One day in Brussels is a good amount of time to explore the city. There is a lot to do and see in the capital of Belgium! With this itinerary, you know exactly where to go.
I'm going to help you make the most of your time in Brussels. If you follow the things I outline below, you will have a great time in the city.
Table of Contents
How to get to Brussels?
There are several ways to get to the city. Because the city is in the middle of the country, it is easy to get there from everywhere in Belgium! But if you are coming from abroad, it is also an accessible place!
There are four main ways to get to Brussels!
One of the most convenient methods to reach Brussels is by train.
There are three main train stations in the city. These are the North, Center, and South train stations.
But if you are coming to the city from another country you arrive at Brussels-South. The other name of this station is Bruxelles-Midi. This is the hub for international trains going to Brussels.
Brussels has a high-speed railway connection with its neighboring countries. These are the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany.
The train operator Thalys connects Brussels with Amsterdam and Paris. Eurostar connects Brussels with London and Paris. Furthermore, ICE International is for connections with Germany. And NS International serves the route between Brussels and Amsterdam.
As you can see, many international train journeys go through the city. This means you can also spend one day in Brussels when you are traveling between these cities!
From Brussels-South station you can walk to the center. You can also take public transport.
Another common way to go to Brussels is by Airplane. The city has two airports.
The largest airport in the city is Brussels Zaventem Airport. This is where most flights go. Especially if you are going from outside of Europe, this is where you end up!
From Brussels Zaventem Airport you can get to the city center in an easy way. There is a direct train connection, with trains leaving every 10 minutes.
Furthermore, you can get to the city center by bus or by taxi as well. These options can be better depending on your circumstances.
The other airport in Brussels is Charleroi. But that airport is much farther away from the center. For that reason, it's not convenient to go there if you're only in Brussels for one day.
You can also visit the city by bus. This is often much cheaper than other alternatives.
There are many international bus operators that go to the city. For example, you can take Eurolines, Flixbus and BlaBlaBus.
These buses connect the city with other cities in Europe. From Brussels, you can take the bus to London, Paris, Berlin and many other places.
Of course, you can go to the city in your own car as well. Distances between Brussels and cities in countries like Germany and France are small. So the journey can be quick.
Getting around in Brussels
You are in Brussels and want to go somewhere. What now? How to move around the city?
First, Brussels is not a large city. You can walk a lot in the city. Especially if you are in the city center, most of the sights are easy to walk through.
You can also rent a bike from one of the bike rental stations. This is a fun, affordable, and convenient way to move around. You can get a subscription and after that, you can bike from one place to the other.
Besides walking and cycling, public transport in Brussels is great too!
There are metro lines that are convenient for when you have to cover larger distances. Furthermore, there are buses and trams.
If you need to go to a specific place, faster or with heavy luggage, the taxi is convenient.
Where to stay in Brussels?
There are many great hotels in Brussels. The city has a lot of interesting neighborhoods to stay in. But for one day in Brussels, I recommend staying in the city center. That way you can make even more of your time.
Itinerary for one day in Brussels
Now that you have some background information, it is time to start your day in Brussels.
The morning is a great time to explore some of the most famous parts of the city.
For this itinerary, I assume you start at Brussels South Station. This is the most common place to arrive.
Porte de Hal and Palace of Justice
From Brussels South Station it is a short walk to Porte de Hal.
Porte de Hal is an old city gate from medieval times. It was part of the walls of Brussels. Nowadays, it is a museum and it's an exciting sight to see.
From there you can walk a bit more to the north until you arrive at the Palace of Justice.
The Palace of Justice is a huge building that serves as the law court of Brussels. It is the most important court in Belgium.
The building itself is huge and looks spectacular. It is definitely worth your time to visit. Because the building is so large you can see it from many parts of the city!
Entering the building is one of the free things to do in Brussels.
Now it is time for brunch.
Between the Palace of Justice and the next stop is Le Pain Quotidien Sablon.
