You know the hot spots, but where are the actual authentic hidden gems in Brussels? We’ve got the best unique things to do in Belgium’s capital recommended by locals for your trip. Brussels has beautiful architecture, street art and unique museums we promise you haven’t heard of before.
If you just stay in the Grand-place and city centre you’ll only see the tourist sights. Prepare to get off the beaten path in Belgium right now! Keep reading to uncover the full picture of Brussels as we head in deep to the side alleys and districts of Belgium’s capital.
Escape the hustle and bustle of Brussels in its southern districts to uncover Cemetery Dieweg, where Mother Nature has reclaimed the land. Or stick to the urban centre and wander your way over to a 13th-century tower in the middle of modern Brussels. We discover unique things to do in Brussels everyday, so come along with us for the ride! You can also find all of these and more on our map.
But first, while you're exploring the capital of Belgium, be sure to check out these fun activities to pair with your off-the-beaten path adventures:
1. Black Tower
Belgium might be known for its beautiful castles, but there are hidden gems in Brussels of its medieval history in places you wouldn’t expect. Sometimes all you need to find a secret spot in the city is to keep your eyes peeled. Take a peek behind the hotel to discover one of the last remaining parts of the once strong medieval wall.
Just a 10-minute walk from the Grand Place, the Black Tower is a jewel of Brussels history. It’s super old! Built originally in the 13th century to defend the city, Black Tower still stands proudly as a monument to Brussels’ medieval past. Enjoy a fairytale tower dropped right into the heart of Brussels. It’s pretty amazing what you find on your doorstep.
2. Cemetery Dieweg
We can’t talk about unusual things to do in Brussels without this tragic beauty. Wander into the Uccle district for a quiet and haunting place you won’t forget. Every city has its cemeteries, but Dieweg is unique in Brussels for being totally overgrown. Reclaimed by Mother Nature herself, this place has life and death combined. Ivy climbs over the stones and reaches out its leaves to passersby.
This place is one unusual place we recommend you visit in Brussels when you can, but keep in mind it looks its best in autumn. Imagine this place with stunning autumnal trees and the smell of pumpkin in the air as you wander its forgotten grounds in the afternoon.
A charming home untouched by the crowds! Welcome to Bloemenwerf. For unique things to see in Brussels, head on over to Bloemenwerf. This is one hidden spot we haven’t seen much in travel guides, have you? Brussels has tons of unique buildings and its own sense of style. Bloemenwerf has stayed hidden, being shadowed over by the majestic castles and medieval spots of Belgium. Super close to Cemetery Dieweg, the house is in a beautiful Art Nouveau style.
Inspired by the look of the English artist William Morris' home, Bloemenwerf is an interesting sight to see in Uccle. This is one of those spots sadly not open to the public, so we can’t get in. All you can do is look on from outside.
Thanks to its private status, Bloemenwerf is one of the most hidden spots in Brussels.
Where to Stay
Budget - Generation Europe Youth Hostel
Within a 20-minute walk from the central Grand Place and Manneken Pis, there's also a shared kitchen and lounge with an array of activities you can enjoy on site.
Mid-range - Vintage Hotel Brussels
Time warp back into a funky 70s style decor in this stylish boutique hotel that includes a wine bar and spacious courtyard terrace.
High-end - Hotel Made In Louise
Chic and oh so effortlessly stylish, this hotel drips in luxury fit for any trip to Brussels.
4. Musée du Réverbère
We rarely get to feature a place practically made for night owls. Most tourists skip on by this street and even some locals don’t take notice. But this street brings a special light to the capital. Literally. Enjoy the night air in the open-air museum of street lights. There’s no other street around like it - Musee du Reverbere is one of the most unique things to do in Brussels!
The museum was designed by artists and is a hidden gem for all our lovely photographers. Pop over at night to see lamps come to life. Short and sweet, Musée du Réverbère is also totally free. Great for when you’re on a budget but still want to gather up all the hidden spots in Brussels you can.
