumored to be Mannekin’s sister — is a statue of a squatting girl, located a few blocks away, across the alley from the popular beer bar Delirium. Finally, there’s Zinneke, a statue of a dog, who is also heeding the call of nature.
3. Open-Air Markets. There are dozens of open-air markets operating year-round throughout Brussels where you can find fresh produce, meats, cheeses and more. The biggest one is the Sunday market at the Midi train station, which features more than 450 vendors. The Wednesday night market at Place du Chatelain may be the most chic — you can enjoy Champagne and freshly-shucked oysters as you shop.
4. Cantillon Brewery. Founded in 1900, this working brewery offers self-guided tours of its funky location where you can learn about the process of brewing tangy lambic beer using only wild yeasts. At the end of the tour, you can sample the fruits of this traditional Belgian style of brewing. If you try a gueze, be prepared for a uniquely sour taste, but even non-beer lovers will appreciate a kriek, a sweet-tart cherry beer.
5. The Matongé. Named after the commercial district of Kinshasa, Congo (a former Belgian colony), the Matongé is overflowing with the sights, smells and tastes of Africa. Located in the neighborhood of Ixelles, this thriving district is the place to sample grilled goat, take an African dance class or pick up exotic fruits and vegetables.