Brussels is home to many unique attractions and sites, and the Atomium is one you should definitely consider when visiting the capital of Belgium. This iconic building resembles an iron molecule that has been magnified 165 billion times. Not only is the building pretty cool to see, you can also go inside it to learn a bit about it and see some pretty views over Brussels. Below are the need-to-know details for a visit!
Brief Facts About the Atomium
The Atomium was built in 1958 for the World Exhibition that was held in Brussels that year. The World Exhibitions, or World’s Fair, are large exhibitions held every five years showcasing various architectural, scientific, and cultural displays and achievements from countries around the world. André Waterkeyn, André Polak, and Jean Polak designed the Atomium concept for Belgium.
The structure is 102 meters (335 feet) tall and consists of nine spheres connected by diagonal tunnels. The spheres have held various exhibits over the years. Today, it remains an iconic symbol of Brussels.
Getting to the Atomium
The Atomium sits in the northern region of Brussels a ways outside the city center. The nearest transport hub is Heysel (Heizel) where various buses, trams, and the metro stop. Take metro line 6 or tram line 7 to the Heysel stop then make the short walk over to the Atomium. For other transport routes and timetables, check the website.
If driving your own car, there are some large public paid parking lots just near the Atomium.
Visitors can buy tickets to the Atomium upon arrival at the ticket office in the Pavilion or on your phone; however, we’d recommend booking online in advance. This way, you are guaranteed entry and don’t have to wait in an additional line. Do note that there is an extra transaction fee when buying online.
Select the preferred date when buying the ticket. The ticket is then valid from 10 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. that day.
A basic Atomium ticket costs €16 per adult and includes entrance to the Design Museum nearby. The ticket combination that includes the Atomium, Design Museum, and Mini-Europe costs €31.30 per adult. Various individuals may qualify for a discounted rate. For more information on ticket options and booking tours, see the website.
The Atomium is not fully included on the Brussels Card, but there is the option to add it to your pass. This costs an extra €12 on top of the Brussels Card cost.
We had the Brussels Card, reserved a date online while selecting that we had the Brussels Card (no payment required), and presented the Brussels Card and reservation ticket at the entrance. Alternatively, you could just show up with your Brussels Card and go straight to the entrance.
The Atomium is open daily from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Last entry is permitted at 5:30 p.m.
Hours may differ for holidays, renovations, events, etc., so always check the official website before your visit.
Visiting the Atomium
We arrived at the Atomium midday and took some photos around the unique structure. There is a pathway between the lanes of Boulevard du Centenaire leading up to it that provide a great photo op. Being the middle of the day, it was quite busy around this popular attraction!
Just at the base of the Atomium, there is another small restaurant/café area and few sculptures and signs. Other attractions like Mini-Europe and the beautiful Parc de Laeken sit nearby as well.
Inside the Atomium
Upon reaching the base of the Atomium, we headed for the entry where our passes were scanned. The line to go up into the atom structure wound through this lobby area. This level also contains a shop if you’d like to pick up any souvenirs on your way out.
We waited for about 30 minutes before reaching the elevator. Visiting the entire Atomium route consists of a combination of elevators, escalators, and stairs.
The various spheres of the Atomium contain some exhibits covering the construction and history of the building and some unique light displays. We made our way through the museum, eventually reaching the higher spheres. From the windows, you’ll get pretty panoramic views over Brussels. There are some binoculars, informational signs, and even a restaurant in the highest sphere!
We didn’t eat at the restaurant as we had other plans, but we imagine this would be a wonderful spot to dine or have a drink! Learn more about the restaurant here. Note that, if you need a restroom, the ones in the top are free whereas the ones at the base at the Pavilion cost €0.50 and were much busier.
After enjoying the views, we headed back down to the base. We think 1-2 hours, including queuing, is sufficient to see the Atomium. Holidays and weekends are busier and may have longer lines. Add some extra time if you visit during peak days or want to sit down at the restaurant.