Brussels, capital of Belgium, principal seat of the Belgian Royal Family, and capital of the European Union, is a remarkably small, easy-going, and human-sized city for all its importance. Unlike beautiful Bruges and Ghent, with their hordes of tourists, Brussels is Belgium’s main economic and educational hub, which gives the city a more workaday feel than other towns. Here, you get a proper feel for Belgian life, especially its fantastic restaurant and café culture. Although Brussels may not have the star attractions of other Belgian towns, the capital has more than enough things to do to keep visitors occupied for a couple of days, with a clutch of world-class museums and art galleries, as well as quirkier sights, such as the Atomium, and some wonderful remnants of old architecture in the old town quarter.
Saint-Michel Cathedral – Dedicated to St. Michael and St. Gudula (the patron saints of Brussels) this Gothic church was first founded in 1225 but only completed in the 15th century. The facade is impressive, rising majestically above a broad flight of steps and crowned with twin 69-meter-high towers designed by Jan van Ruysbroeck. The beautifully proportioned interior (108 meters by 50 meters) is lavishly furnished and is home to some outstanding stained glass windows created by Bernard van Orley.
Belgian Comic Strip Center – This gorgeous 1906 building, designed by Victor Horta, is home to the wonderful Comic Strip Center, devoted to the history of cartoons and comic strips in the country that gave the world The Smurfs and Tintin. A constantly rotating exhibition of 200 original comic strip drawings by Belgian and French comic artists is shown here.
Atomium – Along with Manneken Pis, the Atomium is Brussels’ best-known landmark attraction, and although it’s a bit of a journey by tram to get out here, the bizarre 102-meter-high steel and aluminum structure, designed by the architect André Waterkeyn for the 1958 Brussels World Exhibition, is the city’s most surreal sight.