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Back in 2010, as part of a guided tour during a whirlwind three weeks around Europe, one of our first destinations was Brussels – the capital of Belgium and of course before our visit we had a list of things to see in Brussels we hoped our tour covered.
While Belgium was not high on our must-see list, we were looking forward to the opportunity of a jam-packed few hours experiencing the best things to see in Brussels. That didn’t happen.
Thanks to a combination of heavy traffic from London and long delays with our Dover to Calais ferry, we arrived in Brussels after dark instead of the anticipated afternoon arrival.
Due to the time frames needed between driving for tour bus drivers, our nighttime sightseeing tour of Brussels attractions was cancelled.
We were bummed to say the least. A big downfall of guided tours.
Even more frustrating was the fact that our hotel was pretty far from the city centre. In fact, it seemed to be on a whole other level to the city centre, and no obvious Brussels attractions nearby.
That was a bizarre observation, walking to the point of reaching what seemed to be an elevator from the area of Brussels we were in to a lower area. It all felt a little space aged and complicated… apparently there is an upper and lower section of Brussels.
Being tired and a little lacking in adventurousness that night, we gave up on the idea of seeing much of Belgium sadly, instead snapping a few pics of what we could see of Brussels from the upper city area.
Instead, we settled for a meal at a lovely little Italian restaurant not too far from our hotel, before retiring for the night so we would be bursting with energy for the next destination on our guided tour – Germany.
7 MUST SEE BRUSSELS ATTRACTIONS… THAT WE DIDN’T SEE
However, one day I hope to return to Brussels and see the awesome things the city has on offer. So i put together a list of some of the things to see in Brussels that I wish we had seen.
Suggested to be one of the most beautiful squares in Europe, surrounded by baroque and gothic style houses and buildings. This UNESCO World Heritage Listed site is popular for dining in one of the surrounding cafes, shopping at the daily flower markets, or enjoying one of the seasonal events or concerts held here.
Hotel De Ville (Town Hall)
Located right by the grand place square is the town hall, a grand historic building that offers tours inside. The stand out feature is the crooked spire that sits 315 feet tall. This is by far one of those things to see in Brussels that I was looking forward to. I love gothic style buildings so common in Europe.
Palais Royal (The Royal Palace)
The official residence of the Belgian king, which overlooks Brussels Park. If the flag is raised, the king is home. Although if you are lucky enough to visit Brussels during summer, you will have the chance to tour through the Royal Palace.
Basilica of the Sacred Heart
The fact this is the 5th largest church in the world is impressive and that along make it one of the popular things to see in Brussels. Modeled on the Basilica of Sacre Coeur in Paris, but with concrete, red brick and sandstone instead, giving it an impressive bold appearance. There is also a viewing platform giving great views of Brussels.
The iconic Mannekin Pis statue in Brussels of the little boy having a tinkle in the fountain is almost the symbol for Brussels. A tradition long ago started sees heads of state visiting Brussels bringing the boy clothing in their natural dress, with more than 700 of the outfits on display at the Brussels Museum.
A must see Brussels attraction if you want to learn all about the city and its history, along with admiring Mannekin Pis’ outfits. The city’s history is told over 3 levels, from the Middle Ages to current days.
Cathedral of Saints Michel and Gudule
This grand cathedral is built in honour of the male and female patron saints of Brussels and is up there on the list of things to see in Brussels. Although some damage was received during the French shelling in 1695, the bulk of the gothic style cathedral remains in tact.
Have you been to Brussels? What were your favourite things to see in Brussels?