The European Quarter: Brussels’s cosmopolitan (and cultural!) district

22 February 2022

We all know Brussels is the capital of the European Union, but did you know that the European Quarter is not just about institutions and grey offices? Throw out the clichés and head off down the beaten path to (re)discover this neighbourhood!

On the itinerary: museums worth a visit, cool spots to stop for a drink, a remarkable architectural heritage site with Art Nouveau gems, plus a host of parks and gardens where relaxation and picnics are the order of the day. Discover the European Quarter and the treasures hidden behind the institutions. 

A very green neighbourhood and an Art Nouveau stroll

Contrary to popular belief, the European Quarter is one of the greenest in Brussels! In the heart of the neighbourhood lies Leopold Park, which has a grand and illustrious past. Did you know that this huge green space was once a royal zoo?

Continue on a little further to Cinquantenaire Park, one of the most beautiful open spaces in the capital. Admire the imposing triumphal arch erected in 1880 to celebrate Belgium’s 50th anniversary. Climb on its roof and enjoy a magnificent panoramic view of the city! Finish your walk at the Ambiorix, Marie-Louise, and Marguerite Squares to gaze at their elegant Art Nouveau mansions.

Cultural spots we highly recommend!

For history buffs, the House of European History is an absolute must. Located in the heart of Leopold Park, it is home to an impressive and rich collection of artefacts. On the European Parliament’s esplanade, you will find the Parlamentarium, the ideal place to learn all about the European Union. Another place that will appeal to young and old alike is the Museum of Natural Sciences, home to the largest dinosaur gallery in Europe! The Wierz Museum opposite is also well worth a visit. Here you'll be introduced to the fascinating world of painter, sculptor and man of letters Antoine Wiertz (1806-1865), one of the most controversial Belgian Romantic artists of his time.

If you venture as far as Cinquantenaire Park, you will also find Autoworld, with its incredible collection of cars, motorcycles… and carriages. Right next door, the Art & History Museum and the Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History are home to some really impressive collections.

Eating out in the European Quarter

The European Quarter has many spots that will delight your taste buds. On Place Jean Rey, the Grand Central is probably the liveliest café-restaurant in the neighbourhood, with delicious brunches and dishes to satisfy all appetites. For a very Brussels pit stop, head to Friterie Antoine on Place Jourdan. Given its popularity, queues are commonplace, but you will be rewarded for your patience! If Italian cuisine makes your mouth water, go to Ciaooo for delicious Neapolitan pizza.

Every Tuesday, there is an organic market on Place du Luxembourg. It is an excellent opportunity to buy organic, high-quality produce in a village atmosphere, right in the heart of Europe.

Thursday evening aperitif at Place Lux

Expats and locals love to meet up in the European Quarter for an aperitif. Every Thursday evening, the party is in full swing at the Place du Luxembourg. Brussels locals come to join those who work in the neighbourhood for a well-deserved beer or cocktail on one of the terraces that line the square. This friendly setting is the perfect opportunity to experience the cosmopolitan atmosphere of the neighbourhood and listen to, or practice speaking, languages from all over the world. Some bars recommended by regulars: Ginette BarBeer factory, or Le Pullman.