Best Places in Brussels for Solo Female Travelers

Brussels is an amazing city for solo female travelers who take basic precautions. Its compact, walkable size and efficient public transportation system make getting around easy.

The city boasts medieval squares, world-class museums, indulgent chocolate shops, cozy cafes, and a multicultural vibe.

While petty crime exists, Brussels is generally safe if you stick to populated central areas and exercise good judgment.

The best places in Brussels for solo female travelers are the historic downtown, Sablon, Marolles, and European Quarter. These central neighborhoods offer top attractions and sights in lively settings with plenty of foot traffic, restaurants, and accommodation options ideally suited for women traveling alone.

The Best Neighborhoods and Areas to Stay

Brussels is divided into distinct central neighborhoods, each with its own vibe and attractions. When choosing where to stay, the most important factors for solo women are safety, convenience, and proximity to sights.

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Here are the top recommended areas:

Grand Place/Downtown

This lively area surrounding Grand Place is arguably Brussels’ most popular neighborhood. It offers an abundance of sights, shopping, dining, nightlife, and lodging options catering to visitors.

As the tourism hub, it has high foot traffic and feels very safe walking around. The streets immediately surrounding the historic central square are pedestrian-only.

Safety: Excellent, due to high visitor numbers and activity. Stick to well-lit major streets like Rue Neuve at night.

Convenience: Very central and walkable. Great Metro access.

Top sights and activities:

  • Grand Place – The iconic main square ringed by medieval buildings and guildhalls. Don’t miss the Town Hall.
  • Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert – Glamorous indoor shopping arcades with cafes and theater.
  • Manneken Pis Statue – Brussels’ famous little peeing boy bronze fountain.
  • Taverne Delirium Cafe – Huge bar with 2000+ beers in the Guinness World Records.
  • Brussels City Museum – Get an overview of Brussels’ history in this museum located in an old department store.
  • Belgian Comic Strip Center – Must-see for fans of Tintin and Smurfs in an Art Nouveau building.
  • Maison du Roi – Visit the medieval “King’s House” on Grand Place for more history.
  • Place de la Bourse – Riverside square with spectacular buildings.

Sablon and Marolles

These charming central neighborhoods offer a more local vibe with boutique shops, antique markets, intimate restaurants, and art galleries. They are residential areas very convenient for sightseeing downtown.

Safety: Very good. Lots of pedestrian activity along major streets.

Convenience: Walkable or quick Metro ride to downtown Brussels.

Top sights and activities:

  • Place du Grand Sablon – Elegant arcaded square surrounded by cafes perfect for people watching.
  • Notre Dame du Sablon Church – Gothic church in Sablon frequented by tourists and locals alike.
  • Place du Petit Sablon Park – Small garden square with bronze statues representing Brussels’ medieval guilds.
  • Palace of Justice – Massive ornate courthouse near Sablon offering free panoramic views from the dome.
  • Marolles Flea Market – Haggle for antiques and bric-a-brac at the fun Place du Jeu de Balle market. Open daily except Mondays.
  • Le Perroquet – Famous art nouveau cafe with stained glass near the flea market.

European Quarter

The area around Brussels’ European institutions has lots of business hotels, offices, and a multinational vibe. While busier weekdays, it can feel deserted nights and weekends. Stick to well-populated streets.

Safety: Moderate. Much foot traffic during EU business hours but very quiet nights and weekends. Take taxis at night.

Convenience: Metro hub with direct connections around Brussels.

Top sights and activities:

  • European Parliament – Take a free tour of the parliament building the EU government occupies. Allow extra security time.
  • Cinquantenaire Park – Massive green space in front of the EU Quarter with museums and monuments inside.
  • Autoworld – See vintage European cars like Fiats and Alfa Romeos at this museum located in Cinquantenaire Park.
  • Berlaymont Building – The European Commission occupies this distinct triangular glass highrise.
  • Parlamentarium Museum – High-tech interactive EU museum great for learning about the European Union.

Other Central Areas

Brussels is very compact and central areas adjacent to the ones above are also convenient, safe, and walkable for solo female travelers, including:

  • Avenue Louise – Upscale shopping street with restaurants and museums
  • Saint Gery/Dansaert – Trendy bars, shops and dining
  • Royal Area/Mont des Arts – Museums near the Royal Palace

Wherever you stay, look for accommodation like hotels that cater to solo travelers by offering single rooms, female-only floors, and organized group activities like meetups and tours.

Top Sights and Activities for Solo Females

Now let’s dive into the many amazing things to see and do across Brussels that are ideal for women traveling independently.

