For 24, 48 or 72 hours, the Brussels card offers you free entry to over 30 museums, free use of public transport and exclusive offers in designer boutiques, shops, exhibitions, restaurants and attractions.
Together took two 24hr passes on the road to what they offered a couple of culture vultures. We also had vouchers for Ristorante Bocconi restaurant at the Hotel Amigo – so the evening meal was taken care of.
Once activated, the card is valid for the number of hours stipulated on it. There is, of course, a bit of planning involved, and we didn’t want to miss out on a good night’s sleep, so we concentrated our efforts around the Grand Place, Mont des Arts and Laeken.
With a reasonably early start, we kicked off with the Old Masters Museum of, walls packed with masterpieces by the likes of Hans Memling, Hieronymus Bosch, Peter Paul Rubens and Anthony van Dyck. The visit took a good hour and a half so a break was essential on the nearby Sablon terraces. Suitably refreshed, we took on Museum number 2 in the shape of the Magritte Museum, an outstanding collection of works by Belgian Surrealist artist René Magritte (1898-1967). The collection of over 200 works is the largest in the world..
We had another museum planned but ran out of time because lunch beckoned. Having spotted in the card’s brochure that Chez Leon offered one of their own beers with the meal, we headed into the labyrinthine rue des Bouchers and enjoyed their famous moules and frites, washed down with the 6.5° Léon beer, brewed in collaboration with the St-Feuillien brewery;
We were now prepared for the latest addition to the Royal Museums, the Fin-de-Siècle Musuem. This new kid on the Mont des Arts block is dedicated to the 1900s, when Brusselswas a unique artistic crossroads and the capital of Art Nouveau. It hosts paintings, drawings, watercolours, prints, sculptures, photographs, films, models and decorative objets d’art.
Next, we headed downhill to la Roi d’Espagne in the Grand Place where the second Leffe is offered free if you have the card. Then we took to the Metro (transport is also included in the card) and headed north towards the Atomium. A quick look at the watch told us the Atomium visit would not be for today. We chose instead the great outdoors and took in the whole of Europe in just over an hour.
Mini Europe is a miniature park with reproductions of monuments in the European Union on show, at a scale of 1:25. Roughly 80 cities and 350 buildings are represented. There is nothing quite like blowing up Mount Vesuvius with a mere tap of your foot.
Dinner was calling, and we headed back to the city centre and installed ourselves for a cocktail in the Hotel Amigo’s laid-back bar. Ushered to our table, we finally relaxed and enjoyed the best Italian meal to be found anywhere in the city. There are three vouchers, for bar, hotel and restaurant, with the Amigo Bar from €40, Ristorante Bocconi from €90 and hotel from €256.28. Treat yourself or offer them as a gift.
The meal was excellent but, card-wise, we had bitten off more than we could chew so returned it to the wallet and wandered the Grand Place, Saint Géry and Saint Catherine, taking in the air… which is after all still free.
24 H Brussels Card – €24
48 H Brussels Card – €36
72 H Brussels Card – €43
Photo: Peter Paul Rubens and workshop: “The Crowning of Mary”. Brussels, Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, inv. 162 — © RMFAB, Grafisch Buro Lefevre, Heule