Top 10 Things To Do In Brussels On Tight Budget

Saturday, January 05, 2013 2 Comments A+ a-

Is it possible to visit or experience Brussels, the capital of Belgium on a shoestring budget? The answer is a resounding yes. Read on for my list of top 10 things to visit or do in Brussels if you are on a shoestring budget. Most activities in my list are either free or cost less than 2.

My top tip for a hassle free Brussels trip is to pick a hotel nearby Brussels Central train station. This is because majority of the famous Brussels attractions are within walking distance from the central station. You can already save from the unnecessary public transportation cost. 

1. Grand Place (Grote Markt)
Let's start the list with the number 1 must visit tourist spot in Brussels: Grand Place or Grote Markt. As one of UNESCO's World Heritage site, Grand Place can certainly compete with the best central squares in Europe and maybe even the world. It boasts spectacular Gothic style buildings in the form of Townhall and City of Brussels Museum, full cobbler stone pavement, old guildhall buildings with over the top facade showcasing the European grandeur of yesteryear which will instantly transformed you back to the 15th century.
Grote Markt Brussels
The Stunning Grand Place or Grote Markt
It is certainly the 'Wow' moment in your Brussels trip. Try to arrive early in the morning for best photo opportunity before it gets too crowded.

Address: Grote Markt, Brussels, BE-1000, Belgium, BE
Open hours: daily - 24 hours
Admission: free 

2. The Everard 't Serclaes monument 
At a small arcade near to Grand Place is the monument of Everard 't Serclaes, a local hero that helped to recover Brussels from foreign occupation. Legend has it that rubbing the wrist of this monument may bring you good luck or even bring you back to Brussels in the future.
The monument @ Star Arcade Brussels
Golden monument to Everard 't Serclaes
Address: Off Grote Markt, Brussels, BE-1000, Belgium, BE
Open hours: daily - 24 hours
Admission: free 

3. Manneken Pis
Are you sure I am at the right place? Why is it so small? Don't be surprised by the miniature size of this iconic Brussels landmark. Sculpted by Jerome Duquesnoy back in 1619, this tiny bronze statue of a young boy urinating into a pool uniquely symbolise Brussels's free spirit.

Peeing Kid Statue of Brussels
The Most Famous Peeing Kid: Manneken Pis

Address: Rue de l'Etuve, Brussels, BE-1000, Belgium, BE
Opening hours: daily - 24 hours
Admission: free

4. St. Michael and Gudula Cathedral (Cathédrale des Saints Michel et Gudule)
My second Brussels travel tip is to visit as many Churches as you can. This is because most of the Gothic styles churches are at least a couple of centuries old and offer free entry. My top pick will be St. Michael and Gudula Cathedral, which is right next to the central train station. Witness the incredibly beautiful sight when the sunlight breaks through the amazing stained-glass window.

Cathédrale des Saints Michel et Gudule
St. Michael and Gudula Cathedral (Cathédrale des Saints Michel et Gudule)
Address: Parvis St. Gudule, Treurenberg Hill, Brussels, BE-1000, Belgium, BE
Tel: +32 02 217 8345
Open hours: daily
Admission: free

5. Brussels Meeting Centre Square
The Brussels Meeting Centre Square offers stunning view of Brussels and the comfort of a small park that you can relax and catch your breath after some serious foot exploration around the Grand Place. 
The Square
Brussels Meeting Centre Square
Address: Intersection of Kunstberg, Mont ses Art, Brussels, BE
Open hours: daily
Admission: free

6. Royal Palace / National Palace (Palais Royal)
Once the official Royal residence for Belgian monarchy, now it is merely meant for ceremonies and receptions. Nevertherless, still worth visiting to admire the 18th century built Royal Palace of Brussels.
Palais Royal
National Palace Brussels

Address: Place de Palais, Brussels, BE-1000, Belgium
Opening hours: only in summer
Admission: free

7. Place du Petit Sablon Kleine Zavel Park
Indeed a mouthful to pronounce, the Place du Petit Sablon Kleine Zavel Park is highly recommended. Hidden among many tall and new building is this beautiful and romantic garden. It is undoubtedly the hidden gem with pretty fountains, giant statues of famous people and sculptures.
Place du Petit Sablon
Place du Petit Sablon Kleine Zavel Park
Address: Place du Petit Sablon Kleine Zavel, Brussels, BE-1000, Belgium
Open hours: daily - exterior only
Admission: free 

8.  Belgium waffles
Onward to food, glorious food since your tummy will be practically screaming at you after an entire day of exploration on foot.

Belgian Tourist Waffles
Famous Belgian Waffles
First up is Waffles, which are huge in Brussels, you can get it at practically every corner of the street. Try the original Brussels waffle, which is squarish and served with powder sugar on top. Do not pay more than 2 for a piece of of caramelized, warm and fluffy waffles. 

9. Belgian Fries
Belgian Fries is undoubtedly one of the national food of Belgium. It is sold everywhere in Brussels from brightly lid and catchy road-side stalls. The Belgians have always claimed that they have invited the crunchy, salty & addictive fried sticks of potato instead of their Southern neighbor: France.
Belgian Fries
Belgian Fries
The Belgian fries are fried to golden perfection, crunchy on the outside while soft and fluffy inside. Apparently the secret lies within the liberal usage of Beef fat and double frying at varying temperatures.

Best of all, it only cost around
2 for a serving. Huge variety of sauces could be added at €0.50 a pop.

10. Chocolates
Before we sign-off, another top Brussels travel tip is to avoid the obvious Chocolate tourist traps setup like mushrooms after the thunderstorm.

Belgian Chocolate Fountain
Belgian Chocolate
Please try to avoid the chocolate shops around the famous tourist area such as Grand place etc. My recommendation is to buy it from the many supermarkets in town. You can get the exactly the same medium range varieties for a fraction of the price off those so call specialty chocolate shops.

My top 10 things to do in Brussels on a tight budget. Do you have other tips or ideas to share? 

For more information, visit:

Brussels Park
Parc de Bruxelles
Rue De La Loi
Brussels Parliament Building
Palace Royale Koningsplein Brussels
Palace Royale Koningsplein


Write comments
5 January 2013 at 22:29 delete

Great post...we were just there and ended up really liking the feel of Brussels. I think we did just about everything on this list. We also did a self-guided walk of the comic book murals and thought it was a fun (and cheap!) way to explore a good area of the city. Safe travels!

14 January 2013 at 16:37 delete

Hi Travis, thanks for the great comments. In fact, I like Brussels too. The first impression wasn't great as I found the the railway station is a bit rundown as compare to NL. However, I immediately fall in love with Brussels when I strolled around the centuries old old town square. We just had less than 24hr in Brussels and these were so much we can cover. Anyway, it has been a great trip!

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