Brussels For a Day: Top 13 Things to do in Brussels in 1-Day Itinerary

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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!

The good news is that Brussels is a compact city that can be easily explored on foot. Therefore, 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!

Plus, you can find the best waffle and chocolate on the Planet! Oh…and beer too.

Now, I am happy to share with you the top 13 things to do in Brussels for a day. This guide is packed with very helpful information and tips, that will help you to see and explore as much as you can.

Brussels day trip

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.

Because of the short time in the city, I recommend taking advantage of joining a private tour with a local guide, that offers the best taste of Belgium. Also, take advantage of the Brussels Card that offers discounts and skip the line for the main attractions.

One Day in Brussels Itinerary: 12 Things to do in Brussels

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 houses 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.

One day in Brussels

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 years 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.

Brussels in one day

4) 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 a huge variation of flavors, shapes, 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.

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.

5) 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, started in 1226 with the facade dating back from the 15th century and concluded in 1519.

The cathedral has an impressive interior, made of a stone quarry, with the glass windows dated back from the 1500s and the organ pipe with over 4,000 pipes are just incredible, and a great stop during your day trip to Brussels.

6 ) 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.

7) 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 ridiculous amazing!

It has a lighter batter, it 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.

8) 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 during your Brussels 1 day itinerary.

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 to the Brussels Comic Privat Walking tour – and get the chance to visit the open-air gallery plastered with incredible street art.

what to do in Brussels in one day

9) 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 to explore 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.

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.

what to see in Brussels for a day

10) 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.

brussels itinerary

11) 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.

things do to in Brussels in one day

12) 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
  • PRO TIP: I recommend joining this Belgium Beer Tour to learn about the history and variety of Belgium beers to how they are brewed.

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 the micro-brewed beers and the Delirium Monsterium. Here you can try besides beer, more than 300 vodkas flavors from many different countries, including some very rare ones.

13) 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: 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: Learn how to become a chocolate artisan and make your own Belgian chocolates with this TOP RATED TOUR!
  • Choco-Story Brussels: Learn the story of chocolate and its transformation into finished products at the Choco-Story Brussels museum, for only $11!

How to Visit Brussels in a Day

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.

But if you have a 1-day itinerary in Brussels, and plan ahead, it is even better to explore and make sure you don’t miss any experience. This 1-day itinerary in Brussels is only a suggestion, and the order of the suggested places to visit can easily be modified since they are located within walking distance.

Best Day Tours in Brussels:

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.  From Brussel airport is only 30 minutes drive or a 15 minutes 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:


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.  

You can get a 15% off your rental car when you book through this site. I use and recommend RentalCar because it is the most reliable rental car source, and it allows you to compare the prices of different places.


Discover how to visit Brussels for a day, and find out that it is possible to visit the main attractions in Brussels on a one-day itinerary

Best Accommodations 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 1 day in Brussels, as you can visit all the main attractions on foot from your hotel:

One day in Brussels

GREAT VALUE: Appartement Chez Agnes

Overlooking the city, Appartement Chez Agnes offers accommodation with a terrace and kettle, within 2.1 km of the Belgian Cartoon Centre. The European Parliament and Rue Neuve are 2.1 km and 2.4 km from the apartment, and free WiFi is provided.


One day in Brussels

WHERE I STAYED: Albert Moliére

Located in the Vorst/Forest district in Brussels, Albert Molière offers rooms with free WiFi. The property is about 1 km from Horta Museum and nearby the Avenue Louise. All rooms have a flat-screen cable TV.


One day in Brussels

BEST-RATED: Grand Place The Looks Apartment

The Grand Place is complete and offers free Wi-Fi. The Looks Apartment enjoys a central location in the center of Brussels, 100 meters from the Grand Place (central square) and the Manneken Pis (monument). Equipped with a balcony, this property is situated on a car-free street.


One day in Brussels

LUXURY: Rocco Fort Hotel Amigo

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.

Essentials Tips for Visit Brussels for 1 Day

BEST TIME TO VISIT BRUSSELS FOR A DAY:

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.

FOOD 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!) but 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.

Brussels for a day

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 😉

Brussels for a Day: Top 12 things to experience for a Brussels Day Trip

Brussels for a Day Conclusion

If you only have a day to explore Brussels, it is still sufficient to explore the main sites, because Brussels is a very compact city that can easily be explored on foot. Brussels is very 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:

Brussels day trip itinerary

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10 thoughts on “Brussels For a Day: Top 13 Things to do in Brussels in 1-Day Itinerary”

  1. What a beautiful city. And I love the advice about supporting local businesses, that’s so important right now! I’m definitely down for some beer and waffles.

    Reply
  2. This is such a comprehensive guide Paula! I haven’t been to Brussels yet. I’ve learned so much through your article. I would go there just for the delicious Belgium waffle! 😛

    Reply
    • Oh Viola, the Belgium waffle is not a joke…they are serious about it…haha! I don’t care about sweets, but in Belgium, I had a hard time staying away. They are amazing!

      Reply
  3. I was in Brussels several years ago but only for 2 hours 😀 which I guess doesn’t count at all. Can’t wait to go back there, as Belgium is so beautiful! Thank you for sharing this itinerary Paula!

    Reply

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