8 must-see museums in Brussels

Musée à Bruxelles

Want to visit the Belgian capital and learn something new at the same time? It’s possible with our selection of must-see museums in Brussels!

Capital of Belgium, but also capital of Europe, Brussels is a city that cannot be ignored on the European scene. Dynamic and cosmopolitan, it offers visitors a vast playground of experiences. Day or night, you’ll find a wide range of activities. From its mouth-watering gastronomy to its nightlife hotspots, festivals and trendy addresses, you’ll be spoilt for choice.

Do you prefer cultural visits? You’ll find it here too! In addition to the legendary Manneken-Pis, the city boasts a wide range of monuments, historic sites and museums of all kinds. Are you a car enthusiast, history buff or sweet tooth? Learn even more about what drives you by visiting these 8 must-see museums in Brussels!

The Fin-de-Siècle museum

Musée Fin-de-Siècle à Bruxelles

Photo credit: GetYourGuide

  • 📍 Location: center of Brussels
  • Visit time: about 1h30
  • 💙 We love: multidisciplinarity

Located right in the heart of the city, where art takes center stage, the Musée du Fin-de-Siècle welcomes you for a remarkable leap back in time. Once through its doors, you’ll be plunged into the Brussels of the 1900s.

Through its exhibitions, from Impressionism to Art Nouveau, come and observe the city’s history from a new angle. More than just a strong political center, it was also a veritable artistic crossroads. Lifting the veil on its cultural wealth, from 1868 to 1914, by admiring its impressive collection of works.

With over 120 artists in the spotlight – from Bosch to Bruegel to Rembrandt – you won’t know where to turn. Paintings, drawings, engravings, photos, sculptures and much more! There’s something for everyone, from the discerning eye to the novice.

The Magritte Museum

Musée Magritte à Bruxelles

Photo credit: GetYourGuide

  • 📍 Location: center of Brussels
  • Visit time: about 1h30
  • 💙 We like: having lunch at the Museum Café or Art Club after a nice visit

Ideally located in the center of the city, this Brussels museum is an ode to surrealist artist René Magritte. Home to the world’s largest collection of works by this Belgian master, it offers an opportunity to learn more about his creations and life.

You’ll find no fewer than 230 works and archives spread over 2,500 m2. Immerse yourself in an unusual universe where a myriad of disciplines come together. Paintings, advertising posters, photos, sheet music, drawings and more. Each work brings you a little closer to the artist’s soul.

At your own pace, accompanied by a classic or audio guide, discover the absurd, the unexpected and the mysterious thanks to a dynamic display. At the end of your visit, take a gourmet break at the Muséum Café or the Art Club, a restaurant run by Michelin-starred chef Yves Mattagne. Looking for a souvenir? Don’t miss the museum shop.

The AfricaMuseum

AfricaMuseum à Bruxelles

Photo credit: AfricaMuseum

  • 📍 Location: Tervuren
  • Visit time: about 2 hours
  • 💙 We like the pedagogically designed spaces and the different workshops for learning in a different way.

The AfricaMuseum is located in Tervuren, about 30 minutes’ drive from the Belgian capital. Once a tool of Leopold II’s colonialist propaganda, the museum is now a place of exchange, memory and dissemination of knowledge.

Committed to fostering dialogue between cultures and generations, the AfricaMuseum welcomes you to a space designed with education in mind. Young and old alike will be delighted to visit its 11,000 m2 of permanent and temporary collections, designed by Niek Kortekaas and Johan Shelfhout.

Learn more about the history, arts and cultures of Central Africa. Especially from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Younger visitors can take part in a range of fun workshops, including arts and crafts, rumba and an introduction to traditional musical instruments.

Once you’ve taken the tour, treat yourself to a well-deserved break in the Tembo restaurant. Enjoy lunch in a magnificent glass case, with a superb view, then stroll through the immense 205-hectare park.

Choco-Story Brussels

Musée Choco-Story à Bruxelles

Photo credit: GetYourGuide

  • 📍 Location: Brussels
  • Visit time: about 1h30
  • 💙 We like: chocolate tasting during the tour

Embark on a sensory voyage with a gourmet visit to Choco-Story. Ideal for combining business with pleasure, this Brussels museum traces the history of chocolate. Did you think you knew everything there was to know about this legendary confectionery? Don’t be too sure. Through the ages, from the Aztec Empire to the French Court and 17th-century Belgium, discover the secrets of the history and manufacture of cocoa.

Supported by didactic content, from illustrations to explanatory videos, you’ll be guided through the various stages in the processing of these famous beans. Learn more about their cultivation, consumption and composition. In addition to the theory, Choco-Story offers total immersion through demonstrations.

