The capital of Belgium also acts as the headquarters of the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). Belgium was a founding member of the Common Market, but decades on, the original six has expanded to 27, with further membership applications, largely from the Balkans. As a result, Brussels has an infrastructure that caters for the needs of such an important centre. That infrastructure includes bars, restaurants, theatres, shopping, cinemas and general leisure facilities.
Brussels’ historic centre includes architecture that is evidence of the prosperity that Belgium experienced during the “Golden Age.” That was when European explorers set sail to colonise other parts of the world and set up trading links. Some of the historic buildings were demolished when Brussels became the national capital in the 19th century to be replaced by new offices and administrative blocks. As a result, Brussels may not have the beauty of other historic cities such as Bruges, but there are still compelling reasons to pay it a visit. Here are several ideas of things to do in Brussels at night.
- Brussels At Night
- Top 3 Tours
- 20 Things To Do In Brussels At Night
- 1- Sample The Local Beers
- 2- Go On A Pub Crawl
- 3- Enjoy Brussels On A Private Night Tour
- 4- Make Some Chocolate
- 5- Test Yourself On A Scavenger Tour
- 6- Watch The Kids Enjoy Lego
- 7- Enjoy Fitness Classes With A Brussels Pass
- 8- Listen To Opera At the Royal Theatre
- 9- Watch Anderlecht Play
- 10- Dine At A Michelin-Star Restaurant
- 11- Dance The Night Away
- 12- Take Dancing Lessons
- 13- Enjoy The African Quarter
- 14- Spend An Evening At A Brewery
- 15- Hit The Shops
- 16- Explore Grand Place
- 17- Head To BOZAR
- 18- Take In An Independent Film
- 19- Hear About Brussels’ Myths And Legends
- 20- Learn Gourmet Cooking At A Brussels Home
Brussels At Night
20 Things To Do In Brussels At Night
1- Sample The Local Beers
If you want to learn more about Belgian beer, its history, and the production process and sample the local beer, book a workshop where you will sample several beers and hear about the differences and how they come about.
Brewing predated the Crusades long before Belgium existed as it is today.
It evolved over the centuries with Trappist beer, originally sweet and exclusively for the monks.
These days, there are dark and light beers and some with very high alcohol content.
These are just tastings, so you will not get into drinking in earnest. You can join a pub crawl tour afterwards and stay out as long as you like.
2- Go On A Pub Crawl
Brussels is famous for its beer, and what better way to find out more about its best drinking places than to go on a pub crawl to a few of its favourites?
At the same time, you will make new friends as you travel around in a group.
The “tour” lasts around three hours with a free drink at each venue and a discount on additional ones.
You may start at a quiet pub, but things will be much busier three hours later, and you certainly won’t want the night to end.
While the tour does, you will surely continue with your new friends. “Nights” can continue until the early hours, 5 am in some places, so don’t plan an early start for once daylight starts again.
3- Enjoy Brussels On A Private Night Tour
Join a private tour and follow an experienced guide to discover Brussels’ highlights after dark, such as the trendy Quai aux Briques neighbourhood.
Whether you want to drink or dance, you will learn the best places to do that.
A rooftop bar is among the places you will stop, a chance for a panoramic view.
Other such tours head to the vibrant city centre or specifically to a brewery, Au Bassin located in an old warehouse.
You may decide that a second booking for the following evening makes sense if you cannot decide.
4- Make Some Chocolate
Belgian chocolate is as famous as its beer, so take the opportunity to join a chocolate-making workshop to learn more and to try to make some yourself.
The workshop lasts 2.5 hours, during which you can make your own praline and mendiant chocolate with the appropriate fillings.
There’s plenty of time to sit and chat with others in the small group, eating some chocolate while enjoying a complimentary drink, coffee or orange juice.
Your reward for your efforts is to take home a box of chocolate to enjoy later.
5- Test Yourself On A Scavenger Tour
You can do this fun scavenger hunt at your own pace by downloading the app onto your smartphone and solving some riddles that will send you to the next destination.
