10 Things to Do in Brussels in the winter

Winter brings a special atmosphere to all European capitals, and Brussels is no exception. Let's discover it together in this guide.

Ana Caballero

Ana Caballero

11 min read

10 Things to Do in Brussels in the winter

Brussels Festival of Lights | ©Miguel Discart

Brussels is a lively city with a special atmosphere, no matter what month of the year it is. If you're thinking about what to see and do in Brussels, it's a good time to take a look at the suggestions I have for you in this winter guide.

Sit back, put on your coat and join me for this guide to activities that will keep you warm until spring arrives.

1. Enjoy the skating rinks

Place de la Monnaie ice-skating rink| ©Erik Cleves Kristensen
Place de la Monnaie ice-skating rink| ©Erik Cleves Kristensen

A winter sport that appeals to young and old alike is ice skating. If you visit the city in the winter season, you can find them specially set up so that you can have fun with friends and family. Here are two great options if you're in the mood for this activity:

Place de la Monnaie

Here, you'll find an 800m2 ice rink that is the star of the city for skating lovers. A very positive aspect of this rink is that children have a portion of the rink reserved just for them, so that parents can also have fun in peace and quiet.


  • Opening hours: from 12 to 22hs every day. On 24 and 31 December it closes at 6pm.
  • Admission: €10 for over 16s and €5 for under 16s.


Poseidon is the only skating rink in Belgium with a removable roof. If you don't like the cold weather, this is an interesting alternative. On Friday nights there is a Disco Night, where you can not only skate but also dance to the rhythm of the best songs.

Interesting facts

  • Opening hours: Monday to Wednesday, from 4.30pm to 8pm, and Thursday to Sunday from 10am to 10pm.
  • Admission: 6€ for over 16s and 4€ for under 16s.

2. Visit museums without being cold

Outside Magritte Museum| ©Richard Parmiter
Outside Magritte Museum| ©Richard Parmiter

Winter is a good time of the year for you to enter the city's museums without guilt. Locking yourself indoors soaking up culture and enjoying Brussels' best exhibitions is the perfect way to escape the cold and enjoy the day.

Here's a short list of the best museums you'll find in the city, but if you want to know more, don't hesitate to check out my post on the best museums to see in Brussels.

Royal Museums of Fine Arts

Under the name Royal Museums of Fine Arts we find 6 museums grouped together. Each of them specialises in different types of art and are identified as: The Museum of Ancient Art, The Museum of Modern Art, The Fin de Siècle Museum, Magritte Museum, The Meunier Museum and The Wiertz Museum.

But if you don't want to go through everything, the most important things to see are to be found at the Museum of Ancient Art, which houses an important collection of paintings from the 15th to the 18th century. You've probably heard of Van Dyck's Pieta and Bruegel's The Fall of the Rebel Angels, as these are part of the exhibition. Another attraction is the room dedicated to Rubens, where you can see The Adoration of the Magi.

Useful information

  • Location: Rue de la Régence, 3.
  • Admission: Over 18s, 10€. Under 18s, free.
  • Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 5pm. Weekends from 11am to 6pm. Closed at 2pm on 24 and 31 December.

Magritte Museum

Although I have told you that the Magritte Museum is part of the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, I will make a special mention to its visit.

It is one of the most visited museums in the whole city, as the painter René Magritte is one of the greatest exponents of Belgian art. It is a relatively new museum where you can enjoy Belgian surrealism at its best.

Interesting Facts

  • Location: Place Royale, 1.
  • Admission: Over 18s, 10€. Under 18s and teachers, free.
  • Opening hours: Monday to Friday from 10am to 5pm. Weekends from 11am to 6pm. Closed at 2pm on 24 and 31 December.

Comic Museum

In case you didn't know it yet, Belgium is the homeland of Tintin, a famous comic strip of the 20th century. In the installations of the Comic Strip Museum you can enjoy more than 6000 original comics, an extensive and incredible tribute collection.

The building where this exhibition takes place is nothing less than one of the works of Art Nouveau architecture, designed by the famous Belgian architect Victor Horta. A real jewel of the Belgian city.

Facts and Figures

  • Location: Rue des Sables 20.
  • Admission: Adults, €10. Over 65s, 8 euros. Young people from 12 to 25 years old, €7. Children under 12 €3,50.
  • Opening hours: Monday to Sunday from 10am to 6.30pm.

Museum of Musical Instruments

Musical Instrument Museum| ©Schwars1
Musical Instrument Museum| ©Schwars1

This museum, also called Old England, is a four-storey structure that houses more than seven thousand musical instruments. The exhibition is an interactive experience, where you can enjoy the sounds produced by each instrument, in a sequence from the Middle Ages to the present day.

