Brussels with kids

Things to do in Brussels with kids

We enjoy taking family city breaks with kids during school holidays. When kids are a bit older, from a pre-school age, it’s a fantastic way for them to learn about different cultures and explore the world through exciting local kid-friendly activities on offer. This October we spontaneously decided to go to Brussels with kids to visit their Aunt.

I’ll be honest; Brussels wasn’t at the top of my dream destinations list. We’d been here before for a family Christmas when our son was little. It was a quiet and laid-back experience, and I don’t remember much sightseeing or kid-friendly activities.

This time, with our children aged 6 and 10, we planned kids activities around their interests. Off course, waffles, chocolate, and chips were firmly on agenda! All the activities below were chosen for schoolchildren. We would have probably gone for a different schedule with toddlers, involving dinosaurs and indoor playrooms.

Brussels has transformed over the years, and now it boasts many pedestrian zones that make it a joy to explore and soak in the city’s atmosphere. This visit turned into a discovery trip, not only for the kids but also for me.

Here’s how we usually plan our holiday trips with children:

We don’t like having rigid schedules when we travel. We make a list of what we want to see and do and a list of kid-friendly activities on holiday in advance. Then we just book a few activities, tours, or museums that require advance reservations. Then, we loosely plan the rest of our days around these confirmed dates. This approach gives us flexibility to experience the city like locals, especially when local events and festivals pop up.

Now, let’s get back to the beginning.

Our trip to Brussels with kids

Our journey began with a train ride, which was delayed by 3 hours. A helpful tip for train travellers – pack some extra snacks, water and pocket games to keep your kids entertained during those long waits in a confined space.

Day 1: The most popular activities in Brussels

We had less time than we’d hoped for, but it was enough to cover the typical attractions. First stop – the Grand Place, which was surprisingly empty and beautifully lit by the afternoon sun. We skipped exploring the inside of the City Hall and went straight to Manneken-Pis, who was au naturel this time. If you’re interested in his wardrobe, there’s a dedicated museum for that.

Along the way, we some exciting graffiti artworks kept popping up. If our kids were older and we had more time, the City of Brussels Street Art Trail would have been a great idea for us. We made a mental note for future visits.

And then it was time for famous Belgian fries for dinner.

On our first evening, we popped by Frites Atelier, a bit away from a tourist trail, where I must say, the chips and sauces were the best we had on this trip. Crunchy and fluffy inside, the secret is how they are fried.

To end the day on a sweet note, we stopped by one of the many stands in the city centre for a traditional waffle. Did you know, there are Brussels and Liege varieties? Liege ones are denser and have a moreish taste, with a hint of caramelised sugar. We tried to recreate that taste at home with a huge success, I´d say, using the Authentic Liege Waffle recipe.

Day 2: Antwerpen with kids

The weather was perfect for a trip to Antwerp. We leisurely strolled the streets and the walked along the river.

Our first stop was the MAS museum to enjoy the city’s panoramic view. We had lunch at Poul et Poulette, and everyone found a chicken dish they liked. If you’re near MAS and looking for food, I recommend this place. It’s cosy, unpretentious, and serves delicious food.

Next, we visited the Red Star Line museum, which delves into the human history of travel and immigration in Belgium and Europe. Our 10-year-old was fascinated, and there was an engaging activity game for younger kids to keep our daughter entertained and happy.

Day 3: Brussels indoor activities for kids

kids-friendly-family-city-breaks-brussels-atomiumWith the rain pouring down, we opted for indoor activities. Our first stop was the Belgian Chocolate Village. The chocolate making demonstration was involved a detailed explanation why the temperature of melting and settling is so crucial for a good quality. We thoroughly enjoyed it, although the real highlight for children was of course chocolate tasting. We then had fun choosing the percentage of chocolate for our hot cocoa, which we needed on this gloomy day.

