Want to visit all the EU countries in one morning? Well, I think we know that would be impossible. How about all of the EU countries in 1/25th scale? Introducing Mini-Europe, a model village with a difference. It is Brussels’ main tourist attraction, and for a travel sick, Europhilic, geography geek like me, it is wonderful!
Mini-Europe is miniature homage to the 27 countries that make up the European Union. We loved it. It is educational as well as entertaining, and the adults seemed to be enjoying it as much as the children, sometimes more so. It’s a true family attraction.
It opened in 1989, and has been added to over the years as the EU has expanded. There is something to represent every country, no matter how small. The most recent addition is the miniature animatronic depictation of the travels of Odyseeus from ancient Greek legend.
Mini-Europe is in the Bruparck, with its selection of bars and cafes, and a cinema. There is parking available, and you can also get there by tram. We got there by hopping off our City Sightseeing tour bus at The Atomium. Mini-Europe is a short walk over a footbridge with steps.
With your admission ticket, you also get a tourbook in your language which gives you facts about each of the EU countries, and some of the history of the EU.
So what did we see at Mini-Europe?
The first thing we did was meet the Mini-Europe mascot and have our photo taken. Then we saw……
Brussels is proud of its strong connection to the EU and the first thing you see on the way in is the EU Commission building – a 1-25th scale replica of the actual building we would see the day after on our City Sightseeing bus tour.
As we went around, each country was represented in miniature – you could play the national anthem of each country by hitting the buttons, or make the animatronics do their thing. Above is Denmark which had a Viking longhouse village, and also a recreation of Copenhagen harbour complete with a very little little mermaid.
These buildings were from Sweden, and the Netherlands
These national costumes were great fun and suitable for adults and children alike – as long as you don’t have an unusually large head!
The layout was very good and it took you around in one long path. The countries were in a sensible order. The landscaping was really nice with some lovely plants and water features. The water is open though, even if not that deep, so be careful with little ones. General accessibility is good.
You had to cross the water (and past the miniature Channel Tunnel) to see the UK and Ireland.
There was nothing of Wales and Scotland here – there was the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, the Royal Circle at Bath, Shakespeare’s Stratford-upon-Haven home, and a humourous depiction of the UK’s Brexit protests from July 2016 – very topical! The owners of Mini-Europe have stated that the displays on the UK will remain until a final decision about leaving the EU has been made. I wonder what might pop up in its place?
Back over the waterway and we were in France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, and more! Well. Almost.
A stop for lunch in the cafe halfway round – it was 16 euros for a hot dog meal with chips and a drink, a salad, and a drink. It was nice. The toilets and gift shop are also in this area.
We took a very cheesy photo with The (miniature) Leaning Tower of Pisa. Couldn’t resist, sorry! We saw the minature Berlin Wall come crumbling down – and also a real piece of the actual wall, which took a bit of explaining to the 12 year old.
The miniature Mount Vesuvius and the earthquake platform were good. We had a play steering boats around the pond (for an extra 1 euro each).
You can see more on our video.
The last stop was the Spirit of Europe, an interactive exhibition about the development and the work of the EU. Some bits we couldn’t fathom out, but we found it quite educational overall.
The only thing left to do was to collect our photo from earlier – 7 euros for a mounted print.
Trip time – three hours including a little stop for lunch
Overall, Mini-Europe was a fantastic way to spend the afternoon on a lovely sunny day. We both thoroughly enjoyed it and found it both entertaining and educational. The whole place was really well done, very clean, and welcoming. The staff spoke good English too, which was helpful. My French really does need some more work!
For more information about Mini-Europe please visit www.minieurope.com/en
Disclosure – We were guests of Mini-Europe for this review