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10 Best Museums in Brussels [A Local’s Guide]

Unlock the secrets of Belgium’s capital with our guide to the best museums in Brussels!

If you’re traveling to Brussels and looking for things to do or places to go, I have quite a list for you! 

Here are the best museums in Brussels to add to your itinerary to add variety to your trip. 

From art and science to vintage mobiles and even railways, the choices are diverse as you consider which exhibits to see! 

After living in Brussels for several years, I am ready to share with you the museums you shouldn’t miss.

Make it a trip to truly remember by visiting the places listed below as you travel Belgium

triple arch monument in brussels belgium, an atom shaped structure that is snowed on with views of a city

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Insider tips to visit museums in Brussels

1. Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium

a facade of a Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium with stone carvings and statues
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Fast track access: Buy museum tickets here

Housing several fantastic museums in Brussels all in one, this should be part of your list if you’re visiting.  

This means an extensive and diverse collection of artworks that span different periods, styles, and artistic movements, making it one of the best art museums in Brussels.

There are two in particular that I enjoyed visiting the most; for me, they’re definitely among my top museums in Brussels! 

Old Masters Museum

  • Features masterpieces from the 15th to 18th centuries.
  • Includes iconic ones that represent the Flemish Primitives and Baroque art.
  • Has works by Bruegel (“The Fall of the Rebel Angels”), Rubens (“The Death of Seneca”), and Van Eyck (“The Portrait of Margareta van Eyck”).

Modern Art Museum

  • Mainly exhibits 19th and 20th-century artworks.
  • Features works by modern Belgian and international artists.
  • Highlights surrealism, cubism, and abstract expressionism.
  • Has works by Magritte (“The Empire of Lights”), Ensor (“The Intrigue”), and Khnopff (“The Caresses”).

If you want your visit to places like the Oldmasters Museum Brussels to be as hassle-free as possible, make sure to book in advance! 

Skip the lines by booking a ticket straight from the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium website.

You also have the option of getting a Brussels Card, which gives you access to 49 different museums, including some of the ones on this list—all skip-the-line admission!

2. Magritte Museum: Surreal Delights

inside a museum with paintings hanging on a black wall and an empty bench
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Fast track access: Buy museum tickets here

If we’re talking about one of the most famous museums in Brussels, then no doubt the Magritte Museum has to be it! 

Aside from featuring Belgian surrealist artist René Magritte’s exceptional works, including “The Treachery of Images” and “The Son of Man”, the museum also explores Magritte’s personal life.  

As an influential figure in modern art, his work continues to inspire contemporary artists so if you’re interested in the Surrealist movement, dropping by is a must! 

I went to the Magritte Museum as part of a self-guided audio tour, which was a lot of fun and allowed me to see more than just the best art museums in Brussels. 

The great thing is that admission is free on the first Wednesday of each month (except for temporary exhibits), so take advantage of this!

Do a self-guided audio tour.

3. Musical Instruments Museum (MIM)

a facade on an old building with trees infront
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Fast track access: Buy museum tickets here

If you like music as a listener or composer, you’ll love the Musical Instruments Museum! 

It was interesting to see their extensive collection of the world’s musical instruments, some of which I’ve never seen before. 

But what made MIM the best museum in Brussels for me regarding musical instruments are the interactive displays! 

Experiencing the sounds and histories of diverse instruments makes you appreciate them more, and there are even educational programs and workshops for visitors of all ages. 

Their unique exhibits showcasing the evolution of different instruments also provide so much insight into how musical styles and tastes change over the years. 

Even the building itself where the museum is housed is as attractive as what’s housed in it: the Art Nouveau Building! 

Designed by Paul Saintenoy, it’s an architectural masterpiece with intricate details and stained glass windows. 

If you are looking for cool museums in Brussels, this is one to visit.

Get a ticket here and access four exhibit floors with dozens of instruments from across the globe!

