A New Family-Friendly Discovery in Europe: Brussels, Belgium

Planning a family trip to Europe can be a full time job. With so many places to go and so many things to see, narrowing down the best choices can be overwhelming even for experienced traveling families. Some of the winning destinations are popular and obvious like Paris, London and Rome. But lesser known family friendly destinations like Brussels, Belgium can get missed, hidden in Europe’s many nooks and crannies.

Grand Place Brussels

Grand Place, Brussels

Brussels with Kids

Quick, what’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Brussels? Is it beer? Belgium’s beer tradition is strong here, but so is its love for – here comes the surprise – its comic characters. The Smurfs are the creation of a Belgian comics artist. But the favorite comic is hometown hero Tintin and his dog Snowy.

Brussels has all the grandeur that travelers often associate with classic Europe, but it also has a fun, whimsical side that’s easy to see and love. From the giant Tintin mural in the Rue de L’Etuve and the Tintin Boutique near the Grand Place, Brussels affection for its famous young reporter is obvious.

Brussels Tintin Mural

Brussels Tintin Mural

Hergé Museum

True Tintin fans won’t want to miss the Hergé Museum. Located about 30 minutes from the center of Brussels, the museum pays tribute to the Tintin’s creator Hergé. More than 80 original plates, 800 photographs, documents and objects are housed and exhibited under one roof.

Hotel Amigo

If the thought of a museum isn’t what you had in mind, visiting families can explore Brussels while following in the footsteps of Tintin with the help of Hotel Amigo. There are 173 rooms, including 19 suites, meaning having a kitchen is an option. But here’s the fun part, every room in the hotel has a piece of Tintin memorabilia. In addition there are also three rooms totally dedicated to Tintin; 2 deluxe rooms and 1 suite.

Tintin in my room at Hotel Amigo

Tintin in My Room at Hotel Amigo

Hotel Amigo knows how to make families feel welcome. Special Tintin amenities for young fans include coloring books, a plush version of Snowy and a Tintin map of Brussels. Adults aren’t necessarily forgotten either. The hotel bar serves Loch Lomond Whiskey, a favorite of Tintin’s best friend Captain Haddock.

Misunderstanding Makes a Name

While embracing Tintin’s history, Hotel Amigo has an interesting history of its own dating back to 1522 when it was purchased by the city council and turned into a prison. Spanish rulers mistook the Flemish term for prison to mean friend and thus translated it into “Amigo” which stuck. But what will stick with families are the quiet and comfortable rooms. The décor is modern without detracting from the hotel’s character and charm.

Many of the rooms have views of the Grand Place or the rooftops of Brussels. The hotel has an on-site restaurant, Ristorante Bocconi that serves a gourmet buffet style breakfast, with a nice selection of healthy options and Belgium sweets. The displays are beautiful making it hard not to indulge.

Contemporary, Comfortable Rooms at Hotel Amigo

Contemporary, Comfortable Rooms at Hotel Amigo

The building became a hotel in 1957, and you couldn’t ask for a better location. In minutes you can be wandering through the myriad of chocolate stores near City Hall or standing in front of the famous Manneken-Pis. The iconic statue of a young boy peeing makes for local lore. As one story goes, he saved the city from burning by urinating and extinguishing the flames.

Armed with Tintin map from Hotel Amigo, families can continue to explore and visit the Brussels’ park they read about in King Ottokar’s Sceptre, or the concert hall that inspired the Hippodrome in The Seven Crystal Balls.

Manneken-Pis, Brussels

Manneken-Pis, Brussels

The ease in getting to and from Brussels once in Europe only adds to the enjoyment of a family visit. No stressful airports or security sessions are necessary, thanks to Europe’s extensive train system. Start in London and cruise through the Chunnel on Eurostar, or hop a train from Paris, Amsterdam or just about anywhere on the Continent.

Families not as familiar with Europe often don’t realize how efficient the train system is and thus don’t take advantage of it to help plan a great vacation. I love that you can cover amazing stretches of ground in short times. London to Brussels takes 2 hours and 1 minute. Paris to Brussels can be done in less than an hour and a half. RailEurope arranges schedules and books for over 50 different train companies in Europe.

Need Help Planning a Trip to Brussels?

Our new Family Vacation Consultants can help you plan a fabulous family vacation in Brussels! From simple requests like booking your room at Hotel Amigo, we can help. To get started, request help on My Trip Planner or send an email to email info{at}ciaobambino.com.

Dana participated in a media trip to Europe with RailEurope, but as always her thoughts and opinions are her own. Photographs by Dana Rebmann

Relevant Links:

Complete kid-friendly review of Hotel Amigo 

Tips for a family trip to Europe on Ciao Bambino

A Luxury Home Away From Home in London: Brown’s Hotel

2 Comments

  1. My husband and I are considering taking our daughter and a few friends to Belgium as a graduation gift in early July. Looking for suggestions for reasonably priced accommodations close to activities (including places that make Belgian beer) that teenagers would enjoy.

    • Hello! We offer a free accommodations booking service on Ciao Bambino. Do you want me to have a Family Travel Consultant reach out to you to help find something that suits? -Amie

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