Tintin and Brussels
Steven Spielberg's adaption of
Tintin and the "Secret of the Unicorn" prompted
great interest in Tintin on the part of young visitors. See this page from
Visit Brussels for more information.
Also see our
section on the Hergé Museum
(Tintin's creator) located in Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium
Best Places to Visit in Belgium
The tourist center of Brussels is the Grand Place (Grote Markt),
one of the most beautiful town squares in Europe.
Ornate buildings of incredible beauty surround the Grand Place, a
large square in the center of Brussels. The impressive
Hotel de Ville (City Hall) (1) is crowned with
marvelous tower topped with a statue of St. Michael.
Although attractive during the day time, the Hotel de Ville is simply
stunning when illuminated (the architectural lighting is switched on
shortly after sunset).
Across the square from the City Hall is the equally impressive
Maison du Roi (2) or King's House as it is called, although it
was never occupied by a king. This building is called the
Broodhuis or Bread House. by locals, as a building was once
located here that was used by bakers to sell their goods. Today
the Maison du Roi houses a museum focused on the history of
Other sections of the Grand Place are composed of well preserved,
ostentatiously decorated, guild houses, many now converted to offices.
Other than taking a quick look at the buildings, and touring the museum
(overpriced and underwhelming), there is little other sightseeing at the
Grand Place, but it is a good place for a drink and, perhaps, a snack
Also, the Grote Markt is "the" meeting place in Brussels, so be
prepared for crowds throughout the day and night.
A few blocks to the south of the Grand Place is the famous statue
Manneken-Pis (6), a small, black marble statue of a young boy, who can
best be described as "... taking a pee".
The avenues that lead to the Grand Place are filled with
touristy shops offering chocolate (5), lace, ceramics, antiques, and
high quality, unique Christmas decorations .
It is fairly hard to navigate directly towards or away from the
square, as your traveling partners will likely zig-zag from one shop
to the next. Take your time, these narrow lanes are made for
wandering (and shopping).
If your schedule is flexible, try to revisit the Grand Place at night to
see the buildings illuminated. If you thought the square was beautiful
during the day, you will astounded by the magnificence of its
appearance at night.
To the east of the Grand Place are the Galleries Saint-Hubert,
a historic, indoor shopping arcade that spans two-blocks filled with
upscale shops with attractive merchandise presented in a charming venue.
Following the Rue de Madeline towards the Royal Palace, you
will encounter the Place de Albertine /Place de Musee/ Mont des
If you enter this arcade, you will probably wind up buying a memento, as the
products you will find here are a cut above and very enticing. You may find the
chocolate shop irresistible.
Next to the Galleries Saint Hubert, you will find the Rue des Bouchers
filled with restaurants of every imaginable type (although seafood abounds).
We think the prices are inflated because of the number of tourists, but the
food here can be very good.
Across from Saint Hubert is the Place Agora Plein that
host a crafts market on weekends. The market is not large, but
it is filled with a number of stalls with treasures that will surely
appeal to the folks back home.
Heading up the steps to the Museum Plein you will soon find
yourself at the Musèe des Instruments de Musique, the Musèe Royaux des Beaux
Arts-de Beligique, the Musée Magritte Museum, the Palais des Beaux-Arts,
and, then, the Royal Palace and Royal Square.
Keep walking until your reach the wonderful sculpture garden that often
features interesting exhibitions (7).
On the east side of Mont des Arts you will find a whimsical
clock (8) built into a portion of a building spanning the adjacent street.
At Konigsstraat 2-4 rue Royale, you will find BIP (Brussels
Info Place) that is the official visitor centre of the Brussels
Capital Region. Complete with an information desk, you can also: book
tickets for concerts or shows in Brussels, purchase books, maps and post
cards about brussels, and see an interactive exhibition on Brussels and
the Capital Region. See the BIP
website for more details.
Palace and the Palace Square (Koningsplein) are
interesting but not compelling.
- The museums contain interesting collections and deserve brief
explorations. If you are interested in music, then the Music
Museum is a must-see. Also, there is a great view of the city from
the top floor of the building.
- In addition, in 2009, the Museum Plein added a museum dedicated to
the work of the surrealist artist Magritte. If you admire
Musée Magritte is the richest collection of his works in the world.
To the left you will find the Parc de Bruxelles (lots of
greenery and this is a good place to sit and enjoy the quiet).
Follow the Rue de la Régence to Rue Boden and proceed down the hill to the
Grand Sablon and its collection of interesting shops and
The Grand Sablon is full of antique shops and high-end art
galleries. The square has an interesting flea market for
antiques on most weekends. This area is a delight and a great place
to spend an hour or two either shopping, browsing or at one of its
If you like desserts, stop at the
Cafe Wittamer, or if you like chocolates (well, expensive
chocolates), follow down the street to the Wittamer chocolate shop.
Pierre Marcolini Chocolatier, on the opposite side of the street
is also well worth a visit. You might also want to see the new
Passion Chocolate stand in the NH Hotel.
Notre Dame du Sablon, a beautiful church, stands next to the square.
Tour to see its stained glass windows and interesting interior.
Follow on down the hill to see one of Brussels older churches (Eglise de
More Chocolate in Brussels
The topic of chocolate and "the best chocolate" is a common one in
Brussels. Wittamer, Marcolini (mentioned above) and
Mary Chocolatier are three of the well-established Belgian
chocolate specialists. You cannot go wrong buying chocolates at any of these
shops and we think you will find their products superior to other shops in
Brussels and, perhaps, anywhere!
A relatively new chocolatier in Brussels has attracted critical acclaim
for the quality of its chocolates. Passion Chocolat
is located at Avenue Louis Gribaumont 20 (1150 Bruxelles -
Woluwe-Sainte-Pierre), a little outside of the city center.
The shop is open Monday through Saturday from 10 to 6.
- In addition, Passion has opened a new shop on the Grand Sablon
(located in the NH Hotel located at Rue Bodenbroek 2/4). The
shop is open from Monday through Saturday from 10 to 7 and closes an
hour earlier on Sunday.
- Finally, if you are not satisfied with eating chocolate and want to
know more about its history, consider visiting the Museum of Cocoa and
Chocolate, a three story townhouse devoted to describing everything
there is to know about chocolate.
- It is located on Rue de lat Tête d'Or, near the southwest corner of
the Grand Place. Visit its web site for more
Belgium and Brussels are famous for their comic book connections.
Brussels in very fond of the character Tintin, although his creator's museum
is located in Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium (a "new" university town about 30 KM
southeast of Brussels). See
this section of our guide to the best places to visit in Belgium for
details on this excellent museum.
- Brussels, however, has its own "Belgian Comic Strip Center" located
at 20 rue des Sables (Zandstraat).
- See the
official Comic Strip Center website for more details on its
exhibitions and operation.
The official tourism website of the city of Brussels is
Visit Brussels. The website provides additional details on the best
places to visit we recommend, as well as information on attractions that did
not make our list.
For country facts on Belgium, as well as travel information related to
visas, driving rules, safety, medical conditions, visas and other
travel-related information, see this page on
Belgium Travel from the Bureau of Consular Affairs of the U.S. State
Department. Regardless of your home country, we think you will find
the information provided to be useful when planning a trip to Belgium.
If you need information about another travel destination, try our
Destination Guide Index
or Googling ThereArePlaces.
Best Places to Visit in Belgium
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