This one day in Brussels itinerary has everything you’ll need to plan the perfect Brussels day trip, including top sights to see, best chocolates and waffles galore.
As the capital of Belgium, this city has so much to offer. Brussels’ rich culture, fascinating history, and world-famous gastronomy make the list of places to visit in Brussels in one day very long.
It can be intimidating to know where to start if you’re doing Brussels in one day.
Whether you plan a day trip to Brussels, from Antwerp for example, or have a lengthy layover in the city, this guide will help you make the most of your 24 hours.
With these incredible stops and a little planning, you can make the most of your limited time in this dynamic city.
Keep reading for the ultimate Brussels one day itinerary!
How To Make The Most Of One Day In Brussels- Tips and Tricks
Brussels is on the smaller side of cosmopolitan cities, especially when compared to my home city, London. However, it is still roughly 100 miles squared, making it large enough to get lost in.
Try and get enough sleep before leaving for your day trip from London to Brussels. A long day of walking, eating, Instagram snaps, exploring, and taking in the multitude of sites and sounds is hard enough without being sleep-deprived.
Things to do and see in Brussels are close in proximity to each other so that no time is wasted. Luckily, Brussels pièce de résistance of cultural sites, The Grand Place, is a four-in-one combo, for my fellow time-poor travellers.
But before you read more about The Grand Place, here’s a bit of useful guidance to conquer the best of Brussels in one day.
Best Coffee Spots To Visit In 1 Day In Brussels
But first, coffee! Coffee is a frequent saviour in my life, and will definitely be yours. Coffee will help you to feel energetic throughout your packed one day Brussels itinerary. Belgians love coffee and have plenty of amazing cafes to try out.
Grab some rocket fuel from Kaffabar or L’s Coffee Shop. Both cafes are located in Brussels centre, and both serve a mean cuppa.
Close to attractions and offering a strong coffee, they’re a great way to keep you going during the day.
Best Breakfast To Start Your Day In Brussels
Starting your day with a good breakfast is another sure way that your energy levels will see you into the night for your 1 day in Brussels. Belgium has over 130 restaurants per square mile, so there are plenty of options.
When you think ‘Belgian cuisine’, their amazing Belgian chocolate waffles definitely pop to mind. I really can’t think of a better way to start the day than with the iconic, indulgent chocolatey treat.
It will definitely put a smile on your face and get the sugar levels rising. Maison Dandoy is on the map as one of the best places to try the Belgian classic.
Things To Do In Brussels In A Day Itinerary
There is so much to do in Brussels in a day. You need to plan out your itinerary to be efficient and make sure you move at a steady pace to see everything on your list.
Sticking to activities in the centre of Brussels will also help avoid wasting time commuting.
Choco-Story – The Chocolate Museum Brussels
Belgium chocolate is world-renowned. Brusselaars have dedicated a whole museum to their love for the confectionery.
You can journey into the long history of cocoa and chocolate, sampling the deliciousness along the way.
Choco-Story Brussels is located in the centre of Brussels and is just a three-minute walk from the Grand Place.
The museum offers guided tours in seven languages, including English. Tours also allow you to optimise your time.
I suggest taking part in a guided Brussels day tour to be able to learn and appreciate chocolate to its fullest.
Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert
Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert is an architectural jaw-dropper. It was built in the mid-1800s and consists of a covered long narrow street-like corridor with identical facades on either side. It gives me all of the Oliver Twist vibes with its quaint shops and industrial feel.
The combination of arched shopfronts, cast-iron details, golden lighting and the high glass ceiling is a sight to behold. Even if you aren’t interested in shopping, the building itself is worth seeing.
The shopping street is in the centre of Brussels and is just a five-minute walk from the Choco-Story Museum and a one minute walk from Grand Place.
If you are looking to get the perfect photos of the Galeries, then visit early in the morning (8:00 – 8:30) and in the evenings around 9:30pm to 10pm.
READ MORE | DAY TRIP TO BRUGES FROM BRUSSELS
The Grand Place – Grote Markt
If you’ve been wondering what to do in Brussels for a day, then The Grand Place is your answer.
The Grand Place, aka Grote Markt, is one of the dreamiest and most beautiful squares in Europe. This UNESCO World Heritage site is a cobbled 223 by 361 ft square surrounded by 17th-century Gothic-style buildings.
