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7 Tourist Traps to Avoid in Brussels (Travel Guide) And How To Avoid Them

7 Tourist Traps to Avoid in Brussels (Travel Guide) And How To Avoid Them

Brussels is one of the most popular destinations in Europe and we will tell you the tourist traps to avoid in Brussels for your next trip.

Brussels, the capital of Belgium, is a city full of history, culture, and gastronomy. However, like many popular tourist destinations, it has its share of tourist traps. Here’s a guide to help you navigate around these traps and enjoy a more authentic experience.

What Is The Cheapest Way From Brussels Airport To City Center?

The cheapest way from Brussels Airport to city center is by public bus for €3 and Brussels Airport Bus for €4.50 and it will take around 30 minutes.

Read here how to get from Brussels Airport to city center and how to buy a Belgium sim card for tourist

WHERE TO STAY IN BRUSSELS

You can access a dorm that can go up to €18-30. And while a hotel that is a double room in a budget can go up to €90.

CLICK HERE TO BOOK YOUR ACCOMMODATION

BOOK YOUR TRAVEL INSURANCE

Two of our favorite travel insurance: Heymondo Vs Safetwing cheapest travel Insurance. You can get for $135 USD your Heymondo Travel Insurance with Heymondo discount code valid for 90 days. Read our full comparison of Genki vs Safetywing Travel Insurance Review and the comparison Heymondo vs Genki

Tourist Traps to Avoid in Brussels

1. Grand Place Restaurants

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Trap: The restaurants and cafes around Grand Place are often overpriced and cater primarily to tourists, sometimes offering mediocre food.

How to Avoid: Head to nearby neighborhoods like Sainte-Catherine or Ixelles for more authentic dining experiences at better prices. Try restaurants like Noordzee Mer du Nord for fresh seafood or Café Belga for a classic Belgian cafe experience​​.

2. Manneken Pis

7 Tourist Traps to Avoid in Brussels (Travel Guide) And How To Avoid Them

Trap: While the Manneken Pis statue is a famous Brussels landmark, it is often crowded with tourists, and the surrounding souvenir shops can be overpriced.

How to Avoid: After a quick visit to the statue, explore less crowded but equally interesting sights like the Jeanneke Pis (a female counterpart) or the Zinneke Pis (a dog statue). Visit the nearby Saint-Géry neighborhood for trendy bars and cafes​​.

3. Atomium Entry Fees

7 Tourist Traps to Avoid in Brussels (Travel Guide) And How To Avoid Them

Trap: The Atomium, while iconic, can be expensive to enter and often has long lines.

How to Avoid: Instead of paying for entry, take photos from the outside and enjoy the surrounding park. If you want a panoramic view of Brussels, consider going to the rooftop of the Parking 58 building, which offers a great view for free​​.

4. Overpriced Chocolate Shops

Brussels 2

Trap: Many chocolate shops in tourist-heavy areas charge premium prices for average-quality chocolate.

How to Avoid: For high-quality Belgian chocolate, visit reputable chocolatiers like Pierre Marcolini, Neuhaus, or Mary. These shops offer authentic Belgian chocolate at fair prices and often have better quality​​.

5. Touristy Beer Bars

7 Tourist Traps to Avoid in Brussels (Travel Guide) And How To Avoid Them

Trap: Bars around the Grand Place can be overpriced and cater mostly to tourists.

How to Avoid: Visit local favorite bars like Moeder Lambic or Delirium Café, which offer a vast selection of Belgian beers at reasonable prices. These places are frequented by locals and provide a more authentic Belgian beer experience​​.

6. Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert

Trap: This beautiful shopping arcade is often crowded, and the shops can be quite expensive.

How to Avoid: Enjoy a walk through the galleries but shop at more reasonably priced locations like Rue Neuve or explore the Sablon district for antiques and unique boutiques​​.

7. Hop-On Hop-Off Buses

Trap: These buses are convenient but can be pricey and often get stuck in traffic, making them less efficient.

How to Avoid: Use public transportation like trams and buses, which are efficient and much cheaper. Walking or renting a bike is also a great way to explore the city and discover hidden gems​.

General Tips to Avoid Tourist Traps

Use travel blogs, forums, and review sites to find recommendations from other travelers and locals.

Ask locals for their favorite spots to eat, drink, and visit. They can provide insights into places that are off the tourist radar.

Venture into neighborhoods like Marolles, Ixelles, and Saint-Gilles for a more authentic Brussels experience. These areas have vibrant markets, local cafes, and fewer tourists.

Visit popular attractions early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the biggest crowds.

How To Avoid Tourist Traps in Brussels

1. Research and Plan Ahead

Why: Knowing the popular tourist traps and planning your itinerary can save you time and money.

How: Read travel blogs, forums like TripAdvisor and Reddit, and guidebooks for up-to-date information on what to avoid and where to go instead.

2. Stay Off the Beaten Path

Why: Tourist-heavy areas often have inflated prices and can be overcrowded.

How: Explore neighborhoods like Marolles, Ixelles, and Saint-Gilles, which offer a more authentic local experience with vibrant markets, local cafes, and fewer tourists​​.

3. Use Public Transportation

7 Tourist Traps to Avoid in Brussels (Travel Guide) And How To Avoid Them

Why: Tourist buses can be overpriced and inefficient due to traffic.

How: Utilize Brussels’ efficient public transportation system, including trams, buses, and the metro. Purchase a day pass or multi-day pass for unlimited travel. Walking or renting a bike is also a great way to explore the city and discover hidden gems​​.

4. Eat Where Locals Eat

7 Tourist Traps to Avoid in Brussels (Travel Guide) And How To Avoid Them

Why: Restaurants in tourist areas, especially around Grand Place, can be overpriced and offer lower quality food.

How: Seek out dining spots frequented by locals. Try districts like Sainte-Catherine for seafood at Noordzee Mer du Nord or Café Belga in Ixelles for a classic Belgian cafe experience. Use apps like Yelp and Google Maps to find well-reviewed local restaurants​​.

5. Shop Smart for Souvenirs

Brussels 1

Why: Souvenir shops in tourist areas often sell overpriced and low-quality items.

How: Buy souvenirs from local markets or smaller shops in less touristy areas. Visit the Great Market Hall for authentic goods or explore the Sablon district for antiques and unique boutiques​​.

6. Visit Alternative Attractions

Why: Popular attractions like the Atomium and Manneken Pis can be crowded and sometimes underwhelming.

How: Enjoy the Atomium from the outside without paying the entry fee and visit alternative viewpoints like the rooftop of the Parking 58 building for panoramic views. Explore less crowded but interesting sights like the Horta Museum or the Belgian Comic Strip Center​​.

7. Avoid Currency Exchange Scams

Why: Exchange offices in tourist areas often offer poor rates and high fees.

How: Exchange money at banks or use ATMs to withdraw local currency. Always check the rates and fees before making a transaction​​.

8. Choose Reputable Tour Operators

Why: Some tour operators may overcharge or provide subpar experiences.

How: Use reputable tour companies and read reviews beforehand. Websites like GetYourGuide and Viator offer vetted tours with customer reviews​​.

9. Visit Popular Spots Early or Late

Why: Popular attractions can be very crowded during peak hours.

How: Visit early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the biggest crowds. This is especially useful for places like the Grand Place and the Manneken Pis​.

10. Engage with Locals

Why: Locals can provide the best tips for authentic experiences and hidden gems.

How: Ask locals for their favorite spots to eat, shop, and visit. They can provide insights into places that are off the tourist radar​​.

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