Small Ring Walking Tour, Brussels (Self Guided)

The Small Ring is a road in Brussels which surrounds the historic center of the city. It was built on top of the city's former fortifications, originally constructed in a pentagonal shape. Today, the Small Ring is home to several significant sites, such as the Egmont Palace, impressive memorials, as well as the last remains of the city's fortifications, the Halle Gate. Take this two-hour walking tour to visit the most important attractions on Brussels' Small Ring.
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Small Ring Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Small Ring Walking Tour
Guide Location: Belgium » Brussels (See other walking tours in Brussels)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 8
Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.4 km
Author: audrey
Halle Gate

1) Halle Gate

The Halle Gate is a fortified city gate dating back to the medieval times. It was part of the second walls of Brussels, which were constructed in the late 14th century. The gate’s name comes from the name of the city which the gate faces, Halle. Historically, the gate included a drawbridge over a moat. This is one of seven original gateways, but the last one that remains today. Through time, it was used as a prison, a customs house, for grains storage and even as a church. Belgian architect Henri Beyaert, a prominent architect during the 19th century, undertook a restoration of the building in 1868. His renovation included the addition of neo-Gothic features, turrets and a large roof. In the later part of the1800s, Halle Gate housed items from the Museum of Armor, Antiquity and Ethnology. Additional restorations took place in 1976 when the building was in a state of dangerous disrepair. In 2007 a more ambitious restoration was undertaken, which included opening up of the St. Gilles entrance with the drawbridge feature. The museum has displays on the building’s history, the city of Brussels and the role of the gate and the wall in the defense of the city. Each floor of the museum focuses on a specific historical aspect, from armor and armaments, to the history of trade guilds, to temporary exhibition spaces.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Cite Hellemans

2) Cite Hellemans

The Cite Hellemans is an architectural complex designed in an Art Nouveau style. Inaugurated in 1915, Hellemans blocks were used as social hostels for a large number of families. Built according to plans drawn up by the architect Emile Hellemans, Hellemans housing estates remain a fine example of the Art Nouveau style.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Infantry Memorial

3) Infantry Memorial

The Infantry Memorial is a monument to the memory of Belgian foot soldiers who took part in World Wars I and II. The monument represents a symbolic column and a number of soldiers at its foot. The Infantry Memorial is also a significant monument in the history of Belgium. Designed by Edouard Vereycken, the memorial stands in front of the Palais de justice de Bruxelles and across the Place Poelaert from the Anglo-Belgian War Memorial. The memorial rests on a raised platform that overlooks the city centre of Brussels. Translated in English the inscription reads: "To the infantrymen who died for their country".
Sight description based on wikipedia
Palace of Justice

4) Palace of Justice (must see)

The Palace of Justice, commissioned by King Leopold II, was built over a 20-year period and was completed in 1880. It was the work of architect Joseph Poelaert and features an Assyro-Babylonian style, which is essentially an eclectic mix of architectural patterns. It is dominated by columns and a 24,000-ton golden dome. The palace holds the honor of being the largest secular building constructed in the 19th century. It stands an incredible 105 meters (344 feet) tall and covers 24,000 square meters (260,000 square feet). For comparison purposes, this is larger than Rome’s St. Peter’s Basilica. The site of the building, which provides sweeping views of Brussels, is known as Gallows Hill. In the middle ages, it was the site of criminal executions. The construction of the Palace of Justice was controversial, as 3,000 homes in the city’s poorest area had to be removed. During World War II, fleeing Nazis exploded bombs in the basement and set fire to the structure. This resulted in extensive damage, including the collapse of the dome. Repair of the building took three years and the dome was replaced. The building still functions as the supreme court of law in Belgium with 245 small and 27 large courtrooms.

Why You Should Visit:
Entry is free for tourists and it is a pleasure to be able to take a walk through a piece of history still in use. The interior is like a movie from another era.

Good views over Brussels from the square in front!

Opening Hours:
Mon-Fri: 9am-5pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Anglo-Belgian War Memorial

5) Anglo-Belgian War Memorial

The Anglo-Belgian War Memorial is dedicated to the Belgian people who helped the British prisoners of war during World War I. It is located near the Belgian infantry memorial in the Brussels Place Poelaert. The memorial was funded by the British Imperial War Graves commission and designed by Charles Jagger (1885-1934), a British sculptor. Jagger actually served during World War I himself, and after completing the service he went on to sculpt many works revolving around the theme of war. The monument is carved from Brainvilliers stone. It was unveiled by the Prince of Wales and presented to the people of Belgium in 1923 as a sign of appreciation. The sculpture depicts a Belgian and British soldier. The sides show Belgian peasants, in a relief form, providing care to the wounded British soldiers. The casts of the peasant reliefs are located in the Imperial War Museum and the casts of the Belgian soldier is located in the Musee de L’Armee in Brussels. During World War II, Belgians would lay flowers at the memorial as symbol of contempt to the German occupiers. A reciprocal monument was presented to the British from the Belgian people to be placed on the embankment of the Thames in London.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Egmont Park

