Brussels for a day Itinerary: Top 12 Things to experience in Brussels in a day

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Brussels in one day

If you are questioning if it is worth it going to Brussels for a day, or what is possible to explorein 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!

If you are looking for information on what you can do in Brussels for a day trip, here you can find the best Brussels itinerary in one day, plus all the essential tips to make your visit easy and fun.

The good news is that Brussels is a compact city that can be easily explored on foot, so I would say if you only have 1 day in Brussels, it is enough time to visit the main sites and try some of the Belgium 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, the charming streets, it is home to almost 90 museums and beautiful parks.

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

During one of my business trips in Europe, I had only 24 hours to explore the stunning capital of Belgium, and it didn’t disappoint me.

I am happy I took the high-speed train from Paris during the weekend and spend one day in Brussels. When I travel, I really like to take my time to explore the places. But when traveling for business I love taking the advantage of having a local friend, to show me around and these short trips always end up being filled with good surprises.

Enjoy this Brussels itinerary for the day and safe travels!

Brussels day trip
Brussels for a day

ESSENTIAL TIPS | MAKE MOST OF ONE DAY IN BRUSSELS

ARRIVAL IN BRUSSELS

  • FLY: If you are flying to Brussels, you will arrive at the Brussels International Airport or Burssels 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 a little over an hour.
  • 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.
  • CAR: Driving is easy and the best way explore the area, here are the location from the major cities:

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. Request a quote from a reliable source and compare the prices from different car rentals available. 

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 from walk distance.

ALTERNATIVE TOURS A DAY TRIP IN BRUSSELS:

VISIT BRUSSELS FOR A DAY TRIP FROM A LARGE CITY:

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 to visit the Christmas Markets. If you have the chance to go in August, you can visit the amazing summer’s 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 of fries is very traditional and you can find it pretty much in 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 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. 

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.

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

WHERE TO STAY 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 at 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 from 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 closes to 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.

OVERVIEW: WHAT CAN YOU DO IN BRUSSELS ON A DAY ITINERARY

  1. Start with a breakfast or brunch at the Grand Place and take some pictures
  2. Visit the City Museum
  3. Check the Brussels Town Hall
  4. Have lunch at and try some Belgian fries & beer
  5. Visit the St Michael et Gudula Cathedral
  6. Take a picture at the Manneken Pis Statue (little man pee)
  7. Make a stop for a Belgium waffle
  8. Check the Comic Strip Walls
  9. Visit the Galeries Royale
  10. Walk to the Mont Des Arts
  11. Explore the city center
  12. Have a drink at the Delirium Village Brussels

ONE DAY IN BRUSSELS ITINERARY: TOP 12 THINGS 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 start 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, 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) VISIT THE CITY MUSEUM

  • PRICE: Adults 8 EUR / Seniors 6 EUR / Children visit for Free
  • ADDRESS: Grand Place 1000 Brussels

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, closed on Mondays.

One day in Brussels

3) CHECK THE BRUSSELS TOWN HALL

  • PRICE: Free
  • ADDRESS: Grand Place 1000 Brussels

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.

The Town Hall is open for limited guided tours, and if you have time to visit, it is a well-worthy place to visit, if not, just admire the facade from outside and pay special attention to the details.

Brussels in one day

4) LUNCH – HAVE SOME FRITES

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 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.

5) VISIT THE ST MICHAEL et GUDULA CATHEDRAL DURING YOUR 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 in Brussels.

6 ) TAKE A PICTURE AT THE MANNEKEN PIS STATUE (or little man pee)

  • PRICE: Free
  • ADDRESS: 2 blocks behind, near the Town Hall

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) 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, 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 strips 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.

what to do in Brussels in one day

9) VISIT THE GALERIES ROYALE SAINT-HUBERT ON YOUR BRUSSELS ITINERARY

  • PRICE: Free
  • ADDRESS: Galerie du Roi 5, 1000

This marvelous Galeries Royales 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 space.

The gallery includes shops, auditoriums, cafés, restaurants, 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 to 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 THINGS TO DO IN BRUSSELS FOR A DAY

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 to 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 IS A MUST DO FOR ONE DAY IN BRUSSELS

  • 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, 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 where you can try besides beer, more than 300 vodkas flavors from many different countries, including some very rare ones.

TRAVEL INSURANCE: SIMPLE & FLEXIBLE

I never leave my home without travel insurance which is designed to help cover your expenses if something goes wrong on your trip. Things can go wrong, and you don’t want to get stuck paying tons of money if you get sick or have an accident without travel insurance. 

World Nomads Travel Insurance has been designed by travelers for travelers, to cover their trip essentials. Especially if you are like me, travel insurance is ideal for adventurous travelers.

Travel smarter and safer – You can do your quick quote below and find out how little you can pay for the essential benefit of Travel Insurance for your next trip!

FINAL THOUGHTS FOR BRUSSELS DAY TRIP

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 as 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, 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:

How to visit Innsbruck in 2-days

Best itinerary in Salzburg in 2-days

Brussels day trip itinerary

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Hi, I am Paula

Marketer, Blogger & Athlete

I'm a Brazilian native who calls U.S. home.

Travel & be healthy is my philosophy for a happy life balance, and for this purpose, I embarked on a journey to inspire and empower others to seek new adventures and live an active and healthy lifestyle..

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10 thoughts on “Brussels for a day Itinerary: Top 12 Things to experience in Brussels in a day

  1. Katy says:

    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.

  2. Viola says:

    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! 😛

    • Paula Martinelli says:

      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!

  3. Diana says:

    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!

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