In particular, you’ll be able to assist a master chocolatier in the preparation of the national starlet: the praline. And guess what? You’ll end on a high note with a tasting session. All that’s left to do is stop off at the museum store or take part in one of the on-site workshops. For the more enthusiastic, there are a dozen guided tours to choose from.

The museum of musical instruments

Musées des Instruments de Musique à Bruxelles

Photo credit: MIM Brussels

  • 📍 Location: in the heart of Brussels
  • Visit time: about 3h
  • 💙 We like: discovering new instruments

Take a trip around the world of musical instruments at this evocatively named venue. Nestled in the heart of the metropolis, in a superb complex combining a neo-classical building and an Art Nouveau-style building, it is a music lover’s paradise. With its impressive collection, this museum promises to leave you speechless.

On your own or with a guide, alone or in a group, explore almost 3,000 m2 spread over 4 exhibition levels. Follow an itinerary punctuated by a captivating scenography harmonizing several themes. Expand your knowledge of traditional Belgian and European instruments, learn about Western art music, travel beyond Europe’s borders and observe string, keyboard and electronic instruments.

In the neo-classical section, you’ll find a 200-seat concert hall where you can watch artists perform in a more intimate setting. After a journey rich in surprises, between diversity and rarity, climb to the top floor of the MIM to share a meal with a breathtaking view of the city. If you’d like to take home a souvenir, the MuseumShop is the place to be!

Autoworld Museum

Musée Autoworld à Bruxelles

Photo credit: GetYourGuide

  • 📍 Location: Parc du Cinquantenaire
  • Visit time: about 1h30
  • 💙 We like: the wide variety of vehicles from different eras

Housed in a historic building dating back to 1880, Autoworld is an opportunity to immerse yourself in the world of the automobile, while enjoying a magnificent architectural monument. In an immense hall of steel and glass, you’ll be able to admire over 250 models on display throughout the year. Among them, part of Ghislain Mahy’s legendary collection.

Whether you’re a car lover or simply curious, take a tour of over 8,000 m2 dedicated to the fascinating history of the automobile, from the 19th century to the present day. Organized according to theme, the different areas of this Brussels museum have plenty of surprises in store for you. Sport & Competition, American vehicles from the 50s to the 70s, Marcel Thiry’s motorcycle collection, workshops and much more. Here, too, you can choose an audioguide to guide you step by step.

In addition to its permanent exhibition, Autoworld keeps visitors interested by programming temporary collections highlighting various aspects of the industry. Every two years, it also stages a major exhibition. Enough to thrill the most passionate visitors. To extend your visit, treat your taste buds to its vintage brasserie « Bagnole ». A great place to talk cars.

The Art and History Museum

  • 📍 Location: Parc du Cinquantenaire
  • Visit time: about 2 hours
  • 💙 We like: discovering world history in a dynamic way

Take a trip around the world in a single day with a visit to Brussels’ Art and History Museum. Set in the Parc du Cinquantenaire, this majestic building takes you on a journey through different civilizations and cultures. From its collections to its ephemeral exhibitions, via the molding workshop and the Human Passions pavilion, you’ll see the ages and history of the world flash before your eyes.

Renowned for its collection of 350,000 pieces dating from the 10th century onwards, the museum captivates visitors with its structured layout. Follow the evolution of different societies through art and history as you explore its four sections: Antiquity, National Archaeology, European Decorative Arts and Non-European Civilizations.

Stroll between Asian Buddhas, meet fascinating Egyptian mummies, observe prehistoric artifacts, admire medieval tapestries and simply take the time to explore every nook and cranny. You’ll see, when there’s more…there’s more.

Train World Museum

Musée Train World à Bruxelles

Photo credit: GetYourGuide

  • 📍 Location: Schaerbeek
  • Visit time: about 2 hours
  • 💙 We love: the combination of historic objects and modern technology

With the oldest railway network on the European continent, Belgium is home to a museum dedicated to trains. And it’s in the heart of Schaerbeek station, one of the country’s oldest, that it all happens. Opened to the public in 2015, this splendid building – combining Art Nouveau with a more modern style – welcomes you in no less than 8,000 m2.

There’s no question of staying put. Everything is designed to give you a behind-the-scenes look at the railroads and the evolution of technology. Step back in time and slip into the shoes of 19th-century passengers and workers, thanks to historic exhibits such as a locomotive from the Pays de Waes. Admire an authentic metal bridge, learn about the daily life of railway workers over the years, or take a virtual tour of AM 35.

Witness the transition from steam to electrification, and end with a leap into the future. No DeLorean here, but a seat in a state-of-the-art high-speed train. You’ll almost believe you’re there. To complete your experience, an audioguide is available so that the world of trains holds no more secrets for you…or almost.

Our tips for a successful stay in Brussels

Interested in one or more of the Belgian capital’s museums? Organize the rest of your stay with our selection of travel articles and tools.

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