6) Egmont Park

Egmont Park is a protected garden located opposite the Egmont Palace. The park is known for having a number of statues such as the statue of Peter Pan and Prince de Ligne. Egmont Park is considered one of the greenest and the prettiest parks in the city of Brussels.
Avenue Brussels Night Club

7) Avenue Brussels Night Club

A hot nightlife establishment found in Brussels on Avenue de la Toison d'Or, Avenue Brussels Nightclub features an intense dance party that goes on all night long where guests regularly get down to an eclectic variety of sounds, from funk and R and B, dance music, raga, and Latin beats served up by the hottest local DJs and resident spin doctors the club presents throughout the week. Monday evenings are particularly popular when salsa night takes the crowd by storm which includes dance lessons for beginners by experienced veterans starting at 7:00 PM, which leads into the fabulous salsa and bachata party later on where DJs keep hips shaking into the wee hours.

Operation Hours: Thursday – Saturday from 10.30 pm

8) Leonidas (must see)

Leonidas Confiserie SA is a chocolate producer with an international presence, based in Belgium. The company's focus is pralines (chocolate shells with soft fillings, called Belgian Chocolate in English-speaking countries); it also sells marzipan, solid chocolates, and other confections. The company is named after its Greek founder, Leonidas Kestekides, a confectioner who moved from Anatolia to the United States in the late 1800s. The logo used on Leonidas chocolates shows an effigy of the Greek warrior Leonidas, King of Sparta. Leonidas has over 1400 retail outlets all over the world.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 9am-6:30pm
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in Brussels, Belgium

Create Your Own Walk in Brussels

Create Your Own Walk in Brussels

Creating your own self-guided walk in Brussels is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
The European Quarter Walking Tour

The European Quarter Walking Tour

Along with Luxembourg and Strasbourg, Brussels is one of the de facto capitals of the European Union. The city's European Quarter hosts some of the most important buildings of the European Union, such as the Berlaymont building, the Justus Lipsius building and the Paul-Henri Spaak Building. Take this two-hour tour and discover the European Quarter of Brussels.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.4 km
Mont Des Arts Walk

Mont Des Arts Walk

Mont des Arts, meaning "hill/mount of the arts", is a historic site in the center of Brussels. The Mont des Arts offers one of Brussels' finest views, the famous tower of the Brussels Town Hall in the Grand Place is clearly visible. On a sunny day, the Koekelberg Basilica and even the Atomium can be seen.
Major tourist attractions are located within walking distance of the...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.5 km
Manneken Pis Surroundings Walking Tour

Manneken Pis Surroundings Walking Tour

Seen as the emblem of Brussels, Manneken Pis is a statue in the center of the city. The famous statue is surrounded by the city's fanciest points of interest, such as the Brussels Regional Parliament building, the Church of Our Lady and the Stock Exchange building. Take this three hour tour to visit the popular Manneken Pis and its wonderful surroundings in the center of Brussels.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.3 km
Laken Park Walking Tour

Laken Park Walking Tour

Laken, also known as Laeken, is a park in a residential suburb of Brussels. Laken Park was formerly the official home to the Belgian Royal Family and is home to the Royal Castle, the Royal Greenhouses, the statue of Leopold I of Belgium, and more. Take this three-hour walk to visit the most famous attractions of Laken Park in Brussels.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.8 km
A Walking Tour in Heysel Park

A Walking Tour in Heysel Park

Situated in north Brussels, Heysel Park was home to the 1935 Brussels International Exposition. Today, Heysel Park is a great place to take your family and kids, it is home to such entertainment venues as the Planetarium, Carousel and Oceade water park. Heysel Park also includes a number of significant tourist spots, such as the Atomium, the Palace of Exhibitions, Bruparck, and other Art Deco...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.6 km
Grand Place Walking Tour

Grand Place Walking Tour

Brussels is the capital of Belgium and also a top tourist destination in Europe. The city's main square is the Grand Place. The square is famous for its Baroque style buildings, such as the Town Hall, the King's House and other guildhalls, all of which make the Grand Place a busy tourist hotspot. Take this one-hour tour to visit the most popular tourist attractions situated in and around...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 0.3 km

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip

Belgian Beer Tour of Brussels

Belgian Beer Tour of Brussels

Belgium is world-renowned for its beers and Brussels is the best city to sample the huge variety of flavors. We'll show you the best places to buy them and to drink them. We'll even show you a family brewery where the liquid gold is produced right in front of your eyes! This tour is meant...
What to Buy in Brussels: 15 Ideas for Travelers

What to Buy in Brussels: 15 Ideas for Travelers

It's no secret that Brussels is not all about JCVD muscles and EU headquarters. Small country as such, Belgium abounds in signature items, such as beer, chocolates and... the peeing boy. All of these have made prime Belgian souvenirs for years. Now you can explore the Brussels gift scene in...

Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in Brussels for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best Brussels has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Saving Money with City Passes

To save yourself time and money getting around Brussels and visiting the city's multiple highlights, you may want to resort to the Brussels City Card.

Among other conveniences, this card allows its bearer to explore Brussels's top attractions, tours, restaurants, bars and clubs, and selected shops either completely free of charge (41 museums) or with great (up to 50%) discounts. The card provides 24-, 48-, or 72-hour passes to these locations, plus free ride on the hop-on hop-off bus and public transportation (optional) thus putting Brussels at your fingertips! Reduced rates for children and students also apply at participating venues.

Staying at Walk-Friendly Hotels

Staying at Walk-Friendly Hotels

Since you're keen on exploring cities on foot (we assume that you are, and this is why you're here), it is important that you stay at a hotel close to the city's major attractions. It saves you time and energy. Here are a few of Brussels hotels that are conveniently located, but at the same time, also not so ridiculously expensive: NH Brussels Carrefour de L’Europe, Rocco Forte Hotel Amigo, Hotel Novotel Brussels Off Grand Place.

Taking Care of Your Feet

To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as Brussels, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device

Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.

Exploring City on Guided Tours

We have a strong bias towards exploring a city on foot, at your own pace, because this is how you get to see things up close, with a maximum freedom. You decide how much time you wish to spend at each attraction and don't have to worry about following a crowd. That said, however, we also understand that some of you may want to go with a guided tour. If that is your case, here are some guided tours to consider. Be ready to fork out a bit of money, as a guided tour of Brussels typically costs from around US$20 up to US$50+ per person:

- Take a 3-hour guided walk around central Brussels to discover the city's historic locations, learn about its legendary men and women who made history, delve into the origins of Brussels, and acquaint yourself with the Belgian capital's contemporary culture and gastronomy;

- Embark on a must-see tour of real Brussels exploring the city's top attractions through the eyes of a local guide revealing a flip side of the well-known locations, plus discovering a few secret spots only the locals know about, away from the trodden tourist paths. En route, you may give yourself a treat to the authentic Belgian cuisine at a local eatery, not forgetting the world-famous Belgian chocolate, plus indulge yourself in some other local delights along the way.

- Appreciate Belgian gastronomy in its diversity – chocolate, waffles, beers, fries, and more – on the Food and Beer walking tour of Brussels offering a unique chance to savor a variety of local foods, drink local beers and unleash your sweet tooth onto the delicious local chocolate, whilst listening to a great deal of fun stories associated with each of these delights!

- Come and see what's made Belgium an international beer superpower on a 2.5-hour beer tasting tour of Brussels led by a local expert. Here, you will learn to tell a difference between the Belgian and foreign-made brews plus acquaint yourself with some of the 1,000+ craft beers made in this country.

- Pedal your way across Brussels on a 3.5-hour guided biking tour to discover the city's beauty manifested in its top landmarks, breath in the local atmosphere, plus enjoy along the way some of the best fries and beer (optional) the city has to offer.

- Explore the artistic side of Brussels on the tour following in the footsteps of renowned Belgian artists who left their mark in the field of Surrealist painting and Art Nouveau architecture. On this tour you will see some of the city's hidden gems, visit independent galleries and more, led step by step by a knowledgeable local guide.

Day Trips

If you have a half or full day to spare whilst in Brussels, why not use it to explore some of the out-of-town destinations, like Ghent and Bruges, Antwerp, Maasmechelen, or Waterloo. For as little as US$10+ to US$100+ you will get a chance to acquaint yourself with the UNESCO World Heritage city of Ghent's medieval architecture, learn about Bruges's Viking and Middle Age history, get to see Antwerp - the hometown of Peter Paul Rubens and one of the largest harbors in the world, shop till you drop at Maasmechelen Village with over 100 international boutiques offering big-name brand clothing at reduced (down to 40%) prices, plus visit the site of one of the most significant battles in the history of Europe that saw the ultimate defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte. All these trips start and end at your hotel and you'll be carried by a comfortable air-conditioned coach or minivan, accompanied by an English-speaking tour guide.