If you thought Brussels was just a place where MEPs go to argue, think again. The home of the European Parliament is packed with unusual places to eat, horse-drawn carriages and the fabulous Atomium
Unusual sights to see
For the best views of the city, visit the Atomium, an enormous installation designed to resemble an atom through its nine silver balls. It was created for the World Fair of Brussels in 1958. You can get inside six of these – one is a permanent exhibition about the sculpture, one is aimed at children and the highest sphere contains a restaurant with panoramic views. The others are home to various seasonal exhibitions.
- Located on Square de l’Atomium. Open every day from 10am-6pm. Tickets cost €11 adults, €6 children. 00 32 247 54 775
When you’ve finished at the Atomium, pop outside and see the whole of Europe…
Yes really! Mini-Europe is a sweet collection of 300 scale models that children will love and is situated next to the Atomium. There’s even a 4m-high Big Ben!
- Tickets cost €14.50 adults, €10.80 children, or can be combined with entry to the Atomium for €23.60 adults, €15.80 children. 00 32 247 80 550
Belgium is famed for producing cartoonists and a new archive has press illustrations on display to the public in the Cartoonist Gallery.
- 11 Hoogstreet, open Thursday-Sunday only. Entry free. For more information call 00 32 251 12 133
Take a trip to a museum with a difference… Celebrating one of the country’s most famous exports, the Belgian Chocolate Village is fittingly located in a former biscuit factory, dedicated to the history of our favourite snack. Alongside tours (available in English), activities and a tropical greenhouse bursting with cocoa trees, the ‘tasting room’ will satisfy your appetite!
- Belgian Chocolate Village tickets cost €8 adults, €5 children. Call 00 32 242 07 076
Bread-lovers rejoice – a new restaurant has opened celebrating the humble loaf, which is served alongside every meal. This isn’t just any old bread mind you, with dishes at the strangely named AUB.SVP including diced bacon bread, red currant bread, or lime brioche.
- AUB.SVP, 00 32 473 90 24 91
If you’re a wine enthusiast, but never know which varieties should accompany which meals, then Ars Vinorum is the place for you. The wine bar and restaurant has a fantastic selection of Italian wines, plus the cost of a suitable accompanying glass is included in the meal price, too.
- Ars Vinorum, 00 32 250 33 933
Shop ‘til you drop
Brussels may not be known as a great shopping destination, but it ought to be thanks to its collection of quirky boutiques. For gorgeous china and earthenware (plus a pleasant tea room) try the Hei Shop and Tea on Cahussée de Charleroi
Alternatively, if you’re peckish, shop like a local at Färm, on Quai au Bois à Brûler. It’s a mammoth 300sqm organic supermarket where you’ll find all sorts of local products – from bread and cheese to bath products.
Meanwhile if you’re looking for unique gifts, look no further than Pipaillon La Conserverie, on the same street, where you can buy beautiful preserves made from local ingredients. If the flavours don’t make them tempting enough for you, you won’t fail to be impressed by their music-inspired names – candied lemons are ‘Yellow Submarine’, while rhubarb and strawberry compote is ‘Ruby Ruby’.
For a romantic view of the city, take a horse-drawn carriage around the historic Grand Place (the central square). Two new carriages offer 30-minute rides and can fit up to five people. There’s no need to book and they are available seven days a week throughout the year. Tours cost €39.
Alternatively take the Waterbus along the Zenne Canal for an affordable way to travel through the city. There are seven stops to choose from, taking in tourist attractions and shopping areas. Prices vary according to the journey. Contact them for a timetable.
- Prices start from €2, 00 32 2218 51 10
We’ve given international dialling codes plus phone numbers for the various attractions in Brussels. For up-to-date information and prices, please visit individual websites wherever possible. Note: International call rates vary, calls from mobiles may be higher.
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