When in Brussels, it’s tempting to only visit the main sights such as La Grand Place, the Atomium and Manneke Pis and move on quickly to Bruges or Antwerp. However, the many wonderful museums in the capital are well worth mentioning on their own. Therefore, we created this guide of the best museums in Brussels to make sure you don’t miss them!
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How to visit a Brussels museum – the Brussels Card
If you think about visiting several Brussels’ museums, it might be a good idea to forego buying separate tickets and purchase The Brussels Card instead. This ticket comes at a set price and allows you entrance into almost any museum in Brussels. You’ll also receive a discount at several tours, restaurants and shops in the capital.
The Brussels Card is available in a 24-hour version (€28), a 48-hour version (€36) and a 72-hour version (€44). During this time you can visit as many museums on the list as you like (you can also visit the same one more than once).
You no longer have to go to the Brussels tourist centre to activate the pass. In case you’d like the info guide, you’ll still have to go through Visit.Brussels. Remember that kids under 12 often get a large discount at the museums in Brussels, Belgium. Therefore, it is not recommended purchasing the Brussels Card for children. Students and 65+ also usually get a discount. Teachers often get a big discount or free entry.
It’s also possible to combine the Brussels Card with a public transport pass. The prices are €36 (24hrs), €51 (48hrs) and €63 (72hrs). Another option is to combine the Brussels Card with the hop on, hop off bus. This will cost €46 (24hrs), €58 (48hrs) and €70 (72hrs). There’s also the possibility to buy the Brussels Card with a skip-the-line ticket to the Atomium (€40/€48/€56).
The best museums in Brussels
Belgium has a long and fascinating history; though somehow, it has become famous for three simple things – fries, beer and chocolate. What better way to experience the true culture of Belgium than indulge in all three!?
A great way to tick at least one of these off is by visiting the Choco Story Museum in Brussels. Covering the history of what they call ‘Brown Gold’ right back to the ancient Mesoamericans (Mayan and Aztec), they trace the humble bean on its journey across the seas, conquering Europe and becoming the tasty treat we know today.
Belgians, as mentioned earlier, are known for their chocolate, and here you have the chance to learn from the best. Wander through the two-story, interactive (note: good for kids) museum, where you can learn everything you ever wanted to know about chocolate, and if you’re still not satisfied, you can experience a ‘praline presentation’, where a master chocolatier will demonstrate the skills involved in chocolate making (don’t miss the free tasting!), If that still doesn’t satisfy, you can even book your very own individual workshop to become a hands-on expert yourself. And, there is always the museum shop, stocked to the brim with goodies.
If you love chocolate (who doesn’t?) then this is absolutely the museum for you! Great for kids, and an excellent break from the many art museums, palaces and churches, the Choco Story Museum is a fun and delicious experience for everyone.
Contributed by Jenna from I know the Pilot
The museum is located on the Rue de l’Etuve/Stoofstraat 41, less than a 10-minute walk from the city centre. It costs € 9.50 for Adults, € 6.50 for children 6+, and € 8.50 for students and seniors. A visit to the Brussels Chocolate Museum is included in the Brussels Card. The entrance is free on the first Wednesday of the month from 1PM.
#2 Magritte Museum
Brussels beyond the Grand Place and the brewery tours is a delightfully surreal experience!
The Magritte Museum is one of my favourites anywhere in Europe. Celebrating the works of famed Surrealist René Magritte, the museum has over two hundred of his works on display. Magritte is one of the most famous Belgians in history, and over three hundred thousand people visit the museum every year.
Many of Magritte’s most famous pieces are here, including works from his Vache period, but there are also numerous works here from his lesser-known periods. It’s a great way to appreciate what makes Magritte’s work so special, as well as discover entirely new chapters in the artist’s career.
While in the Magritte Museum, make sure you don’t take pictures (even with the flash off)! I had a guard come up and delete my entire camera roll when I forgot that you couldn’t take photos in the museum.
