Brussels doesn’t reveal itself easily. If the city was a temperament, it definitely belonged with the introverts. But once the ice is broken… Oh, what an inspiring and unique place. A journey through the Belgian capital in 29 tips.
is located in a beautiful building designed by non other than the renowned architect Victor Horta. Whether you want to visit the interesting exhibits or would like to do a workshop, see a silent movie or attend one of their festivals, Cinematek is the place to visit for all movie fans big or small.
is a fine family restaurant located in a former matrass shop on the Vlaamsesteenweg. Julie Belaen and her husband Fouad Benarbia created a feel good environment, where customers are welcomed all day long. The menu is filled with all kinds of goodies such as a variety of quiches, burgers, quesadillas, pasta’s, toasts and salads. There’s a cozy kid-corner located in the back where your toddlers can fraternize with other kids, regardless of any language barrier.
The brochure Op Vadroei door Brussel
takes you and your younglings on an adventurous scavenger hunt through the city. ‘Vadroei’ is Brussels for ‘on the go’ by the way. The ‘loeizemet’ or fleamarket at the Vossenplein is one of the highlights of this journey. Here you’ll find all kinds of vintage and brocante stuff, all in an authentic Brussels decorum.
A more rugged part of Brussels is home to the Brussel-Kapellekerk train station, where you’ll find urban project Recyclart
. Underneath the roaring tracks hides a bar, an exposition space and a concert hall. Hop in for one of the photography and art exhibits. At the Discokids your young ones can shake their booties.
Never had Ethiopian food before? Go to Toukoul
and experience a traditional Ethiopian dish. You can eat it with your hands! Ethiopians have been doing it for over 200.000 years. Ever since the first Homo Sapiens started his successful endeavor around the world.
The charming Speelgoedmuseum (Toymuseum)
is a place to wonder and ponder. This 19th
century building is crammed with toys of times past and will bring you straight back to your childhood.
Restaurant Jour de fête
is situated on the Anspachlaan and honors Jaques Tati’s wonderful film. You are warmly welcomed in this nineteen fifties décor, in both languages of the country. Each day there ‘s a choice of five delicious dishes on the menu. You can choose between a meat-, a fish-, a vegetarian-, a pasta- and a seasonal dish. Creative and healthy is the motto here.
Ever wondered what Charlemagne’s little hideout looked like? At the Koningsplein you can visit the subterranean remains of the monumental Coudenbergpaleis
. Sadly this is all that remains of this once wondrous palace, due to a fire in the 18th
century. It was considered to be one of Europe’s most beautiful medieval castles.
According to its owners ‘Houtsiplou
’ is a way to say ‘an imaginary place’. This cozy restaurant at the Rouppeplein welcomes children with open arms. Hamburgers is what they do best. From a ‘super chouette’ (with reblochon cheese) over a ‘Joséphine’ (duck) to a ‘Plouf’ (codfish) or simply a ‘classic’ (cheddar and bbq sauce), they are all delicious. Upstairs is a bit more quiet, you’ll find toys, books and crayons there. They even have Lego.
If you don’t mind getting a little bit dirty, you can visit Brussels’ entrails. Underneath the city lies a 400 km long sewage system of which you can visit a short piece. The Riolenmuseum (sewage museum)
tells you all you need to know about subterranean Brussels, where every day thousands of gallons of water pass through.
The owner of Le Pré Salé
– ‘you can call me Mister John’ – is a good example of what a real Brusseleir
looks and sounds like. On his menu you’ll find all typical local dishes. Mussels, côte à l’os, rabbit, meatballs in tomato sauce, sole meunière and mashed potatoes with sausage. Most of them are available in small portions for the kids. The youngster can go nuts with crayons on the paper mats, provided by Mr. John. This place used to be a butcher’s store, and that still shows in the interior.
The Yeti exists! And he lives in the heart of Brussels. At the Yeti Cantine Moderne to be exact. Surprised? So were we at first. However, once we’ve put our teeth into all the goodness that the Yeti serves, we no longer had any questions left. The groundbreaking tea menu alone is one of the many things that make this place a must. The breakfast and the large vegetarian lunch, with marvelous pancakes ‘Ottolenghi’ surely is another reason to put this address on your wishlist.
Immortal heroes such as Tin Tin, Willy and Wanda (or Spike and Suzy as they are called nowadays), the Smurfs and Lucky Luke all come to life at the Belgisch Stripcentrum (Belgian Comic Strip Center)
through original drawings from historical albums. You’ll learn all about their creators and the history of the characters. Even if you don’t give a rat’s ass about comics, it surely is worth the visit. The museum is located in the former Waucquez warehouses, a prime example of Art nouveau by the hand of Victor Horta (1906). At MOOF
the comic book characters prevail over their creators. Which makes this place more suited for the youngest visitors. A stroll alongside Smurfs, a life-sized Tin Tin, Lucky Luke on his loyal horse Jolly Jumper and a baffled looking Asterix.
