One Day in Brussels - Best Things to Do and See in the Belgian Capital City

One Day in Brussels – Best Things to Do and See in the Belgian Capital City

(Last Updated On: August 16, 2018)

Brussels the capital city of Belgium is one of the top tourist cities in Europe. The Belgian capital has enough compelling reasons to lure tourists and travelers to this amazing city which is home to astounding Comic Strip Route and intriguing historical monuments. One day in Brussels is really not enough to explore the best of what the city has to offer. And then there are some beautiful towns outside the city which makes for easy day trips from Brussels. which we believe should be on your list too.

The first time we visited Belgium we spent only one day exploring Brussels and spent the other days doing day trips from Brussels. So here is what we could cover during our one day in Brussels.

Brussels has a distinctive charm with a medley of culture, trendy restaurants, cafes, over 100 museums and the towering skyscrapers. This is astounding how so many unique things are packed in one city. And getting to Brussels is convenient too with well-connected high-speed trains from London, Paris, and Amsterdam. So now that you have enough reasons to visit the Belgian capital city let us start with the top things to do in Brussels in one day.

We started our sightseeing at the Central Station in Brussels. We had collected a tourist route map from the information office which we followed to start our city sightseeing. Our first stop on the city tour was the Grand Place. On our way from Central Station to Grand Place, we walked us past several statues.

Place d’Espagne has an equestrian statue of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza – the fictional characters in the novel Don Quixote.

Top Things do in Brussels Belgium

Grassmarkt has a gorgeous fountain with a statue of Charles Buls a Belgian politician and mayor of the City of Brussels.

One day in Brussels - Top Things to do in Brussels Belgium

Top Things to do in Brussels

Grand Place

The first glimpse of the Grand Place Square left us in awe and we stood there spellbound for a few minutes. Our eyes kept gazing at the buildings in square taking in the beauty of the architecture and artistic wonders.

The Grand Place or the Grote Markt is a historic square and an iconic landmark of the city of Brussels and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

One day in Brussels - Top Things to do in Brussels Belgium

The square is surrounded by guildhalls and ornate buildings dating back from the 14th to 17th centuries. The two prominent buildings in the square are the Town Hall and the King’s House.

The Town hall is a medieval building built in the 15th century. The edifice features a striking Gothic tower topped by a statue of Saint Michael, the patron saint of Brussels.

The King’s House stands on the site of a 12th-century wooden building and then the 15th century by a stone building and was rebuilt several times. The imposing Gothic building houses the Museum of the City of Brussels. The museum walks you through the history of the Brussels City through paintings, sculptures, tapestries, and other artifacts. The most interesting part of the museum is the room which displays nearly 750 costumes of the Manneken Pis Statue.

One day in Brussels - Top Things to do in Brussels Belgium

One day in Brussels - Top Things to do in Brussels Belgium

If you happen to visit Brussels during the Christmas you can enjoy the wonderful light and sound show. The Grand-Place is covered with a giant carpet of flowers every two years in mid-August which is a colorful sight worth a visit.

There are several restaurants and cafes around the Grand Place with outdoor seating. It is worth it to spend some time in one of the cafes and marvel at the splendid architecture of baroque, neoclassical and neogothic styles. The narrow alleys around the square are also lined with souvenir shops and restaurants if you are looking for a quick bite.

Also Read: A Day in Bruges – The Charming Medieval Town that breathes Romance!

Waffles Munching

We wandering through the cobblestone alleys looking for the iconic Manneken Pis. Several small cafes in the alleys had delicious looking waffles at the display and we couldn’t resist ourselves. We stopped by one of the cafes to devour on some delicious waffles.

One day in Brussels - Top Things to do in Brussels Belgium

While in Belgium indulging in some waffle munching with an assortment of toppings from chocolate, cream, jam, powdered sugar to fresh fruits is a must. And when in Brussels you cannot leave without sampling some delicious Belgian chocolates. These also make for some great gifts and souvenirs to take back home.

Manneken Pis

The eagerly awaited ‘Pissing Boy’ was just a couple of minutes walk from the cafe. Being there early in the morning was an advantage as we had the benefit to pose with the little boy without any hustle. There are several legends behind this statue from the little boy going missing and been later found pissing in some corner of the city to a boy urinating on explosives and saving the city from being destroyed.

One day in Brussels - Top Things to do in Brussels Belgium

There are two more statues one of a girl and other of a dog both peeing in the public. Jeanneke Pis famous as Manneken Pis’ little sister can be found a couple of minutes walk from the Grand Place. And then the dog Zinneke Pis about 10 minutes walk from the Grand Place we did not find him during our Brussels city tour but spotted him unexpectedly during our comic strip route tour when hunting for the comics around the Brussels city.

