Do not believe what they say, Brussels is a brilliant place to visit with kids, there’s loads to do beyond the obvious beer and chocolate tours (not that there’s anything wrong with that) and with the Eurostar heading there direct from London St Pancras, it’s super easy to get to making it the perfect family city break.
1. The Atomium
My number one favourite attraction to visit in Brussels with kids is the Atomium, a gorgeous futuristic structure which actually dates back to the 1950s.
But don’t just take my word for it, it’s also Pipers favourite place to visit in the city and she spent the rest of our holiday drawing sketches of it.
It’s basically an atom magnified 165 billion times and was built for the World Trade Fair in Brussels in 1958. You can actually go up inside some of the balls and learn all about the construction and the other places built for the Trade Fair.
They have exciting light show escalators, creative temporary exhibits and perhaps the best views across the city there are.
It’s located outside of the main city centre but easy to reach on the train (about half an hour). If you want to take a tour of the city as well, the Hop on Hop off bus tours also stop there.
2. Comic Strip Museum
Brussels is famous for its comic strip characters so a trip to the comic strip museum should definitely be high on your list of things to do with kids. Piper loved the colourful depictions of the Smurfs and TinTin, I found the temporary exhibitions fascinating.
There’s also a cute reading room on the ground floor if you need a rest from all that exploring.
You can read our full review of the Comic Strip Museum here.
If that’s not enough comic strip for you, the Brussels tourist board has a great guide to the comic strip murals dotted all around the city.
3. Mini Europe
How does seeing the whole of Europe in just one afternoon sound? Obviously that’s impossible but you can get pretty close at Mini Europe located at the foot of the Atomium. It’s a model village on a WHOLE new scale. With 350 perfectly designed models featuring all the countries in the European Union.
It’s a great place to teach kids about this historic continent, all the major monuments are included and many of them are interactive. You can knock down a mini version of the Berlin wall, watch the Eurostar on its route linking the UK to the mainland and explore the leaning tower of Pisa up close (impossible with the crowds at the actual one!)
4. Grand Place
Positively dripping in gold, the Grand Place is one of the most extravagant squares I have ever visited. Home to the Neo-Gothic Town Hall it’s the cities epicentre and every single building is intricate, elegant and beautiful. Even the Starbucks!
There are plenty of restaurants and bars surrounding the square and street performers to keep the kids entertained. Be warned, it does get ridiculously busy so if you want an empty selfie you’ll need to visit very early or very late. We didn’t because we had Piper but she totally made up for it by taking one of my favourite pictures of Mr AWTYK and I.
You can take a horse drawn ride around the city, we didn’t as it was so hot we felt awful for the animals but the option’s there.
5. Eat the Food – Moules, frites, chocolates and waffles.
More about the chocolates further down……
Like Piper, Belgiums are very passionate about their fries (frites). They are delicious, twice cooked and always crispy. You can find Frites stalls all over the city if you’re just after a snack, these will often come with homemade mayonnaise.
To enjoy an authentic Belgium supper you really need to pair them with moules (mussels). We tried several places and didn’t find a bad mussel once!
For the sweeter tooth, the waffles are light and fluffy but very filling, one as a snack will fill you up. As with the frites, there are many street sellers around the city serving up freshly made waffles (just follow your nose, the smell is to die for!) we also found them in our hotels breakfast.
6. Choco Story
And now for the chocolate. Located on a side street just off the Grand Place this is one the kids (and every other chocolate lover) will love.
The Choco Story has some interesting chocolate history artefacts but the best part is the chocolate making demonstration. The chocolatiers are funny, knowledgeable and seem fluent in every language going. They will talk you through the process of making an authentic Belgium chocolate, creating as they go, the smells through the demo are divine and you get to try the end results! Win!!
7. Brussels Park
The oldest park in Brussels, this is a lovely green space to explore and relax. You’ll often find celebrations going on here, there’s a lovely little bandstand, a great spot to watch some live music. It’s right next to the Royal Palace which you can also visit but only over the Summer.
There’s a cute little kids play area – we always try to hunt out at least one on a city break, stroller friendly pathways and fountains.
If you want to keep up your fitness during your stay in Brussels, there’s a jogging track around the perimeter of this park and plenty of outdoor gym equipment.
Or you can hire a bike from lots of places around the city.
8. Manneken Pis
You’ll see depictions of the Manneken Pis all over the city and locals are very proud of him. We even saw one made of chocolate at Choco Story!
Located down a side street near the Grand Place (it’s signposted everywhere) the fountain is basically a 2 ft tall little boy taking a pee, it’s surprisingly small and if you’re not looking for it you would probably just walk straight past, trying to dodge the crowds of people.
Piper thought it was a bit gross but that’s because she’s a 7 year old girl, I’m sure most kids would love it! He gets dressed up in whatever is seasonally relevant so it was no surprise when we visited he was in the nude.
There’s a cute bar on the opposite corner serving delicious Belgium Beer so you can tick another must do off your list when you’re there.
Not something I usually spend time doing when traveling with kids but the beautiful malls of Brussels are too pretty to miss. I loved the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert just off the Grand Place. Its full of small independent shops and the perfect place to purchase some chocolate souvenirs.
The most popular things to buy in Brussels are chocolate (of course), comic books, traditional lace, unique bottles of Belgium beer and unsurprisingly, little replicas of the Mannequin Pis.
10. Osseghem Park
Probably the best park to visit in Brussels if you’ve got plenty of time. It’s outside the city centre, next to the Atomium and Mini Europe and is absolutely huge. There’s an outdoor amphitheatre where plays and live music still gets performed, gym equipment, lakes and many manicured gardens and natural trails to follow.
It is also home to Brosella, a two day folk and Jazz festival held over the summer.
Where to stay in Brussels
If you’re visiting Brussels with kids you’ll need a fun and family friendly hotel to rest your heads. We stayed at the Radisson Red in the European Quarter and absolutely loved it. Read our full review of the Radisson Red here.
Hotel Amigo is another popular choice for families. It’s just a minutes walk to the Grand Place. They have family suites and interconnecting rooms and a family package perfectly suited to visiting Brussels with kids.
Another one just off the Grand Place is the Novotel Brussels again with plenty of family sized rooms, a nod to Brussels love affair with the comic book and free wifi.
How to get to Brussels
For us visiting from the UK was super easy, just hop on the Eurostar and it’s a quick 2 hours to the city centre from London St Pancras. If you’re flying in, Brussels International airport is about a 20 minute taxi ride into the city.
Make sure to pin for later for details on things to do with kids in Brussels.
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