Brussels is an ideal city to base yourself in if you're planning to live as a digital nomad in Belgium. The vibrant city boasts modern amenities and highly advanced infrastructures. In fact, it hosts the headquarters of many major international organizations, including NATO. Check out my travel guide to Brussels for things to see in this amazing city.
But there are many more reasons why Brussels is an excellent place to visit as a digital nomad. It has museums of all shapes and sizes, fascinating architecture, incredible places to eat and shop, and vibrant nightlife. Therefore, you have plenty of amazing things to enjoy while living as a digital nomad in Brussels.
If you're heading to Brussels soon, here's our guide to the top things to see and do in the city.
1. Stroll through the Grand Place (Grote Markt)
Located at the heart of the Old Town of Brussels, the Grand Place (Grote Markt) is a charming square surrounded by opulent Baroque buildings and some of Europe's best-preserved structures. As you stroll around the Grand Place, you'll find elegant guild houses featuring magnificent gables and ornately carved stonework.
The history of the Grand Place dates back to the 11th Century when it was first established. It soon became the city's political and economic hub. One of the most recognizable structures in the square is Hôtel de Ville or the Town Hall. It was constructed in 1402 to upstage the Stadhuis from Brussels' rival city of Bruges.
Step inside Hôtel de Ville, where you'll find several magnificent rooms. Among the most impressive parts of the building are the Maximilian Chamber and the large Council Chamber with grandiose ceilings and tapestries.
2. See the Belgian Comic Strip Center
The Belgian Comic Strip Center is housed in one of Brussels' most magnificent buildings, designed by Victor Horta and built in 1906. Devoted to Belgium's history of cartoons and comic strips, the Comic Strip Center features a constantly rotating exhibition of about 200 original drawings by Belgian and French comic artists. The museum documents the popularity of Belgian and French comic strips through incredibly curated draft sketches and original manuscripts.
The Belgian Comic Strip Center has been honoring comic creators and heroes for over thirty years. It features regularly renewed permanent exhibitions, including a diversified program of temporary exhibits, giving visitors a glimpse into the countless aspects of comic art.
As you walk around the museum, you'll find numerous collections of original drawings and unpublished documents gathered together to delight comic fans. The museum is open from Tuesday until Sunday, from 10 AM to 6 PM.
3. Check out Manneken Pis
The Manneken Pis is the best-known landmark of Brussels, often crowded with a throng of tourists. It's a bronze sculpture of a naked little boy urinating in the fountain's basin. Nothing much is known about the origin of the little boy, popularly known as “Brussels' oldest citizen.”
One legend claims that the statue, which used to be known as “Petit Julien,” is that of a young boy who saved the city from a disaster. Another legend says that the statue depicts the son of a count who succumbed to a pressing urge during a procession.
The current statue was built in 1619 by Jerome Duquesnoy II, a sculptor from Brussels who belongs to an artistic family. It got stolen several times but always recovered. The famous statue is dressed in costume during the city's major festivals and celebrations.
4. Visit Saint-Michel Cathedral
Saint-Michel Cathedral is a Gothic church dedicated to St. Michael and St. Gudula, Brussels' patron saints. It was first established in 1225 but completed in the 15th century. The cathedral's facade looks impressive, rising gracefully above a flight of steps and surrounded by two towers about 69 meters tall.
The interior is just as impressive and lavishly furnished. Some highlights include the statues on the temple's columns and the stained-glass windows.
5. Admire the Masterpieces in the Belgian Royal Museum of Fine Arts
Located in the historical center of Brussels, the Belgian Royal Museum of Fine Arts consists of six different art museums. Together, they offer a glimpse into the fascinating collection of over 20,000 works of art, dating from the 15th Century to the modern day.
As you walk through the halls, you can find masterpieces of famous artists like Rodin, Magritte, Gauguin, and more. There's also a fascinating collection of works from Flemish school, including that of Pieter Bruegel.
You are guaranteed to enjoy the museum's vast art collections. Considering its massive size, you may need to spend at least two hours exploring the museum.
6. Explore the Coudenberg Palace Archaeological Site
One of the top things to do in Brussels is to explore the Coudenberg Palace Archaeological Site. Rediscovered in the 1980s, the Coudenberg Palace was excavated to reveal the tunnels and cellars of the former Palace of Brussels. They also discovered the ancient streets buried beneath the city for many centuries.
The medieval palace's foundations were cleared to allow visitors to explore. There are free audio guides that offer fascinating insights as you explore the site.
Visitors can also join the interactive programs encouraging children to participate, such as the “Underground Treasure Hunt,” where they will have a chance to wear period costume pieces and use a flashlight and treasure map to solve puzzles.
7. Wander Around Mont des Arts
The stunning gardens of Mont des Arts are some of the most beautiful places to see in Brussels. Established between 1956 and 1958, occupying the elevated site between the Place Royale and the Place de L'Albertine, it's an urban complex of fascinating buildings, including the Bibliothèque Albert I and the modern-designed Palais Congrès and Palais de la Dynastie.
When visiting Mont des Arts, don't miss the sound of the carillon at the lower part of the covered passageway, delighting tourists and locals alike. After going around, relax on one of the benches and marvel at the beautiful fountains. There's also a skatepark where you can watch skateboarders practicing their skills.