Contributed by Stephanie from HistoryFangirl.com
TIP: as of 2017 it’s possible to rent an audio guide for children and teenagers. Through a conversation between a child and the painter, kids will get to know 30 pieces of his work. The guide costs €4, is available in 5 languages and in 2 versions (6-11 & 12-18).
The address of this museum is Koningsplein 1. Tickets for adults are €10, but you can purchase a ticket for €15 that also includes admission to the collections of the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium. The entry to the museum is included in the Brussels Card. It is opened every day of the week. The entrance is free on the first Wednesday of the month from 1PM.
#3 Natural Sciences Museum
A visit to the Museum of Natural Science cannot be missed when you are spending a couple of days in Brussels. Especially if you are a dinosaur fan, you’ll enjoy this recently renewed scientific gem. Learn everything there is to know about the Bernissart Iguanodons: 30 relatively intact skeletons that were found in a coal mine in Belgium in the 19th Century. But the Dinosaur Gallery is what makes all the dinosaur lovers drool – this 3000m2 (the largest in Europe) is entirely dedicated to our millions old friends.
There’s more to the museum than dinosaurs alone. Amongst others there is BiodiverCITY – an exhibition about biodiversity in urban areas – a mineral hall and a very interesting Gallery of Humankind. That last one is divided into 3 large parts: Our Evolution, Modern Human and Our Body.
If you’re travelling with kids, this museum is a top choice too, because it’s been made entirely interactive! Let the kiddos check out dinosaur poo, compare their height to the Velociraptor, dig up dinosaur bones or recreate human bodies with large magnetic pieces. Every single hall of the museum enables you to touch, listen, think, hear and smell. It’s a great feature, not only for kids but for adults as well! We visited the Natural Sciences Museum with a 2 and a 4-year-old and they both totally loved it.
But what really makes the Museum of Natural Sciences Brussels amazing for kids is the PaleoLAB. Children, age 5-12 can take on the role of a palaeontologist, geologist or anthropologist and taste science through an array of great activities. This lab is available 3 times a day during Belgian school holidays and takes up 45 minutes.
Contributed by Babs from Next Stop Belgium.
The museums’ address is Rue Vautier 29. The admission fee is €7/€4,5 (adults/children 6+) for the permanent exhibitions. If you would like to add the entrance to the temporary exhibition as well, you’ll pay €9,5/€7 (adults/children 4+). For the PaleoLAB you’ll pay an extra €2. The museum is closed on Mondays. The entrance is free on the first Wednesday of the month from 1PM.
#4 Comic Book Museum
Brussels has a serious obsession with comic book strips.
Walking the streets you’ll notice the building-sized murals featuring comic book characters. In fact, the city claims itself the home of comic strips and celebrates this all across the city.
No place pays more homage to comics in Brussels than the Belgian Comic Strip Center. Here they immortalize famous comic book characters like the Smurfs, as well as, my personal favourite comic Tin Tin. The museum has a variety of permanent and temporary exhibits. They showcase of 60,000 different comics, the history of comics, and the impact they have had on the world.
To be honest I wasn’t the biggest fan of comic strips, other than Tin Tin, before visiting the museum. But after learning more about the history and art of them, I walked away with a new perspective and appreciation for them. There’s no shortage of things to do in Brussels, but the Comic Strip Museum is unique, informative, and fun.
Contributed by Stephen Schreck from A Backpackers Tale.
The address of this museum is Rue des Sables/Zandstraat 20. Tickets for adults are €10, for children and youngsters age 12-26 it’s €6,50 and for children age 6-12 the price is €3,50. The entry to the museum is included in the Brussels Card and it’s open every day of the week. The museum is free on the first Wednesday of the month from 1PM. If you’re visiting in the weekend, grab a combi-ticket and enjoy the comic book museum after a great breakfast (€19,50 for adults, €12 for kids).