We heard all sorts of things regarding both the Atomium and Mini Europe: it is not worth it, you will get bored, there is nothing there to see or do. It is all a matter of opinion of course and I must say we liked the experience overall.
I believe everyone knows Brussels postcard, the Atomium. It was built in 1958 for the Expo’58 and has the shape of a magnified (165 billion times!) unit cell of an iron crystal, standing 335 feet tall with nine 59 feet diameter spheres.
The view is cool but I must say that I didn’t find the place too engaging. It was cool to go there and visit the spheres and see the exhibits, but if felt like something was missing. My daughter actually liked it, especially when she was able to see Mini Europe from above!
As you walk from the Atomium to Mini Europe you will walk by The Village.
There you will find restaurants representing the countries that participated in the Expo’58, and since Brazil was part of it we decided to try our national dish, Feijoada. It was not bad, but it is so much better when you have it in Brazilian soil 🙂
Still at The Village, there is a playground, bouncy castle and face painting (all free) and a merry-go-round (for a small fee, $1 Euro if I recall correctly). My daughter had such a great time at the playground, she even made a Belgian friend, showing her that learning French came in handy!
And then we finally arrived at the place my 8 year old wanted to go to the most: Mini Europe, which is part of the Bruparck complex (along with Atomium, Oceade, Kinepolis and The Village), is a miniature park showing about 80 european cities and about 350 of its most remarkable buildings and it is a lot of fun for kids.
It was really cool to be close to so many of the landmarks we had visited and were about to visit and it kept my daughter engaged all the time. It was also a place that surprised me, because I thought we would spend less than 30 minutes there, but we spent close to two hours.
The place was a very pleasant surprise for us grown ups and a welcome experience for my daughter, who was missing playing with kids her age. Regardless of language skills, I highly recommend a visit to Bruparck and its attractions. It makes for a great family day out!
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* If like us you will have only one day in Brussels, I highly recommend the 1 Day Pass ($6.50 Euro), which allows for unlimited travel in the public transportation network. More info at STIB website.