Accelerator Driven Systems (ADS) are extensively investigated for the transmutation of high-level nuclear waste within many worldwide research programs. The first advanced design of an ADS system is currently developed in SCK•CEN, Mol, Belgium: the Multi-purpose hYbrid Research Reactor for High-tech Applications (MYRRHA). Many European research programs support the design of MYRRHA. In the framework of the Euratom project ‘Thermal Hydraulics of Innovative nuclear Systems (THINS)’ a liquid-metal free-surface experiment is performed at the Karlsruhe Liquid Metal Laboratory (KALLA) of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). The experiment investigates a full-scale model of the concentric free-surface spallation target of MYRRHA using Lead Bismuth Eutectic (LBE) as coolant. In parallel, numerical free surface models are developed and tested which are reviewed in the article. A volume-of-fluid method, a moving mesh model, a free surface model combining the Level-Set method with Large-Eddy Simulation model and a smoothed-particle hydrodynamics approach are investigated. Verification of the tested models is based on the experimental results obtained within the THINS project and on previous water experiments performed at the University Catholic de Louvain (UCL) within the Euratom project ‘EUROpean Research Programme for the TRANSmutation of High Level Nuclear Waste in Accelerator Driven System (EUROTRANS)’. The design of the target enables a high fluid velocity and a stable surface at the beam entry. The purpose of this paper is to present an overview of both experimental and numerical results obtained for free surface target characterization. Without entering in technical details, the status, the major achievements and lessons for the future with respect to model development are described as well as some applications, which were carried out within the work package ‘multi-phase flow’ of THINS.