Photo credit; Le Kai
Brussels is an expensive destination – there is no getting around it. Accommodation and eating/drinking out in particular can take a big bite out of your budget in this city! What may surprise you though are the amount of free activities and things to do here that will cost you absolutely nothing. Here are 40 free things you can do for free in Brussels right now!
1. Abbaye de la Cambre
Where; Avenue Emile Duray, 1000 Brussels.
What; Founded in the late 1100s and later restored in the 18th Century, the Abbey de la Cambre is the headquarters of the Belgian National Geographic Institute. You can visit the grounds, gardens and the Notre Dame de la Cambre here for free.
More information? http://visitbrussels.be/bitc/BE_en/monument/705/abbaye-de-la-cambre.do
2. Parc du Cinquantenaire
Where; Parc du Cinquantenaire, 1000 Brussels.
What; Parc du Cinquantenaire literally translates to “Park of the 50th anniversary” and was built during the reign of King Leopold II. It is considered one of the most beautiful parks in Belgium and is a highlight to visit during summer. Have a picnic here and you could also save yourself some money on lunch (given how expensive Brussels is to eat out in.)
More information? http://www.brussels.be/artdet.cfm/5458
3. St Gudule and St Michael’s Cathedral
Where; Place Sainte-Gudule, 1000 Brussels.
What; St Guke and St Michael’s Cathedral is a Roman Catholic church in Brussels that was given cathedral status in 1962. Please note; whilst the cathedral itself is free to enter, in certain areas (such as the Romanesque Remains) there is still a small entrance fee to pay.
When; Open (for visits) Monday to Friday 7am to 6pm, Saturday 8am to 3.30pm and Sunday 8am – 2pm.
More information? http://www.cathedralestmichel.be/eng/index.php?lang=eng
4. Palace of Justice
Where; Poelaertplein 1, Brussels, 1000.
What; Belgium’s supreme court of law. One of the main reasons for visiting the Palace of Justice are the panoramic style views of the city below. It’s a great place to take your camera!
When; Open Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 12.30pm and 1.30pm to 4pm.
More information? http://justice.belgium.be/fr/
5. Bois de la Cambre
Where; Bois de la Cambre, 1000, Brussels.
What; The Bois de la Cambre is a park and woodland area in Brussels designed in 1861 by German architect Edouard Keilig. Quite simply it’s a pretty place to just be.
When; From 1st April to 30th September: 6am to 10pm. From 1st October to 31st March: 7am to 9pm.
More information? http://www.brussels.be/artdet.cfm/5464
6. The Church of Our Lady of Laeken
Where; Parvis Notre-Dame, 1020 Brussels.
What; The Church of Our Lady of Laeken is a neo-Gothic church originally built in memory of Queen Louise-Marie, wife of King Leopold I.
When; Tuesday to Saturday: 2pm to 5pm.
More information? http://www.ndlaeken-olvlaken.be/EN/indexEN.htm
7. Parc de Woluwe
Where;1150 St-Pieters-Woluwe, Brussels.
What; Another popular park in Brussels.
More information? http://www.bruxellespourtous.be/Parc-de-Woluwe-et-etangs-Mellaerts,89.html?lang=en
8. Notre Dame au Sablon
Where; Rue de la Regence 3b, 1000, Brussels.
What; This late-Gothic church dates from around 1400 to 1594 and is yet another free place you can frequent in Belgium’s capital city.
When; Monday to Friday: 9am to 5pm. Saturday to Sunday: 10am to 6.30pm.
More information? http://up.catho-bruxelles.be/bxlcentre/
9. Ambiorix Square
Where; Square Ambiorix, 1000 Brussels
What; A pleasant park and garden in Brussels. Not much more to say here on this one, but it is somewhere you can go for free!
When; From 1st April to 30th September: 6am to 10pm and from 1st October to 31st March: 7am to 9pm.
More information? http://www.brussels.be/artdet.cfm/5457/Ambiorix-Square
10. National Basilica of the Sacred Heart
Where; Parvais de la Basilique 1, 1083 Brussels.
What; Kind Leopold II symbolically laid the first stone of the National Basilica of the Sacred Heart in 1905 during the 75th Anniversary of Belgian independence. The construction was halted twice by the two world wars and only finished in 1969. Interesting place to visit.
When; Daily 9am to 5pm.
More information? http://www.basilicakoekelberg.be/documents/home.xml?lang=en
11. Parc Léopold
Where; Belliardstraat, 1000 Brussels.
What; Parc Leopold is a public park located within the Leopold Quarter of Brussels, adjacent to the Paul-Henri Spaak building.
When; Daily 7am to 10pm.
More information? http://www.bruxelles.be/artdet.cfm/5459
12. Royal Palace of Brussels
Where; Rue Brederode 16, B-1000 Brussels.
What; The Royal Palace of Brussels is the official palace of the King and Queen of Belgium, however it is not actually used as a royal residence. The King and Queen live in the Royal Palace of Laeken on the outskirts of Brussels instead.
