Brussels for a Day: Top 12 things to experience for a Brussels Day Trip
If you are questioning if it is worth it going to Brussels for a day, or if it is possible to explore Brussels in one day only, my answers are: YES and YES – There is a lot you can do in 24 hours in Brussels (Bruxelles in French).
Brussels is not only the capital of Belgium and a very business oriented city.
Brussels is also knowing for its impressive architecture including the medieval Grand Place, the charming streets, it is home for almost 90 museum and beautiful parks. Plus, you can find the best waffle and chocolate in the Planet! Oh…and beer too.
During one of my business trip 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.
The good news is that Brussels is a compact city that can be easily explored by 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!
Enjoy it and safe travels!
BONUS RESOURCES: On this guide you can find all the best tips and practical information you need to visit Brussels in one day. At the end you can find a bonus section for all the RESOURCES you need to plan and book your trip to Brussels, and to make your experience as easy and fun as possible.
1 Day in Brussels - PIN IT FOR LATER!
Authentic & Ethical visit in Brussels in one day
I write about authentic and ethical traveling, and this Brussels 1 day itinerary and recommendations are based on how you can have the most authentic opportunity to explore a new place, and to experience the real-life of Brussels.
Visit the tourist places, but also, get out of the crowds and explore the off-the-beaten-path places. Try to learn as much as you can about the local culture before your trip and engage with the locals.
Join the locals for a meal at a traditional mom and pop place, experience the authentic food and make new friends.
These are some of the experiences I always recommend anyone, and also, support the local business instead of big chains.
Last but not least, be a responsible traveler and respect the environment of any place you visit. Bring your own reusable water bottle and/or a coffee mug to reduce the impact of single-use plastic, and carry a portable bag with you to carry any trash.
We are so lucky to be able to travel and explore this Planet, but also, we are responsible to care for it!
OVERVIEW for a Brussels 1 Day Itinerary
- Start with a breakfast or brunch at the Grand Place and take some pictures
- Visit the City Museum
- Check the Brussels Town Hall
- Have lunch at and try some Belgian fries & beer
- Visit the St Michael et Gudula Cathedral
- Take a picture at the Manneken Pis Statue (little man pee)
- Make a stop for a Belgium waffle
- Check the Comic Strip Walls
- Visit the Galeries Royale
- Walk to the Mont Des Arts
- Explore the city center
- Have a drink at the Delirium Village Brussels
One Day in Brussels Itinerary - What to do in Brussels for 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 suggestion places to visit can easily be modified, since they are located from walk distance.
- You can also hire a local guide and take a private tour, for an authentic experience,
- You can take a hop-on hop off bus guided sightseeing tour.
- I also recommend to buy the Brussels Card for 24 Hours. This user friendly card puts the city at your fingertips, giving you easy and fast access to the best attractions, tours, shops and more.
1- VISIT THE GRAND-PLACE OR GROTE MARKET
This was my first stop of my Brussels one day itinerary.
The Grand Place is the most iconic square in Belgium and 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 a breakfast or grab a coffee (or a Belgium beer) while you can admire the stunning and detailed archicteture, and do some people’s watching.
2- VISIT THE CITY MUSEUM
This stunning building also located at the 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 it’s 700 costumes.
The main message of the Brussels city museum is a “Free, amusing and carnivalesque” city and the Mannekin Pis 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.
3- CHECK THE BRUSSELS TOWN HALL
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.
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 like 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 vineger…
There is one thing we need to agree, 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 accross Belgium.
5- VISIT THE ST MICHAEL et GUDULA CATHEDRAL DURING YOUR BRUSSELS ITINERARY
This incredible Brabant Gothic style has two towers that gives 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 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)
Just three blocks north of the Grand Place, you can find the famous and Belgium most popular attraction – the Manneden Pis Statue.
But don’t be upset, the statue is really small, and you will see the crowed 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 on 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 waffles.
Even if you don’t care about “other’s” waffles, the Belgium waffles is 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 authentics 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 an many others comics 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.
9 - VISIT THE GALERIES ROYALE SAINT-HUBERT ON YOUR BRUSSELS ITINERARY
This marvelous Galeries Royales from the 19th centuries 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.
The gallery are open 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.
10 - WALK TO THE MONT DES ARTS ON YOUR 1 DAY ITINERARY IN 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 the views of the city hall center ahead of the garden.
It is a urban complex and historic site, including the Royal Library of Belgium, the National Archives of Belgium, the square – Burssels Meeting Center and the stunning public garden.
This places was converted to an art’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.
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.
12- HAVE A DRINK AT THE DELIRIUM VILLAGE IS A MUST DO FOR ONE DAY IN BRUSSELS
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!
O Delirius Café holds the Guinness World Record for the holding more than 2,000 beers from around the world.
This is a multi-ambience 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-ambience 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-brewe beers and the Delirum Monsterium where you can try besides beer, more than 300 vodkas flavors from many different countries, including some very rare ones.
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 by foot.
Brussels is very easy accessable 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 Brussels, and that it will help you to make the most of your day tip to Brussels. I visited with a local person, and visiting the main spots in one day was easy and a great opportunity to have the taste of Brussels.
If you have any comments, or questions about any places to visit in Brussels in one day, please let me know on the comments below, and visit the section RESOURCES below for all the useful and practical information you need to visit Brussels in 1 day.
ARRIVAL IN BRUSSELS
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.
Flying: 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.
HOW TO VISIT BRUSSELS IN A DAY
If you don’t want to plan all the steps for one day in Brussels, or if you are in a rush and don’t think you will be able to visit the stunning sites in Belgium, you can always book these great and convenient options:
- You can also hire a local guide and take a private tour, for an authentic experience,
- You can take a hop-on hop off bus guided sightseeing tour.
Exploring Brussels on a day trip is a great option if you are visiting any larger city, check some options:
- 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
BRUSSELS GUIDE BOOK
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 to stay at the city center if you only have 1 day in Brussels, as you can visit all the main attractions by foot from your hotel:
TRAVEL INSURANCE FOR YOUR BRUSSELS DAY TRIP
Considering that anything can go wrong with any trip, we don’t want to risk the fun, right? Risks are of breaking down, loosing your luggage, or even worse, having an accident and get injured.
I recommend and also use reliable insurance through World Nomads. You can just do a quick quote below, and you will be surprised to find out how little it can cost, for the benefit you will get.
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.
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 every where.
Tipping is not expected while you visit Brussels.
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.
Summer time 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 a 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 on a Belgium waffle workshop.