Behind the grand Art Nouveau architecture lining the streets, Brussels is packed with things to see and do that won’t leave you tightening your purse strings. There’s no need to gorge yourself on gourmet chocolate or hit every big show in town for an authentic experience. From a cone full of golden frites to free museum trips, try these five kooky ideas for a getaway with true local flair.

  • Snack on frites at Frit Flagey

    Place Eugène Flagey, 1050

    Arguably Belgium’s most delicious export, a piping hot cone of frites will only set you back a few euros. Frugal foodies can get their kicks at this local institution, with perfect spuds come drenched in interesting toppings (bell pepper-flavoured ‘Samourai’ sauce, anyone?). Open late on the weekends, popular Frit Flagey also makes an ideal pit-stop for night owls.

  • Spot the Manneken Pis & co

    Rue de l'Etuve, 1000

    A trip to Brussels wouldn’t be complete without a visit to its most famous miniature resident. An icon at two feet tall, the bronze Manneken Pis – or ‘Little Peeing Boy’ – fountain has been drawing in crowds since he first appeared in the 17th century. Nowadays, he is joined by a sister Jeanneke Pis and dog Zinneke Pis – and a wardrobe full of zany festive costumes.

  • Go bargain hunting

    Place du Jeu de Balle, 1000

    Known as the ‘Old Market’ to regulars, the Jeu de Balle hosts a year-round flea market in the heart of the Marolles district. It’s the place to go for souvenirs with a difference, from plush vintage coats to well-spun vinyl records. Peckish after all that rummaging? Grab a seat at café La Brocante for local comfort food and impromptu jazz concerts.

  • Get high

    Place Poelaert 1, 1000

    Check out the view from the Palais de Justice: it’s one of the best ways get panoramic views over the city for free. Hop into the glass elevator from Rue de L’Epée for your trip up to the Place Poelaert, and be sure to take a look inside the historic law court while you’re there. Once the biggest building in Europe when built in 1883, it is still in use today.

  • Visit a museum for free

    Rue Vautier 62, 1050 Ixelles

    Getting a culture fix doesn’t have to cost a fortune: many of Brussels’ biggest museums throw open their doors for free on the first Wednesday or Sunday of the month. Whether it’s the Museum of Natural Sciences or the Magritte Museum, you’re bound to find one that appeals. Got your timing wrong? Some, such as the stunning Wiertz Museum, will never cost you a penny.

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