There are 10 destinations starting at a 19th Century Park, Parc du Cinquantenaire, a beautiful daytime venue.
Other locations you will need to find are the Parlamentarium, the Royal Palace, the Royal Museums of Fine Arts and the Roman Catholic Chapel Church.
Religious landmarks on the tour are St. Nicholas Church and the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula.
6- Watch The Kids Enjoy Lego
The interactive LEGO Discovery Centre is Brussels’s best “fun” activity.
With over 3,000 square metres (0.75 acres) filled with games and activity areas, it is something that all the family will enjoy.
Not only can you build for yourself, make sure you look out for MINI WORLD, which has needed more than two million LEGO bricks.
Master Model Builders hold interesting workshops while the train ride through LEGO world is something every kid will enjoy.
When you add LEGO movies in the 4D Cinema, time at the Discovery Centre is well worth it.
There is a café and shop on site where you can enjoy a drink and buy souvenirs. Skip the line and reserve your ticket here.
7- Enjoy Fitness Classes With A Brussels Pass
When you visit Brussels, there is no reason why you need to miss regular fitness sessions.
With a bit of forward planning, you can get advice on the best places to go for gyms, yoga sessions and the like and even make bookings as a result.
There are plenty of good gyms in the city and you can include bookings on your itinerary.
Whether you want to pick one gym and stick to that or try different venues, you do not need to pay any membership fees.
8- Listen To Opera At the Royal Theatre
The Royal Theatre of La Monnaie in central Brussels is a federal institution named after the building where you will find it.
It receives national funding, unlike others that need regional funding, and is the third such place, with the original façade dating back to the early 19th Century.
The foyer and auditorium were added in the middle of the century, with the whole place renovated in the 1980s.
So, in this lovely setting, you should check the programme being played while you are in Brussels and book your tickets.
9- Watch Anderlecht Play
While many of Belgium’s most famous footballers play abroad, there is still a strong top division in Belgium, with Brussels’ top side traditionally being Royal Sporting Club Anderlecht.
Of late, they have rarely added to their honours yet you will certainly enjoy heading to watch an evening game.
Anderlecht has won five European titles but never the top one, now called the Champions’ League.
However, it has 34 domestic league titles, the last one in 2016-7, and 9 domestic cups, the last in 2007-8.
The capacity at the ground is 22,500 and you should enquire about a ticket if you are in Brussels when a game is scheduled.
10- Dine At A Michelin-Star Restaurant
While Belgian cuisine is not especially famous, Brussels is home to many “Michelin star” restaurants, hardly surprising given its status as a capital and “home” to the European Union.
Currently, there are 12 such restaurants with a single star and four with two stars.
In Europe, only Paris and London have more.
For a special occasion, a Michelin-starred restaurant is a place to go, but you will need to reserve a table sometime in advance.
Bon Bon, Comme chez Soi, Sea Grill and Le Chalet de la Foret have two stars, so check them out. You may also like this culinary evening tour.
11- Dance The Night Away
Brussels is a fabulous city to dance the night away if you love dancing.
At Madame Moustache, you will find a bar that is a little different from most of the city’s other popular night spots.
As you enter, you will see its retro American saloon playing everything from 1950s rock and roll to soul and funk.
It’s very informal and relaxed, with regulars dressed in everything from old vintage clothing to up-to-date fashion.
It is in the district of Sainte-Catherine, a top neighbourhood for nightlife.
When other bars close midweek, you will find Madame Moustache open and lively.
12- Take Dancing Lessons
La Tentation in the heart of the city is a top nightlife venue with beer, dancing and listening to music all catered for.
It is very popular with locals wanting to relax after a busy day and is a place that offers dancing lessons.
Group sessions on dances ranging from salsa to indie hop or typical western styles take place nightly.
Go as a group or if you are travelling alone, head there and expect to make new friends.
It’s all about fun as opposed to reaching perfection but remember what you learn and surprise friends and family once you return home from your holiday.
