You may not expect great things from Brussels when you find out that one of its most famous landmarks is a urinating toddler (see Manneken Pis, below).
However, you should! It is a historic city full of the kind of things you associate with Belgium, such as chocolate, waffles, Dutch-French language rivalry, the list goes on. If you are making a trip to Belgium then the capital, Brussels, should definitely be on your list.
Founded in 580 AD, Brussels’ historic architecture and landmarks are still in great condition for you to admire even in these modern times.
With all that in mind, we bring you our list of the top five free things to do in Brussels:
5. European Parliament Visitors Centre (Parlamentarium)
First on our list of the top five free things to do in Brussels is the The European Parliament Visitors Centre or Parlamentarium. The European parliament in Brussels caters for all 24 European languages by providing you with a free, handheld media guide which supply you with with short films and information as you go through the stages of the visit.
If you are a member of the EU (European Union) then it may interest you to find out where all the political decisions are made and with this free tour it can be done by even those with the smallest budgets.
Just don’t bring anything suspicious with you though, the ‘Parlamentarium’ thinks of itself as an important place and will treat you to a security checkpoint and scan your belongings before you enter.
To find out opening times for the tour click here.
4. Kleine Zavel Park (Petit Sablon)
It must be confusing for Belgians living in Brussels as when you have two languages (both French and Dutch) vying for top spot -most landmarks and places have to have two names!
Number four on our list of the top five free things to do in Brussels is no exception. Kleine Zavel (Dutch) or Petit Sablon (French) Park is a rectangular park filled with plants and statues. Lots of statues. 48 in fact.
If you are not a big fan of looking at statues or plants then this park is a pleasant place to take a breather from exploring the other parts of the city of Brussels.
3. The Cathedral of St Michael and St. Gudula
Only a church until it gained cathedral status in 1962, The Cathedral of St Michael and St. Gudula makes it to number three on our list of the top five free thigns to do in Brussels.
It is an impressive 114 metres tall and 57 metres wide from the exterior and has a ‘French Gothic’ style.
It is free to visit The Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula however you will have to pay a small entrance fee if you wish to see the Romanesque Remains and Crypt.
Check out the opening times here. Visiting is only permitted after 2pm on Sundays.
2. The Manneken Pis
Believe it or not this statue of a young boy openly answering the call of nature is one of Brussels most famous landmarks. It has a strange allure that makes it a ‘must see’ if you visit Brussels. Many tourist shops have Manneken Pis souvenirs if you feel you need a reminder of this sculpture.
There is also the tradition that the Manneken Pis is dressed up for any special events or holidays, so if you come at the right time you could even see it in costume.
Lesser known statues in Brussels that are also urinating include the Jeanneke Pis (Girl) and the Zinneke Pis (Dog) if one just isn’t enough for you.
The Manneken-Pis statue is located at Rue de l’Etuve 46, 1000 Brussels.
1. La Grand Place
The final entrant on our list of five free things to do in Brussels is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. That alone should give you a good idea of why La Grand Place is worth visiting on your trip to Brussels.
This square has been described as the most important tourist destination and most memorable landmark in Brussels.
La Grand Place originally had a market back in the 11th Century that only recently closed in 1959. It now plays host a big flower display called the ‘Flower carpet’ in August for a few days every two years. If you can time your trip to coincide with this, you can enjoy around one million begonias in beautiful patterns filling the whole 24 by 77 metres square.
That concludes our list of the top five free things to do in Brussels, if you have anything to add feel free to leave a comment!