Also Read: A Day in Ghent, Belgium – Top Things to Do and See

We came across the walls built in the early 13th century during the fortifications of Brussels. Today only a few sections of the walls remains can be found around the city.

Anneessens Tower and Walls

We came across the Anneessens Tower or the Corner Tower with the broken rampart on our way to Place du Grand Sablon. These walls were built as a part of the fortifications of the City of Brussels between the 11th and 13th centuries.

Today only a few sections of the walls remains can be found around the city.

One day in Brussels - Top Things to do in Brussels Belgium

Place du Grand Sablon

Place du Grand Sablon is a lively place which hosts a wonderful market at every weekend where one can shop for various antique items and clothing. There are numerous antique stores, boutiques, Belgian chocolatiers Surrounding the square. Closeby is Petit Sablon, a garden bounded by an elaborate wrought-iron fence which is dotted with pillars topped by sculptures.

Next to the market is the magnificent Our Blessed Lady of the Sablon Church or Eglise Notre-Dame du Sablon, a 15th Century Catholic church. The late Brabantine Gothic style church has some amazing Baroque chapels, exquisitely carved sculptures, murals, and beautiful stained glasses adorning its interior.

One day in Brussels - Top Things to do in Brussels Belgium

Place Royale

Walking along the same street, we came to a large historic square called Place Royale with an equestrian statue of Godfrey of Bouillon at its center. Place Royale or Koningsplein is a neoclassical square surrounded important historic buildings and monuments.

The neoclassical Saint Jacques-Sur-Coudenberg or Sint-Jacob-op-Koudenberg Church dominates the square. The main features of the church are Greco-Roman portico with Corinthian columns, fresco on the triangular pediment, belltower and a grandiose classic interior.

One day in Brussels - Top Things to do in Brussels Belgium

Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Magritte Museum and BELvue Museum are important museums in the square.

The Royal Palace

The two other important buildings in the square are the Place Royale and the Coudenberg Palace.

The Royal Palace is a royal residence of the monarchy of Belgium located opposite the Brussels Park. The palace is open to the public every summer from 22 July to 2 September where visitors can explore some of the palace rooms and the artworks on display. The entrance is free.

Coudenberg Palace

Next to the palace is the former Coudenberg Palace or the Charles V’s Palace. Visitors can tour the archaeological remains of the palace which was damaged in the fire of 1731. The site is located underground and can be accessed from the BELvue museum.

Mont des Arts (Kunstberg)

We walked down the Coudenberg hill into a beautiful Mont des Arts garden. Mont des Arts is a historic complex which consists of important buildings including the Congress Palace, the Royal Library and the National Archives of Belgium. There is a beautiful geometric garden decorated with flower beds and its center is an equestrian statue of King Albert I.

Things to do in Brussels

Visitors can enjoy stunning vistas of the old town, the striking spire of the Brussels Town Hall in the Grand Place as far as the Atomium from the vantage point in the garden.

Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula

About 5 minutes walk from the Central station is the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula. The magnificent Gothic church features remarkable stained glass windows and artworks in the interior including the Marble and alabaster altarpiece and the Baroque pulpit.

Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert

In the street opposite to the Central station, some 5 minutes walk away is the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert, a shopping arcade. It has a narrow courtyard lined with opulent cafes, jewelry and confectionery shops on both side and an arched glass roof.

One day in Brussels - Top Things to do in Brussels Belgium

If you are looking for the best options for eating in the old town of Brussels then check out this quick guide on foodie Brussels.

Basilica of the Sacred Heart

We had booked an apartment close to the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. The way to our apartment from the metro station Simonis was through a large park with twin avenues lined with dense trees and a central lawn. The walk through the park provided with stunning views of the magnificent Basilica of the Sacred Heart.

One day in Brussels - Top Things to do in Brussels Belgium

One day in Brussels - Top Things to do in Brussels Belgium

The Art Deco church with a central dome flanked by the two towers is the world’s fifth largest Catholic basilica. One can take elevators to the outdoor gallery located at the base of the dome for remarkable panoramic views of the city.

Things to do in Brussels with Kids

After exploring all the major points of interest around the Brussels Central station you will still have a few hours left until dusk. Board a train from the central station and head to the Atomium one of the top things to do in Brussels. You would not want to miss this attraction if you are traveling with kids.

Atomium

The Atomium, a unique fascinating structure in Brussels was originally constructed for the World Exhibition in 1958. The nine 18 m diameter stainless steel clad spheres represent the model structure of an atom.

The Spheres consists of exhibition halls and museums with the top sphere having a restaurant with a panoramic view of Brussels. There is a permanent exhibition on the history of the building and numerous temporary exhibitions.