The remarkable quad, and its buildings, show how the Belgians overcame the bombardment of the French in 1695.
Grand Place was rebuilt to preserve the classic architecture rather than move forward with contemporary buildings.
This memorable landmark is made up of both public and private buildings. These buildings include the Houses of the Grand Place, the Brussels Town Hall (and its bell tower), and the Brussels City Museum at the King’s House.
You can simply stand outside and marvel at the glory of the quad or you can choose to go into one or all of the public buildings. Soak up the rich history and culture of Brussels in the Grote Markt.
Even during a gloomy day, the Grand Place stands triumphant in its beauty.
Manneken Pis and Jeanneke Pis
The Manneken Pis and Jeanneke Pis are two bronze statues of a little boy and a little girl urinating respectively. They are both a five-minute walk on opposite sides of the Grand Place.
The Manneken Pis was the original of the two statues and was erected in the early 1600s. The designer, Jérôme Duquesnoy, the Elder, captured the rebellious spirit and humour of the people of Brussels in this lighthearted artwork.
The Jeanneke Pis statue compliments the Manneken Pis and was erected in 1987. The Jeanneke Pis is found north of Grand Place, while the Manneken Pis is found at the south end.
These are two of the most unusual little things to see in Brussels, but hey when in Brussels see the Manneken Pis. Just don’t be a surprise if there is a hoard of the crowd standing around the statue snapping photos of a kid pissing.
What To Do In Brussels In A Day? Definitely A Beer Tour!
The Belgians are infamous for their love of beer. It feels like Brussels has a museum for everything and beer is no exception.
The Belgian Brewers Museum gives tourists a look into the equipment and processes used to make beer dating back to the 18th-century.
Learning the history of beer by experiencing it (i.e. drinking it) can be a lot more fun. A beer tasting tour must be one of the best tours in Brussels.
It includes site-seeing as well as going to iconic cafes to taste famous Belgian beers. You also learn about the history of beer and Brussels along the way.
You just can’t visit Belgium without doing a beer tour, its blasphemy.
Have Lunch At Rue Des Bouchers
No Brussels itinerary would be complete without experiencing the maze of restaurants and cafes that make up the Rue Des Bouchers.
The small alleyways packed with tables and bursting with colour have created a photographic haven.
Be sure to try the Aux Armes de Bruxelles, a local restaurant going all the way back to 1972. I had the classic mussels in white wine and cream (onions, celery, butter, white wine, cream) fresh fries and a beer 🍺 .
I dinned there during the week and saw that they have a business lunch with 2 and 3 courses, so if you are visiting Brussels during the week and want to have a nice lunch without breaking the bank. Check this place out.
Or wander the streets and find a restaurant that catches your eye. Perfect to refuel and upload that perfect Insta photo.
One of Belgium’s most famous foods is the Belgium Frites. Belgium is believed to be the origin of the French Fry (the name is deceiving).
The city even has a Friet Museum. It is definitely a must-eat when in Belgium. And what better time of day to try it than over lunch.
Fries are my weakness, so I basically eat fries and waffles every day for three days straight while exploring Belgium. I tell you, doing research for this blog is bloody hard, but someone has to do it 😊.
Things To See In Brussels In One Day
Landmarks in Brussels are a real feast for the eyes. These landmarks can simply be admired from the outside or be further enjoyed by walking through their doors.
The Brussels Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula
The Brussels Cathedral, officially known as the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula, is one of Brussels’ most famous and loved landmarks.
The cathedral is a magnificent display of Gothic architecture, and its majesty lays in its sheer size.
Dating back to the 9th century, the original Romanesque church was built to honour Saint Michael. However, two centuries later, relics of Saint Gulda were brought to the church. This resulted in both saints being honoured by the cathedral and Brussels.
The cathedral is considered to be one of Brussels’ most important landmarks and is the main Catholic church in Belgium. It’s right in the city centre and well worth a visit.
READ MORE | DAY TRIP TO GHENT FROM BRUSSELS
Royal Palace of Brussels
The detailed architecture complements the palace’s opulent interior. It really is ‘fit for a king’.
