The Heyzel area with Mini Europe and the EU museum, even atomium itself are a bit of a tourist trap.
Note: I have been informed this attraction will be closing in the Fall of 2013.
Unique Suggestions I enjoyed Mini Europe despite and it was cool to see Atomium but inside Atomium was very dissappointing. Save yourself some money and just take snap some shots from outside.
The Atomium is an awesome sight to look at, and I recommend at least the trip to see it. The structure is imposing, and is an amazing piece of architecture. However, the trip to the top sphere is not worth the aggravation of the extremely long lines. When you finally do reach the observation area, you are pretty much already in the line to make the return trip down in the elevator. This makes enjoying the nice views almost impossible and you leave feeling a little disappointed.
Unique Suggestions Take lots of really amazing photos! Get creative and takes different shots of the spheres.
Fun Alternatives Take photos, and walk to the nearby Mini Europe. I wished I would have followed this advice!
Please note that you need a photographers' permit for publishing Atomium pictures (same goes for pics of the Louvre pyramid and the Eiffel Tower's lightshow in Paris by the way).
Unique Suggestions Go inside the atomium, see the exhibition and go to the top ball to get a nice view of the Expo grounds and the city. Prepare yourself for long queues, both in summer and winter it can take more than an hour to get to the top sphere.
Fun Alternatives Take your own funny pictures and don't publish them on the web.
Whilst the outside of the structure is impressive, the inside was very disappointing. There wasn't anything to see. The Atomium is a bit far out, so if you're only in Brussels for a short time, I would skip this so called attraction.
I just lost a precious morning, one of the two I had in Brussels.
The elevator is one way (only up) - you have to come down by (many) stairs. I wish I could see the faces of people coming down when I was waiting on the line for the lift, but I guess they have made it this way to avoid such a contact, or else noone would go up.
Ah, there are also some 60's refrigerators as a decoration. Well, they are trendy again. :D
Unique Suggestions If you have to go to this trap, at least stay out and take some pictures of the impressive outside, or, if its sunny, just lie on the grass and have a rest.
Fun Alternatives If you must be in the area, take a walk to the Mini Europe - that's not that bad.
As gorgeous and splendid the Atomium looks from outside, it is equally shabby and dirty from inside. Actually, as a matter of fact, there isn't much to see from the Inside... When i was getting down from the Steps of Atomuim, a very old lady, who really struggled hard to go up the steps, or use the elevator, said to me "Was a waste of time and money, Atomium... buhhh, i rather see from my balcony"...
It is not well lit, and most of the sections are still closed due to renovation. The window panes are not clean enough to see anything outside. Plus there is a huge queue to see how bad it is from the inside, until they've been there
Unique Suggestions Atleast take Pics from outside, to show that you have been to the Atomium... if you dont have much time in Brussels, skip it, download Pics from the Net to show others.
The Atomium is not really centrally located, so it will take you a while to get there if you are in the center.
After the long ride, you will be able to see this quite nice-looking structure, which is a 150 million times enlargement of an iron molecule. But that is about it.
The inside is not very nice. The view is not spectacular and the windows are so dirty that you can hardly see outside and forget about taking decent pictures.
If you don't have much time to spend in Brussels it is a place to avoid.
In any case, I just saw the following notice on the website:
"Renovation began in March 2004 and will continue untill the end of 2005.
For reasons of safety it is necessary to close the Atomium while the work takes place. The reopening is planned for the beginning of january 2006. "
Well, at least you are not tricked inside ;)
Unique Suggestions You can read a bit about it.
You can also have fun taking pictures inside the elevator.
As in many tourist attraction the traps here are quite obvious. At the entrance of the park a photographer will be there to take your photograph with the local mascotte. If you decline this rather doubtful honour, you will be greeted with a comment that it is their job to photograph anybody who comes through the gates. When you leave the photos will be on display at the exit in full view.
Unique Suggestions The best way to keep from being caught up in this is just ignoring the photos, which will be taken anyway, on your way out.
You should definitely go to get a look at the Atomium built for the World's Exhibition, but beware of the souvenr shop nside where the prices are more expensive than you fill find in other shops in the city.
Mini-Europe. A nice place for children, adults will get bored very quickly. The park is filled with miniature re-creations of notable buildings from around Europe. It's pretty tacky. I was done and gone within 50 minutes.
See the major monuments of the European Union in miniature (Eiffel tower, Houses of Parliament, Brandenburg Gate, Sacré Coeur, etc...) Located at the foot of the Atomium, Mini-Europe is the only park where you can have a whistlestop tour around Europe in a few short hours. A truly unique journey! It's interactive and fun to see.....but definitely a tourist trap!
I myself didn't actually go up the Atomium or into Mini-Europe, but my hostel roomate did and said they were the biggest waste of money he'd ever seen in his life. There was nothing to see in the Atomium, and mini-Europe was a bust. They're expensive!!! Go to the free Botanical Gardens instead :)