Must-See Museums

Brussels shines with diverse world-class museums appealing to all interests. Many offer free entry on certain days. Here are top picks:

  • Royal Museums of Fine Arts – This museum complex covers everything from ancient art to Magritte. Don’t miss his mind-bending surrealist paintings.
  • Musées Royaux des Beaux Arts de Belgique – Belgium’s premier art museum located in a stunning building.
  • Belgian Comic Strip Center – Comics like Tintin and the Smurfs originated in Brussels. Immerse yourself in this fun interactive museum.
  • Musical Instruments Museum (MIM) – One of Europe’s best music museums with an astounding collection of instruments.
  • Magritte Museum – Comprehensive museum dedicated to the influential Belgian surrealist Rene Magritte.
  • Autoworld – Must for vintage car enthusiasts with 400+ European vehicles on display.

Best Foodie Experiences

Belgian cuisine means five key things: waffles, fries, chocolate, beer, and mussels. Indulge in these Brussels specialities between museum visits:

  • Eat waffles at virtually any cafe or from street stands around the Grand Place. Don’t miss Liege waffles coated in pearls of sugar.
  • Try Belgian fries at Maison Antoine, an institution that invented sauce-on-fries locally.
  • Dine on moules-frites (mussels and fries) at classic seafood restaurants like Belga Queen.
  • Sample chocolate from top maisons like Neuhaus, Godiva, Leonidas, and Mary – don’t resist!
  • Drink beer at Delirium Cafe’s marathon beer list or at bars specializing in Belgian Trappist beers and lambics.

Best Tours and Activities

Joining organized tours and activities makes sightseeing more fun and social while ensuring safety in numbers. Top picks include:

  • Brussels Chocolate Tours – Sample artisanal chocolate shops en route to the origins of Belgian chocolate.
  • Brussels Waffle Workshop – Hands-on waffle baking class where you’ll master the art of Belgian waffles.
  • Brussels Beer Tour – Learn about brewing and taste different Belgian beers.
  • Comic Strip Murals Tour – Spot over 50 cartoon murals and learn about Brussels’ comic history.
  • Brussels Photography Tour – Shoot Brussels’ photogenic landmarks in great company with a pro photographer.

Day Trips from Brussels

Brussels makes an ideal base for exploring quintessentially Belgian side trips on quick trains:

Ghent – This port city oozes medieval charm with its Gravensteen Castle, canals, belfry tower, and famous Adoration of the Mystic Lamb painting.

Bruges – Often called the “Venice of the North,” Bruges allures with cobbled lanes, swan-filled canals, and charming Flemish architecture.

Waterloo – Visit the site of Napoleon’s defeat in 1815 at the excellent Waterloo Battlefield museum and memorial.

Antwerp – Belgium’s bustling second city boasts striking medieval guildhalls near the river, a cutting-edge fashion scene, and rare diamond district.

Getting Around Brussels

Brussels has an extensive, efficient public transportation system that makes getting around easy. Here are the best options:

Metro – Brussels’ subway system is quick and extensive. Purchase tickets from machines in stations or a Go Pass for unlimited travel.

Trams – More than 30 tram lines crisscross Brussels. Use trams to reach areas beyond the metro.

Taxis – Affordable taxis should be used at night instead of walking or public transit. Ask hotels to call cabs.

Walking – The historic downtown core is very walkable. Just avoid poorly-lit areas at night alone.

S-Bahn Commuter Trains – Suburban trains like the S1 connect Brussels to outlying sights and neighborhoods quickly.

Uber – Uber operates in Brussels just like other cities. A practical option at night or when public transit is sparse.

Meeting People as a Solo Traveler

Part of the fun of solo travel is meeting locals and fellow travelers. Here are great ways to safely connect with others while seeing the city:

  • Join a free walking tour – Sandeman’s New Europe and other companies offer first-rate introductory tours to Brussels. You’ll learn about the history and with a small group of fellow travelers and entertaining local guide. It’s easy to strike up conversations.
  • Check Meetup and Couchsurfing – These sites list regular events and activities drawing solo travelers looking to socialize in Brussels. Great way to meet new friends.
  • Stay at a hostel – Hostels cater to solo travelers with communal spaces and group events like pub crawls. Leaving the party early is fine.
  • Try conversation exchange – Language exchange websites let you meet locals interested in learning English over coffee in Brussels. An easy low-pressure way to make friends with locals.
  • Sign up for a class – Cooking schools, wine tastings, beer brewing and chocolate workshops held in small groups provide a ready-made opportunity to chat with fellow participants.
  • Go on a bike tour – See the city on two wheels while getting to know others. Fat Tire Bike Tours offers daily group rides.

The international vibe of Brussels means striking up conversations in shops, museums, and restaurants comes naturally to both locals and frequent tourists. Don’t be shy about opening conversations – Belgians are very friendly!

In Summary

From world-class museums and medieval squares to indulgent chocolate shops and convivial cafes, Brussels offers an amazing experience for solo female travelers who take basic precautions.

Use common sense, do your research beforehand, and stick to populated central areas when exploring independently. Brussels’s diversity, compact size, and welcoming spirit guarantees an unforgettable trip.