Brussels hidden gems around the corner

In the recent years, Brussels is becoming one of the most wanted tourist destinations in Europe. Located in the heart of Europe and the home of the European Union, this city is far more than just glass-and-steel EU institutions and dull bureaucracy. Today Brussels is a modern metropolis, with superb cultural scene and well-preserved architecture from the 17th century, trendy restaurants and bars, and of course, the sweetest delicacy: Belgian chocolate.

Apart from the usual, busy tourist spots in Brussels, we encourage you to explore the city and its hidden gems. We asked our local taxi driver, Roland, from our Brussels airport transfer provider to guide us on a unique, custom-made tour around Brussels. You will be surprised what is hidden in the streets of Brussels and what this city has to offer.

1. Belgian beer in La Porte Noire

I’m sure that the first thing which comes to your mind when you think of Brussels are waffles and beer. These local specialties are a “must” on your to-do-list. Our local taxi driver, Roland, recommends you to visit La Porte Noire, a beer bar with rich offer of over 100 Belgian beer types. Even if you’re not a fan of beer, you’ll be amazed how many different tastes this drink could have.

It’s located on the central square La Grand Place, one of the main tourist spots. So, after the long walk, it would be great to take a breath with a nice, cold beer. There’s another interesting fact about this bar: it’s situated in a 16th century cellar, a former kitchen for nuns. The renovated space kept the vintage atmosphere with the vaulted ceilings and rustic furniture.

2. Brussels comic book ghetto

As the proclaimed European capital of comics, Brussels is the home of many comic shops and the “Museum de la Bande Dessinée”. The Smurfs, Tintin and Lucky Luke are one of the many comics created by Belgian authors which are famous all over the world. Although the museum is most visited setting featuring comic book art, what is more fascinating are the murals showing your favorite characters.

This project started in 1991 with the main purpose to promote comics in Brussels and today there are 50 murals in the city. It is fascinating to see them around many corners in the city center painted on the walls, while some of them interact with the landmarks in a unique way. Roland suggests to take a biking guided tour or if you are in adventurous mood and want to discover them by yourself, check this website for guidance.

3. The place to be for car fanatics — Autoworld

From cars made for everyday use to unusual and futuristic prototypes which never reached production phase are part of the 400 car models showcased in Autoworld. This museum in Brussels is one of the most prestigious of its kind in Europe, which is understandable given the fact that automotive industry was an important part of the Belgian economy before the World War 2.

Autoworld displays the transformation of cars and how their design evolved over the 20th century. Here you can find the famous Model T Ford which changed the car history, as well as rare custom made vehicles for the Belgian Royal family and other celebrities from the 20th century.

4. African culture and food in Matongé

The African community in Brussels, which consists 10% of the population in this city, has found its home in the Matonge neighborhood. Located between the EU institutions and the glamorous Avenue Louse, it’s an interesting place where you can find African restaurants, barber shops and gift stores.

If you’re looking for unique and colorful gift, there is a shop called Africamali which sells African style jewelry and home decor originating from African countries. Ladies would really like the boutiques which sell colorful and authentic design fabrics, while men can stop by the local barber shops for a haircut and chat with the locals. At the end of your visit, you can taste African culinary delights in the many restaurants in this area and enjoy live performances by bands from Congo.

5. Night museum tour — Nocturne

If you’re visiting Brussels in autumn, when the days are shorter and evenings colder, we suggest to visit a museum. Actually, every year the Brussels Museum Council organizes the Nocturnes, which includes events and activities in around 66 museums in Brussels. The purpose is to promote museums through extended working hours at night. Every Thursday, you can visit the museums included in this program from 17:00 to 22:00.

This is an ideal opportunity to get well acquainted with the wonderful array of classic, art and sometimes weird museums. It’s important to know that sometimes there is free entrance to some of the museums or at pretty low special price. You can check the full program and list of museums on their website.

Our journey ends here and we hope your curiosity will lead you to one of these places on your next visit to Brussels. We can’t wait to hear your impressions in our Comments section.

Originally published at on October 26, 2015.