Traditionally the palace is open to the public free of charge between July and August each year. It’s closed on Mondays, and only certain rooms can be viewed, but it’s worth it!
Comic Strip Mural And Comic Strips Center Museum
Belgium has been giving the world amazing comics for decades. Some of the most famous of these are The Smurfs and Tintin.
The Belgian Comic Strip Center acknowledges and celebrates this incredible form of art.
At the Comic Strips Museum visitors are able to move between permanent and temporary exhibitions in the Art Nouveau house designed by Victor Horta. It is a fun experience for families, couples, and solo travellers.
Palace of Coudenberg
The Palais Du Coudenberg (Palace of Coudenberg) is an underground archaeological site of the remains of Charles V’s palace in the middle ages. The palace was built on a small hill in Brussels with the same name.
The original Palace of Coudenberg burnt down and its ruins were pulled, down to make way for a new royal palace to be built.
The cellars are the oldest part of the building and give travellers a taste of Belgium’s regal history.
The museum on the property holds a collection of artefacts from the former Hoogstraeten house. This exhibition consists of ceramics, objects, glasses, and metals all of which were excavated on the Coudenberg site.
Mont Des Arts Gardens
Whip out your cameras and phones because this iconic view is one you’re going to want to share.
The Mont Des Arts Gardens (also known as The Hill of Arts), is a pristine, lush public garden that will leave you speechless.
When you stand at the top of the slope, the perfectly manicured gardens are spread out in front of you. On a clear day, the Grand Place can be seen as well as the Atomium and the Koekelberg Basilica.
Brussels is known to be a mostly flat city. The Mont Des Arts is one of the best sunset spots Brussels has to offer because of its slight elevation.
Top Tip: Buy some snacks throughout the day and create a little sunset picnic for yourself on the stairs overlooking the city.
Nightlife In Brussels
Brussels is a little more quiet and relaxed than other European capitals. The locals generally enjoy dinners and drinks with friends.
However, nightclubs and bars can definitely be found throughout the city and especially in the city centre.
Bonnefooi offers live music and a great atmosphere if you’re up for a night of dancing. They are located in the city centre and walking distance from all of the activities from your 1 day in Brussels.
Delirium Cafe Brussels if you are looking to grab a few pints and relive your university days then visit Delirium. With more than 2000 types of beer, brewery memorabilia and live music.
You’ll find a novel flavoured beers to wet your whistle. I tried one of the weirdest flavour beers ever – Floris Cactus.
A green coloured beer that tasted nothing like cactus or beer and more like soda water, but it was different, so I wanted to try it. Surprisingly liked this wired concoction and would try it again. Be warned its not for everyone.
What To Eat In Brussels
To know a city is to know its cuisine. At least that’s what I believe, because I like to eat a lot.
There is something so special (and delicious) about learning about a new country through eating its dishes. Brussels is famous for its gastronomy and comfort food. Its traditional foods show that blend off perfectly.
Here is a list of Belgium foods to try in Brussels:
Moules-Frites (mussels served with fries) – Love and work possible die for this dish
Brussel sprouts of course
Vol au vent (similar to chicken and mushroom pie)
Chico au gratin (endive/chicory wrapped in ham and served with bechamel sauce)
Stoemp (mashed potatoes and veg to you and me but delicious)
Paling in’t groen (eel in a green sauce)
How To Get To Brussels From London
Like most of Europe, travelling between countries can be done in a variety of ways, all with their own pros and cons. All of these ways are easy and affordable, which is why Europe is so fun to move around in.
Drive Yourself To Brussels From London
The first way to do a Brussels day trip from London is to drive, by either renting a car or using your own.
The distance is roughly 230 miles (370 km) and takes between four and five hours. Drive through the Eurotunnel to cross the English Channel. You can depart from either Folkestone or Dover and arrive in Calais.
Buses Running From London To Brussels
Buses run from London to Brussels and follow a similar route to the one you would drive if you were doing the trip yourself.
It takes slightly longer than a car ride, lasting roughly seven and a half hours. Buses generally depart from Victoria station in London and arrive at Brussels Midi stop.
Short Breaks To Brussels By Eurostar
The Eurostar is definitely the most cost-effective and efficient way to do a London to Brussels day trip.
