The Grand-Place is the central square of the City of Brussels. All over the world it is known for its decorative and aesthetic wealth. The Grand-Place is surrounded by the guild houses, the City Hall and the Maison du Roi.
The Grand-Place is considered as one of the most beautiful places of the world. The Grand-Place of Brussels was registered on the World Heritage List of the UNESCO in 1998.
Nowadays, numerous festive or cultural events are organized on the Grand-Place: the Flower carpet (77 x 24m, event organized every 2 years in mid-August and with more than 500.000 begonias; the Ommegang which commemorates the tribute created in 1549 during the coming of Charles the Fifth in Brussels to present it his son, the future Philippe II; the Christmas tree; the daily flower market; the procession of the Meyboom and concerts. https://www.brussels.be/grand-place-brussels
Unavoidable icon of Brussels en Belgium, important place for international tourism, unique creation in the history of architecture and emblematic vestige of the World fair in Brussels, the Atomium is today the most popular tourist attraction of Europe’s Capital.
The Atomium was constructed for the first post-war universal world exhibition (EXPO 58) The nine spheres represent an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times. They represent the faith one had in the power of science and moreover in nuclear power. https://visit.brussels/en/place/Atomium
Located at the foot of the Atomium, Mini-Europe is the only park where you can have a whistle-stop tour of Europe in a few short hours. A truly unique journey! Enjoy a stroll taking in the typical atmosphere of the most beautiful towns of the old Continent.
The incomparable chimes of Big Ben welcome you to the heart of London. The gondolas and mandolins invite you to discover the charms of Venice. Follow the TGV high-speed train from Paris to the other end of France. You can make the models work yourself: the eruption of Vesuvius, the fall of the Berlin Wall, a bull-fight in Seville, the take off of the Ariane spaceship and many others. All in all, 350 models and sites with an unequalled level of craftsmanship. Visit also the European area, packed with interactive multimedia games and the exhibition. https://visit.brussels/en/place/Mini-Europe
The Cinquantenaire park is comprised of a vast set of gardens dotted with monuments and museums. It is dominated by a triumphal arch with three arches. The park hosts numerous activities throughout the year: events, celebrations, firework displays, sporting events, concerts, etc.
This place of interest was built in 1880 for the 50th anniversary of the independence of Belgium. The broad pathways lead to the Pavilion of Human Passions designed by Victor Horta, the Royal Museum of the Armed Forces & Military History, the Royal Museums of Art and History and to Autoworld. At the top of the three triumphal arches there’s a bronze quadriga and an unbeatable sweeping view over the whole of Brussels. https://visit.brussels/en/place/Cinquantenaire-Park
The Europa building is one of the most recent and magnificent examples of contemporary architecture in Brussels. The enormous cube is made up of 3 750 restored window frames and contains a glass lantern that, at night, is beautifully lit up by 374 LED tubes. This ‘House of the European Member States’, with its multicoloured interior, is the main seat of the European Council and of the Council of the EU, and is where meetings between EU ministers and heads of government are now held.
Philippe Samyn, the Europa building’s lead architect, sees it as the expression of a number of the values espoused by the EU. The façade thus consists of window frames from every EU country which signify both the diversity and the craftsmanship of every Member State, as well as the desire to promote sustainability. Thanks to the collection of rainwater, the use of solar panels across the whole area on the top of the building, and the optimised façade structure, the Europa building has been awarded the Valideo environmental certificate. The interior lantern, built in a shape that was necessary to avoid too much pressure being exerted on the ground and the underground metro tunnels, mainly contains meeting rooms and a large press room and press area. https://visit.brussels/en/place/Council-Europa-building
How do you go about explaining how the European Parliament works, in a simple and sexy way? The Parlamentarium takes on the challenge with interactive tools such as a 360° digital film, role playing for school children and an interactive floor map. The Parlamentarium is open every day, visits are completely free and can be experienced in no less than 24 European languages. Suitable for individual visitors, schools and families.