4. BELvue Museum: Belgian History Unveiled

a view of a building with bikes parked an a mini park or garden infront
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Fast track access: Buy museum tickets here

Another of the best museums in Brussels you shouldn’t miss when you visit is the BELvue Museum. 

What makes trips enriching for me is immersing myself in the culture, and places like this museum can help! 

The exhibits highlight key moments in Belgium’s history and address the many political, social, and cultural aspects that have shaped the nation. 

The different mediums—multimedia presentations, artifacts, and interactive displays—are engaging and make the learning part of the visit more fun! 

The museum is located in the historical building of the former Bellevue Hotel, which was constructed way back in the 18th century. 

For a more immersive historical and cultural experience as you visit Brussels in 1 Day, the BELvue Museum should be part of your list!

5. Atomium: More Than a Landmark

atomium brussels, a big silver tower of building shaped as an atom

Fast track access: buy tickets here

This is not just a landmark: the Atomium, in its own right, has become one of the more symbolic monuments in Brussels Belgium. 

Built primarily for the 1958 World Expo, it’s a museum and architectural marvel all in one—the photos do it no justice!

The interconnected spheres represent iron crystals that have been magnified 165 billion times and house exhibits related to science, technology, and innovation. 

Permanent exhibitions focused on the history of the Atomium and Expo 58 are found in three sections. 

  • The first two are on the lower spheres, specifically levels 1 and 2. 
  • The last one is on level 7, providing a panoramic view of the surrounding area. 

And speaking of views, here are the levels you have to visit!

  • Panorama on level 7 is one of three sections exhibiting the Atomium’s history. 
  • Viewpoint on level 6 is considered “perfect for photographers,” according to the Atomium website.
  • Panoramic Restaurant on level 8 so you can dine with a view!  

This is one of the museums to visit in Brussels and is a sight to behold in person. 

Make sure you book a ticket, which you can find on the official website, with other options here that include free access to another museum!

6. Cinquantenaire Museum: Art and History

triple arch monument in brussels belgium looking from grass area

Fast track access: Buy museum tickets here

Returning to Brussels, Belgium’s art museum, another one worth visiting is the Art & History Museum in Cinquantenaire Park. 

The main highlight is the impressive Cinquantenaire Arch, which also acts as the museum’s facade. It was initially built for the 1880 National Exhibition. 

It has a diverse collection of art and artifacts that spans different civilizations, cultures, and historical periods, including: 

  • Ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, and the Near East.
  • European paintings, sculptures, and other decorative arts. 
  • Also highlights the decorative arts, craftsmanship, and design, featuring furniture, textiles, and ceramics displays. 

Aside from guided tours and workshops (like the Plaster-cast workshop) to help turn your visit into an educational experience, the museum has a library divided into three parts. 

  • Central Library – associated with the museum departments or European Decorative Art and European Decorative Art.
  • Library of Antiquity – associated with the Department of Antiquity with its own subsections: Egypt, Old Near East (specifically Assyria and Iran), and Classical Antiquity (Greece, Etruria and Rome). 
  • Library China – has monographs in the Western and Chinese languages and many journals focusing on Chinese civilizations spanning pre-history until today. 

As far as museums of Brussels go, this one alone already houses so much history to keep you occupied for a full day!

7. Horta Museum: Celebrating Art Nouveau

an art nouveau building
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Fast track access: Buy museum tickets here

If you’re into architecture, this is the museum in Brussels for you: the Horta Museum! 

The museum celebrates the legacy of renowned Belgian architect Victor Horta, a key figure in the Art Nouveau movement. 

Housed right in Horta’s former residence, on its own, the building is a masterpiece of Art Nouveau architecture and is an iconic example of Horta’s style. 

  • The house still has original furnishings, stained glass, and decorative elements designed by Horta himself.
  • Includes exhibits that showcase drawings, plans, and models.
  • Displays the evolution of his architectural style and the impact it had on the Art Nouveau movement as well as on Belgian cultural heritage. 