The Brussels Welcome Hotel
is a spectacular mixture of countries and cultures. “Let’s go nuts!” is the best way to describe this place. You are given the choice to stay for example in Bali, Kenia, Congo, Japan or China. We had the Egyptian room, where a golden sarcophagus guards the door. Awesome!
Hungry or thirsty? Say no more. Head over to the Red Riding Hood dining room, Le Wolf ‘s
bar at the Brussels House of Youth Literature. Here you’ll place a fairytale sounding order, ‘Black Witch tea’, a ‘mama bear plate’ or ‘seven dwarfs chocolate milk’ for instance. Just browsing in the Unusual Library is also a good idea. Tired of reading? Pick a story from the Story Jukebox, a little wooden shed where the kids get to listen to a story, illustrated by drawings on a big screen.
You know a place where you can keep coming back to, without ever getting tired of it? The Natural Science Museum
is one of those places. All because of their wonderful exhibits and excellent permanent collection. This is the museum with the renowned Bernissart dinosaurs. But there’s so much more. The newest wing about the history of humankind and the human body is yet again spot-on! Our absolute favorite museum in Brussels.
To get to Chalet Robinson
at the Terkamerenbos, you’ll have to hop on a raft that slowly but surely brings you to the other side of the pond. The other side is a deserted island. Well, maybe not that deserted. But still quite uninhabited. Hamburgers, meatballs with tomato sauce, pasta and steak with fries are on the menu. And the island provides lots of space for the little ones to play and run around. How cool is that?
The Terkameren bos (Bois de la Cambre) is part of the Zoniënwoud, the big old forest that surrounds Brussels. The area consists of a total of 124 acres of forest and an English style park, with trails for hiking or bicycle riding. The Chalet Robinson (see above) is also here. During the weekend a large part of the forest is closed for cars.
The Children’s Museum
does not exhibit children, thank God. It does however have well executed exhibits about themes like wonder, rituals and color. A must do with children between the ages of 4 and 12. The garden is also childproof!
Welcome to the sweet world of pastels and homemade hamburgers, also known as Le Balmoral
. This milkbar serves American and tex-mex classics such as fajitas, enchiladas and tacos. Besides the usual children’s menu there is also a baby menu with veggies and fruit. You can always sit outside on the heated terrace when it get’s too crowded inside, but then you’ll miss the sparkling interior.
A while ago the producers of television show Vlaanderen Vakantieland sent us out in the field to find the very best of Brussels. We stayed at the charming Hotel Chelton
, nearby The Natural Science Museum. Their rooms are basic but very spacious and there is a rooftop terrace with a grand view over the city. But the real place to be is the breakfast area downstairs. They only serve homemade and ecofriendly dishes.
The former Belle-Vue brewery now houses the Millennium Iconoclast Museum of Arts or MiMa
. It focuses on art from the new millennium (2000), with emphasis on street art and the likes of Banksy. This museum comes with a nice café-restaurant.
is an ecofriendly project that is also situated in the old brewery of Belle-Vue. The restaurant only serves sustainable dishes with ingredients from their own garden and local producers. Very tasty and affordable. Every Sunday morning food waste
collective Eatmosphere organizes Mary Pop-in
brunch and on Wednesday evening there’s Café Mangé.
The very first carbon neutral hotel in Brussels has a spot in the Belle-Vue brewery building as well. Meininger’s
successful combination of hotel and hostel attracts a colorful crowd, from students over couples to families and even larger groups. There’s a young, chill atmosphere. Perfectly situated nearby the Dansaert neighborhood.
You don’t really need to be a former train conductor to enjoy Train World
. This is a place where the wondrous world of all things train come to life. Hypnotizing screenings, mesmerizing sounds and trains, lots and lots of trains! A
Those who associate the quartier
of Schaarbeek with dingy streets and dangerous looking figures, need to go and stay at Tous les jours dimanche
(every day is Sunday). In this cozy bed and breakfast you’ll get the entire top floor at your disposal, suited for up to 5 persons. Lucile Jans, born in Limburg but Brusseloise
by heart, knows exactly what families need when they go on a city trip. From a relaxed atmosphere to a comfortable bathroom and good tips for a successful visit to Brussels: Lucile takes care of it.
is a contemporary art center with changing exhibits. They offer activities and creative workshops for kids during schoolholidays. Every first Sunday of the month you can join a tour guide for Family Funday. Be sure to check out the panoramic rooftop terrace. What a view!
The Atomium doesn’t really need any introduction. But did you know that the Adam or Art & Design Atomium Museum
resides nearby? This large collection of colorful sixties design gems puts a smile on every visitor. It also harbors the former Plasticarium collection and organizes temporary design exhibits. There’s a game for the kids, but we can assure you, even without this piece of paper they surely are going to have a great time here.