The ins and outs of how the European Parliament works, how European unification came about and how Members of the European Parliament address todays challenges are explained in an easy and accessible way in what is the largest parliamentary visitors’ centre in Europe. https://visit.brussels/en/place/Parlamentarium
Near the Basilica, the Belgian Chocolate Village is one of the largest museums dedicated to chocolate. The scenographic tour displays and explains the stages of the manufacture of chocolate, its uses, its history, its benefits, its economy and its diversity. It appeals to all the visitor’s senses while a tropical greenhouse reproduces the conditions of cocoa cultivation. Thanks to the chocolate workshop integrated in the museum tour you experience the daily work of the artisan chocolate makers who let you taste their last creations. https://visit.brussels/en/place/Belgian-Chocolate-Village
The Horta Museum is established in the private house and studio of the famous architect, Victor Horta (1861 - 1947). Built between 1898 and 1901, the two buildings are characteristic of Art Nouveau at its peak. The house has kept intact most of its interior decors: mosaics, stained-glass windows, furniture, paintings and murals form a collection whose every detail evokes harmony and sophistication. The museum is also a centre for research into Victor Horta and Art Nouveau. The architect's personal archives, a collection of blueprints for his buildings and a library are open to the public by arrangement. https://visit.brussels/en/place/Museum-Horta
This 20-hectare park, which is Schaerbeek’s green lung, is a place for relaxation which is steeped in history and culture. It is arranged into three sections: the historical park, the great lawns and the playground area.
A spot praised by writers and artists, a refuge for botanists and ornithologists, the park also has a collection of sculptures, as well as areas set aside for sporting activities and young people. In July and August, free concerts are organised. https://visit.brussels/en/place/Josaphat-Park_236207
The Belgian Comic Strip Center has been honouring the creators and heroes of the 9th Art for more than 25 years.
The regularly renewed permanent exhibitions and a diversified programme of temporary exhibitions enable visitors to discover the countless aspects of comics art. Tintin and the Smurfs lead the way towards further adventures, an encounter with a world where creativity has no limits.
Enhanced by an exceptional Art Nouveau home designed by Victor Horta, the Belgian Comic Strip Center is just as much a tribute to the pioneers as a glimpse of contemporary comics art. https://visit.brussels/en/place/The-Belgian-Comic-Strip-Center
Visitors to Antwerp have been flocking to the hip Eilandje district, an old dockside neighbourhood, to visit the MAS | Museum aan de Stroom, which opened in 2011. This is where the city and the port – the second largest port in Europe even – converge. The stunning architecture and the museum collection are perfect examples of this.
The MAS has a phenomenally large collection, which to date comprises about 500,000 items, including artworks and utensils. New objects are constantly being added to the collection.
The museum uses its entire collection to weave a new narrative, based on five universal themes, on just as many floors. The MAS takes a closer look at power politics and world ports. At how food shaped and will shape today’s metropolises in the past, present and future. And at life and death, of people and gods, in the upper and under world. Moreover, the third floor and the walking boulevard host some fascinating and highly diverse temporary exhibitions. https://www.visitantwerpen.be/en/sightseeing/museums/mas-museum-aan-de-stroom-en
In the heart of Antwerp is the home of Peter Paul Rubens, the famous 16th-17th--century Baroque painter. For four hundred years, he and his work have been a source of inspiration and a reference. And to think that he created the bulk of his work in this house.
Rubens was a fan of Rafael’s, the Italian painter. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that in 1610, just as his idol, Rubens designed his own city palace. Near the Meir, which has always been a sought-after part of the city.
This is the house where Rubens created his masterpieces, his children played in the garden and he received his high, noble and even royal guests. And in the meantime, a team were working hard on his paintings in the studio. At his peak, Rubens could not cope alone and led a team of professional artists. https://www.visitantwerpen.be/en/sightseeing/the-rubens-house
Grote Markt originally was a forum or square just outside the medieval residential quarter. In 1220 Duke Henry I of Brabant (1165-1235) donated this community land to the city.
The name Merckt was used for the first time in 1310.
Around this time the first annual markets or foren van Brabant (Brabant fairs) were organised. Here English merchants would do business with Italians, Spaniards and merchants from the Northern German Hanseatic cities as well as from Southern Germany and Flemings of course. At the end of the fifteenth century Antwerp overtook Bruges as the most prominent city of the Low Countries. https://www.visitantwerpen.be/en/sightseeing/grote-markt
The secret Vlaeykensgang alley dates from 1591 and connects Hoogstraat, Oude Koornmarkt Pelgrimstraat with one another. Walk through the gate at Oude Koornmarkt 16 and you feel as if you have journeyed back in time.
