Brussels is mainly known as the capital of Belgium and the seat of NATO, and it might seem that it doesn’t have much to offer families. But that is a big mistake! And that’s why we bring you a list of the best things to see in Brussels with kids.
Although Brussels is a small city (it has only 150,000 inhabitants), thanks to the fact that it is the seat of high world institutions, it is of great importance globally. But if we forget about politics, Brussels, with its long history, also excels in gastronomy, among other things. Here you can taste typical waffles, have fries at the stand, mussels in the restaurant, buy Belgian pralines and chocolate in the shop, order an excellent beer. And which things to see in Brussels with kids?
Peeing boy statue
Manneken Pis – the symbol of Brussels, a small bronze statue of a boy peeing in a fountain, which is protected from the crowds of tourists by an iron grate. It was created by the Baroque sculptor Jerôme Duquesnoy in 1619, although the fountain and possibly the statue were there earlier.
The peeing boy is often dressed up, mostly on the occasion of some important event or event. For a long time, it was customary for important persons visiting the city to give the boy some clothes (today these clothes can be seen in the city museum), and the statuette is still dressed up on various occasions.
The statue, which is a symbol of the city, also has its more modern counterpart from 1985, the peeing girl (Jaenneke Pis), which is located at the eastern end of the street Impasse de la Fidelité. In 1998, another peeing dog (Zinneke Pis) appeared…
GardeRobe Manneken Pis Museum
At the beginning of February 2017, the peeing boy (Manneken Pis) even got its own museum! It is located just a few steps from the famous statue, which is located about 240 meters southwest of the Grande-Place (map), and is dedicated to the boy’s rich and varied wardrobe. The entire collection includes over 950 costumes.
Here you will see clothes that are more than 70 years old. Among the oldest costumes on display in the new museum is the uniform of a member of the London Royal Guard, which Brussels received as a gift in 1945. It is also a replica of the clothing given to the Belgians by King Louis XV of France. as an excuse when his soldiers tried to steal the peeing boy. However, the exposition also contains simpler exhibits, such as a football jersey.
Natural Sciences Museum
The Musée royal des sciences naturelles has the largest collection of dinosaur skeletons in Europe. And not only that. There is a beautiful gallery with lots of animals. There is a description for each on the touch screens.
Here you will learn many interesting facts about the development of mankind from prehistoric times to the present, as well as human development from the prenatal period to old age. Can you find out how big the human brain is compared to a chimpanzee or other animals? Or you will find out what is the impact of human activity on our planet.
The entire exhibition is full of interactive elements. When children enter, they will receive a workbook with assignments. In the museum, they have the task of searching for information, writing it down, and at the end they get a small reward in the form of stickers and postcards.
Children’s Museum and Toy Museum
The Toy Museum (Muséé du Jouet) will entertain even the smallest children. It’s a smaller tour of various historical toys from all over the world, and many of them can be played with. Don’t expect anything spectacular, it’s fun for an hour or two, but sometimes a stop like this is more than enough.
The Children’s Museum (Musée des Enfants) is a little different. The exhibitions here change from time to time, but basically they always aim to familiarize children with a topic through all the senses. Part of the entrance fee also includes participation in various workshops – cooking, creating, theater. It’s a very nice, modern museum, and you wouldn’t think that it’s been working since the 70s (when the founder brought inspiration from the American Boston).
Mini Europe park
The park covers an area of 24,000 m² and was inaugurated in 1989 by the then Prince Philippe of Belgium. This miniature park is a more practical way to show your children what London’s Big Ben or Italy’s Mount Vesuvius really looks like without having to travel all over Europe. In addition, when we tell you that you can find all this and much more in one place, you probably won’t even believe it.
Park Mini Europa is located in Bruparck, Brussels. At a scale of 1:25, you will find representatives of more than 80 countries here. It is not just static buildings, the exhibition also includes action models, for example moving trains, erupting volcanoes and at the end there is a multimedia exhibition called Spirit of Europe, which interactively presents the European Union.
Comic book route
If the weather is nice, be sure to walk around Brussels and look for comic book murals. In Brussels, it is a big attraction for young and old, who will have a lot of fun looking for new paintings. A map and tips on where to look for comic scenes can be found here.
Big and old locomotives, old and new wagons and almost all of them can be entered! The kids will be thrilled! And most importantly: a train driving simulator. Everyone can turn into a train driver for a few minutes and drive a modern train.
Another symbol of Brussels is actually a remnant of Expo’58 and definitely one of the things to see in Brussels. The Atomium is open 365 days a year and inside you can visit exhibitions and ride the escalators in the tubes connecting the individual atoms, enjoy the view of the city or go for a romantic dinner in the panoramic restaurant.
Although Brussels does not boast of any major natural river, you can still enjoy an afternoon with a leisurely boat ride along the artificial canal of the Zenne River. Your children’s little legs will rest for a while and you can enjoy the city from a different angle. The cruise ships are in operation from May to October and will take you from the center of Brussels (Sainctelette stop) to the town of Vilvoorde with several stops along the way.
Taste the street food
Kids love french fries and sweets. And you simply cannot miss such fries or waffles in Brussels. Their scent will accompany you every step of the way in the center and you won’t be able to resist either! You can have the waffles with whipped cream, fruit, chocolate, caramel or ice cream, but I like the warm Liège waffles with oozing caramelized sugar on their own. As for fries, they probably have the best at Maison Antoine on Place Jourdan. Only vegetarians beware – classic Belgian fries are fried in beef and pork lard.
And then there’s the delicious Belgian chocolate. Especially pralines, which were invented in Brussels by Mr. Neuhaus in 1912. Around the Grand Place you will find lots of shops.