Our second stop was the Atomium. It was crowded, so we decided to skip the long queue for the panorama and instead enjoyed the building and the light installation Restart by Visual System. Climbing the stairs and gradually discovering the building structure we reached the floors with a nice city panorama.

Later in the afternoon we joined the Diwali Festival at the foot of the Atomium. Naturally, we had to stay to enjoy home-made traditional Indian dishes for dinner, complemented by a Belgian waffle from a waffle van. This is what I mean by staying flexible to join local events and festivities to explore a city´s true nature and character.

We had some spare time and took the kids to a large playground not far from the Atomium. Amid all the cultural and educational experiences, children always need space to run around and burn off some energy.

Day 4: Family-friendly activities in Brussels for all ages

Another rainy day was on the horizon, but we had a booking for the Tintin. The immersive adventure in the morning. This was a perfect blend of music, light, and illustrations – a modern setting for the favourite comic characters to come to life. We had to watch the show twice, we liked it so much.

For lunch, we headed to Food Market Gare Maritime, a fantastic concept where you’re not tied to one restaurant. You can order dishes from various restaurants all in one place. Everyone has managed to find something that they liked, even our picky children.  There was even a little play area, which was a welcome addition on this rainy day.

The day passed slowly, so we leisurely made our way to the European Parliament.

things-to-do-with-kids-in-brusselsOur plan was to visit the Parlamentarium, but it was fully booked (which we didn´t expect), so we went to the House of European History instead. A bonus for this little retour – we discovered the charming Citizen’s Garden at the European Parliament Quarters, a highly recommended visit.

Brussels is an excellent city to learn about Europe and its history, which our son found captivating. There was plenty of information to process, and he especially enjoyed using a tablet and modern technology to access more information at museums. We weren´t so convinced by the kids activities at the House of European History. The idea of “time-travel” was surely nice, but not executed to its full potential shall we say. We spent some time working on our family tree (which was exciting for all age groups) and briefly visited a temporary exhibition on waste called ‘Throwaway.’

Day 5 (October 31 – Halloween)

We had to do something special for Halloween. Our day began at the Parlamentarium (we booked in advance this time), which provided excellent insights into the history of the European Union and Europe – the struggles, differences of opinion, achievements, and setbacks. Our oldest didn’t want to leave, and our youngest enjoyed interactive elements designed for a special kids’ tour.

Trick-or-treating was on the agenda, so we visited BelVue for a special ghost-hunting activity. It was a fun and sweet experience, with little treats at the end. I particularly enjoyed the museum, as it provided a wealth of information about the history of Belgium in a clear and accessible format. It made us look at the country in a different way. This visit was a hit with the entire family. Saddly, we didn’t have enough time to explore Coudenberg Palace, which is also fun for kids. We’ll save that for our next trip.

On our way out – another bonus and an unexpected treat: the Le Chat Deambule exhibition, featuring caricature cat sculptures by Philippe Geluck in the Royal Park.

We concluded the day by trick-or-treating at the home of our gracious host, my sister-in-law. We even managed to create last-minute ghost costumes from old bedsheets, and had a cracking time scaring the neighbours in the building.

Day 6 (Public Holiday – Day of Departure)

brussels-with-kidsOur last day in Brussels, which happened to be a public holiday, was reserved for a visit to Train World in the morning. Trains and children is always a winning combination. This time a train simulator transported the kids to the future.

And off we went back to Vienna, carrying a completely new image of Brussels with us.

Packing for a family city break 

When packing for our family holidays, we like to keep it simple. We choose comfy and versatile clothes that can be worn all day. That’s why we always bring along Babbily leggings and trousers.

They’re perfect for long train rides and even naps. They look nice for museum visits and are tough enough for playground adventures. Plus, the knees are easy to clean, so you don’t need a washing machine.

Pack two or three pairs of Babbily leggings or trousers, and you’re good to go for your holiday.

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48,99  incl. VAT, excl. delivery
€4.99 with Leggings
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