5. Erasmus House
Yup, that name does sound familiar. Erasmus was a super influential Dutch philosopher. You might know his name thanks to the Erasmus program. The house is mostly unknown despite its pretty garden and one of the smallest beguinages making it one of the most unique hidden gems in Belgium.
The house is from the 16th century, so even if that was just it’d still be worth seeing. But this place is also open to the public and contains authentic Renaissance sights like his bedroom, a library to die for, and regular cultural events. Brussels might be known for its museums, but that doesn’t mean all of them are touristy. Visit Brussels hidden gems like Erasmus house for a museum experience without the tourists under your feet!
6. Pixel Museum
Looking for hidden gems in Belgium? Try delving into the digital world! When you think of museums, you might imagine dusty tomes and big exhibits. Pixel Museum is anything but that. A hidden spot of Brussels for now, Pixel Museum is unique for its devotion to the world of video gaming.
Get a dose of nostalgia as you explore games from the 70s onwards. All the classics you love plus the upcoming tech we all want to escape into. Try out VR or test your skills at arcade games. We love finding new, unusual things to do in Brussels! Pixel Museum hasn’t made its way to the major guides yet and is mostly known to locals. Hit up this unique activity in Brussels before it gets super popular!
Where to Stay
Budget - LATROUPE Grand Place Hostel
Free breakfast is included in this hostel! Also bonus: non-stop advice is available at the reception, where staff speak English, Spanish, French and Italian.
Mid-range - The Scott Hotel Brussels
With state-of-the-art technology, flat-screen TV, and designer furniture, each chic room has a modern en-suite bathroom.
High-end - Jardin Secret Hotel
A secret garden themed hotel within the centre of Brussels featuring a heated and exterior swimming pool which will make you feel like you're on a true getaway.
7. The Birthplace of Audrey Hepburn
Ditch the busy shopping streets and get off the beaten path in Brussels. Audrey Hepburn was an iconic actress! But did you know that the famous Hepburn spent the first few years of her life in Brussels? Yup, she was actually born right here. Stopping by her birthplace is one of the unique activities in Brussels that makes visiting the capital so special.
There are so many hidden gems you walk past without realising in the city! Only a panel on the house wall lets you know that this was Hepburn’s birthplace. Tucked away in the Ixelles neighbourhood, this house is perfect for anyone wandering around for hidden spots in Brussels.
8. La Bellone
Finding non-touristy things to do in Belgium isn’t always easy. La Bellone, from the outside, looks like a regular theatre. But the ancient Roman goddess of war Bellona watches over Brussels hidden in the walls of an ornate arts theatre. See her statue and her beautiful building La Bellone less than a 10 minute walk away from the Grand-Place of Brussels.
Step inside to discover its beauty. La Bellone feels like it’s been placed on accident! Soak up the great atmosphere here when musicians come to play as they’re on the stage right in front of Bellona. You can watch from above on or step down to enter the audience and immerse yourself in the arts. There are many hidden gems in Belgium worth visiting, but La Bellone is easily missed.
9. Rue de la Cigogne
We’ve shown you plenty of hidden gems in Brussels, but Rue de la Cigogne is a side street that belongs on Pinterest. A lot of Brussels has been modernised and gentrified, but this side alley continues to escape those efforts.
See a totally authentic street that is basically the same as it was centuries ago. A short walk from the fashionista street of Rue Antoine Dansaert and the beautiful cathedral of Saint Catherine, Rue de la Cigogne is a dead-end of beauty. At 70m long, it doesn't take long to walk the whole thing. Be sure to bring a camera to capture its beauty! One of the porches here is actually all the way back from 1780 - who needs to pop into the museums when history is right in front of you?
10. Anderlecht street art
Get creative on your trip by getting off the beaten track in Belgium. All you have to do is hop on the metro to the Anderlecht district. Walk your way into Parc des Etangs. One thing you might not notice at first sight is the beautiful street art under the Ring. Step down the grassy bank for a closer look. When you think of graffiti, maybe you expect tagging. But street art is so much more than that. Lively and colourful, Anderlecht hides the Hall of Fame of graffiti.
