If you are questioning if it is worth it going to Brussels for a day, or what is possible to explore in Brussels on a day trip, my answers are: YES and YES – There is a lot you can do in 24 hours in Brussels, and it is a must-visit destination in Belgium and you are about to find out why!
Trust me, I have been to Brussels countless times and always find something new and exciting to see within this amazing city. And because of all my personal experience, I can tell you that the good news is that Brussels is a compact city. Therefore, it can be easily explored on foot. So, only having 1 day in Brussels, is enough time to visit the main sites and try some of Belgium’s delicious food…and Belgium beer, of course!
Brussels is not only the capital of Belgium and a very business-oriented city. Brussels is also known for its impressive architecture including the medieval Grand Place, and the charming streets, it is home to almost 90 museums and beautiful parks.
In this article, you will find the top 16 things to do in Brussels for a day. As well as the most essential things to know before visiting Brussels including a very helpful FAQ at the end. This is your one-stop guide without having to bounce around wasting hours to find all you need to know. So, without any further ado, let’s explore the best way to explore Brussels in one day!
- Brussels for a Day | Overview
- Arrival in Brussels for One Day
- How to Get Around Brussels in One Day
- 16 Best Places to Visit for One Day in Brussels Itinerary
- Best Accommodations for One Day in Brussels
- Essential Tips for Visit Brussels for 1 Day
- Best Time to Visit Brussels
- Popular Food Tours in Brussels
- Money in Brussels
- What to Wear in Brussels for a Day Trip
- One Day in Brussels FAQs
- One Day in Brussels Conclusion
Brussels for a Day | Overview
If you only have one day in Brussels, I highly recommend coming to Brussels with a well-defined itinerary, in order to maximize your time. The city is very walkable and Brussels has a great public transportation system, so take advantage of it.
Also, if you are planning to stay overnight, make sure you choose accommodation in a good area, where you can walk to the main attractions. Making your reservations in advance is also part of a well-planned visit to Brussels. Even if you have no plans on how to explore Brussels for a day, and you just prefer to wander around the city, you will certainly come across some of the main highlights.
One last very helpful tip is to try to book your tickets to attractions in advance. The advantage of a guided tour is that you will spend a short time in lines, and learn more about Brussels from a local guide.
💡 CITY CARD: Take advantage of the Brussels Card that offers discounts and skip the line for the main attractions
💵 BRUSSELS ON A BUDGET: For a budget-friendly one day in Brussels you can reserve the hop-hop-off-bus guided sightseeing
📍 BEST HALF-DAY TOUR: This is the best-rated and the most comprehensive city tour in Belgium that will take you to the legendary landmarks and impressive monuments for only $33 per person!
🏆 OVERALL BEST TOUR: Brussels Belgium Chocolate Making Workshop (⭐️ 4.5/5)
📸 BEST PRIVATE TOUR: Private tour with a local guide(⭐️ 4.5/5)
Arrival in Brussels for One Day
✈️ BY PLANE:
If you are flying to Brussels, you will arrive at the Brussels International Airport or Brussels South Charleroi Airport. Brussels airport is only 30 minutes drive or a 15-minute metro into the city center. From South Charleroi Airport, you can take a shuttle bus which will take you to the city center train station and takes a little over an hour. I recommend using a private transfer from the airport – check for the best options:
- Transfer by Van: Pick you up from the airport by van with AC and wi-fi service, with low prices and great luxury
- Transfer by Car: This is my favorite option, as the price is very affordable and the service is great. They will drop you off at any place in Brussels City.
🚊 BY TRAIN:
If you are traveling by train to Brussels, you will arrive at the Bruxelles-Midi station and the city center is only 25 minutes’ walking from the city center.
VISIT BRUSSELS FOR A DAY TRIP FROM A LARGE CITY:
- From Paris to Brussels day trip: By high-speed train Thalys – Travel Time 1:30
- From Amsterdam to Brussels day trip: by high-speed train Eurail – Travel time 2:45
- From Luxembourg to Brussels day trip: SNCB train – Travel Time: 2:53
- From London to Brussels day trip: Take a high-speed train by Eurostar – Travel time: 1:53
🚗 BY CAR:
Road trips are a great option, and actually, my favorite way to explore Europe. You get the chance to see and do a lot in a short period of time. When choosing a car rental online, my number one pick is always Discover Cars. I personally use them and love them since they meticulously search through local and international companies to get you the best deal every time.