In the past this alley was where the shoemakers and the poorest people in the city lived. The shoemakers were also in charge of sounding the alarm bell of the cathedral. These days you can find antiques stores and art galleries here as well as the exclusive restaurant Sir Anthony Van Dyck. The atmosphere is very intimate which is why many people also like to come here to listen to the carillon concerts during the summertime. https://www.visitantwerpen.be/en/sightseeing/vlaeykensgang
The Antwerp ZOO is one of the oldest and best-known zoos in Europe. It will take you and your parents at least half a day to see and do it all! The penguins live in Vriesland with their own arctic enclosure, elephants and giraffes are as tall as the Egyptian temple they stay in and hippopotamuses goof around in a pink villa. 950 different species and 5000 animals live at the zoo, that’s more than all the sweets you’ll ever eat all in one place!
Walk among the chimpanzees and the gorillas in the Valley of the Great Apes. It’s a great place to observe the apes’ antics, as they enjoy the grass under their feet and the wind on their skin. From there you can stroll to the Buffalo Savannah, where Cape Buffalo and birds live in harmony. And as you look out over the new savannah where the giraffes and the zebras live, you really will feel as if you are on an African safari. Don’t forget to check out the Skywalk where you can enjoy a stunning panoramic view over the historical garden and where you can get up close to the red pandas. https://www.visitantwerpen.be/en/sightseeing/antwerp-zoo
The Botanical Garden along Leopoldstraat is a unique green haven in the city centre.
It is a world in one garden, exceptional trees and shrubs, 2000 herbs, cactuses and foreign plants will inspire the plant fundi. Built almost 200 years ago, it grew only medicinal plants to supply the St Elisabeth’s hospital next door. The city has managed the garden since 1926 and in 1950 the Botanical Garden was listed as a valuable landscape for the city of Antwerp and its inhabitants. Indeed it is not to be missed! https://www.visitantwerpen.be/en/parken-en/botanical-garden
The Cathedral is an iconic treasury, with an impressive collection of major art works, including a series of paintings by Rubens. Now, after twenty years, the seven-naved church has been restored to its former architectural glory. Fascinating features include Rubens’ ‘Elevation of the Cross’ and his ‘Descent from the Cross’.
After 169 years of construction the cathedral of Antwerp finally dominated Antwerp's skyline in 1521 with a height of 123 metres. It's the highest Gothic building in the Low Countries.
Any visit to Antwerp starts with a visit of the Cathedral of Our Lady! https://www.visitantwerpen.be/en/sightseeing/cathedral-of-our-lady
St James‘ Church is the starting point for pilgrims journeying to the burial place of St James the Greater in Santiago de Compostela. The church is also known for the resting place of Rubens.
This church, which is within short walking distance from Antwerp’s main shopping street Meir, is one of the largest churches in Antwerp. Like so many other European cities Antwerp also has a sanctuary for St. James. In the early fifteenth century there was a hospice here, which welcomed Northern European pilgrims travelling to the tomb of the apostle James in Santiago de Compostela. In 1413 a chapel, dedicated to St. James, was added to the hospice. Soon the chapel proved too small. As a consequence construction started on the current church in Brabant Gothic style in 1491. It would take no less than 175 years to complete the church.
St. James’s Church served as parish church for several smaller crafts and guilds and religious brotherhoods. The choir was completed during the Baroque period with the tombs and chapels of wealthy families. The most famous memorial chapel is that of the Antwerp Baroque master Peter Paul Rubens. He painted the altarpiece Madonna Surrounded by Saints in the chapel. Elsewhere in the church you can admire a masterpiece by Jacob Jordaens.
St. James’s Church has one of the oldest working tower clocks. https://www.visitantwerpen.be/en/sightseeing/churches/saint-jamess-church
Visit The Ruien, a truly unique attraction, and walk through Antwerp's former canals and sewers. During this adventurous and astonishing underground walk you'll discover some of Antwerp's exciting and rich history.
Sewers, streams and ramparts have criss-crossed the city since the Middle Ages. This network of waterways provided Antwerp with drinking water and an inland port. Later, the waterways served as sewers. They were eventually covered with vaulted ceilings. This unique piece of heritage disappeared from view.