8. Discover the Atomium
The Atomium is another famous landmark in Brussels that you should not miss. Originally built for the World's Fair in Brussels in 1958, it is a depiction of an iron crystal magnified over a hundred billion times. Today, the Atomium houses several exhibitions and offers a panoramic view of the city. There's also a restaurant with stunning views of the city.
Aside from the fascinating exhibitions, the spectacular views are another reason why many would visit the Atomium. It's also worth checking out the building's sci-fi-style interiors. The lower sphere has permanent exhibitions about the structure's history, while the upper section is where you can enjoy the panoramic views of the city.
9. Marvel at the Gothic Architecture of Notre-Dame du Sablon
The impressive Notre Dame du Sablon is another site you should see in Brussels. It dates back to the 14th century and has two chapels dedicated to saints. There are also various statues made of marble, including that of St. Paul and St. Augustine.
Located just south of the Grand Place, the Notre-Dame du Sablon is considered one of the most magnificent late Gothic churches in Belgium and was built to replace a small chapel built on the cathedral's sandy expanse.
A figure of the Virgin is kept in the sacrarium. Legend has it that it was brought to the chapel by a woman from Antwerp to whom the virgin had appeared.
10. See the Musical Instruments Museum
The Musical Instruments Museum is one of the most visited museums in Brussels. Also called “MIM,” it's a former Old England department store constructed in the 19th Century. The museum is housed in a gorgeous Art Nouveau about half a mile from the Grand Place. When you get inside the museum, you will see incredible displays of over 1,200 instruments gathered from around the globe, scattered across four galleries.
The Musical Instruments Museum also offers a chance to listen to the different instruments on display. You will be impressed by the various instruments on display, including the building itself. It's a must-visit for music lovers or anyone interested in learning about the different musical instruments.
After your tour, dine at the restaurant inside the museum, which offers fantastic views of Brussels. While there are signs in English, they can be a bit confusing, so it's worth paying for an audio guide to tour the museum.
11. Walk Around the Park Surrounding Château Royal (Kasteel te Laken)
Château Royal, also called Laeken Caste, is the official residence of the Belgian Royal Family. However, it is not open to the public. But if you plan to visit, you can explore the lovely park surrounding it, which has delightful footpaths and several attractions worth exploring, including the monument to Leopold I, which you'll find at the center of the circular flowerbed just across the palace.
The enormous park was a result of the combination of various property acquisitions by the royal family over the years. It hosted some of the world's most influential people, from Napoleon to the Dutch king William I of Orange, and was the subject of numerous modifications, including the construction of the Laeken greenhouses.
12. Feast on Delectable Belgian Waffles
No visit to Brussels will be complete without feasting on the delectable Belgian waffles! You can get them plain or loaded with creamy and sugary goodies. For a classic Brussels waffle, visit Maison Dandoy. But you'll find the fancier varieties at Vitalgaufre, which specializes in authentic Belgian waffles.
You will also find the waffles being sold at the various food markets all over Brussels, such as in Place du Châtelain, which takes place every Wednesday. It's a bustling market, selling everything, from fruits and veggies to delectable pastries, with the Belgian waffles being the most popular.
Place du Châtelain is also a great place to buy souvenirs, and you'll find plenty of stalls selling cured meats, local cheeses, chocolates, fresh produce, and baked goods. Most people would come here for its casual dining options, where food stalls sell everything from vegan burgers to waffles!
13. Shop at Les Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert
If you want to indulge in a little shopping while in Brussels, visit Les Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert, a shopping complex housed in a Renaissance-style arcade constructed around the mid-1800s. Featuring a glass roof, dubbed the “umbrella of Brussels,” Les Galeries is worth seeing even if you don't plan on shopping.
Millions of visitors would visit Les Galeries each year for retail therapy. It has stores selling all kinds of stuff, from clothing and accessories to diamonds and chocolates. Aside from the shops, there are also cafes, restaurants, art galleries, and a cinema. It's a great place to visit after a day spent sightseeing in Brussels.
14. Join a Beer Tasting Tour
Belgium has a rich history in beer production dating back to the Romans. During that time, beer is produced by monks in the local abbeys. Today, Brussels is home to numerous breweries and has some of Europe's most thriving beer scene. The city is also home to quirky beer bars, which you can visit on a beer-tasting tour of Brussels.
Some tours will take you to the lesser-known spots where you can learn about Belgium's finest contributions to the beer industry. These tours are led by a knowledgeable local guide, who will take you to the best places to sample the finest Belgian beer and share insights about the local beer industry.
15. Enjoy a Relaxing Stroll at the Cinquantenaire & Triumphal Arch
Cinquantenaire means “50th-anniversary”, and thus, the Cinquantenaire Park was built for the country's 50th anniversary of independence. The massive French-style park is surrounded by museums and lavish gardens with a large triumphal arch designed by the French architect Charles Girault. Aside from the lovely views, visitors would come for the various festivities held at the park throughout the year, from sporting events to concerts.
The Cinquantenaire Park is a relaxing place to explore, away from the hustle and bustle of the city. It's also worth visiting the Royal Art and History Museum within the park, where you'll find some of Belgium's interesting archaeology collections.