The trip takes 2 hours and costs anywhere from €50 to €250 depending on the time you want to leave and the type of ticket you purchase.
I bag my ticket during the January sales, so keep an eye out for Eurostar deals, as they run these throughout the year.
Flying To Brussels For A Day
Flying is also a great option for a day trip to Belgium. Flights are an hour and a half long, remembering that you lose an hour there because of the time difference. Flights are similar in price to Eurostar, but remember to add the time it takes to get to the airport and check-in etc.
Top Tip: Buying tickets of any kind for a day trip to Brussels from London can be cheaper when you buy them in advance rather than last minute.
Travelling To Brussels From Other Parts Of Europe
Brussels, like much of Europe, is an easily accessible city. It is great to do day trips around Europe so that you can see and experience the history and culture of more than one city.
Train From Brussels To Cologne Germany
The train from Brussels to Cologne is an average of two hours and twenty minutes long. Whether you’re doing a Brussels to Cologne day trip or visa versa, the Brussels to Cologne train is an easy and efficient way to travel.
Brussels To Amsterdam High-Speed Train
The high-speed train takes just 1 hour and 50 minutes. Seat reservations are mandatory, and it can be fairly costly but what a great option for getting to the Netherlands!
The Eurorail works similarly to the Eurostar. Amsterdam city breaks to Brussels are quick and easy with both.
This is the journey I took when I first Interrailled around Europe as a broke-ass student.
Getting Around Brussels In One Day
If you find yourself following this 1 day in Brussels Belgium itinerary, you’ll figure out that the best way to get around is on foot.
Brussels also has a great public transport system. They have a unified ticketing system that allows you to use the bus, tram, and metro. The Brussels one day pass (24 hours) costs €7.50.
Where To Stay In Brussels (Luxury Hotel and Airbnb)
If you find yourself able to spend the night in Brussels, there are some amazing spots to lay your weary head.
Rocco Forte Hotel Amigo is an incredible five-star hotel right in the centre of Brussels. The hotel really has something for everyone. Their award-winning restaurant caters for vegans and has halal and gluten-free options.
There are plenty of Airbnbs to pick from if you are staying the night. I stayed in an Airbnb, on rue du Marché aux herbes a few minutes walk from the Grand Place and it was central and within walking distance to most of the things that I wanted to see during the 3 days in Belgium.
This newly furnished apartment is just 50 meters from the Grand Place and offers a fresh, clean stay for travellers.
Is One Day In Brussels Enough?
Any major city can take weeks until you feel like you really understand and know it. One day is hardly ever enough, but it is more than none.
There are so many things to do in Brussels for a day that it might just steal your heart and get you planning a longer trip before you have even left.
How many days in Brussels do I suggest? If Brussels day trips don’t sound like enough time but you would still like a short trip, I suggest three days.
Best Times To Visit Brussels
Belgium experiences all four seasons with the probability of rain all year round. Autumn (September-October) and spring (March-May) are ideal times of year to visit.
This is because the crowds are less and the prices are lower than peak season, but the weather is still lovely.
Brussels/Belgium Tourist Information Centre
There are tourist information centres scattered throughout the city of Brussels. They are easily accessible by foot.
Use It is a quirky centre with the friendliest staff and best local knowledge for travellers. It’s located in the centre of Brussels so you can easily walk to it and find extra golden nuggets of information about the city.
Travel Tips For Brussels One Day Itinerary
Now that we’ve covered what to do in Brussels in one day there are a few other tips and tricks to help your trip to be as smooth as possible. Here’s a few of mine:
Train tickets are cheaper if you’re under the age of 26. So have your ID ready if you’re young enough.
Train tickets are also cheaper over the weekends.
Make day trips to other Belgium cities if you have time. How far is Antwerp from Brussels by train you may ask? It only takes an hour on the Brussels to Antwerp train. The last train from Brussels to Antwerp runs just before midnight.
One Day In Brussels Itinerary | Summary
Experiencing what to do in Brussels, Belgium, in one day can feel like a total dream. Brussels is a city full of amazing architecture, delicious food, trendy art, and some of the friendliest people.
Brussels’ regal atmosphere mixed with its youthful touches means this city has something for everyone. Now that you know what to see in Brussels in 1 day, how would you spend your 24 hours?
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