When; Tuesday to Sunday, 10am to 5pm.
More information? http://www.monarchie.be/palace-and-heritage/palace-brussels
13. Parc D’Egmont
Where; Parc D-Egmont, 1000 Brussels.
What; Yet another beautiful public park in Brussels…
More information? http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parc_d’Egmont
14. Royal Museum of Armed Forces and Military History
Where; Parc du Cinquantenaire 3, 1000 Brussels.
What; The Royal Museum of Armed Forces and Military History displays a variety of weapons, uniforms, planes, and tanks.
When; Tuesday – Friday 9am to 5pm. Weekends 10am to 6pm.
More information? http://www.klm-mra.be/klm-new/engels/main01.php?id=menu_links/startpagina
15. European Parliament
Where; Rue Wiertz 60, 1047 Brussels.
What; Brussels is home to the European Parliament, where all EU related laws are decided. The best part about this place is that you can go and see for yourself how proposals become law in the EU. Chamber tours are free of charge.
When; From September to June, there are chamber tours departing at 10am and 3pm Monday to Thursday, and at 10am on Fridays. In July and August additional tours are added at 11am and 2pm Monday to Thursday, and 11am on Fridays.
More information? http://www.europarl.europa.eu/visiting/en/visits/individual-chamber-tour.html
16. Museum of Musical Instruments
Where; Rue Montagne de la Cour 2, 1000 Brussels.
What; Collections of over 8000 instruments.
When; Tuesday to Friday 9am to 5pm. Weekends 10am to 5pm.
More information? http://www.mim.be/en
17. Bibliotheka Wittockiana
Where; Bemelstraat 23, 1150 Sint-Pieters-Woluwe, Brussels.
What; Biblitheka Wittochkiana is a museum of book bindings and book art in Brussels. Founded by Michel Wittock – hence the name – features a rotation of items that are not on permanent display due to their fragility.
When; (Please note; Free entrance is only on the first Sunday of every month! On all other days there is €5 admission per adult and €3 for students with a valid student ID.)
More information? http://www.brusselsmuseums.be/en/museum/10-bibliotheca-wittockiana-museum-of-book-bindings-and-book-arts
18. ULB Contemporary Art Collection
Where; Avenue Paul Heger 22 – 24, 1050 Brussels.
What; A collection of Contemporary Art.
When; Mondays & Tuesdays 12 – 2pm. Wednesday to Friday 12 – 6pm. Saturdays 11am – 5pm.
More information? http://visitbrussels.be/bitc/BE_en/museum/2060/contemporary-art-museum-ulb.do
19. ULB Museum of Medical Plants and Pharmacy
Where; ULB – Campus de la Plaine – Boulevard du Triomphe – acces 2, Batiment B, 1050 Brussels.
What; Details the history of medicinal plants.
When; Monday to Friday 9am to 6pm. Saturdays 9am to 12.30pm.
More information? http://visitbrussels.be/bitc/BE_en/museum/2085/museum-of-medicinal-plants-and-pharmacy-ulb.do
20. Espace Photographique Contretype
Where; Avenue de la Jonction 1, 1060 Brussels.
What; A museum of contemporary photographs housed in an Art Nouveau building.
When; Wedesday to Friday 11am to 6pm. Weekends 1pm to 6pm. Please note; free entry is only on the first Sunday of every month here.
More information? http://www.contretype.org/
21. Museum of the National Bank
Where; Berlaimont 3, 1000 Brussels.
What; Details the history of money, forms of payment and money as a cultural phenomenon.
When; Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm.
More information? http://www.nbbmuseum.be/en/
22. Royal Museum of Fine Arts Belgium
Where; Rue de la Regence 3, 1000 Brussels.
What; One of the most famous museums in Belgium, the Royal Museum of Fine Arts holds a variety of exhibitions (particularly classics.) Please note; some exhibitions here have an admission fee.
When; Please note; free admission is on the first Wednesday of every month 1pm to 5pm.
More information? http://www.fine-arts-museum.be/en
23. Centre of Research and Technological Studies in the Plastic Arts
Where; Avenue Franklin Roosevelt 50, 1000 Brussels.
What; Located within the Universite Libre de Bruxelles, the centre houses a permanent collection of photographs covering techniques and the execution of the plastic arts.
When; At request.
More information? http://www.brusselsmuseums.be/en/museum/16-centre-for-research-and-technological-study-of-plastic-arts-crea-patrimoine-ulb-museums
24. Computer Museum
Where; Avenue du Bourget 20, 1130 Brussels.
What; Presents a chronological development and linage of the computer since the birth of its ancestor in 1880.
When; By appointment only.
More information? http://brusselsmuseums.be/en/musee.php?id=61
25. National Museum of the Resistance
Where; Rue Van Lint 14, 1070 Anderlecht, Brussels.