How to Get Around Brussels in One Day
🚶 BY FOOT: Brussels is a compact city, and all the main attractions are located within walking distance. This should be your first option to explore Brussels for a day, and be prepared to do a lot of walking!
🚵 BY RENTAL BIKE: Another great way to explore Brussels is by renting a bike. You have the option to rent an electric scooter too. Or you can join a Brussels guided bike tour for 3 hours and a very affordable price.
🚌 PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION: Brussels has a great public transportation system. You can find the metro system, and it is a great option to take you to longer distances if you are planning to visit other parts of the city. You can also take advantage of the hop-hop-off-bus guided sightseeing
🚗 BY CAR: I DO NOT recommend renting a car and driving in Brussels. The traffic is heavy and it is not easy to find parking lots. If you arrive in the city by rental car, I recommend parking your car and exploring the city on foot.
16 Best Places to Visit for One Day in Brussels Itinerary
1. Visit the Grand Place (or Grote Market)
- 💵 PRICE: Free
- 📌 ADDRESS: Grand Place 1000 Brussels
This was the first stop of my Brussels one-day itinerary. The Grand Place is the most iconic square in Belgium and is located in the heart of Brussels.
As soon as you arrive at this place you will be in awe! This is a must-see in your Brussels itinerary and a great starting point.
With designs on the merchant and stunning gold ornate, making it the perfect representation of what Brussels was one day. The Grand Place is a UNESCO World Heritage site, with three main structures that are the highlight: the Town Hall, King’s house, and Guild Halls.
The square has also numerous restaurants, pubs, and coffee and chocolate shops, and it is a great place to have breakfast or grab a coffee (or a Belgium beer) while you can admire the stunning and detailed architecture, and do some people’s watching.
2. Enjoy the City Museum
- 💵 PRICE: Adults 8 EUR / Seniors 6 EUR / Children visit for Free
- 📌 ADDRESS: Grand Place 1000 Brussels
- 📷 HOW TO VISIT: Buy the Brussels City Card 24-hours to get great discount prices and skip the lines
This stunning building is also located at Grand Place, directly opposite the Town Hall in a neo-Gothic greyish building.
Housed inside the King’s House, you can visit the two floors and from house maps and 3D models of recreation of the city from the middle ages, to get to know the history of the Peeing Boy and the display of around 100 of its 700 costumes.
The main message of the Brussels City Museum is a “Free, amusing and carnivalesque” city, and the Mannekin Pis is a perfect symbol of that freedom.
It is a very interesting museum that explains the history and myths of the city to all the visitors. This museum is a great place to include on your 1-day itinerary in Brussels, and it is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm and closed on Mondays.
3. Check the Brussels Town Hall
- 💵 PRICE: Free
- 📌 ADDRESS: Grand Place 1000 Brussels
- 📷 HOW TO VISIT: The Town Hall is open for limited guided tours, and if you have time, it is a well-worthy place to visit. If you are short on time, just admire the facade from the outside and pay special attention to the details.
You cannot miss the building with the bell tower, and the most iconic structure of the Grand Place square. This iconic 600-year-old site was built in different stages during the early part of the 15th century.
It was burned in 1695, but it was rebuilt shortly after, it is the only medieval building in its old form at the Grand Place, and it still houses a significant portion of municipal offices.
When you pay close attention, you will see that the building is asymmetrical, and one of the reasons why it is aesthetically criticized. Not by me or I believe any visitor since the construction is amazing in my opinion.
4. Take a Picture at the Manneken Pis Statue (or Little Men Pee)
- 💵 PRICE: Free
- 📌 ADDRESS: 2 blocks behind, near the Town Hall
This is a must during your Brussels for a day itinerary. Just three blocks north of Grand Place, you can find the famous and Belgium’s most popular attraction – the Manneken Pis Statue. But don’t be upset, the statue is really small, and you will see the crowd in front of it trying to take a picture with the famous boy.