Now you can rediscover this hidden patrimony. A visit to The Ruien is a walk along old vaulted ceilings, narrow canals, bridges, sewers and sluices. You'll get a peak at the underbelly of the city and hear secretive anecdotes and fascinating facts from the distant and recent past. https://www.visitantwerpen.be/en/sightseeing/ruien
EcoHuis is Antwerp’s green epicentre. Here you can find out how to build and live sustainably in the city. Visitors with green fingers learn how best to create their own ecological city garden and which animals and plants thrive in the city. Visit the Ecocafé for delicious treats and healthy snacks and juices as well as organic veggie meals. https://www.visitantwerpen.be/en/sightseeing/ecohouse
The most important of Bruges’ towers stands 83 metres tall. It houses, amongst other things, a carillon with 47 melodious bells. In the reception area, waiting visitors can discover all kinds of interesting information about the history and working of this unique world-heritage protected belfry. Those who take on the challenge of climbing the tower can pause for a breather on the way up in the old treasury, where the city’s charters, seal and public funds were kept during the Middle Ages, and also at the level of the impressive clock or in the carillonneur chamber. Finally, after a tiring 366 steps, your efforts will be rewarded with a breath-taking and unforgettable panoramic view of Bruges and her surroundings. https://www.visitbruges.be/en/belfort-belfry
A visit to Bruges isn’t complete without a boat trip on its canals. Go aboard at any of the five landing stages for a half-hour trip that allows you to appreciate the most noteworthy delights of the city from a completely different angle. March to mid-November: daily 10.00 a.m.-6.00 p.m. (last departure at 5.30 p.m.). https://www.visitbruges.be/en/bruggemetdeboot
Markt is the heart of the city and surrounded by many historical highlights. It is filled with pedestrians and bicyclists and a perfect place to get some rest or food in a local restaurant.
Markt is dominated by its Belfry, for centuries the city’s foremost edifice and the perfect look-out in case of war, fire or any other calamity. You can still climb to the top of the tower! The statue of Jan Breydel and Pieter de Coninck graces the middle of the square. These two popular heroes of Bruges resisted French oppression and consequently played an important part during the Battle of the Golden Spurs in 1302. Their statue neatly looks out onto the Gothic revival style Provincial Palace. Until the 18th century this used to be the extremely busy Waterhalle, a covered warehouse where goods were loaded and unloaded along the canals that ran alongside the square. Today the canals are still there, albeit underground. https://www.visitbruges.be/highlights/marketsquare
The 'Princely Beguinage Ten Wijngaarde' with its white-coloured house fronts and tranquil convent garden was founded in 1245. This little piece of world heritage was once the home of the beguines, emancipated lay-women who nevertheless led a pious and celibate life. Today the beguinage is inhabited by nuns of the Order of St. Benedict and several Bruges women who have decided to remain unmarried. In the Beguine's house, you can still get a good idea of what day-to-day life was like in the 17th century. https://www.visitbruges.be/highlights/beguinage
The half-hour carriage ride along Bruges’ historic winding streets trots off on Markt (at Burg on Wednesday morning). Halfway through the ride the carriage briefly stops at the Beguinage. The coachman gives expert commentary en route. https://www.visitbruges.be/en/bruges-by-horse-drawn-carriage-2
The 115.5 metres high brick tower of the Church of Our Lady is a perfect illustration of the craftsmanship of Bruges’ artisans. The church displays a valuable art collection: Michelangelo’s world-famous Madonna and Child, countless paintings, 13th-century painted sepulchres and the tombs of Mary of Burgundy and Charles the Bold. Useful to know: at the moment, large-scale renovation works are still being carried out, so the church is only partially accessible and many works of art cannot be viewed. The choir was renovated in 2015 and the remarkable church interior can now once again be admired in all its splendour. https://www.visitbruges.be/en/onze-lieve-vrouwekerk-church-of-our-lady
The Groeninge Museum offers a varied overview of the history of Belgian plastic arts. Although the Flemish Primitives are a high point, you will also marvel at top 18th and 19th-century neoclassical pieces, masterpieces from Flemish Expressionism and post-war modern art. https://www.visitbruges.be/en/groeningemuseum-groeninge-museum
The Zwin: a unique combination of a visitor park and a nature reserve, originally founded by Count Léon Lippens. There is a constant coming and going of birds in the Zwin Nature Park; in spring many return from their wintering area in the deep south to land at their brooding areas in the north; in autumn they set out on their journey in the opposite direction.
