Unusual Things To Do In Brussels That Are Not In Your Guidebook

By Raffaele Padovano, a passionate festival goer who loves to explore Brussels’ best kept secrets.
Edited by Matthew Wears

Brussels is one of the most vibrant and exciting capitals in the whole of Europe, but there’s so much going on underneath the surface. If you’ve got just one day in Brussels, maybe it’s best to stick to the main attractions. However, if you find yourself with a bit more time in the city it might be time to see something a bit different. I really do find it so amazing that there are so many unusual things to do in Brussels. Once you begin to explore Brussels off the beaten path, you will start to see a totally different side to the city. It’s one that is even more vibrant, exciting and richly diverse than you could ever imagine! One of my favourite things about the city is its fantastic range of crazy festivals, so expect to be seeing quite a few on this list that I think are some of Brussels best kept secrets. It won’t just be festivals though, there’ll also be a ton of things to do in Brussels in a day that you can easily fit into any travel itinerary. So, it’s time to discover Brussels off the beaten path with my list of things to do that you aren’t going to find in your guidebook.

Chill Out On The Beach At Brussels les Bains

We’re starting off this list with one of the most unusual things to do in Brussels that there is. As most of you probably know, Brussels isn’t a city that’s well known for its beach vibes, after all, it’s about seventy miles away from the coast. That’s where you’re wrong, because during the summer months the centre of the city will transform into an ocean resort. Brussels le Bains is a totally unique event that features a full beach complete with palm trees and plenty of other fun attractions too. There’re beach sports such as frisbee and volleyball, as well as live music that brings the chilled vibes during the hottest summer afternoons. This is one of the coolest places to come for a drink with friends, there’s a ton of bars that serve up ice cold beers alongside some cocktails too.

Get Creative At Nuit Blanche

For fans of the art world, you really don’t want to miss the Nuit Blanche event. This is a totally unique experience that takes place over a whole night, usually at the end of summer. The idea behind is to create a space where people can be as creative as they want, so you’ll find all kinds of visual arts, music, street performances and circus acts. Nuit Blanche is one of the Brussels best kept secrets for tourists, so if you want a taste of the crazy local culture, then this is the place for you! The upcoming 2019 event is the 17th edition, and it will focus on the relationship between humans and the environment in which they live. If this doesn’t make for head-scratching artworks, I don’t know what will! This year it falls on Saturday the 5th of October, so make sure to leave a space in your diary if you want to experience some weird things to do in Brussels.

Explore The City’s Nightlife With Brussels Electronic Marathon

One of my biggest passions in life is electronic music, which makes Brussels a perfect fit for me because there’s so many ways to experience it. Although we’re probably not known for our clubbing scene, we do have a pretty awesome festival calendar for electronic music. Everyone’s heard of the super popular Tomorrowland, but you should really be focusing on Brussels Electronic Marathon instead! This is a four-day festival that takes over the whole city on the 10th of October, with hundreds of acts taking part in this absolute gem of the nightlife in Brussels. The beauty of it all is that there’s not just one genre, and there’s certainly not just one type of person that goes there. Surprisingly, the crowd is a mixture of older and younger people, many of which just come to check out the awesome workshops and talks that are held as well as the music. This is definitely another one if you want to see Brussels like a local.

Get Festival Vibes At Rock Werchter Festival

If electronic music isn’t your thing, then don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. Rock Werchter is a four-day festival that focuses on, you guessed it, rock music! I wouldn’t say this is one of the hidden gems in Brussels (this is where you’ll find those), it’s actually pretty popular compared to everything else on this list. It’s still super fun to visit though and it has a really fun and quirky festival atmosphere! You’ll probably catch some of the biggest names in rock music from all over the world too, with headliners this year including Muse, P!nk and the Cure. For tourists, I think that festivals such as Sziget and Primavera are pretty much the most popular European festivals these days, so you’ll get more of a local crowd here. It’s located outside the city itself, but you can still reach it by coach or even bike if you like. So what are you waiting for, do Brussels like a local and visit Werchter festival!

Gorge At Brussels Food Truck Festival

And now finally, if music isn’t your thing, then this one’s for you. Street food is probably one of the more unusual things to do in Brussels, the city just doesn’t really have a history with it like other places around the world. But, thanks to some awesome events like the Brussels Food Truck Festival, we’re starting to make a real name for ourselves! This is actually now the biggest event of its kind in Europe, which makes it an absolute must for foodies everywhere. You’ll find pretty much every kind of food here, from authentic local favourites like mussels and fries, to some tasty meals from further afield which are just as amazing. This has to be one of my top places to eat like a local, so if you’re in town whilst it’s on, you have to give it a go! The food festival takes place on the 31st of May and you can find it in the Parc Royal. One more awesome thing about it is that it’s free to enter. Happy eating!

Discover The Bozar Centre For Fine Arts

This is one for those art lovers out there that want to visit one of Brussels’ off the beaten path museums. With so many unique museums in Brussels, an art museum might seem a little bit uninteresting, but this one certainly isn’t. The Bozar Centre is a treasure trove of creative exhibitions and works from some of the world's most acclaimed artists. It’s not just visual art either, the institution celebrates film, theatre, literature and music with events from each happening all year round. Make sure to keep up to date on their website to see what’s on! Also, the building itself is a work of art designed by the famous Belgian architect; Victor Horta. Paying this place a visit is always going to be one of the most unusual things to do in Brussels.

See The Famous Peeing Statues

For weird things to do in Brussels, look no further than our obsession with peeing statues! One of the most iconic symbols of the city is Manneken Pis, a tiny sculpture of a cherub-like boy peeing into a fountain! Although a replica of the original statue, this quirky attraction has become a must see for anyone who visits the city! This statue was made famous because of the selection of costumes that it can often be seen wearing. Honestly, don’t be surprised if you see it wearing either a poncho and sombrero or even a full tuxedo! Now, as if one peeing statue wasn’t enough, we’ve decided to build two more in homage to our famous landmark. We now have the female version called Jeanneke Pis, as well as a small statue of a dog called Zinneke Pis too. I’m not sure what the fascination is with this city and peeing statues, but it definitely makes for one of the most unusual things to do in Brussels.

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