Brussels offers a kaleidoscope of experiences to explore and discover, from the gilded façades of Grand Place to the leafy, open spaces of the city’s parks. One thing that the Belgian capital is not known for, however, is good weather. With more rainy days a year than London and long, grey winters to contend with, the Bruxellois know the importance of fun activities for cold, wet days.
Indoor activities for culture lovers
With over 100 museums dotted about the city and centuries of history marking its cobbled streets, Brussels is a Disneyland for culture lovers. While the rain falls outside, the halls of Brussels’ museums and galleries remain cozy and dry, making them a great choice for something to do on a cold Belgian afternoon.
The Royal Museums of Fine Arts
Look back in time through Belgium’s largest collection of artworks, including an extensive collection of paintings by the Flemish Masters. Just a short walk from Central Station, the vibrant colors of some of the most important artworks since the 15th century are the perfect antidote to the overcast blues.
The museum complex, housed in the neoclassical elegance of the Palace of Charles of Lorraine, includes a separate gallery dedicated to Belgium’s foremost 20th-century surrealist, René Magritte. Outlandish and thought-provoking, Magritte might even be the gateway artist for your friends who don’t like galleries. A combination ticket to the entire museum will cost 15 euros: your ticket to hours of wonder in one of Europe’s most impressive art museums.
The Musical Instruments Museum
If music is more your style, The Musical Instruments Museum is the perfect attraction to breathe some spirit into a cold weather day. Overlooking the beautiful gardens of the Mont des Arts, the MIM offers you the opportunity to admire and listen to over 1200 instruments from around the world. From bagpipes and fiddles to ocarinas and sitars, there’s something new for even the most dedicated music lovers to discover.
The museum is vast, covering four floors, so it’s perfect for an all-day activity with friends or alone. Your 15-euro ticket is valid for multiple entries in one day, so you can always step outside when the sun shows its face and run back to shelter when the rain (inevitably) returns.
Les Galeries Royales de Saint-Hubert
The Galeries Royales de Saint-Hubert at the heart of the city center offer a microcosm of Belgian culture under one immaculate glass roof. This complex of covered streets is the perfect place for luxury boutique window shopping, sampling Belgian chocolate in one of the many chocolateries or even enjoying some indoor entertainment at the theatre or cinema.
Entrance is free, so you can experience the opulent architecture and luxury vibes without spending a cent. However, if there’s one thing that you really can’t pass up, it’s a waffle at Maison Dandoy, where you can enjoy Belgium’s most iconic desert according to an almost 200-year-old recipe. Surely there’s nothing better on a wet day than a Brussels waffle covered in strawberries, cream, and chocolate sauce?
Rainy day activities to unleash your inner child
A rainy day need not be so glum when there are plenty of fun indoor activities which promise to unleash your inner child. Whether you’ve got kids yourself or you’d just like to let loose for a day, Brussels offers plenty of rainy-day experiences that are bound to delight the young and the young-at-heart.
Belgium is world famous for its chocolate, so what better way to spend a rainy day in Brussels than learning about the history of chocolat Choco-Story, Brussels’ official Chocolate Museum is located just off Grand Place and invites you on an interactive journey from the Mayas and Aztecs who invented chocolate, to the modern kitchens of Belgium’s master confectioners. Fun for kids and adults alike, experience the joy of pralines being made right in front of your eyes, and sample the goods straight from the production table.
There’s plenty to do at Choco-Story, so you can easily fill a whole day as the rain pours outside. An entry ticket to the museum will set you back 13 euros, though if you’d like a more bespoke experience you can add one of several workshops or demonstrations lasting from 45 minutes to 3 hours.
The Belgian Comic Strip Center
Dive headfirst into a world of fun and color when you visit the Belgian Comic Strip Centre near Congrès metro. Rediscover the works of some of Belgium’s most celebrated artists – such as Hergé, Peyo, and Sleen – who’ve sparked the imaginations of generations of kids around the world. The museum has an extensive collection of original comic-stips and illustrations for you to enjoy, a cinema room dedicated to the masterpieces of Belgian animation, and even a comic-book library with over 7000 titles for you to get lost in.
Entrance tickets are 13 euros for adults and 10 euros for under 25s. The museum is extensive and varied, so it’s bound to spark an enthusiasm for the 9th art, whether you grew up reading comics or not.
Rainy day activities to enjoy with your housemates
Getting to know new people from all backgrounds and experiences is one of the best things about coliving, so don’t let the weather stop you from spending time with your housemates. There’s no shortage of fun things to do in Brussels to create a bond with your roommates, even on a cold, wet day, so head out into the city with your new friends to find some indoor fun.
Grab a Belgian beer
We’ve talked about chocolate and we’ve talked about waffles, so now it’s time to talk about Belgium’s third great culinary gift to the world: beer. Did you know that UNESCO actually recognizes Belgian beer culture as Intangible Cultural Heritage, so every time you sip a Duvel or La Chouffe you’re actually taking part in a protected Belgian custom? Whether you opt for a traditional Brown Café or something a little more sleek and modern, there’s nothing better to beat the rainy day blues than a beer with friends.
If you’d like to spice up you and your flatmates’ regular bar routine, why not indulge in a beer tasting to really explore the intricacies of Belgium’s finest brews? Brussels is home to a number of breweries, such as Brasserie Cantillon in Anderlecht (which also has its own museum) and Brasserie 28 in the city center, where you can taste the beers right where they’re made.
Ice Skating at Poséidon
If you can’t beat the cold weather then why not join it with a classic winter activity? Head to Poséidon in Woluwe-Saint-Lambert, the only ice rink in Brussels. Complete with a detachable roof, a bar, and a cafeteria, this is the perfect place to skate away the afternoon with your roommates. Poséidon is a particularly great choice of outing on a Friday night, as the rink transforms into a disco from 19:00 until 22:00. Skate to timeless dance music bops, while strobe lights and laser beams dance across the ice, creating a truly one-of-a-kind, carefree ambiance. The first Friday of each month is 80s and 90s night, so it’s a great opportunity to dress up too!
Entrance including skate rental is 11 euros, and that goes down to 7 euros if you bring your own ice skates. Be aware that you’ll need to show an ID for disco nights, so make sure you don’t leave that at home.
Visit an Escape Room
Walk around the city center and you’ll quickly notice that Brussels is in its Escape Room era. If you’re looking for an immersive rainy day activity for a group of friends, then you can’t go wrong with a 60-minute adventure game that requires you to work as a team and get your brain ticking.
Enygma near the Mont des Artes, Belgium’s largest escape room, takes adventures on a tour through some of the most famous settings in literature, from Sherlock Holmes’ London to Captain Nemo’s submarine. For a more heart-thumping experience, head to Get Out Bruxelles to escape from pirates, the FBI, or paranormal entities. New arrivals in the city might like The Manneken Pis room at Escape Room Bruxelles for a game themed around the city’s most famous attraction.
Don’t let the rain dampen your Brussels experience
While the Belgian capital might not have the best weather in the world, the denizens of the city still know how to have a good time on cold, wet days. Whether you’re looking to immerse yourself in culture at one of the city’s many museums, brighten a grey day with some child-like fun or spend time with your housemates, Brussels has plenty to keep you busy whatever the weather.
And this is just the tip of the iceberg; some inspiration for where to start. Your coliving experience in Brussels is a year-round adventure, so if this is the motivation that you need to head out on a rainy afternoon, grab it with both hands!