Numerous species of birds follow coastlines and use estuaries and other nature areas to rest for a while or to find food. You can compare it with aircraft that must make as stop during a long-haul flight to refuel at an airport. For very many migratory birds that follow the coastline, the Zwin is an important layover point on their long journey. The Zwin area is an airport, but one reserved exclusively for birds, the 'International Airport for Birds'!
The Zwin also famous with its rare landscape: a natural transition from one biotope to another is visible here, from beach to dunes on the one hand and from beach to mudflats and salt marshes on the other. Mudflats are flooded by the sea twice a day, at high tide, and feature no or hardly any vegetation. The salt marshes on the other hand feature a rich flora which has adapted to its surroundings. Salty mudflats and salt marshes are rare along the coasts and river mouths of Western Europe and they are under European protection. https://www.zwin.be/en
The Basilica of the Holy Blood is a Roman Catholic basilica in Bruges. The church houses a venerated relic of the Holy Blood allegedly collected by Joseph of Arimathea and brought from the Holy Land by Thierry of Alsace, Count of Flanders.
The double church, dedicated to Our Lady and Saint Basil in the 12th century and a basilica since 1923, consists of a lower church that has maintained its Romanesque character and a neo-Gothic upper church, in which the relic of the Holy Blood is preserved. The treasury, with numerous valuable works of art, is also worth a visit. https://www.visitbruges.be/en/basiliek-van-het-heilig-bloed-basilica-of-the-holy-blood
One of the best thing you can do in Bruges is to take a beautiful short walk along the ramparts with its windmills. It is nearby the city center, so after discovering shopping places, beers and coffees, this is a great opportunity to escape from the busy city life for a moment.
Belgium has a rich mill history. If you check a map of Bruges from the 16th century, you can see there were no less than 23 windmills here! They were part of the town walls since the end of 13th century. Nowadays, there are four remaining mills between the Dampoort and the Kruispoort: Koeleweimill, Nieuwe Papegaai, Sint-Janshuismill and Bonne Chiere. https://www.visitbruges.be/en/windmills-of-bruges
Look up at the magical city skyline for a moment during your weekend trip in Ghent: you can’t miss it. The Belfry is the middle tower in the famous row of three, between St Bavo’s Cathedral and St Nicholas’ Church. A fiery dragon, the proud symbol and mascot of Ghent, guards the historic heart of the city.
The Ghent Belfry symbolises the city’s prosperity and independence. The Cloth Hall, built onto the Belfry, was completed in 1907. The flamboyant Brabant Gothic style of the Cloth Hall is an ode to the industry to which Ghent owes so much. On the corner of the Cloth Hall is an old jailer’s house. Every Sunday morning you can hear the carillonneur at work between 11 am and 12 noon. And you can enjoy a carillon concert on the first Friday of each month from 8 to 9 pm. In the summer months, the concert takes place every Saturday night! https://visit.gent.be/en/see-do/ghent-belfry-world-heritage
This church in Tournai bluestone is one of the most beautiful examples of the Scheldt Gothic style.
One of its unique elements is that the tower is not above the entrance but above the crossing of the nave and transepts. It functions as a sort of natural lantern as the light shines into the transept from the tower. https://visit.gent.be/en/see-do/st-nicholas-church
A weekend trip to Ghent is simply not complete without a visit to the mysterious ‘Castle of the Counts’. This important sight in Ghent is a castle with a very turbulent past, closely intertwined with the complex—often stormy—political and social history of the city. It is the only remaining mediaeval castle with a moat and largely intact defence system in Flanders. Your visit to the Castle of the Counts will give you a complete picture of heraldic culture in the 12th century. The gatehouse, ramparts, keep, count’s residence and stables are open to visitors.
The Castle of the Counts boasts a unique collection of torture equipment. What used to be the pantry now features the torture equipment, which is displayed in a suggestive executioner's cabinet. The former courtroom features the collection of judicial objects. The Castle of the Counts also hosts all kinds of cultural activities, events and activities, for example during the Ghent Festivities. It is also a popular place to get married for Ghent’s locals.
Let’s not forget the time the Castle of the Counts was occupied by protesting students in 1949! Explore the castle during your weekend trip in Ghent and find out all about the ‘Battle of the Castle of the Counts’. https://visit.gent.be/en/castle-counts-0?from_category=3332&context=tourist