Another interesting fact is that Brussels has three “pis” statues that you can find in the old town. But the little boy is the most iconic one. You can also try to find the Het Zinneke, representing a life-size peeing dog, and the Jeanneke Pis, a statue of the peeing girl.
5. Stop for Lunch: Have some Frites (Belgium fries)
Frites, also known as french fries or potato chips or whatever you want to call them – is the national dish in Belgium. It can be enjoyed with a burger, as a snack, or just as a meal on its own.
You can enjoy it with a thick cut and soft inside, or thin and crispy shoestring, there is a huge variation of flavors, shapes, and sauces, with salt and vinegar… There is one thing we need to agree on, and that is that you must try frites during your Brussels in a day.
You can find frites pretty much everywhere in Brussels, and you can try to visit one (or many) of the top friteries spread across Belgium.
💡 INSIDER TIP: To explore the best delicious food in the town, this walking tour is a great option, and it combines the historical overview of the city. Frites or fries are very traditional and you can find them pretty much on every corner.
6. Palais de Bruxelles (Royal Palace of Brussels)
- 💵 PRICE: Free
- 📌 ADDRESS: Rue Brederode 16, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium
If your one-day in Brussels itinerary has you visiting this amazing city in the summer then be sure to stop by the Royal Palace of Brussels. Not only is this one of the best free things to do in Brussels but this stunning building is the official workplace of the King and the Queen of Belgians.
Sadly, though, this is one of the best things to do in Brussels which is only open at certain times of year since this building serves as the King’s administrative residence and main workplace. Therefore, be sure to walk through the marvelous 18th – 20th-century interiors with lavish period-piece decor if you’re in the city between late July and late August.
It’s also worth noting that this is not the official royal residence since the royal family actually lives in the Royal Palace of Laeken in the north.
7. Visit St Michael et Gudula Cathedral during your 1-Day Brussels Itinerary
- 💵 PRICE: Free to visit the cathedral and 1 EUR for the Archaeological site
- 📌 ADDRESS: Place Sainte-Gudule, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium
This incredible Brabant Gothic style has two towers that give a very French appearance. It took 300 years to complete this construction, starting in 1226 with the facade dating back from the 15th century and concluding in 1519.
The cathedral has an impressive interior, made of a stone quarry, with the glass windows dating back from the 1500s, and the organ pipe with over 4,000 pipes is just incredible, and a great stop during your day trip to Brussels.
8. Try the Belgium Waffle Time: At least once during your 24 hours in Brussels!
A visit of one day in Brussels needs to have at least one stop for a waffle. Even if you don’t care about “other’s” waffles, the Belgium waffles are the original, and ridiculously amazing!
It has a lighter batter, is crispier, and has larger squares and deeper pockets that can be filled with fresh strawberries, creams, chocolate, or whatever your imagination can take you. One of the most authentic places you can get waffles in Brussels is at Maison Dandoy, near the Grand Place.
9. Check the Comic Strip Walls
Brussels is the birthplace of some iconic comics such as The Smurfs and Tintin. In honor of these and many other comic characters, you will find around the city, many comic strip murals, a total of 55 to be exact, which is a great thing to add to your Brussels 1 day itinerary.
💡 INSIDER TIP: If you are a big fan of comics, you can start at the Comic Book Center, and make your way around the Comic Strip Walk to try to catch them all. Or even better, you can hire a local guide to take you on the Brussels Comic Privat Walking tour – and get the chance to visit the open-air gallery plastered with incredible street art.
10. Visit the Gallery Royale Saint-Hubert on your Brussels itinerary
- 💵 PRICE: Free
- 📌 ADDRESS: Galerie du Roi 5, 1000
This marvelous Galeries Royale from the 19th century is a great place to visit during your 24 hours in Brussels, and to go shopping or at least, window shopping. It is a place to be seen for fashionable, luxury brands, elegant cafés, and cultural spaces.
The gallery includes shops, auditoriums, cafés, restaurants, and apartments and you can find the best chocolate shops here too. If you are interested in exploring more, the Galerie Royale is home to the Museum of Letters and Manuscripts and honors the greatest men and women of art, history, music, the humanities, and science.
💡 INSIDER TIP: It opens until 9:00 pm and you can visit it until late in the day. But if you want to just observe its beauty and get a picture without the crowds, early morning is the best time to go.
