Take a Brussels Walking Tour
Learn about the sights and sounds you simply must see when you hit up Belgium’s capital
People sometimes say “Walk a mile in my shoes” when they want someone else to understand them. But when it comes to learning about a city and its culture, we think it’s best to walk a mile in your own shoes. Several miles, in fact. A walking tour will help you do just that.
Walking tours can really help you connect with a city and its citizens. You’ll come face to face with famous landmarks, ancient architecture and tons of people from all walks of life. Brussels, Belgium’s capital, is the kind of place that’s ideal for this sort of thing. The city has a great balance of beautiful buildings and wide streets. You never feel claustrophobic in Brussels, and there’s always something amazing to see.
Today, we’re going to show you how to get the most out of a walking tour of Brussels. Step one: Pack all your essential items. Step two: Use a luggage storage service for your extra things so you don’t get bogged down. Step three: Keep on reading!
Brussels Town Hall
A town hall is the centre of a city in more ways than one. Geographically, most town halls are located right in the heart of a metropolis. But these places are cultural hubs as well. Those two factors are what make Brussels Town Hall such an excellent starting point for a walking tour of the city.
You’ll immediately get a sense of what the city is like after only a short time exploring this area. City workers will also happily brief you on Brussels’ history and point you in the right direction if you ever get lost. Brussels Town Hall isn’t just the centre of the city, it’s the heart of the town.
Another great thing about Brussels Town Hall is its proximity to other famous landmarks. La Grand-Place is very close – so close, in fact, that you can probably see its telltale golden statues and gilded columns.
This city square really puts the “grand” in grandiose. It’s bordered by gorgeous buildings and has a beautiful flower carpet stretching from one end to the other. The Grote Markt, as it’s called in Dutch, is also a great place to stock up on snacks and souvenirs before venturing further.
Chocolate is just as pivotal to Belgium’s culture as art or architecture. Arguably more so, since Belgium chocolate has been a major international export since the 1800s. Here’s some food – or more specifically, in this case, candy – for thought: most of the sweets that folks eat during the holidays come from Belgium.
Chocolaterie Mary is one of Belgium’s leading chocolate manufacturers, with stores in every major city and several of their most popular venues in Brussels. Milk chocolate truffles, white chocolate berries and dark chocolate mousse are all available for purchase. There’s a store located right beside La Grand-Place, not even a full mile away.
Saint Michael and Saint Gudula Cathedral
When someone says they’re about to “get medieval” on you, that’s typically a cause for concern. That’s not the case with Saint Michael and Saint Gudula Cathedral. This Roman Catholic church is a marvel of Gothic architecture, built between the 11th and 15th centuries, while its facade was constructed in 1485.
The church is a true testament to the creativity, ingenuity and passion of the people who built it. Services are still held at this “Gothic masterpiece” – those are Victor Hugo’s words, by the way, not ours.
If Saint Michael and Saint Gudula Cathedral is a testament to Brussels’ architecture, Brussels Park is a credit to the city’s scenic beauty. “Verdant” is probably the best way to describe this place in one word; green trees, vibrant flowers and sparkling lawns cover almost every inch of this park.
Structures like the Royal Park Theatre and sculptures created by master artisans cover the rest of it. Here, guests can frolic in foliage or admire artwork to their heart’s content. (Sorry, talking about Victor Hugo has us writing all prosy now.)
Royal Palace of Brussels
Brussels has many buildings that plenty of folks consider symbols of the city. With the next step on our walking tour, there’s no consideration required. The Royal Palace of Brussels has appeared on everything from currency, postage stamps, official government documents and probably even a colouring book or two.
This building is the official symbol of the city, as well as one of the homes of Belgium’s Royal Family. That said, guests can sign up for tours of the palace between July and September.
Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium
That’s not a typo. The Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium are indeed a cadre of buildings dedicated to preserving and exhibiting artwork. More than 20,000 pieces fill their cumulative collection. Many come from 15th-century artists, modern-day masters and virtuosos from every century in between.
Permanent and temporary exhibits provide insight into how these pieces were created and preserved. You can learn a lot about Brussels’ history by learning about its artists. Visit these museums, and you’ll see what we mean.
All that learning and art appreciating can work up quite an appetite. L’Aubette understands this much. That’s why this amazing cafe is located near the Royal Palace and the Royal Museums. Their menu brims with tried-and-true classic European dishes; salmon, ham, baked potatoes and brunch platters are just a few of the items you can look forward to. Wash it all down with a cup of L’Aubette’s delicious coffee, and you’re golden.
We end our walking tour of Brussels with a blast from the city’s past. Like many European towns, Brussels used to be surrounded by a series of city gates. Just like its contemporaries, Brussels eventually lost most of these gates due to various circumstances. Only one, Halle Gate, is all that remains of Brussels’ ancient fortifications. It’s a museum now, one that welcomes visitors to explore a bygone era.