Explore the Grand-Place
The postcard-perfect Grand-Place is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, famed for its gothic town hall and Maison du Roi, but equally admired for the guild houses that provide the elegant setting. As the city's centre of gravity, the square plays a role in major events such as Brussels Jazz Weekend (24-26 May), Belgian Beer Weekend (6-8 September), a Christmas sound and light show, and the historic annual Ommegang parade (26-28 June). In 2019, it will host the Tour de France’s Grand Départ on 6 July, and startling floral displays during Flowertime (14-18 August). You’ll have to wait until 2020 for the spectacular Tapis de Fleurs that blooms across the square every two years.
Hôtel de Ville
This Gothic masterpiece has for centuries presided over the square, its tower a veritable skyscraper at 96m (315ft). Statues of the dukes and duchesses of Brabant adorn the façade while inside the civic spaces display historic tapestries, paintings and sculpture. Guided tours run on Wednesdays and Sundays (€6, under-12s free).
Maison du Roi
Facing the Hôtel de Ville is the Maison du Roi, rising like a wedding cake through colonnaded tiers. These days it's home to the City Museum. The current exhibition (on until 29 December) celebrates 20 years of the Grand-Place's World Heritage Site designation, including a VR experience of the original medieval square and its bombardment in 1695.
This most famous of fountains is tucked nearby, down rue de l'Étuve. This small bronze statue of a boy urinating has become a jokey emblem of the city. On certain days he sports one of his more than 1,000 outfits – from samurai warrior to Elvis. View the costumes at the nearby GardeRobe on rue du Chêne.
Take a break
Peck 47Rue Marche aux Poulets 47, 1000
This sunny, brunch-obsessed all-day café has a penchant for the perfect poached egg. It's also a great place to tuck into one of Belgium's many culinary specialities – the scrumptious waffle.
PipaillonQuai au Bois à Brûler 11, 1000 Brussels
A short walk from the Grand-Place, by the Sainte-Catherine Church, this bijou café is run by artisan jam makers Pipaillon. There's coffee and sweet treats, of course, but also tapas and light lunches, with sides of in-house chutneys and tapenades.
The SisterRue Chair et Pain 3, 1000
Health-conscious and ethically minded, The Sister is all about Buddha bowls, wellness soup and superfoods. There's an impressive menu of tasty vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options, plus a huge range of beers from local microbreweries.
Fashion & Lace MuseumRue de la Violette 12, 1000
The city's historic reputation for fine lacework, and Belgium's more recent contribution to cutting-edge global fashion, are both celebrated at this contemporary museum. €8 (free under-18s).
Royal Galleries of Saint HubertRue des Bouchers 5, 1000
This trio of lofty arcades was built in 1837, topped with a spectacular vaulted glass roof. They are considered among the oldest and finest in Europe, and a top spot for luxury shopping.
BozarRue Ravenstein 23, 1000
Brussels's centre for the beaux-arts, or 'Bozar', is always a safe bet for a lively mix of theatre, concerts, film and exhibitions. Plus the building is by renowned Art Nouveau architect Victor Horta.
Note that many museums in Brussels are closed on Mondays. Check the Brussels Museums’ FAQ for up-to-date details of openings.
From the Eurostar terminal at Gare du Midi/Zuidstation, take Metro line 3 or 4 to Bourse, a few streets away.
Image credits: © Alamy; © Alamy; © Getty; © Virginie Gineste; © Alamy; © Peck 47; © Pipaillon; © The Sister; © Musée Mode & Dentelle; © Alamy; © Yannick Sas