Visiting a museum is always a unique experience, as each one has its own distinct characteristics, style, and of course, content. Museum subjects vary greatly from city to city, and can range from firefighter's museums to fine art, to sports. If you need help making a selection, our 10Best list highlights the top spots to visit in Brussels.


Three attractions in one, the Museums of the Far East comprise the Japanese Tower (actually a pagoda), the Chinese Pavilion, and the Japanese Museum of Art. The pagoda is particuarly attractive as it is surrounded by elegantly formal Japanese gardens.

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Upper Town

The BELvue Museum covers the history of Belgium from its creation in 1830 to the present day. The story is told in photos, documents, film archives and bric-a-brac, including a collection of objects formerly owned by King Baudouin I. Before it was converted a museum, the grand 18th-century building spent time as a luxury hotel and was also a royal home. Recent work has restored it to its former glory.

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One street from the Grand Place, the Cocoa and Chocolate Museum in the historic Valk mansion (it is also a former brewery), pays homage to another of those things the Belgians do best: creating world beating pralines. In addition to exhibits teaching about the history of chocolate, starting from the first cultivation of cocoa beans by the Aztecs, there are daily demonstrations by a master chocolatier. Needless to say there is also a shop allowing you to pander to those hunger pangs at the end of the tour.

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The Brussels Museum of the Gueuze is very much a working establishment, since it is also the Cantillon brewery. Cantillon are the last brewers to make their beer in the traditional Brussels style: fermented not by the addition of yeast, but by leaving the beer open to the skies and prone to the whims of natually occuring enzymes. This creates a beer called lambic, which when aged is known as gueuze (lambic also forms the base of the cherry-flavored krieks). The price of admission includes a glass of beer at the end. Be warned if you've never tried it before: gueuze is unlike any other beer you've tasted!

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The Confederation of Belgian Breweries owns and operates this small museum, which is the last of the original Grand-Place guild houses still owned by the guild. Included in the collection are holdings that demonstrate both modern and ancient brewing techniques. Also on display are paintings celebrating the art of beer brewing, decorative stained-glass, and old pitchers, steins and beer pumps. Admission includes a beer brewed on the premises.

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This family-friendly museum explores the natural world from prehistoric to modern times. The collection encompasses fifteen thematic sections, allowing visitors to stick to the topics that most interest them. Delicate seashells, a marine tank, an insect room, and a display comparing the Arctic and Antarctic are all popular, but the real stars are the "Iguanadons of Bernissart," eighteen dinosaur skeletons discovered in southern Belgium. Accompanying them is a series of animated dinosaurs that move and make sounds when you press a button.

Read more about Musée de l'Institut Royal des Sciences Naturelles de Belgique →

For Belgium's golden jubilee in 1880, Leopold II built this park to showcase the country's finest arts and crafts. Today, its massive buildings house three city museums: Autoworld, the Royal Museum of the Army and Military History, and the Royal Museum of Art and History. Autoworld displays more than 400 rare and vintage cars, including ones owned by John Kennedy, Franklin Roosevelt, and the Belgian royal family. In the Royal Museum of the Army and Military History, more than 100,000 artifacts chart the past; the facility is one of the largest of its kind. In addition, the history of the Belgian Army is detailed, and an impressive display of military aircraft is presented. The Royal Museum of Art and History is so massive and comprehensive that visitors are encouraged to use an index and a map to chart what they want to see. The museum's most prestigious collections deal with European decorative arts, including spectacular Belgian tapestries and lace.

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Originally, the Royal Museum of Central Africa chronicled Leopold II's private holdings and colonial ventures in the Belgian Congo. Today, the region is known as the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the museum broadly instructs visitors about the entire African continent. Sculpture and art, colonial-era firearms, animal dioramas, and displays on the environment and desertification educate visitors about many of Africa's issues. Allow yourself time to stroll the magnificent grounds.

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Native son Victor Horta developed Art Nouveau style, which is arguably Belgium's most influential aesthetic movement. Inspired by English Arts and Crafts, Art Nouveau is characterized by flowing, organic shapes that show underlying structure but remain beautiful. Nowhere are Horta's principles more evident than in the home he designed and lived in for more than twenty years. Glazed skylights softly filter light, and gentle curves lead naturally from room to room. Muted fabrics and honey-toned woods add to the ambiance. Horta designed every aspect of the house, down to the intricate hinges on the French doors. No English-language descriptions are available, but Horta's artistry speaks for itself. Try to tour the house early on, because the architectural style is apparent in buildings around the country.

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