You can get a day pass for Art Nouveau-related tours, including a visit to Horta’s home, also on top of my list of the best museums in Brussels. 

It’s definitely one of those places anyone will include in their best Day Trips from Brussels just because of how enjoyable the experience is. 

It’s like stepping into a different time and place as soon as you’re inside—it’s worth a visit, I promise!

8. Train World: A Journey Through Railway History

inside a museum with high ceilings and train figures on a glass display
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Fast track access: Buy museum tickets here

This is for everyone who’s ever had a train-loving phase during their childhood and deserves a spot on the best museums in Brussels—Train World!

Trains are fascinating modes of transportation that have been around for a long time.

It’s really interesting to see both an extensive and diverse collection of railway artifacts in one place. 

  • Spans the history of railways from the early days until modern times.
  • Features a variety of historic locomotives and carriages across the years. 
  • Displays railway memorabilia: signage, uniforms, and equipment. 

What made the visit more enjoyable, though is the added interactive element suitable for all ages: we’re talking about hands-on experiences, educational activities, and simulations. 

Train World is definitely one of the more unique museums in Brussels and is one you shouldn’t miss either!

9. Autoworld: Vintage Automobiles on Display

inside an auto museum with a big giraffe statue and car displays
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Fast track access: Buy museum tickets here

Of course, there’s a museum for car enthusiasts, too—and why wouldn’t there be, right? 

Not only does Autoworld showcase the evolution of automobiles throughout history, they also have an extensive collection of vintage cars on display! 

If you like cars, this museum will undoubtedly find its way on your list of best museums in Brussels just by that last bit of info alone. 

  • Coverage of automobile history starts as early as the 19th century and onwards.
  • Features iconic cars from different eras and manufacturers.
  • Has early models, classic cars, and contemporary vehicles on exhibit. 
  • Shines a light on the different automotive design and technology milestones over the years. 
  • Also holds temporary exhibits with varying themes and topics, such as classic car design, racing history, or the future of automobiles. 

There are also dedicated zones for certain types of cars or other activities to make navigating the museum easier. 

Winding down in the media room watching movies and short videos about the history of Autoworld was the perfect way to relax after enjoying traditional Belgian food in Brussels

It allowed some time to rest and learn more before exploring the rest of the museum!

10. Museum of Natural Sciences

backyard of a gated museum with a green field
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Fast track access: Buy museum tickets here

As someone who loves outdoor activities and being surrounded by nature, visiting the Museum of Natural Sciences was a treat! 

The museum’s exhibits and displays showcase the diversity of life on Earth and include a very comprehensive exploration of natural history and biodiversity. 

  • Dinosaur exhibits – focuses on dinosaurs and prehistoric life, specifically the Iguanodons.
  • Iguanodons of Bernissart – dedicated to the unique collection of Iguanodon fossils that were discovered in a Belgian coal mine in the 19th century. 
  • Interactive Gallery of Humankind – explores human evolution and how all living beings are interconnected. 

Their educational programs, workshops, and guided tours also pave the way to a deeper understanding of natural sciences and biodiversity. 

I left the Museum of Natural Sciences with a renewed sense of wonder and love for the Earth, the reason for my travels! 

Of course, I had to find an activity that brought me closer to nature, and this is how I discovered some of my favorite hiking trails near Brussels

This has a place in my list of the best museums in Brussels and is worth visiting, so make sure to visit while you’re in Belgium!

My thoughts on the best museums in Brussels:

brussels-food-belgium-real-foodie

From the Musical Instruments Museum to the Brussels Fine Art Museum, it’s undeniable: you’ve got a diverse lineup here! 

This means that no matter your interest, there’s one for you when you finally visit Belgium! 

There are so many ways to understand the places we visit, their history and culture, and sometimes it can be through food, architecture, or historical artifacts. 

The good thing is that there’s no shortage of the best museums in Brussels that have some, if not all, of these! 

How about you—which museums have you visited from this list, and what are others you would add? 

Please share it in the comments because it might just be one I missed!