Are you looking to visit Brussels on a budget? My first visit to Brussels, Belgium I was amazed at how much you could do without spending any money! The city is a fantastic spot for budget travel in Europe, and there are lots of diverse things to do that are completely free! If you want to save on cash while exploring Belgium’s fascinating capital city, check out these 15 free things to do in Brussels!
See the Atomium
An unmistakable icon for the city of Brussels, the Atomium statue is a must-see! This giant model of an iron crystal is just so unique, you have to see it at least once. You have to pay to enter the attraction and go up into the large metal spheres, but taking in the view of the structure from the ground is completely free! And you can get pretty darn close to the Atomium without a ticket.
Meet Mannekin Pis and Friends
Another iconic symbol of Brussels is this statue of a little boy peeing. This strange little statue has been present in Brussels since the 1400s, though the current Mannekin Pis is not the original. There are many legends surrounding how this obscure statue became such an emblem of Brussels, but
Believe it or not, the Mannekin Pis isn’t the only publicly urinating statue in Brussels! Hidden in a narrow alleyway is Jeanneke Pis, a statue of a little girl peeing in true feminine squat position. This statue was put in place in the late 1980’s, and though it’s less popular than its male counterpart, it’s something unique to see when looking for free things to do in Brussels!
At some point in the 1990’s the people of Brussels thought “Hey, we have two statues that pee. Why not add a third?” That’s right. In 1998 the Brussels trio of peeing statues was completed with the addition of a bronze dog, lifting its leg to pee on a sidewalk pole. While this statue isn’t actually in the act of peeing, there’s no mistaking the pup’s intentions.
Enjoy the Energy of Grand Place
The central square of Brussels is like the heart of the city. The ornate historic guild halls, the Brussels City Museum and City Hall with its towering belfry makes the area a hub for tourists in the city, as well as many shops,
Stroll Through Free Museums
There are quite a few free museums scattered around Brussels. If you’re looking for free things to do in Brussels that don’t involve being outside, museums are a great way to fill your day! Some particularly interesting free museums in Brussels include the Librarium, The House of European History, The Museum of the Police Force, the Museum of Zoology and Anthropology, and the Belgian Museum of Radiology.
There are also a number of museums in Brussels that offer free entry on the first Wednesday afternoon, or the first Sunday of each month. If your trip happens to coincide with these dates, definitely take advantage of these great museums! Some favorites that participate in this deal are the Musical Instruments Museum, Halle gate, BELvue Museum, Brussels City Museum, and the Museum of Costume and Lace.
For more information on free museums in Brussels, check out this site.
Learn About and Experience European Parliament
The city of Brussels is considered the capital of the European Union, and therefore is home to the official European Parliament. While elected representatives come here to enact legislature for the European Union, visitors come to enjoy the many exhibits and events that are held for the public. If you have any interest in
Visit the Parlamentarium to learn how the European Parliament works, or stroll through the House of European History. You can visit the Hemicycle, where the actual members of Parliament hold their meetings and debates. The public is even welcome to sit in on plenary hearings. You will need a valid form of ID to enter the European Parliament.
Enjoy One of the Many Parks
Brussels has over 8000 hectares of green space, making it a great city for lovers of the outdoors! Historic monuments, lovely public gardens, wooded areas, and tree-lined walkways are just some of what you’ll find in Brussels’ parks. Some of the most popular parks include Parc du Cinquantenaire with its triumph arch, Brussels Park, Leopold Park, and Park of Laeken near the Atomium.
For more information on all the parks in Brussels, visit this site.
Take in the Views at Mont des Arts Gardens
Arguably one of the most scenic places in the city of Brussels, you’ll want to make sure you add the Mont des Arts Gardens to your budget-friendly day in Brussels! Looking over the gardens from the top of the steps gives you one of the loveliest views of the Brussels skyline, complete with the tall spire of City Hall. On a clear day, you can even see all the way to the Atomium! The Mont des Arts Gardens is one of my favorite places in the city to just sit, enjoy the scenery, and watch life in Brussels happen.
Wander Through the Royal Palace
Though the Royal Palace of Brussels is no longer the official place of residence for the Belgian King and Queen, it is still an ornate place to wander and image life as a royal. In the summer, usually between sometime in mid-July to early September, the Royal Palace is open to visitors to view some of its many exquisite rooms.
But if you aren’t in Brussels during that window of time, it is still worth the walk up to the higher city to see the building itself. Ladies, in particular, will definitely want to hang around outside the Royal Palace, as word has it the Prince of Belgium is still single…
Marvel at the Palace of Justice
This huge building just up the road from the Royal Palace is hard to miss. At the time of its construction, the Palace of Justice in Brussels was the largest building in Europe. You can wander inside and view the incredible architecture and design of the building, with its tall ceilings, detailed statues, and towering columns. Outside the Palace of Justice is a small square that offers a decent view of the Brussels City skyline as well.
Have Some Quiet Time at the Brussels Cathedral
Of course. Doesn’t every European capital city have a cathedral that deserves a visit? Also called the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula, this stone church is a lovely place to go for quiet reflection, or to escape cold and rainy weather. The cathedral is home to beautiful stained glass windows, lovely sculptures, and an intricate pulpit carved from wood over 300 years old.
Window Shop the Saint-Hubert Royal Galleries
When the Saint-Hubert Galleries first opened, they became a place where the most fashionable of Brussels gathered. Today, this indoor shopping arcade still maintains its air of luxury by housing upscale boutique shops and cafes. Since we all know you didn’t come to Brussels to drop dollars, strolling through the Royal Galleries is a good place to go window shop and imagine what life is like for Brussels’ lushest residents. There is also a Maison Dandoy location here, which is argued as one of the best places for Belgian waffles. So if you are feeling like droppin’
View The Unique Street Art
Some of the world’s most famous comic strip characters originated in Brussels, thus earning the city the title of Comic Strip Capital. To honor and showcase their title, the city commissioned several artists to take over the blank city walls and cover them with colorful comic strip murals. Now there are over 50 comic strip murals throughout the city that are completely free to see. You could easily take up a day or two just walking around the city scouting out its unique street art.
You can find a list of all the murals and their locations here.
If you are visiting Brussels on a budget, you may also want to consider purchasing a Brussels Card. This card gives you free access to 40 different muesems and attractions in the city, as well as discounts for a number of shops, restaurants, tours, and attractions.
Finding free things to do in Brussels, Belgium is not a difficult task. With
And the best part is, with all the money you saved by filling your itinerary with free things to do, you will have plenty of extra money to spend on delicious Belgian waffles and chocolate!
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