Why go to Brussels? This is surely the question David Cameron asked himself during his ill-fated ‘renegotiation’ with the continent’s leaders last year.

Lacking the glamour of Paris, Barcelona or Berlin, the Belgian city best known as headquarters to the European Union has become bogeyman of British politics.

This is, after all, the source of regulations that clamp down on our vacuum cleaners and ban bendy bananas. I half-expected to find a soulless place where bureaucrats were busy plotting ‘le jour du jugement’.

Instead, I hugely enjoyed it. Brussels is an ideal location for a city break, a breezy two hours from London on the Eurostar.

A quick scan of reviews before my trip throws up phrases such as ‘confident yet unshowy’ and ‘self-effacing’. There are also mentions of pleasing architecture that ‘faces off’ against more uncompromising 60s buildings.

But forget all that. Why does one go to Brussels? For the art, of course.

Belgium has one of the highest number of art collectors per capita in the world, and there is an astonishingly varied scene in its capital, with a focus on the contemporary. During a two- day trip my first visit was to Bozar, the centre for fine arts, which at the moment is hosting two bizarre but brilliant shows.

Time in Motion exhibits Belgian sculptor Pol Bury’s lifetime work, on until June 4, and Theatre of the Void showcases the creations and performances of French artist Yves Klein until August 20.

Bury’s sculptures, many featuring parts that move and twitch – some almost imperceptibly – have an eerie, life-like quality to them. They were brought together by Gilles Marquenie, who describes Bury’s work as “a poetry of shapes and colours and forms”. Marquenie displays them with a deep understanding of the artist (1922-2005).

Theatre of the Void examines a different kind of eccentric. Klein (1928-1962) was a leading member of the ‘new realism’ movement of the 1960s and some of his work is reminiscent of Andy Warhol’s pop art. Most intriguing is his art using fire and the imprints of naked women to make paintings.

We see a grinning, winking and sometimes serious Klein blasting canvasses with a flame thrower then later working with giggling women covered head-to-toe in electric blue paint. It captures perfectly why Klein must have been such a magnetic person to know.

While at Bozar, I also watched a piece of performance art: Horse. A man. A woman. A desire for adventure. By Miet Warlop, I cannot say what it is actually about but it was visually impressive. In short, using various illusory techniques, a woman becomes a horse and then another woman rides her – up a flight of stairs, while her steed is wearing high heels.

If you fancy going further down the rabbit hole, there is plenty to see at the Musées d’Ixelles as well.

It is currently hosting the work of French artists Pierre and Gilles.

Inspired by popular culture, images touched-up with paint add a surreal quality to pictures of celebrities, ordinary people and even mythological figures. Right down to the zany frames, this is a visual treat.

Other venues worth visiting include the Mima Museum – dedicated to exhibiting graffiti – and the Vanhaerents Art Collection, a large private space with a varied and fantastical collection.

During my trip, I also squeezed in a stop at the Royal Museums of Fine Arts, where a superb exhibition of Belgian national treasure Rik Wouters’ work has been brought together.

All of these venues were easy to reach from the Jam Hotel, in the Saint Gilles district, where I was staying. This delightfully chic place to stay is reasonably-priced, with double rooms starting from €55 per night for each person.

The city metro and tram systems are the best way to get around and it is also reasonably cheap. But make sure you bring an umbrella; I might have visited for the only three sunny days of the year, judging by the number of people who said how unusual it was.

Brussels is far from the grey place it might first appear.

There is a buzzing cultural scene and – lest I forget to mention the obvious – the food and drink is smashing. Santé!