There’s one thing I always make sure I add to an itinerary – viewpoints! Some of my favorite photos are from viewpoints so you can orient yourself and also because the photos make a great cover page for each destination in a photobook.
Planning a trip to Brussels? See these posts:
- Favorite Stationery Shops in Belgium (Brussels, Antwerp & Bruges)
- Best of Brussels in 2 days (Itinerary, where to eat, stay, things to see and do)
- Antwerp day trip from Brussels via the train
Best viewpoints in Brussels
Mont Des Arts
A short walk past the Grand Palace and up the hill you’ll reach Mont Des Arts.
Museum of Magical Instruments
Keep going straight up the hill from Mont Des Arts to the Museum of Magical Instruments.
There is a restaurant on the roof of the Art Nouveau building which has a good view if you can get a table. I couldn’t so instead, I went down to the floor that has the toilets (free, clean toilets!) There were benches against the walls so I stood on one of those and managed to get this photo through one of the windows.
Not far from the Museum of Instruments is the Brussels Law Courts. In front of it was a ferris wheel you can ride (it’s not free and I’m not sure if it’s permanent or was temporary) or you can just take a look at the view from the walkway underneath it (put Monument à la Gloire de l’Infanterie belge into Google Maps). It’s not quite high enough but with some zooming / cropping on your camera you can still get a reasonably good photo.
You can go inside the Law Courts but you have to go through an airport style security check and the view is looking in the same direction through dirty windows so photos taken inside will look much the same as the view from Place Poelaert.
There’s a free glass elevator that will take you down to street level Rue Haute where it’s about a 20 minute walk back to the main square.
Parc du Cinquantenaire
I couldn’t make my itinerary work to get to Parc du Cinquantenaire when the viewpoint is open (it’s closed on Sundays). It’s still worth visiting the park even if you don’t go up to the top. If you like museums, the building houses the Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History, Art & History Museum and the Autoworld (car museum).
It can easily be reached via the metro. Hop off at Schuman station. You’ll know you’re in the right place when you see the European Union buildings.
Viewpoints I didn’t get a chance to visit
National Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Koekelberg
About 1 hour each way from Brussels Central Station is the National Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Koekelberg. Since it’s a long train trip and there wasn’t anything else I wanted to see in that area I skipped it. Apparently it’s the 5th largest church in the world and if you Google it you’ll see what I mean by the impressive view. If you do choose to go there, some things to note:
- Summer = open 9 am till 6 pm (last ticket at 5.30 pm)
- Winter = open 10 am till 5 pm (last ticket at 4.30 pm)
- 5 euro fee to climb the dome (there’s also a lift)
- There’s a toilet (0.50 euro fee)
The basilica’s website doesn’t state what is considered Summer and Winter so if visit on the cusp of seasons like I did (in October), I’d ask your hotel’s reception to call the church about opening hours.
If you have enough time, Atomium is about a 30 minute one way train journey from Brussels Central. It’s a museum built for the World’s Fair back in 1958 which is modelled after one unit of iron crystal magnified 165 billion times(!) to look like an atom. There’s sphere compartments you can move between for different views over Brussels and beyond. It has (what I think), is a pricey entrance fee at 12 euro for 18 to 59 year olds.
Also on the outskirts of Brussels is Halle Gate, a tower that looks like a mini wannabe castle turret with a view of residential areas (and museum).
Up-Site Residential Tower
Information online is confusing. Some webpages say you can go to the rooftop terrace, but the website for the building appears to be broken so I’m not sure if this is actually accessible to visitors or if it’s for the exclusive use for the building’s residents.
Top of the Town Hall Tower in the Grand Palace
After much Googling it seems there’s a viewpoint at the top of the tower but by reservation only and only on certain dates. I couldn’t find an online booking page either. I did find this virtual tour. Shame it’s not easy to visit in person!
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