This one day in Brussels itinerary has everything you’ll need to plan the perfect Brussels day trip, including the best things to do in Brussels – top sights to see, Belgian beer, best Belgian and chocolate shops and waffles galore.
As the capital of Belgium, this Brussels has so much to offer like its rich culture, Art Nouveau architecture, river cruise, chocolate tours, seat of European Parliament, world famous Atomium and gastronomy makes 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 Belgian capital, this guide will help you make the most of your 24 hours in Brussels Belgium.
Don’t have time to read the whole article? The best Brussels tour is this Walking Tour with Belgian Lunch, Chocolate, & Beer with a near-perfect ⭐⭐⭐⭐ rating.
With these incredible stops and a little planning with this one day in Brussels itinerary, 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.
Things To Do In Brussels In A Day Itinerary | Brussels Day Trip
Here are the best things to do in Brussels in one day. Just remember to stick to activities in the city centre of Brussels will also help avoid wasting time commuting around Brussels in a day.
1. Visit Choco-Story – The Chocolate Museum Brussels & Take A Chocolate Tour
Belgian chocolates are world-renowned. Brusselaars have dedicated a whole museum to their love for the confectionery. You can journey into the long history of cocoa exhibition and chocolate, demonstration by a chocolatier and enjoy chocolate tastings.
Choco-Story Brussels is located in the city centre of Brussels and is just a three-minute walk from the Grand Place. The museum offers chocolate making workshop and guided tours in seven languages, including English. The chocolate tour also allow you to optimise your time.
No visit to Brussels is complete without doing a chocolate tour. I suggest taking part in a guided Brussels day chocolate tour to be able to learn and appreciate chocolate to its fullest.
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2. 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. It’s one of the best things to do in Brussels in one day.
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 Belgian beer and Brussels along the way. You just can’t visit Belgium without doing a beer tour, it’s blasphemy.
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3. Visit The Brussels Atomium
One of the top places to visit in Brussels in one day is the Atomium. Visiting the Brussels Atomium and discover stunning 360-degree panoramic views of Brussels and explore exhibitions about Belgium’s history of architecture. The iconic Atomium which symbolises an iron crystal, magnified 165 billion times. Step into this relic of the past which was created for the 1958 World Fair, the Atomium is the most popular attraction in Europe’s capital city.
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4. Explore Mini-Europe
One of the most unusual things to do in Brussels Belgium is visit Mini Europe. See all the wonders of Europe at Mini Europe in Brussels, here you can see iconic miniature monuments, such as a 4 meter tall Big Ben, 13 meters tall Eiffel Tower, the gondolas of the Doge’s Palace, Grand Place in Brussels, and the Acropolis along with 350 European attractions. It is a really quirky place to visit in Brussels Belgium.
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5. 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 Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert 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 on your one day in Brussels of the Galeries, then visit early in the morning (8:00 – 8:30) and in the evenings around 9:30pm to 10pm.
6. 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 and a must when visiting Brussels.
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.
7. 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 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.
8. Visit St Michael and St Gudula Cathedral Brussels
Best things to see in Brussels in one day is the majestic cathedrals which are some of the best landmarks in Brussels. The Brussels Cathedral, officially known as the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula, is one of Brussels’ most famous and loved landmarks in Brussels Belgium. 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 is one of the coolest places to visit in Brussels in one day.
9. Royal Palace of Brussels (Palais de Bruxelles)
London has Buckingham Palace, and Brussels has the Royal Palace. The majestic Royal Palace of Bruxelles represents the Belgium monarchy. The Royal Palace of Brussels is the official palace of the King and Queen, however, it is not used as a royal residence, as the Belgian royal family live in the Royal Palace of Laeken in northern Brussels.
But the building is the king’s place of work and is a place to visit on this one day in Brussels itinerary. The Royal Palace also hosts various royal events as well as apartment buildings which are used by heads of government on their official visits to Belgium.
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!
9. Comic Strip Mural And Comic Strips Center Museum
Wondering what to see in Brussels in one day? Then visiting the Comic Strip Mural should be high on your list. 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 street 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. Visiting the comic strip in Brussels is one of the top things to add to your one day in Brussels itinerary.
10. Palace of Coudenberg
Another one of the places to see in Brussels in one day is the 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.
11. 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.
12. Musée Magritte Museum
The Magritte Museum is an art museum in the central square of Brussels Belgium, that houses the world’s largest collection of surrealist artist René Magritte. The museum is one of the constituent museums of the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium. In this museum you can view over 230 pieces of works including oil paintings, sketches, and sculptures, as well as posters, photographs and films made by Magritte himself and great attraction to include on your one day Brussels itinerary.
13. The National Basilica of the Sacred Heart – Koekelberg Basilica
The National Basilica of the Sacred Heart is a Roman Catholic Minor Basilica and parish church in Brussels Belgium. The church is dedicated to the Sacred Heart, and was ranks fifth among the world’s largest churches and inspired by the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur in Paris.
14. 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 or Belgian fries. Belgium is believed to be the origin of the French Fry (the name is deceiving).
The city center 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 french 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 ????
15. 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. So here are the top things to do in Brussels at night.
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 Belgian food to try in Brussels:
- Moules-Frites (mussels served with fries) – Love and work possible die for this dish
- Belgian waffles
- Belgian meatballs
- 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 European cities, travelling between countries can be done in a variety of ways, mainly via Brussels Central station to Gent-Sint-Pieters train station 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 St Pancras Station 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 London Victoria 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 Brussels International airport, and check-in etc.
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 Belgium
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?
How many days in Brussels do I suggest? One in Brussels is ok, if you are only interested in seeing the main tourist attraction in Brussels that are located in the city centre. Then use this guide of the best things to do in Brussels for a day. However, 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.
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 with this Brussels one day itinerary. 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.
What To Do In Brussels For A Day – One Day In Brussels Itinerary
Experiencing what to do in Brussels Belgium in one day can feel like a total dream. Brussels is a beautiful 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?