One day in Brussels - Top Things to do in Brussels Belgium

Mini-Europe

Mini-Europe is another major Brussels attractions and one of the top things to do in Brussels with kids. The Mini-Europe is a miniature theme park located close to the Atomium. The park exhibits around 350 miniature monuments from around Europe including Eiffel Tower, Leaning Tower of Pisa, Big Ben and much more.

Another important Brussels attraction which would be of interest for the kids is the Comic Strip Route. You may not be able to cover it if you have only one day in Brussels. But you can bookmark it for your next visit to Brussels.

Comic Strip Route

Brussels has a well-known comic strip route, which is an interesting way to spot the well-preserved comic heritage of the city. Comic Strip Route in the city center itself offers more than 50 comics painted on buildings and walls. Go scouring for the comic heroes painted in vivid colors on the walls of the city is indeed an adventure.

One day in Brussels - Top Things to do in Brussels Belgium

Read More: Exploring Comic adventures on the Brussels Comic Strip Route

The Belgian Comic Strip Center

But if you can squeeze in some time before heading to the Atomium you can visit the Belgian Comic Strip Center which is about 5 minutes walk from the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula. The museum holds permanent and temporary exhibitions where you can discover the aspects of the comics art. The center also has a library with a reading room where the kids can explore more on the contemporary comics art.

Also Read: Top 10 Things to do in the Dinant, Belgium – Day Trip from Brussels

Getting Around in Brussels

The major Brussels attractions including Grand Place, Mannekin Pis, Mont des Arts, Royal Palace and the numerous museums are located around the Central Station which can easily be explored on foot. You just need to reach the central station by either bus or metro. And Brussels has a very good network of metro and bus connecting major parts of the city.

There is definitely a lot more to experience and learn in Brussels called the ‘melting pot of cultures’. From historic charm to chocolates, fries, and waffles the city has something for everyone to keep the spirits high!

Best time to Visit Brussels

The best time to visit Brussels is from April to October though July and August are peak tourist seasons. We visited Belgium a couple of times once late October and the second time early November. October and November are our favorite months for the crowd are less with lower room rates and the spectacular fall foliage in Bruges and Ghent.

2 or 3 days in Brussels?

If you more than a day in Brussels we recommend you head one of the beautiful towns outside the city on a day trip from Brussels. Our favorite towns are Bruges, Ghent, Antwerp, Dinant and the beautiful city of Leuven. Each of these towns has a unique charm of their own and are sure to transport you into a time warp.

Brussels Card

The Brussels Card benefits you with free admission to 40 museums in Brussels and discounts on various Brussels attractions including Atomium and Mini-Europe, tours, and restaurants. You can also choose unlimited travel on public transport and Hop On Hop Off bus with extra charges on the basic card.

For your one day in Brussels, you might want to buy the card only if you are planning to visit a few museums around the Place Royale and Grand Place. The card will really help you save money if you are planning to spend 2 or 3 days in Brussels. Check here for details and plan accordingly.

Brussels Tours

Brussels Tour Map

What has been your favorite part of sight-seeing in Brussels? Do share with us in comments.

Would you like to pin this post?

 

Disclosure: Please note that this article contains affiliate links. Read More

29 thoughts on “One Day in Brussels – Best Things to Do and See in the Belgian Capital City

  • September 17, 2016 at 6:52 pm
    Permalink

    Brussels looks lovely! Would you say that it’s the perfect place for little ones, as its only a short Eurostar trip from London?

    Reply
    • mm
      September 18, 2016 at 8:20 am
      Permalink

      Brussels is more about exploring museums and history so not sure how the lil ones would find it. Then yes there is mini Europe that might catch their interest. And the comic strip which again needs hunting around the nook and corner of the city.

      Reply
  • September 17, 2016 at 8:34 pm
    Permalink

    Mini Europe and wafels sound great, but what about the underwear museum?

    Reply
    • mm
      September 18, 2016 at 8:18 am
      Permalink

      We weren’t aware of this museum before you mentioned it. Sounds interesting 😉 Well! Brussels has more than 100 museums so there should pretty strange ones out there too.

      Reply
  • September 18, 2016 at 3:31 am
    Permalink

    The buildings are beautiful. I’d love to travel more and now I’ve read this I think Brussels is going on be on my travel list! Great piece!!

    Reply
    • mm
      September 18, 2016 at 8:22 am
      Permalink

      Brussels is definitely worth a visit and you could also a plan a visit to one the gorgeous Belgian towns which can be done on a day trip from Brussels.

      Reply
  • September 18, 2016 at 8:50 pm
    Permalink

    Totally agree that it’s easy to have day trips to and from Brussels. I went as a teenager and absolutely loved it. Aren’t those waffles the best you’ve ever tasted?