Not only to delight your ears, the observation deck of the Musical Instruments Museum on the top floor will leave your eyes completely amazed.

Useful information

  • Location: Rue Montagne de la Cour 2.
  • Admission: Adults, 10€. Under 18s, free.
  • Opening hours: Tuesday to Friday: 9.30am-5pm. Saturdays and Sundays: 10am to 5pm.

MIMA: Museum of Iconoclastic Art of the Millennium

This museum is relatively new, but has already gained a great reputation not only in Belgium, but among museums all over Europe. MIMA is dedicated to modern art, and is located in the Molenbeek district, one of the most multicultural areas of the city at the moment. Its structure is very original, as it used to be the site of a brewery.

Facts and Figures

  • Location: 39-41, Quai du Hainaut.
  • Admission: Adults 9,50€. Children €7.50. Children under 6 years, free.
  • Opening hours: Wednesday to Friday from 10am to 6pm. Saturdays and Sundays from 11hs to 19hs. Mondays and Tuesdays closed.

Horta Museum

The Horta Museum is a tour through the house and workshop of the Belgian cultural architect Victor Horta, the greatest representative of the Art Nouveau style. The buildings were declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco and are one of the favourites of all tourists when visiting museums in Brussels.

Interesting facts

  • Location: Rue Américaine, 25.
  • Admission: Adults, €10. Children €3. Children under 6 years, free.
  • Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday: 2pm to 5pm. Saturdays and Sundays from 11am to 5pm.

If you plan to visit more than one museum, I recommend you get the Brussel Card. The price varies depending on how long you want to use it and there are three options: 24 hours, 22 €; 48 hours, 30 € and 72 hours, 38 €. It includes 39 free museums and great discounts on other attractions.

Book a guided tour of Brussels

3. Immerse yourself in the passion for chocolate

Buying Chocolate in Brussels| ©Newsy Preservation Paris
Buying Chocolate in Brussels| ©Newsy Preservation Paris

Much of Brussels' gastronomic offer revolves around the chocolate industry. And what better winter activity than tasting different chocolates, or having a good Belgian-style hot chocolate, one of the best in the world.

Belgian chocolate is famous for its fine textures, fine designs and elegant packaging that transform the tradition into a true art. In short, the creation of unique flavours with moulds of highly original shapes, the undisputed high quality standards and the intense flavour of its chocolates with high cocoa content are characteristics that make Belgian chocolates stand out all over the world.

As you wander around the city, you will come across numerous shops dedicated to the world of chocolate, such as the famous Godiva or Leonidas, where in addition to their wide range of flavours and styles, you can find the much sought-after Praliné flavour, created in 1912 by master chocolatier Jean Neuhaus.

Finally, Elisabeth is a shop selling artisanal delicacies near the Grand Place, where you can try the "mellow-cakes", chocolate-covered biscuit pastries that were created right here.

Book a chocolate workshop in Brussels

4. Take the sightseeing bus around the city and avoid the rainy days

Sightseeing bus through the streets of Brussels| ©Carl Campbell
Sightseeing bus through the streets of Brussels| ©Carl Campbell

A good alternative for getting around the city is to take the tourist bus. On cold days, we don't feel so much like wandering the streets, but prefer to have a vehicle available to take us to different places, while we stay warm and cosy inside.

In addition, you will have a very complete guide to the most emblematic monuments and buildings available while you contemplate the city from the comfort of the bus.

My recommendation is that you do at least one whole route once, so you will live the whole experience and you will take home as a souvenir a very productive and practical tour. See my article on the best sightseeing buses in Brussels for more information.

Book a sightseeing bus tour of Brussels

5. Be part of the Winter Pleasures Festival

Christmas tree on the Grand Place| ©Pjposullivan1
Christmas tree on the Grand Place| ©Pjposullivan1

Every year, with the arrival of Christmas and the New Year, Brussels dresses up for the occasion. From the end of November until the first days of January, the great Winter Pleasures festival takes place. It consists of a great display of different activities and attractions all over the city dedicated to family fun, and of course, to celebrate Christmas.

The atmosphere is super festive and lively and everyone comes out to have a good time. The main sights not to be missed are:

  • The 2km Christmas market on the Place de la Bourse.
  • The big Christmas tree in the middle of the Grand Place and its light show.
  • The ride on the giant Ferris wheel
  • The merry-go-rounds located in all the squares
  • The Slalom, a slide that ensures fun for children and adults alike.

6.Enjoy the winter dishes

Mussels and fries dish| ©ESTHER SANZ
Mussels and fries dish| ©ESTHER SANZ

The typical winter dishes of Belgian gastronomy are perfect. They are delicious, tasty and plentiful so you can feast without any excuses.

Find a restaurant where you can take shelter from the cold winter weather and aim to satisfy your taste buds. Follow this guide to Belgian specialities and you'll know what to order at each place.

  • Mussels and fries: Mussels are in full swing during the winter season and are characteristically meaty and delicious. They are eaten with fried potatoes, either in marinara or white wine sauce. A complete delicacy.
  • Radicchio au gratin: the radicchio dish comes straight out of the oven onto your plate, when you can still see bubbles of heat in it. This blessed dish could not be accompanied by anything else but a buttery mash for guaranteed pleasure.
  • Stoemp: there's nothing better than taking the chill off with a hearty bowl of stoemp with winter vegetables and mashed potatoes. You have several traditional options to choose from such as stoemp with carrots, stoemp with radicchio, with leeks, with whatever you like. It doesn't matter which one you choose as they all go perfectly with a good homemade sausage.
  • Prawn croquettes: if you are still undecided, I suggest you go for a delicious prawn croquette. I don't have much more to say about it, I just recommend you order more than one. Oh, and you're welcome.

7. Don't miss the Carnival of Binche

People at the Binche Carnival| ©Marie-Claire
People at the Binche Carnival| ©Marie-Claire

Carnival is a world-famous celebration but certain spots on the globe are more famous for various reasons. The Carnival of Binche was recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, and is one of the oldest festivities in Brussels.

Binche is a medieval town south of the city of Brussels that attracts thousands of tourists every year for this celebration because it is so intense. It is one of the oldest carnivals in Europe and for three days the streets are filled with sumptuous costumes, fancy dress balls and lots of music. Shrove Sunday is particularly special with the parade of the Man' selles, men dressed in women's costumes.

On Shrove Tuesday, the Gilles are the stars of the show. The Gilles are characters who march through the city to the beat of drums, wearing traditional costumes with ostrich-feather hats, their characteristic wooden clogs, and red, yellow and black dresses.

8.Take a brewery tour

Beer Tasting at the Brewdog Bar| ©Hedgehog55
Beer Tasting at the Brewdog Bar| ©Hedgehog55

Belgium is world-renowned for its beer and the cold winter can be a good opportunity to go beer tasting in different bars and breweries to escape the winter. While you can find beer everywhere and you'll never be short of a bar around the corner, you can read our post on the best breweries in Brussels to find out about the different proposals and types of beers available to you.

It may be just beer for you, but in Belgium this blonde drink is a tourist attraction in itself and has a whole universe around it that you can't miss if you visit Brussels. In fact, there are organised trips to discover Belgian beers, their history, tradition, styles and the places where they are brewed. It is also recognised as Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO for its richness and variety.

Book a beer tasting in Brussels

9. Discover Brussels illuminated

Brussels By Lights| ©Alex L
Brussels By Lights| ©Alex L

During the Christmas season, Brussels becomes a completely different city thanks to the Brussels By Lights festival. By visiting the city in winter, you can see how the city is dyed in colour and lights in a festive atmosphere.

Around 150 light installations are set up so you won't be in any doubt about what time of year it is, as you'll be immersed in a completely Christmassy atmosphere.

10. Take a trip to Bruges or Ghent

Bruges canal boat trip| ©Eric Titcombe
Bruges canal boat trip| ©Eric Titcombe

While all seasons are a good time to visit these famous cities, in winter you'll have the added bonus of winter decorations and the renowned winter markets in each of these cities.

In winter, whether you go with an organised tour or on your own, getting to Bruges from Brussels is very easy and you will discover another city with a very particular charm and considered one of the most beautiful in Europe. No visitor to Belgium wants to miss the opportunity to see it. The facades of the buildings that frame the Grote Markt square are decorated with Christmas lights that highlight their characteristic silhouettes and are a charm you can't fail to appreciate.

As for Ghent, most tourists choose to visit Ghent from Bruges because of its proximity and to make the most of the trip. Don't miss tasting the characteristic spiced wine at the Ghent Christmas market.

Book your trip to Bruges from Brussels

Temperatures in Winter

Brussels at night| ©Miguel Discart
Brussels at night| ©Miguel Discart

Winter in Belgium is cold and wet, and lasts from November until March. Average temperatures at this time of year range from 3-7°C, which is quite chilly.

But don't worry, with the right coat and a jacket to protect you from the rain, you'll be perfectly equipped for the winter season. You'll enjoy your holiday to the fullest in this city that has so much to offer. Have a good trip!