What; The National Museum of Resistance details a dark period in Belgian history. In particular, the museum holds numerous items and documents about the Belgian Resistance and its actions during both world wars. This includes testimonies of Nazi barbarism from prisoners of war.
When; Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday (9am to 12pm and 1pm to 4pm.)
More information? http://www.sgl-fas.be/
26. Wiertz Museum
Where; Rue Vautier 62, 1050 Brussels.
What; Paintings, drawings and sculptures by Antoine Weirtz.
When; Monday to Friday 10am to 12pm and 1pm to 5pm.
More information? http://www.fine-arts-museum.be/en/museums/musee-wiertz-museum
27. Constantin Meunier Museum
Where; Rue de l’Abbaye 59, 1050 Brussels.
What; The house-come-studio of painter, sculptor and draughtsman Constantin Meunier
When; Tuesday to Friday 10am to 12pm and 1pm to 5pm.
More information? http://www.fine-arts-museum.be/en/museums/musee-meunier-museum
28. Museum of China
Where; Chaussee de Ninove 548, 1070 Anderlecht, Brussels.
What; The Museum of China in Brussels presents the culture, folklore, craft industry and religions of Chinese people (primarily in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.
When; By appointment only.
More information? http://www.brusselsmuseums.be/en/museum/57-museum-of-china-scheut
29. Archives and Museum of French Speaking Literature
Where; Boulevard de l’Empereur 4 (p/a Royal Library of Belgium), 1000 Brussels.
What; Archives and literature relating to Belgian literature in French from 1830 until the present day.
When; Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm.
More information? http://www.brusselsmuseums.be/en/museum/5-archives-and-french-literature-museum
30. Printing Museum
Where; Boulevard de l’Empereur 4 (p/a Royal Library of Belgium) 1000 Brussels.
What; The history and technology of printing, book crafts and books.
When; On demand: Monday to Friday 9am to 4.45pm.
More information? http://www.imprimerie.kbr.be/accueil_fr.html
31. Archives and Museum of Flemish Life in Brussels
Where; Quai aux Pierres de Taille 28, 1000 Brussels.
What; A collection of items relating to Flemish people and businesses in Brussels.
When; Monday to Friday from 10am to 5pm and the last Saturday of every month.
More information? http://www.amvb.be/
32. Wiels Centre of Contemporary Art
Where; Avenue Van Volxem 354, 1190 Forest, Brussels.
What; Wiels is an international laboratory for the creation and diffusion of contemporary art in Brussels.
When; Please note; The museum is free on the first Wednesday of every month. Otherwise it is €3 entry.
More information? http://www.wiels.org/
33. Jewish Museum of Belgium
Where; Rue de Minimes 21, 1000 Brussels.
What; A collection of objects, documents relating to Jewish traditional life.
When; Please note; It is only on the first Sunday of every month that the museum is free.
More information? http://www.new.mjb-jmb.org/
34. Museum of Zoology and Anthropology
Where; ULB – Campus du Solbosch, Avenue F.Roosevelt 50, 1050 Brussels.
What; A zoological collection containing more than 3000 samples.
When; Mondays and Tuesdays 1pm to 4pm. Wednesdays 1pm to 5pm.
More information? http://www.brusselsmuseums.be/en/museum/67-museum-of-zoology-and-anthropology-museums-of-the-ulb
35. Museum of the Orthodox Church
Where; Avenue de Stalingrad 36, 1000 Brussels.
What; A collection of items relating to a religion which the museum states as being practiced by over 20,000 people in Brussels.
When; Saturdays from 12pm to 4pm and Sundays 12pm to 1pm.
More information? http://brusselsmuseums.be/en/museum/58-orthodox-church-museum
36. Museum of Human Anatomy and Embryology
Where; ULD – Route de Lennik 808, 1070 Anderlecht, Brussels.
What; A museum of Anatomy and Embryology.
When; Upon reservation.
More information? http://www.ulb.ac.be/sites/musees/aeh/presentation.html
37. Brussles Museum of Industry and Labour
Where; Rue Ransfort 27, 1080 Molenbeek, Brussels.
What; Details the history of both industry and labour in the Region of Brussels-Capital.
When; Please note; Free entry is only on the first Sunday of every month.
More information? http://www.lafonderie.be/index.php?lang=en
38. Confederate Museum
Where; Rue de la Charrette 40, 1200 Woluwe-Saint-Lambert, Brussels.
What; Contains documentation and research on the history of the USA in the 19th Century (particularly during the War of Secession 1861 – 1865.)
When; By appointment only.
More information? http://www.brusselsmuseums.be/en/museum/22-confederate-museum
Whilst Brussels is one of the more expensive destinations to visit in Europe, it does somewhat compensate for this with the sheer abundance of free things to do in the city – particular on the cultural front. Hopefully this list provides you with some inspiration that if you ever come here, no matter what your budget is, there are still many ways to experience Brussels without spending a fortune!