City trips can be an expensive hobby. However, this does not necessarily have to be the case, and certainly not in Brussels. The city welcomes everyone, and you can explore it on a shoestring. Here are 8 tips.
1. Affordable museum visits
With more than a hundred museums, Brussels has something for everyone. Moreover, a lot of its museums are free to visit, seven days a week.
Just around the corner you will find the Wiertz Museum. Have you never heard of Antoine Wiertz, the controversial figure of the Belgian Romanticism, and his spectacular paintings? Then why not go and change this immediately and completely free of charge.
The National Bank of Belgium, housed in a beautiful nineteenth-century building, is ideal for those who want to know more about the operation of a European central bank. Explore the history of money, even if you are broke!
Are you looking to dive into the city with a bit of local knowledge? Then the experience.brussels exhibition is the perfect springboard for you.
There are also many other museums that you can visit for free on certain days, notably the first Wednesday (afternoon) or first Sunday of the month. Here are just a few of the museums offering free entry on those days: the Art & History Museum, the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium and the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences. Please note that pre-booking via the Magritte Museum's Facebook page is strongly advised. The museum is incredibly popular, and with good reason.
In the autumn, three museums will open their doors on a Thursday evening. These museum activities are free of charge or cost a few euros at the most. Lots of workshops, activities, guided tours and parties are also organised.
For real culture lovers looking for a bargain, there is also the Brussels Card. From just €27 you get access to more than 40 of the capital's museums!
2. Walking in the city
Explore Brussels' neighbourhoods, free of charge, thanks to sixteen neighbourhood walks. You can find the free maps for these walks in our reception offices. Something more classical, but no less fascinating, is a free walking tour of the Grand-Place. Giving the guide a tip at the end of the tour is voluntary, so it's entirely up to you.
Are you captivated by street art and comic strips? Then discover Brussels through a carefully designed comic strip or street art trail. Best of all, it's free.
You can also go on a tour with a local, who guides through their version of Brussels and reveals many secrets as you go along. All it costs is a smile!
3. Pausing in the park
Tired after all that walking? Relax in one of Brussels' many parks. A bench, soft grass and the shade don't cost you a thing. During the summer, there are several kiosks within all that lush greenery where you can relax with a drink or a bite to eat.
4. Shopping doesn’t have to break the bank
Buy cheap and sustainable! Brussels is a second-hand and vintage shopping paradise where you can buy clothes or accessories for peanuts. Why not bag yourself a few bargains at Europe's largest flea market on Place du Jeu de Balle. If you can't find what you're looking for there, the capital has plenty of other flea markets for you to visit. Be advised: January and July signal the arrivals of the sales in Brussels.
5. Street food, snacks and ‘lining your stomach’
Good food in Brussels doesn't have to come at a price. After all, you can fill up at one of our many famous chip shops for just a few euros. Other snacks like durums, mitraillettes or the triangular samosas for sale in night shops are also easy on your wallet. Admittedly, these greasy snacks are not the healthiest of choices but of vital importance if you're preparing to taste as many Belgian beers as possible on a pub crawl. It might be 'lining your stomach' in English, but in Belgium we call it 'laying a foundation'!
City 2, the shopping centre at Rogier, recently opened a new food court called 'Eats'. There you can have all sorts of food from all over the world, such as Italian, Vietnamese, Lebanese, Mexican food, etc.
6. Around the world on a tight budget
In most Brussels eateries, a bowl of soup with bread will not cost you an arm and a leg.
Looking for something a little more filling? At Bavet and Monk (in the city centre) and Cabestan in Uccle, you can get a large bowl of spaghetti for a reasonable price, with the latter even open 24 hours a day! Other Mediterranean delights can be found at Cabraliego - a little corner of Spain in Brussels - or at Italian restaurants 'Nona' and 'Spago'.
Another very popular spot is My Tannour, where you can taste delicious artisan dishes from Syria. Fans of Lebanese street food also flock to Semsom. Even more exotic are the burritos at 'Chez wawa', the spring rolls at 'Knees to Chin' and Japanese gyozas at 'Takumi' and 'Makisu'.
7. Around the world on a tight budget
Here's a top tip for budget-friendly culture and entertainment: enjoy a film, dance or theatre show at half price thanks to ticket sales via Arsène 50.
8. Immerse yourself in Brussels’ nightlife
Brussels is just as effervescent after sundown! Many bars in Brussels offer concerts and jam sessions in the evenings. If you're lucky, you'll catch happy hour, and with two drinks for the price of one, you'll be able to lounge around and enjoy the music in the background. Some nightclubs even let you in for a small fee, as long as you turn up before midnight (sometimes before 23:00).