Le Pain Quotidien is a chain of bakeries and they have delicious food. You find here all kinds of bread, bowls and some other dishes.
I'm sure you will love to eat here!
Grand place and Manneken pis
From brunch, in about 15 minutes you reach the Grand Place.
The Grand Place is the central square of the city. It is one of the most recognizable sights in Brussels. You find here beautiful architecture and the houses are amazing to see.
Furthermore, it is one of the most beautiful squares in Europe. And it is on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
The Grand Place is also the place where you can find many restaurants and cafes. Furthermore, this is a good area for shopping.
From Grand Place, it is only a few minutes walking to Manneken Pis. This famous statue and fountain is a must-see if you are going to the city.
Belgium is famous for its chocolate. So this is something you have to experience when you are going to Brussels for one day. Especially if you love sweet food, this is great.
When you walk around in the city center, you will stumble upon many chocolate shops.
Close to the Grand Place is the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert. This is a covered passage where you find some chocolate shops and other shops.
Mont des Arts
After your walk through the area surrounding Grand Place, you should head to Mont des Arts.
This is a hill and park that is beautiful to see. The trees look lovely and from the top of the hill, you can look a bit over the city. This view is amazing!
Mont des Arts is also one of the best photo spots in Brussels.
Lunch with a view
Mont des arts has a beautiful view. But for a viewpoint that is far better, go to the Musical Instruments Museum. This is one of the best museums in Brussels.
The museum itself is very interesting. The collection of musical instruments is definitely worth your time as well.
But for this itinerary, go straight to the rooftop! On the rooftop, there is a restaurant from which you have the best view of Brussels. You can either sit inside or outside.
What's great is that you can have lunch here as well.
Royal museums of fine arts
Next to the Musical Instruments Museum is the Royal Museums of Fine Arts. This is actually a collection of a few museums.
If you want to go to museums in Brussels, this is the best place for that.
The collection of the museums includes amazing drawings, paintings, and sculptures. You find here works from the 15th century till the present day. Artists whose work you can admire here include Rubens, Magritte, and Meunier.
Royal Palace of Brussels
After the Royal Museums of Fine Arts, we are now going to the Royal Palace of Brussels.
This is the official palace of the King and Queen of Belgium. They don't live here, but the place is great to see.
You could go inside and see the rooms of the building. But for 24 hours in Brussels, I recommend seeing the building from the outside only. This is a great experience in itself.
Besides the Royal Palace, the royal Parc de Bruxelles is lovely too! This park is next to the palace and is a great place for a relaxing stroll. Also, it is the largest public park in Brussels.
Another interesting place in the city you should not miss out on is Le Botanique. This is a bit further from the other sights, so I recommend going here by public transport or by bike.
Le Botanique was the botanical garden of the city. It isn't anymore. Nowadays there are many cultural events at this place.
The building at Le Botanique is impressive to see. You should see it when you're 24 hours in Brussels.
But the botanical garden is not completely gone. There are still beautiful gardens surrounding the building! So you can enjoy nature while you are here.
Parc du Cinquantenaire
The last sight for your day in Brussels is Parc du Cinquantenaire. This is another beautiful park in Brussels. Furthermore, it is one of the most photogenic places in Brussels.
There is a very distinct arch that looks amazing. This is fun to see and the park is a relaxing place to be.
To get here from Le Botanique it is best to go by bike or public transport again!
So many things in one day. You are definitely hungry. There are many great restaurants in Brussels serving delicious food.
The best area for restaurants is the place where we started today. At the Grand Place. So get your bike or hop on public transport to go here again.
Taste some waffles
After dinner, you can roam around at Grand Place a bit. It is a great place to be in the evening.
There is one thing left to discover: Belgian Waffles. Belgium is famous for its waffles and, if you can, you should taste one!
One of the best places for waffles is at Le Funambule. The waffles here are very delicious. You can either have a plain waffle or one with toppings you like!
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