11. Walk to the Mont Des Arts on Your 1-day itinerary in Brussels
- 💵 PRICE: Free
- 📌 ADDRESS: 1000 Brussels
The Mont Des Arts means Mount of the Arts. It is one of the most well-known places in Belgium.
It has a long and very colorful floral garden, and views of the city hall center ahead of the garden. It is an urban complex and historic site, including the Royal Library of Belgium, the National Archives of Belgium, the square – Brussels Meeting Center, and the stunning public garden.
This place was converted into an artist’s quarter by King Leopold II at the end of the 19th century when various architects and urban planners were called upon to draw plans of the building which were to accommodate all kinds of cultural institutions. Allow yourself at least 30 min to walk around and explore the beauty of this picturesque site. Then walk towards the city center to continue your Brussels 1 day itinerary.
12. Explore the City Center is one of the Best Things to do in Brussels for a day trip
Brussels city center is immediately around the Grand Place. It’s worse making time on your Brussels day trip to explore the city center and admire the beautiful buildings, trendy hotels, restaurants, bars, and shops. You can also feel the live vibe of the Belgium lifestyle, and watch some street performing music, arts, and dance.
13. Have a Drink at the Delirium Village
- 💵 PRICE: 3.90 EUR for a Delirium on tap or 30 EUR for a 2L. boot
- 📌 ADDRESS: Impasse de la Fidélité 4, 1000 Bruxelles
This is a must-stop on your one day in Brussels, and you cannot miss a visit! Even if you are not a beer lover. I am not, but I still managed to have the whole beer in the boot! The Delirium Café holds the Guinness World Record for holding more than 2,000 beers from around the world. This is a multi-ambiance place split into four different sections: vodka, tequila, tap bar, and Belgium beer.
But even if beer is not your thing, this is a very cool place to visit as it is a multi-ambiance with the café and the bar on the second floor. It has a hoppy loft where you can try some of the big selections of micro-brewed beers and the Delirium Monsterium. Here you can try beer, and more than 300 vodka flavors from many different countries, including some very rare ones.
💡 INSIDER TIP: I recommend joining this Belgium Beer Tour to learn about the history and variety of Belgium beers to how they are brewed.
14. Go on a Chocolate Tour on your Belgium day trip
Last, but not least during your Belgium for a day, you must add a Chocolate tour experience. Even for me, someone who is not big into chocolate, I have to say that there is chocolate, and there is Belgium Chocolate – they are two different things! ha!
You will experience Brussels through a local guide on a tour of the city’s culinary offerings. You can sample the famous Belgian chocolates and delicious cookies, and you will enjoy a Belgian waffle topped with chocolate and fruit.
These are the best Chocolate Tours in Brussels:
🏆 1-Hour Belgium Chocolate Tour (⭐️ 4.5/5): Enjoy a 1-hour workshop with the guidance of expert chocolatiers and have a go at making amazing handmade chocolates yourself.
🏆 2.5-Hour Belgium Chocolate Workshop (⭐️ 4.7/5): Learn how to become a chocolate artisan and make your own Belgian chocolates with this TOP-RATED TOUR!
🏆 Choco-Story Brussels (⭐️ 4.3/5): Learn the story of chocolate and its transformation into finished products at the Choco-Story Brussels museum, for only $11!
15. Mini-Europe (Optional)
If you want to see all of Europe but only have twenty-four hours in Brussels then be sure to visit Mini-Europe. This incredible Brussels landmark sits right across the street from Atomium in Bruparck entertainment park and features small-scale recreations of tons of European monuments and buildings.
So, in total, you can marvel at over 350 different buildings across the continent that come from upwards of 80 different countries and that are reproduced at a scale of 1:25. However, do be sure to book your tickets well in advance since this Brussels landmark is quite popular.
💡 INSIDER TIP: You’ll also want to take metro line 6 to Heysel station since this Brussels attraction is a bit outside the city center.
15. Atomium (Optional)
Want to enjoy unparalleled views of the city during your one day in Brussels? If so then grab a ticket and climb all the way to the top of Atomium since it stands at 334 feet (102 meters) tall.
