Brussels See And Do
At 272 acres, Bois de la Cambre is Brussels's biggest park. This central spot is a delightful place to spend an afternoon strolling around its woodland paths. Highlights include a large lake with a small island at its center (reached by a cable-drawn ferry) which is popular for picnics. The ferry is currently closed for renovation until 2008, but the park is still well worth a visit.
In the shadow of the instantly recognizable '50s-futuristic Atomium, built for the World's Fair of 1958, sits this haven for kids: the Océade swimming park and Mini Europe—which, as you'd expect, contains the landmark buildings of Europe in miniature.
20 Rue des Sables
Tel: 32 2 219 1980
The Comic Strip Museum is another attraction that's housed in a building at least as great as the museum itself (in fact, unless you're a huge Tintin fan, the building is the real star). The structure, called the Waucquez Warehouses, is by Victor Horta (the progenitor of Art Nouveau), built in 1906 and restored in 1989. Comics are huge in Belgium, as you'll see, and nobody is better known than Hergé, the creator of Tintin. You'll also meet many very famous illustrators you've never heard of, like Willy Vandersteen, the creator of Suske en Wiske. The shop is a fabulous source of gifts for the folks back home.
25 Rue Américaine
Tel: 32 543 0490
As Gaudí is to Barcelona, Victor Horta is to Brussels, and this, his former house, is now his museum. If you think you're not interested in Art Nouveau, a visit here will convert you. The neighborhood, too, is fun to stroll, with several more Art Nouveau gems to spot.
An extremely pleasant neighborhood of boulevards, squares, and a string of lakes known as the Étangs d'Ixelles. It's worth the trip for real-estate junkies (due to its many enviable houses), but the charms of Ixelles don't end there. The locale also offers picnic spots, cute restaurants and cafés, a great market, and good shopping in lots of interesting boutiques.
266 Chaussée de Haecht
Tel: 32 2 215 6600
The first building designed by Belgium's greatest architect, Victor Horta. It was restored by Brussels' own François Schuiten and Benoît Peeters, better known as comic-strip artists.
Closed Sunday through Tuesday.
2 Rue de la Montagne de la Cour
Tel: 32 2 545 0130
Known as MIM, the Musical Instrument Museum would be worth seeing even if it were empty, since it's housed in the beautiful Art Nouveau former Old England department store—and its top-floor restaurant is pretty nice, too. But the four floors of 1,500-odd instruments, complete with infrared headphones that allow you to listen as you gaze, happen to be irresistible. Don't miss the prototypes of an invention by that indispensable Belgian Adolphe Sax: the saxophone.
9 Rue du Régence
Tel: 508 3211
These enormous art museums—one filled with "ancient" works; the other, modern—will keep you busy for a day, or two. They chart the history of Flemish art from Brueghel and Rubens to Magritte.