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The Atomium of Brussels is an iconic monument, drawing awe-struck visitors from near and far. The unique structure, consisting of nine connected spheres, stands as a remarkable feat of engineering and design.
Discover all of this architectural marvel’s features with this comprehensive guide with practical tips on how to visit with kids!
In a Nutshell
What is the Atomium?
The Atomium is an iconic structure located in the north of Brussels, designed by engineer André Waterkeyn for the 1958 World’s Fair.
The Atomium was supposed to last only six months, but its popularity made the authorities postpone its demolition year after year.
This incredible monument consists of nine stainless steel spheres connected by tubes to form a model of an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times. Standing at 102 meters tall, it is a truly impressive sight to behold.
Read also: Iconic Places Around the World
History and Architecture of the Atomium
The Atomium was designed to represent the atomic age and is a symbol of scientific advancement and progress. The nine spheres are connected by twenty tubes which form structures that resemble both a crystal lattice as well as an atom.
Book tickets to Atomium
It was built out of 9,312 stainless steel panels and is supported by three concrete cores arranged in a tripod shape. Although it initially served as the entrance for the 1958 World’s Fair, after its restoration in 2006 it was opened up to the public for its architectural beauty and educational exhibits inside.
You can appreciate Atomium from outside and enjoy the geometry of the iconic building, if you do not want to enter – and that’s perfectly fine too. You will find details below on what you see when you enter, so you can make your own decision on whether it’s worth entering.
Read also: Brussels with Kids
Experiencing the Atomium
You can experience the iconic Atomium of Brussels up close and in person. Once inside you can explore the many exhibits and photo galleries which showcase what life was like during the World’s Fair and the time period afterwards.
Good to know
Atomium is included in the Brussels Card, so you can visit it for free. You can buy it here
Inside, visitors will also find an interactive educational space focused on science, technology, art, history, and culture. At the top is a grand observation deck where visitors may get a bird’s eye view of Brussels.
Looking for more tips on what to do in Brussels?
Read more: UNESCO World Heritage Sites Not to Miss
You get to the top with an elevator. This elevator was the fastest one in Europe in 1958.
The panoramic view from the top is great. At 102 metres height, the view from the first sphere is stunning! There are also panels under each window to help you identify what you see.
Here you can see the European quarter with the tall buildings at the horizon line
Then you move around spheres with stairs – great opportunity to notice the architecture and pretend you are playing in a sci-fi movie.
Atomium is now a museum. There is the permanent exhibition that reflects its history and Expo 58 with some historical photos and videos.
There is also a restaurant at the top with panoramic view, where you can have café gourmand (ie coffee and three different small sweets), breakfast, lunch or dinner.
This is a very popular restaurant! Make sure to reserve in advance, if you want to visit it.
Tips for Enjoying the Atomium
When visiting the Atomium, you can make your experience even more memorable by being mindful of a few key tips.
- First, it’s important to plan ahead and book tickets in advance (especially when visiting with kids to avoid the long queues).
- Next, make sure to bring a good camera – there are some stunning photo opportunities from the observation deck!
- In addition, allow yourself plenty of time to explore all of the galleries and exhibits.
- Finally, don’t forget to grab souvenirs from the gift shop like postcards or mugs featuring that iconic image
Atomium with Kids: Tips for Families
The following tips will help you when visiting the Atomium with kids.
- First, strollers are not allowed. You will have to leave the stroller at the ticket office. Bring a carrier instead in case the little one gets tired.
- Next, there are several steps to climb up and down, 80 to climb up and 167 to climb down to be exact.
- Furthermore, some of the exhibits are interactive.
- Finally, this is relatively kids friendly, since there is plenty of space for kids to walk around and a lot to explore.
- There are 80 steps to climb up and 167 steps to get down
- The tickets have no specific entrance time! They are valid for the date you buy them.
- Atomium is included in the Brussels Card, so you can visit it for free. You can buy it here
- You can buy tickets online here
- There are also combined tickets for Atomium and Mini Europe (this is only available on site)
- It is possible to buy tickets at the entrance, but we do not recommend that. The queue for those without an online ticket can be longer. Book tickets to Atomium
- This is a very popular site, so the queue can be quite long. Be sure to buy a ticket in advance
- There is also a café right at the entrance of the Atomium
- Strollers are not allowed
- Dogs are not allowed
How to reach Atomium
Reaching Atomium by car from Grand Place, Brussels, is easy and it should take about 20 minutes.
By Public Transport
Reaching Atomium by public transport from the center of Brussels would take around 35-40 minutes.
Go to De Brouckère and take metro 5 towards Erasme for 4 stops. Get off at Beekkant and change to metro 6 towards Roi Baudouin until Heizel.
Brussels with Kids
Brussels is very kid-friendly – if you know the right places! Here is our guide with the best things to do, where to stay and practical tips from a local.
Read more: Brussels with Kids
Cafes/Restaurants near Atomium
There is a high-end restaurant in Atomium. There are also options a bit further away.
Read also: Best Kid-Friendly Cafes in Brussels
Châlet du Laerbeek
Châlet du Laerbeek is a brasserie with a small playground for little kids right next to it. There is also a much bigger and more adventurous playground nearby.
Read more: Châlet du Laerbeek
Gare Maritime is a great food market with lots of different restaurants. On the weekends there is also a jumping castle.
Read more: Gare Maritime
There is a park next to the Atomium, Parc d’Osseghem Laeken
There is also Guinguette Andre, a nice summer bar in the park nearby
Also Mini-Europe is right next to the Atomium – and you can see it from the panorame sphere! Mini-Europe is a great option when visiting Atomium with kids, as it is highly interactive and fun.
Royal Greenhouses Laeken
The Royal Greenhouses, located in Laeken, Brussels, are a magnificent complex of greenhouses. They are open to the public only three weeks a year.
Read more: Royal Greenhouses
Meise is one of the largest botanical gardens in the world with a barefoot path, a greenhouse complex, treasure hunts for kids and a café.
Read more: Meise
Train World in Brussels is a museum for all train lovers. You will learn all about railway development at an old train station.
Read more: Train World
Travel Planning Resources
Jo Koni (Georgia Konidari) is a writer and the creator of World Wild Schooling, a digital platform dedicated to travel. She is on a mission to explore the globe and share her experiences with fellow travelers. You can follow Jo on Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, Pinterest and YouTube.