13- Enjoy The African Quarter
There is an African Quarter in Brussels, Saint Boniface, a reminder that Belgium was once a colonial master in the Congo.
It is a residential district with plenty of shops and restaurants in its cobbled streets.
Rue Longue Vie (Long Life Street) is where you can enjoy the best African and international cuisine.
Not only is the food good, but you will hear great music in some places, often live and performed by local and international artists.
The whole atmosphere is both electric and friendly.
Although Saint Boniface is in the suburbs, the transport infrastructure, including night buses, makes it easy to access and exit.
14- Spend An Evening At A Brewery
Fancy a night with friends at a brewery? One of the city’s most popular breweries is Moeder Lambic which specialises in craft beer.
Try its famous dark and heavy beer, which was once only drunk by the monks who brewed it to quench thirst and add sustenance to those monks.
Regular themed nights take place at weekends, often with DJs in attendance and live music at other times.
These nights are very popular so it makes sense to check before your visit to Brussels to see what is on.
15- Hit The Shops
Rue Neuve (New Street), a pedestrian-only street in the heart of Brussels, is the city’s most popular shopping street, with Rue Haute (High Street) not far behind.
In both of these streets, you will find international fashion brands and more.
Brussels is famous for its diamonds if you are in the market for something special; an engagement perhaps?
Many of the city neighbourhoods have plenty of shopping facilities as well.
While you may decide against heading home with two of Belgium’s most famous products, chocolate and beer, there are plenty of things to buy as souvenirs of your visit.
16- Explore Grand Place
The central square in Brussels, Grand Place, is famous for its style and apparent wealth.
Old guild house line the square, where you will find Maison du Roi (House of the King), the City Hall directly opposite, and the Bread Building, now housing a museum.
Its history stems from the end of the 16th Century, and it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998.
French bombing caused damage a century later but local skilled craftsmen ensured buildings were soon rebuilt.
A huge carpet of flowers blankets the area twice annually but every week, you can wander around, drink or dine as well as shop.
17- Head To BOZAR
The Centre of Fine Arts in Brussels is commonly referred to as BOZAR (originally from Beaux Arts in French).
The multicultural centre is approaching its centenary, and facilities include exhibition and conference rooms, a cinema and a concert hall, and being home to the National Orchestra of Belgium.
Its eight artist departments include music, theatre, literature, cinema and dance.
Every year, this is the venue for around 10 exhibitions so there is certain to be something going on while you are in Brussels.
It is not on a huge site so it requires several floors to manage its programmes, some underground.
BOZAR Centre for Fine Arts is at Rue Ravensteinstraat 23, 1000 Brussels. Exhibitions are open until 6 pm, however, the restaurant closes at 9.45 pm and the cafe is open until 11 pm.
18- Take In An Independent Film
You can probably take in recent film releases anytime, but while in Brussels, you may like to check on the independent film scene.
Cinema Nova is a good place to start.
Its mission statement aims to provide quality alternatives to popular commercial productions.
Beginning 20 years ago, the cinema seeks to engage its audience in debate.
It is non-profit and uses volunteers to run the organisation and the films.
There are themes that change each month, so check if the theme, while you are in Brussels, might just interest you.
Brussels also has other cinemas showing independent films.
19- Hear About Brussels’ Myths And Legends
Some tours visit parts of the city that do not regularly appear on walking itineraries.
One that falls into this category is a night tour of Brussels, where you will hear about the city’s history, often involving the monarchy, some being factual but plenty of others being myth and legend.
Not part of this tour but something to enquire about lies just outside the city.
In the Sonian forest, there is a nighttime fog that varies in colour, everything from orange to green and small figures, laughing children, are said to appear through the fog. Now that is creepy.
20- Learn Gourmet Cooking At A Brussels Home
Top chefs have years of training, but if you enjoy cooking, why not learn more by taking a tour which begins at a local market to buy the ingredients you and the chef are going to use?
You will start mid-afternoon at the market before heading to the kitchen to get to work.
The dishes will vary but one thing is certain, you will dine well at the end of the exercise and pick up plenty of cookery tips.
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