One of the top works of art is the portrait of Stromae, the French musician, but there’s plenty along the way to enjoy. Hidden spots in Brussels are hard to come by, but Anderlecht is open-air and in a beautiful park. Plus, it’s free and hidden away from most tourists as it’s outside the city centre. Anderlecht is one of our fave hidden spots of Brussels for artsy goodness.
Where to Stay
Budget - Sleep Well Youth Hostel
Breakfast included so you'll have enough energy to explore Brussels from this comfy eco-friendly hostel.
Mid-range - Hotel The Neufchatel
This charming boutique hotel decked outby the interior designer Manuel Vraux de S. Laranjeiro provides a homely residence within a 5-minute walk from the trendy Avenue Louise.
In the heart of Brussels, a 3-minute walk from Grand-Place, this hotel will make you feel like royalty themselves.
11. Théâtre Royal de Toone
Wander the side streets of the Grand-Place to uncover one of Brussels hidden gems. You’ll soon stumble upon the puppet theatre. Toone is the last traditional puppet theatre left in the city making it one of the most unusual activities in Brussels.
Nearly 200 years old, this theatre is one piece of Brussels’ story you shouldn’t miss. Pull a seat, grab a beer and prepare for an evening of entertainment. Stories you know already (like Romeo & Juliet) are recreated by little puppets. Once upon a time, Brussels had over 40 of these types of theatres. They were the Youtube comedy sketches of their day! After the show, sip on beer as you’re watched over by 1,000+ puppets. A little weird? Sure. But it’s not an experience you’ll get anywhere else.
12. Brussels Cathedral Crypt
Brussels Cathedral is one of those things not to miss in Brussels! Everyone visits at least once. This chapel dates all the way back to the 9th century, but most bits are from the 11th to 15 centuries. Tourists and locals alike come by to the cathedral to check out its beautiful architecture. But you might not know that one of Brussels hidden gems lies just below your feet.
Drop in a 1 euro coin into the turnstile and dive in deep below the cathedral. See the ruins of the original church hidden below. The ruins are one of the hidden gems of Belgium as there aren’t many churches where the ruins and its modern face are here to see. Not many take the time to delve into Brussels Cathedral’s depths.
13. La Tour de Villiers
Aka Saint-Jacques, this is one of the medieval pieces of Brussels like the Black Tower. It was once upon a time part of the first wall defending Brussels in the 13th century. Now it’s one of those unique things to see in Brussels that most only stumble upon. This tower lies in a residential zone, so you’re sure to see locals wandering about.
The tower actually had a bit of wall too, but it collapsed in 2018. Hey, it lasted pretty long at 800+ years old. Luckily, the tower is still around and lookin’ good for its age! Close to local cafes and shops, Tour de Villers is one of our fave hidden local spots in Brussels.
14. Horta Museum
Tucked away in Saint-Gilles, the Horta Museum shows the life and work of Victor Pierre Horta. Horta was one of the founders of the Belgian Art Nouveau movement - so thank him for those pretty buildings and paintings we all know and love in Brussels. Horta actually lived and worked in this building. Since the museum is outside the city centre and less well-known compared to other museums, we rate it highly as one of Brussels' hidden treasures. Pay a visit to the gallery and museum to unlock the inspiration of Art Nouveau!
15. Jean-Felix Hap Garden
Brussels has tons of beautiful green spaces and most of those parks are already known to tourists. But there are some hidden gems in Brussels left to wander. The Jean-Felix Hap Garden is a quaint and pretty garden with plenty of local history at its back. Quiet and calm in the Etterbeek district, the garden’s gazebo is a nice little spot for relaxing after a walk around the city.
16. Maximilian Park Farm
We bet you didn’t expect a farm in the heart of Brussels! Ranking things not to be missed in Brussels is difficult, but Maximillian is an absolute must for families and eco-warriors. Interact with all the farm animals, grow your own veggies, and learn about the environment. For free! Yup, this farm is one of those unique things to do in Brussels that hasn’t made its way into the tourist track just yet. Just a quick walk from the Yser Metro Station, this farm is super easy to get to too!
Brussels has tons of secrets we’re still discovering. Join us on our journey to find hidden gems throughout Belgium!