See, it’s located right across from Mini-Europe in Bruparck and is a modernist building that was initially built as the centerpiece of the 1958 Brussels Fair. In fact, the structure was never meant to endure but has since become a symbol of Brussels and of the entire country of Belgium.
After all, this is one of the most unique things to do in Brussels which is a recreation of an iron atom that has been enlarged to 165 billion times its actual size. However, before leaving, swing by the on-site museum dedicated to Expo 58 and a cool restaurant too.
Just be aware that lines can be exceptionally long. So, it’s best to grab a skip-the-line ticket prior to your visit. Additionally, because of the building’s unique shape and construction material, it can get extremely hot in the summer and guests should be careful.
💡 INSIDER TIP: I recommend booking time entrance tickets to Atomium. With this direct entrance ticket, you can enjoy entry to Atomium anytime during operational hours.
Best Accommodations for One Day in Brussels
The city has many different options for accommodations, from budget to luxury, it depends on your style. I have selected some great options to make your 1 day in Brussels as easy as possible. I recommend staying in the city center if you only have one day in Brussels, as you can visit all the main attractions on foot from your hotel:
GREAT VALUE: Albert Moliére
⭐️ Rating: 8.6/10 (752 Reviews) | Details: Read more on booking.com now!
Located in the Vorst/Forest district in Brussels, Albert Molière offers rooms with free Wi-fi. The property is about 1 km from Horta Museum and nearby Avenue Louise. All rooms have a flat-screen cable TV.
BEST-RATED: Apartment Chez Agnes
⭐️ Rating: 9.2/10 (121 Reviews) | Details: Read more on booking.com now!
Rated Wonderful by the guests, this apartment offers plenty of space, with amazing city views. Appartement Chez Agnes provides accommodations with a terrace and an electric teapot, around 1.3 miles from the Belgian Comic Strip Center.
LUXURY: Rocco Fort Hotel Amigo
⭐️ Rating: 9.0/10 (748 Reviews) | Details: Read more on booking.com now!
The 5-star Hotel Amigo offers stylish design rooms on the corner of Grand Place (central square). The property combines modern amenities, a gym, and an award-winning restaurant with a beautiful historic setting.
Essential Tips for Visit Brussels for 1 Day
Best Time to Visit Brussels
The winter in Brussels is from November to March, and it is really cold, but it is also the best time for ice skating and visiting the Christmas Markets. If you have the chance to go in August, you can visit the amazing summer Flower Carpet.
It is an amazing festival that takes place only every 2 years, where a huge carpet made of begonias is displayed on the Grand Place. Summertime means warmer weather and larger crowds.
Popular Food Tours in Brussels
To explore the best delicious food in the town, this walking tour is a great option, and it combines the historical overview of the city. Frites or fries are very traditional and you can find them pretty much on every corner.
Chocolate in Belgium is incredible! Even for me, a person who doesn’t care about chocolate (I know, I am weird!) when I tried it in Belgium I became a chocolate snob, it is an experience like no other!
If you love chocolate, you must visit and take a chocolate tour in Brussels. And the Belgian waffle is not famous just because it is a real deal…it is phenomenal and a must-try! You can even participate in a Belgium waffle workshop.
I also recommend joining this Belgium Beer Tour to learn about the history and variety of Belgium beers to how they are brewed.
Money in Brussels
You will need Euro in Brussels and make sure you carry some money, as well as your credit card with you, as some places will only accept one or another.
The average meal price in Brussels is EUR20 per person, including a beverage. If you are looking for a budget-friendly meal you can find frites everywhere. Tipping is not expected while you visit Brussels.
I recommend buying the Brussels Card that offers discounts and skipping the line for the main attractions. It will help you to save money, so you can spend more on Belgium Chocolate 😉
What to Wear in Brussels for a Day Trip
If you are visiting in winter or cold months, be aware that it can be cold. The coldest months in Brussels are from December to February. So bring some layers. I recommend a warm jacket, comfortable boots, and a nice coat to wear in the evenings.