    Reply
  • September 18, 2016 at 10:10 pm
    Permalink

    Brussels is such a wonderful place if you ask me, great and rich history in these images.

    Reply
  • September 19, 2016 at 12:13 am
    Permalink

    I visited Brussels last year and had a great time visiting all these amazing places. Just loved it! And those waffles.. Yumm 🙂

    Reply
    • mm
      August 20, 2018 at 11:59 am
      Permalink

      Waffles are our top reasons to revisit Brussels 🙂

      Reply
  • September 19, 2016 at 6:05 am
    Permalink

    I’ve never experienced touring around Brussels in such detail. I would love to visit again and just explore the museums all the lovely sights!

    Reply
  • September 20, 2016 at 1:19 pm
    Permalink

    A little paradise! The waffles and the architectures are all worth to try and see respectively, in Brussels.

    Reply
    • mm
      August 20, 2018 at 12:00 pm
      Permalink

      Grand Place alone showcases an exemplary architectural brilliance, there is so much to explore here

      Reply
  • October 8, 2016 at 11:02 am
    Permalink

    After reading this I know Brussels makes a great weekend getaway. Easy to get to, lots to see, and WOW – those waffles!!! Thanks for the detailed itinerary!

    Reply
    • mm
      August 20, 2018 at 12:01 pm
      Permalink

      Glad the post was helpful!

      Reply
  • October 8, 2016 at 11:18 am
    Permalink

    I had no idea that Brussels looked like this! I thought it was a modern city, but the building look beautiful. I love the Comic trail. We have lots of street art but nothing like that!

    Reply
    • mm
      August 20, 2018 at 12:01 pm
      Permalink

      That was our impression too after visiting Bruges and Ghent but Brussels is a melting pot of culture and heritage.

      Reply
  • October 9, 2016 at 7:05 am
    Permalink

    I have never been to Brussels, but it looks beautiful! The Grand Palace – omg! How impressive. I absolutely adore its architecture. And eating waffles? YES! Sounds just like me. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  • October 9, 2016 at 10:17 am
    Permalink

    I must admit I have never really been attracted to Brussels. Don’t get me wrong, it looks lovely but so are hundreds of other European cities. However, you got my attention with the Comic Strip Route. now that looks interesting!

    Reply
  • October 9, 2016 at 10:44 am
    Permalink

    The art deco church is really amazing. Truly Brussels have great architectures. Along with the rich culture and history, tourist will always flock to this great location.

    Reply
  • October 9, 2016 at 3:06 pm
    Permalink

    Brussels looks awesome! We skipped it and went to Bruges instead, but it’s definitely on our list for next time. I love waffles, I would want them all!

    Reply
  • October 9, 2016 at 5:30 pm
    Permalink

    It’s been a very long time since I was last in Brussels and I didn’t spend a lot of time there. Your post is making me wish I had. The park with the trees creating the arch overhead is stunning!

    Reply
  • October 9, 2016 at 7:41 pm
    Permalink

    Bruxelles looks so charming in your photos! I would definitely enjoy the waffles with as many toppings I could. However, I know few people who live there and they do not like the lifestyle at all, do you have idea why?

    Reply
  • October 10, 2016 at 3:47 am
    Permalink

    I didn’t really know much about Brussels until I read your post and hadn’t realised there was so much going on there! I love the picture of the town hall in Grand Palace Square too – and can totally understand how you stood gazing at it – it’s stunningly beautiful!

    Reply
  • October 23, 2016 at 4:44 am
    Permalink

    I’ve read before how tiny the Manneken Pis statue is, but your photo really puts it into perspective. I’m planning to go to Belgium this winter and it’s good to know that it’s possible to start on foot from Central station and walk to several monuments without needing public transport. Do you think one full day is enough?

    Reply
    • mm
      October 23, 2016 at 12:36 pm
      Permalink

      Yes, one day should be enough excluding the comic strip route which would be tedious to club with other attractions. And it may also depend on how soon you wrap up with the mini Europe.

      Reply
  • March 13, 2017 at 4:29 am
    Permalink

    Brussels and around it is all so beautiful. That when we planned our Europe trip, we thought not to cram it with rest of the places. We want to go here with a good amount of time and explore everything that you wrote about above, and beyond. Particularly the waffles, the beautiful serene surroundings and simply the cobbled streets 🙂 . Bookmarked this article for planning my trip

    Reply
  • August 18, 2018 at 8:37 am
    Permalink

    Brussels is such a lovely city. My favorite spot is definitely the Grand Place and I just love the food there. I have not visited any of the cities that you recommend for a day trip, so next time I am there I will have to do that.

    Reply
    • mm
      August 20, 2018 at 12:02 pm
      Permalink

      Grand Place and Waffles are top reasons why we would love to revisit Brussels

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: