When it comes to exploring Belgium, there is no better place than its capital city; Brussels.

This easy-going capital, and the administrative hub of the European Union, is known for its magnificent cathedrals, unique museums, grand facades, the stunning Atomium, and obviously, its world-famous Belgian chocolates. 

But don’t think that tourism in Brussels is just restricted to these. Instead, be ready to be surprised by the unparalleled beauty, rich history, and culture a trip to Brussels offers. 

Undoubtedly, there is a lot to pack in to a day trip in the city of Brussels but with this ultimate guide on things to do in Brussels in one day, you’re sure to enjoy a hassle-free, fun time in the capital city of Belgium.

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Things to Do in Brussels in One Day – Brussels One Day Trip
Things to Do in Brussels in One Day – Brussels One Day Trip

Things to Do in Brussels in One Day

There are so many great things to do in Belgium and visiting Brussels in one of them. This one day itinerary will keep you busy seeing all of the best sights to see in Brussels.

  • Where to Stay in Brussels
  • Best Time to Visit Brussels
  • Quick Tips For Your One-Day Trip in Brussels
  • Planning your trip to Brussels
  • Things to Do in Brussels in One Day
  • Grand Place
  • Brussels Town Hall
  • St Michael and St Gudula Cathedral
  • Mannekin Pis
  • Shopping at Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert
  • Enjoy some delicious waffles
  • Marolles Flea Market
  • Mont de Arts
  • Belgian Fries and Beer
  • Before You Leave for Brussels

Where to stay in Brussels

There are many accommodation options in Brussels, however, due to how busy this capital city is, we would recommend booking in advance.

Luxury – If you are wanting to make your trip to Brussels one to remember, then the best option for luxury accommodation is Rocco Forte Hotel Amigo, situated right on the corner of Grand Place. This beautiful 5 star hotel features an award winning restaurant serving Italian dishes and Mediterranean cuisine. It is also well located for exploring the capital and the Bourse Metro Station is only a 5-minute walk away. 

Book your stay at Rocco Forte Hotel Amigo here.

Mid-range – For those on a more mid-range budget who still want to immerse themselves in the grandeur of Belgium, the 9Hotel Central is a great option. Set in a historic Belgian townhouse, the hotel is just 170 metres from Brussels Central Train Station and is perfectly located for exploring the city. This beautiful and comfortable choice of accommodation offers guests a buffet breakfast,  free wifi, a music lounge and a guaranteed good nights sleep!

Book your stay at 9Hotel Central here. 

Budget – Those looking for a budget stay in Brussels can’t go wrong with Guest House Les 3 Tilleuls. This charming guest house is a little further out from the centre but offers guests free bikes to explore and on-site parking. Situated 2.4 miles from the famous Royal Square, it is still located well for exploring the city.  This comfortable and affordable accommodation is perfect for a short stay in the Brussels, with good necessities such as tea/coffee facilities, a hairdryer and bathrobes in the private rooms.

Book your stay at Guest House Les 3 Tilleuls here.

Best Time to Take Brussels One-Day Trip

Brussels is a year-round destination which means you can plan your day trip any time of the year. And because of that, we’ll give you some different options to help you plan your Brussels one-day trip in the season of your choice. 

Brussels hosts different markets and festivals for locals and tourists. Here are some key highlights of Brussels tourism:

  • Ommegang: Hosted in the month of June, the Ommegang festival can best be described as straight out of the Rennaisance and features folk games, jugglers, and puppet performances. 
  • Zinneke Parade: This festival is observed in the month of May. It is a multi-cultural event for Brussels people and also features amazing performances by locals. 
  • Flower Carpet: This bi-annual event is held in the month of August. Flower Carpet is an ephemeral show held on the beautiful square of the Grand Palace. 
  • Christmas Market: This is probably the most vibrant time of the year in Brussels. The Grand Palace hosts one of the best Christmas Markets that also features traditional stalls, food, and wine.

Quick Tips For Your One-Day Trip in Brussels

  • Brussels Zaventem is the airport of Brussels which is located in the northeastern part of the city. From the airport, downtown is located 15 kms so you’ll need to take a taxi, bus, or train to reach there. 
  • The city of Brussels is also well connected via rail and road networks in Europe. From Brussels, there are high-speed trains to neighbouring countries such as the Netherlands and Amsterdam. 
  • The bus network of Brussels is also quite vast. STIB Airport Line takes you from the airport to other parts of the city. 

Things to Do in Brussels in One Day

Grand Place

Located in the downtown city, Grand Place is the busiest square in Brussels and includes many important architectural landmarks. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Brussels and one of Brussels’ most famous landmarks.

You must include Grand Place on your Brussels one day sightseeing tour to admire the beautiful architecture of this historical building. This public square oozes history, stunning architecture, and the majestic flower carpet (held every 2 years). 

This tourist site sums up the vibe of Brussels and is surrounded by guild houses, locally known as Gildehuizen. Apart from exploring the architecture, Grand Place is also a prominent site to enjoy a drink or have some delicious food. 

The stunning historical building enhances the charm of this cobblestone square and features intricate stonework, baroque gables, and gold ornated decoration.

Brussels Town Hall

In the vicinity of the Grand Place, the Town Hall is another renowned tourist landmark to explore in Brussels. It is the only surviving medieval building that is still intact in its original form at the Grand Palace. 

There are parts of the Town Hall that still serves as municipal offices. Adding to the beauty of this historical building is the bell tower. This architectural marvel was built in stages in the 15th century. 

Being one of the most spectacular buildings in the city, the Town Hall also boasts grand rooms displaying unrivalled magnificence. It is in a beautiful Gothic style with an impressive facade adorned with sculptures. 

The opulent interior is another key highlight that will make you awe-struck.

The Town Hall is also a prominent venue, hosting various free concerts. For a treat, stop by at night when its lit up.

St. Michael and St Gudula Cathedral 

Another popular tourist landmark in central Brussels is the twin cathedrals of St. Michael and St Gudula. These are Roman Catholic churches that co-exist and have a huge sacred significance in the hearts of locals. 

The cathedrals are dedicated to the patron saints of Brussels. Apart from that, these cathedrals are also known for their Gothic-style architecture, which is nothing less than poetry in stone.. An interesting historical fact related to this tourist site is that it took 300 years to be built. 

Apart from the exterior, the interior is equally appealing, with baroque-style pulpits and marble alabaster altarpieces. It also has stained glass windows that date back to the 16th century. 

We highly recommend you spend an hour here admiring the intriguing architecture and reading up on the history while soaking in the peaceful and spiritual ambience. 

Mannekin Pis

900 meters west of St. Michael and St Gudula Cathedral, Mannekin Pis is another popular landmark in Brussels.

Mannekin Pis is a bronze sculpture of a small boy urinating in the fountain. Yes, that really is a famous tourist site in the city. However, it is not the original sculpture. The one which was first built is now displayed in Brussels Museum. 

The reason why this quirky sculpture has so much popularity is that it serves as the embodiment of Belgian rebellious spirit and humour. Another interesting fact is that the sculpture has more than 900 costumes. The boy is dressed from his wardrobe a couple of times a year, notably on special occasions.

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Shopping at Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert

As we always say, no trip is complete without a bit of shopping. And when you are in Brussels, there are plenty of amazing opportunities. One of the prominent shopping destinations in Brussels is Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert. 

This was Europe’s first covered shopping arcade and was designed by Jean -Pierre Cluysenaer between 1846 and 1847. 

There are the King’s Gallery, the Queen’s Gallery, and the Prince’s Gallery as the spots to go on a shopping spree. Shopping aside, this place is also a great photography spot because of the beautiful internal passages.

Enjoy Some Delicious Waffles 

After a spot of shopping, it is a must to fuel up. And what could  better way than by savouring some delicious waffles – the staple of Belgium! Waffles in Brussels are different from other parts of the world. 

It was Maurice Vermersch of Brussels who introduced waffles. Compared to what you get in other parts of the world, waffles in Brussels are all about lighter batter, deeper pockets, and larger squares. 

There are plenty of places in Brussels that serve amazing waffles but when it comes to the best place to have them, it has to be Maison Dandoy.

 

Marolles Flea Market

If Saint-Hubert isn’t what you are looking for on your shopping tour in Brussels, here is another option. As the name itself says, it is a flea market situated at Place de Jeu de Balle. Marolles Flea Market is another place that has huge historical importance in Brussels. 

It was once referred to as the “Old Market” and was supposed to serve as the playing field for players of “belle pelote”. Today, however, it is an important market featuring more than 450 merchants. 

At this market, you can expect to see some vintage items on sale. You’re bound to find a treasure to take home. 

If you are looking for a good bag for your time exploring Brussels, we can highly recommend the Wandrd Bag PRVKE 41L, especially if you are carrying camera equipment around the city. If you are looking for a smaller backpack, The Nest by Tropicfeel is one of the most comfortable bags I have ever owned and perfect for a city break.

Mont de Arts

Mont de Arts is a beautiful little hill that houses as many as 10 museums. It also has an amazing vibe that adds to the charm of this wonderful place. 

And if you are an avid museum lover, then Mont de Arts has to be on your Brussels itinerary. You can admire and explore everything that the city offers to its visitors. 

At Mont de Arts, you can visit some of the city’s most interesting museums, Magritte Museum and Musical Instruments Museum being the two most popular choices amongst tourists. 

If museums are not at the top of your to-do list, you could sit here and just enjoy the street performances for a wonderful Belgian experience.

Despite being known as a tourist site for museum lovers and street performances, this place also offers an amazing opportunity to capture panoramic city views. We recommend you visit in the evening, during the sunset. Thats when you can capture some picture postcard-worthy clicks while witnessing a gorgeous sunset. 

Sum Up the Day With Some Belgian Fries and Beer

It’s not just the Belgian waffles that are world-famous, Belgian fries are equally popular. 

Brussels has always been large on food. Apart from the waffles and fries, Belgium is also popular for its vibrant beer culture. Belgium fries and beer are two things you can’t afford to ignore while on a food tour in Brussels. 

For a snack as simple as fries, it is quite hard to explain the taste. So, we recommend you just order them and experience the difference yourself! Put some sauce on them, and away you go. Yum! Some of the popular places in Belgium where you can enjoy authentic fries are Maison Antoine, Friterie du Miroir, and Place Flagey: Fries Food Truck. 

On the other hand, a lot of tourists visit Belgium to experience its amazing beer culture. There are even various breweries in Brussels where you can visit and go for beer-tasting tours. Here you can also learn about the process of brewing with guided tours.  

If you are a beer connoisseur, you’ll appreciate the variety of Belgium beers, including lambic beers, amber ales, ales, pale larges, and stouts.

 

Before You Leave for Brussels

Before you set off on your way to Brussels, there are a number of things you will need to get organised to ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey. These include what to pack, where to stay and what is the best insurance for your trip to Belgium. All of this is discussed in detail below.

How to Get to Brussels

When you arrive in Brussels, you will most likely arrive at one of the main train stations, the bus station, or the airport. If you are eager to explore the city centre sights, such as the Grand Place, Manneken Pis, and the Royal Palace, then Brussels-Central is the best train station for you. The Brussels-North Bus Station is also conveniently located near the city centre, making it an excellent choice for arriving in the city.

Brussels-South (Midi/Zuid) Station is situated slightly further from the city centre, while the airport is farther out. However, there is a very simple and reliable public transportation system that runs throughout the city. You can catch a train from Brussels Airport directly to the city centre, passing through Brussels-South, in just 20 minutes.

For this itinerary, any of these options will be suitable for getting you into the city centre. However, since most of the sights are centred around the Grand Place, Brussels-Central or the bus station would be the closest and most convenient stations.

What to Pack for Your Trip to Belgium

When it comes to packing for a trip to Belgium there is one item of clothing that you are going to need all year round: a waterproof coat. On average, Brussels experiences around 13 to 17 rainy days per month. The number of rainy days varies depending on the month, with the driest month being April with 13 rainy days and the wettest month being October with 17 rainy days. Due to this, the number one item on your packing list is a good waterproof jacket (men’s / women’s).

Second to that, another item to not leave home without is a good pair of warm and, if possible, waterproof boots (men’s / women’s) as you will most likely be doing a lot of walking around the city.

You will definitely need a hat and gloves during the winter months as the wind chill can be bitter.

For our full list of items that we pack no matter where we go in the world, check out our full packing guides over here.

Given the beautiful sights and scenery that you are no doubt going to see around Brussels, we highly recommend packing a good camera for your trip. If you want to read more about the cameras we use and why we love them, check out the link below.

You can read what else we keep in our camera bag over here.

Photography Equipment

Main Photography CameraSony A7v Mirrorless Camera and Sony A7iii Mirrorless Camera

MicrophoneShure VP83 Condenser Shotgun Microphone

Main Lens – Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8

Zoom Lens – Tamron 70-180mm f/2.8

Camera TripodZOMEI Z669C Camera Tripod

Gorilla PodJOBY JB01507-BWW GorillaPod

Action CameraGoPro Hero 11 and Insta 360 One RS

Drone Camera – DJI Mavic Pro 3

Camera Bag – Wandrd PRVKE 41L and The Nest by Tropicfeel

Phone Tripod – Manfrotto MKPIXICLAMP-BK, Mini Tripod with Universal Smartphone Clamp 

Sturdy Phone Tripod & Selfie Stick – ATUMTEK 61″ Selfie Stick Tripod, Sturdy Phone Tripod Stand with Wireless Remote

Hard Drives – LaCie Rugged Mini, 5TB, 2.5″, Portable External Hard Drive

SSD – SanDisk Extreme Pro 1TB Portable NVMe SSD

Travel Adapter –Worldwide Travel Adapter Universal Travel Plug with 4 USB Ports+Universal AC Socket

What is the Best Travel Insurance for Brussels

I know travel insurance is the least enjoyable thing to purchase and look at when you’re planning a trip, however, you wouldn’t want to be without it in the event that something happened. Accidents can happen anywhere and the extortionate medical bills will ruin your trip if you are not covered.

To ensure you have a stress-free trip with no worries about potential medical bills, make sure you cover yourself when you travel. We can recommend using SafetyWing, a backpacker-friendly and cheap insurance company that provides good coverage and support. It is also nomad-friendly, unlike most other insurance companies, meaning you do not need to worry about being out of your home country for too long.

Get a quote for your travel insurance right here and get covered!

So there you have it, your one day Brussels itinerary. If you are visiting this incredible city and have any other questions on what to expect, leave us a comment down below. We love to chat about this stuff! If you have already been, let us know how it was! 

Also, remember to share this with your friends and family that you are going to share this amazing experience with. Sharing is caring and we want to ensure that everyone is fully prepared to maximise their experience in this beautiful city.

If you are planning a Belgium trip soon then check out our other Belgium content right here. Come and find us on social media to see where we are currently exploring. Tag us in your photos from your stay and we will share them with the rest of our community of explorers and backpackers.

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Things to Do in Brussels in One Day – Brussels One Day Trip
Things to Do in Brussels in One Day – Brussels One Day Trip

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