If you are also visiting during the hot months, think about light clothes and comfortable shoes to walk and explore during the day. Leave your pair of high heels at home, as you won’t need them. Don’t forget your sunblock, and sunglasses and consider a hat too. For the evening, especially if you are planning to have dinner at one of the nice restaurants, you can think about a comfortable summer dress and sandals. Or if you are not into dresses, a pair of jeans and a nice top and a nice pair of sandals. If you are planning to visit churches, consider bringing a pashmina to cover your shoulders.
One Day in Brussels FAQs
Is 1 day enough for Brussels?
If you’re short on time then 1 day in Brussels is enough time to see all of the top attractions and get an overall feel for this amazing city. And while you won’t be able to see everything on your Brussels bucket list, it’s a very compact and super walkable city, making it easy to see a lot with just 24 hours in Brussels.
Additionally, the city is well-connected by train to places like Amsterdam, Paris, London, and Luxembourg. Therefore, you’ll have no problem spending a day in Brussels while in Europe.
How can I spend one day in Brussels? What to do in Brussels for 24 hours?
With just one day in Brussels most travelers like to:
- Visit Mini-Europe
- Climb to the top of Atomium
- Grab some waffles at Vitalgaufre
- Explore St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral
- Stroll through Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert
- Grab some fries at Friterie Tabora
- See the Grand Place and check out Manneken Pis
- Grab a Belgian beer at Delirium Cafe
Can you do Brussels in half a day?
While you can enjoy a lot of Brussels landmarks in a half day, you won’t be able to see the entire city. Thankfully, though, most of the top attractions in Brussels are situated in the city center and are within walking distance of one another. Therefore, you could easily see Manneken Pis, Delirium Cafe, Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert, and Grand Place in a half day in Brussels.
Is Brussels a Walkable City?
Brussels is an extremely walkable city where many of the city’s main tourist attractions are located densely packed into the city center. Therefore, it’s easy to walk to/from most of the major attractions in Brussels. The only real exceptions are Mini-Europe and Atomium.
Is Brussels a Cheap City to Visit?
No, Brussels is not a cheap city to visit. In fact, most budget travelers should plan to spend between €90-€110 per day. And if you want to stay in a nicer hotel then budget an extra €60 per day. However, your budget will vary based on the attractions you visit, where you eat, and how many free things to do in Brussels you enjoy.
Is Brussels or Bruges Better?
The answer to this question really depends on what you are looking for from your Belgium itinerary. If you want to explore an exciting city then Brussels is an excellent choice. But, if you want to visit a quiet, charming town then consider a trip to Bruges. Although, if you have the time then you could easily visit both places since Brussels and Bruges are only about an hour away from each other by train.
What is Brussels Known for?
Brussels is known for a wide variety of things. So, you will find the headquarters for the European Parliament as well as the EU Commission here. If you want, you can even tour the Parliament buildings and learn about how the EU operates.
Afterward, head to Delirium Cafe and try the rich, Belgian Beer that Brussels is famous for before devouring a rectangular Belgian waffle that is served with one or two sweet toppings, like chocolate and whipped cream. And if you’re not sure where to try a Belgian Waffle, you can’t go wrong with Maison Dandoy.
You can also sample some of the rich Belgian chocolate that Brussels is known for, and see where the praline was invented, at Neuhaus before grabbing some more chocolate at Elisabeth near Grand Place. However, if you prefer your treats to be salty then you order some Belgian French Fries instead.
One Day in Brussels Conclusion
If you only have one day in Brussels, it is still sufficient to explore the main sites. Brussels is a very compact city that can easily be explored on foot. It is also, easily accessible on a day trip by train, from many major cities such as Paris, London, Amsterdam, and Luxembourg.
When you visit Brussels for a day, you can explore the impressive architecture, stroll around the charming streets, and visit some museums and beautiful parks. Some of the Belgian flavors you must try are the Belgian waffle and chocolate, and the Belgian beer too!
I hope you enjoy this 1-day itinerary in Brussels, and that it will help you to make the most of your day trip to Brussels. If you have any comments, or questions about any places to visit in Brussels in one day, please let me know in the comments below.
You may also enjoy reading the following guides for short itineraries in Europe:
- Top 30 Dream Destinations on the Planet!
- How to visit Innsbruck in 2-days
- Best itinerary in Salzburg in 2-days
- Hallstatt in Winter
- 10 Best Christmas Market in Austria
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