I recently visited Brussels as a second-timer; enjoying my short visit two years ago, I returned in July for four days, part family holiday / part joint stag and hen party [Read about my travels here]. We chose Brussels as it’s the perfect city for taking the slow lane for once; partaking in some civilised supping with some of the best beers in the world, drinking in the sights of historical city center and gorging on some of finest chocolates, waffles and mussels on the continent! This ultra-walkable city with it’s cute cobbled streets and laid back lifestyle is an ideal European city break.
Foodies will be in their element here, but you might not know that with no less than 100 museums (yes, really!), Brussels is a city where keen ‘culture vultures’ can also get their fix.
Staying here for an extended weekend break, we tried out the Brussels Card, supplied by Visit.Brussels, the local tourism board. We met with Gary who provided us with a pair of 72 hour Brussels Cards complete with added Bonus of Free Hop on Hop off Bus passes! Our pack came with a handy pocket guide to all the sights and galleries, along with a few pages at the back with rip-out discounts for local shops and food places.
After getting to grips with the map of Brussels we got stuck into breaking down which museums and galleries we wanted to see. With a whopping 37 museums that are completely free of charge for any Brussels card holder (and a further handful offering a discount), there was a lot to choose from!
So where did I go?
It would be criminal to be in Belgium and avoid chocolate, so satisfy any sweet cravings by visiting the small Choco-Story Museum just off Grand Place.
This small museum has a simple exhibition across a few floors, and tells you the entire history of how cocao beans came to be the chocolate we know today!
The demonstration piece on the ground floor is where the magic happens; a real chocolatier showed us how pralines were made and Afterwards he tempted us with samples and a chocolate fountain.
A quirky choice is to visit the MOOF, again, very centrally located, not far from Brussels Central Station.
I didn’t know what to expect from this museum, but it turned out to be pretty impressive and a lot of fun! There’s a huge range of figurines from some of your favourite Belgian comics like the Smurfs and Tin Tin, as well as other cartoons like Asterix and Obelix and super heroes from Spiderman to Batman.
A highlight was the chance to try out all the video games from when we were growing up. There was a wall with a fully functioning early style Playstation, Nintento and Gamecube! It brought out the gamer in me for a while!
My ultimate favourite was the Magritte Museum. As a former art student myself, this was the museum that I most keen to see!
Again, it was a lovely grand, modern exhibition with a massive array of works, across a number of floors, which thoroughly explored the mind of Magritte. You can easily get lost in here for an hour or so and try to get your head around the surrealist way of thinking.
This is a certain not-to-miss gallery for any art fan.
The Aquarium is quite modest display with a variety of small marine animals from across the world. I love fish as I keep some myself back at home, so always love the opportunity to learn more about marine life!
Hop on Hop off Bus
Free with our Brussels Card was the Hop on Hop off Bus. I’d never been on one before in any other city, but I actually found it to be really refreshing to be able to explore from above ground but still be able to rest your legs! Travelling can take its toll on the old knees!
As well as getting a fab view of the Atomium, I loved being driven through the Belgian neighbourhoods and places I wouldn’t ordinarily explore; I noted a few gorgeous looking squares and streets that were actually really close to our hotel but we would have never seen had it not been for the Hop on Hop off bus!
I rarely use City Cards when I travel, however saying this, I actually loved the freedom that it gave me to walk into any of the 37 museums and not have to worry about my budget as I knew that it was covered in the cost of the Brussels Card.
Personally, although i’d recommend the Brussels Card regardless, I feel it would be even better value in the chillier months; ideal museum hopping weather. …I could have visited a couple more (still a bit gutted I missed out on the MIM!) but got distracted by the July heatwave. Heat makes me lazy! A trip in the Autumn or paired with a Winter Christmas Market break though – perfect!
What can I do with my Brussels Card?
- Free access to 37 museums of Brussels.
- Discounts to tourist attractions and tours
- Discounts in museum restaurants, bars and clubs
- Discounts in several Brussels shops
- Free rides on Hop on Hop off buses (only with “Brussels Card + Hop on Hop off”)
How much is my Brussels Card?
The Brussels Card is available in a variety of options so you can select the card that matches your stay, prices start from as low as 22 euro:
24 H Brussels Card – 22 €
48 H Brussels Card – 30 €
72 H Brussels Card – 38 €
24 H Brussels Card – 34 € plus Hop on Hop off 24h
48 H Brussels Card – 46 € plus Hop on Hop off 48h
42 H Brussels Card – 58 € plus Hop on Hop off 72h
Where can I buy my Brussels Card?
- At the visit.brussels office: Grand Place or Mont des Arts (BIP)
- at the Touerisme Vlaanderen office: Rue Marché aux Herbes 61 – 1000 Brussels.
- at any participating museums: Autoworld, Belgian Centre for Comic Strip Art, Old Masters Museum, Museum of Musical Instruments, Natural Sciences Museum, MOOF
- Or if you’re really organised, purchase your Brussels Card on the Visit.Brussels website and print your card at home or store it on your mobile phone.
*Disclosure: We were generously provided with a pair of 72 hour Brussels Cards courtesy of Visit Brussels in return for an honest review. All opinions here and across my blog, are as always, totally honest and completely my own.
*Prices correct at time of publish
And for more information about Brussels, visit Visit.Brussels