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Budget-friendly Brussels: Top 10 free activities to do in the capital

Budget-friendly Brussels: Top 10 free activities to do in the capital
From left to right: Bourse, a flower market, Parc Léopold and the Comic Strip Trail. Credit: Isabella Vivian /

Brussels may not be famed as a cheap European city, but there are still plenty of low-cost and free activities on offer year-round for those wanting to explore Belgium's capital on a budget.

From discovering the European Parliament's hemicycle and the abundance of markets and museums to a farm right in the centre, The Brussels Times offers some ideas on how to spend a day out in the city without breaking the bank.

1. Visit the Parlamentarium and Hemicycle

Brussels is home to various European Union institutions, including the Commission, Parliament and Council. What better way to learn more about the international organisation's role than to take a free tour of the Parlamentarium or Hemicycle?

European Parliament in Brussels. Credit: Belga

On the Parlementarium tour, visitors can learn about European history, discover how the Parliament works, how laws are made and the importance of European politics. The Hemicycle, meanwhile, is at the centre of the world's largest transnational parliament, where Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) hold their debates and vote for Europe.

Multimedia-guided visits are available in all 24 official EU languages and, depending on the time, visitors may also be able to follow a plenary session from the gallery. A valid ID is required to access European Parliament buildings.

Find more information on Parlementarium tours here and on Hemicycle tours here.

2. Take a tour of the Comic Strip Trail

Over 30 years ago, the City of Brussels decided to cover Brussels' walls with commissioned cartoon murals. Frank Pé was the first comic artist to design a mural and in 1991 a picture of his character Broussaille with his girlfriend Catherine was unveiled at an intersection at the centre of the Saint-Jacques neighbourhood downtown.


Brussels now boasts over 80 murals, ranging from the Smurfs and Tintin to Astérix and Lucky Luke. Find out why Brussels is the comic capital and explore the city's heritage treasures at the same time.

The walking tour is roughly 5 km long, lasts for approximately three hours and is to all ages.

Find more information here.

3. Get a 360° view over Brussels

Fancy seeing Brussels from above? The city is home to an array of rooftop bars with stunning panoramic views and no entry fees. It's an ideal way to watch the sun go down with loved ones – but get there early to avoid the queues.

Panoramic views and sunsets on Rooftop 58. Credit: 58.bxl / Instagram

Our favourite bars include the newly-launched Rooftop 58, Soko Rooftop over the Sonian Forest, and Secret Rooftop by Warwick which overlooks the Grand Place. Although a ticket is required for the Musical Instruments Museum, you can visit its Art Nouveau rooftop via the lift for free. Mont des Arts and Place Poelaert also provide beautiful viewpoints across the city.

Find more information here.

4. Explore Brussels' city farm

Established in 1989, the Maximilien Park Farm is an important cultural heritage site for the northern district of Brussels and provides a space for biodiversity in the heart of the city.

Credit: La Ferme du parc Maximilien / Facebook

The urban farm aims to raise environmental awareness through a range of events and activities, and is home to ponies, donkeys, goats, sheep, rabbits, hens, ducks and peacocks – the perfect family day out.

Find more information here.

5. Make the most of the many museums

Many of Brussels' museums are free on the first Sunday of the month, including the Sewers museum, Manneken Pis' GardeRobe, and the Jewish Museum, among others.

The Garderobe of Manneken Pis, which is free the first Sunday of the month. Credit: Belga / Thierry Roge

But some museums are free every day of the month, such as the Printing Museum, the Belfius Collection, BIP Expo, and the House of European History.

Find more information here.

6. Head to Kiosk Radio in the park

Founded in 2017, Kiosk Radio broadcasts a wide range of music genres, from jazz and rock to electronic music 24/7 from a wooden kiosk in the heart of Brussels' historic 'Parc Royal'. It supports local artists, musicians and cultural organisations to showcase the city's vibrant music scene.

Credit: Kiosk Radio / Ugo Realfonzo

Kiosk regularly hosts unique music events and parties, at the kiosk and other venues in Brussels and is a great way to wind down with friends after a long day at work or at the weekend.

Find more information here.

7. Mosey around a market

For anyone who enjoys browsing a market, Brussels has one for every day of the week, catering to all tastes and interests. As well as food markets, there are numerous flea markets (such as on Place du Jeu de Balle) and the city's biggest vintage clothes market on the first Sunday of the month with free entry from 11:00 until 18:00.

Midi Market. Credit: Isabella Vivian / Belga

Most markets are low cost but if you're really looking for a bargain, head to the bustling Sunday Midi market when the vendors are wrapping up around 14:00 – they may even give away unsold produce for free.

Find more information here.

8. Sign up for a free workshop

Fancy learning a new skill? The City of Brussels offers a wide range of free workshops, from Argentine tango and breakdance classes to knitting and a public astronomy course.

Credit: Canva

There are also 'repair cafés' where specialists will help to fix your belongings for free, bike engravings and even free energy consultations.

Find out more information here.

9. Admire Brussels' architectural gems

Spend a day exploring Brussels' beautiful buildings. As the "undisputed capital of Art Nouveau", it is worth taking the time to admire the likes of Maison Hannon and the eye-catching Hotel van Eetvelde. There is also an Art Nouveau exhibition currently on display at BELvue museum until January 2024 (entry is free).

Art Nouveau buildings and churches in Brussels. Credit: Isabella Vivian

Visitors can also discover the newly-renovated Palais de Justice and Bourse buildings for free, as well as a multitude of churches and even the Royal Palace from July until September.

Find more information here.

10. Discover the city's best parks and green spaces

One of the best (and cheapest!) ways to see a city is by visiting its green spaces. From Bois de la Cambre and Parc du Cinquantenaire to Josaphat, Petit Sablon and Léopold, Brussels has a host of picturesque parks to explore.

Petit Sablon (Left) and Parc Josaphat (Right). Credit: Isabella Vivian

Why not venture further out of the city to Tervuren Arboretum or even the grounds of Château de la Hulpe by passing through the Sonian Forest?

Find more information here.

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