Brussels in one day: itinerary, what to see and attractions
Brussels is a charming European capital with the most beautiful central square and the famous peeing boy. Are you here for a day trip? Then take advantage of our walking itinerary for a day to explore Brussels’ main attractions, unusual monuments, see the most majestic cathedrals, and taste the most delicious local delicacies.
Halléport . We begin our walk at the most remote site, the Halléport city gate, so as not to walk in circles around the center, but to walk around the city optimally. The gate is located in a park near the metro station Porte de Hal. In addition to the museum in the tower there is also an observation deck with a good view of the city.
The Palace of Justice is the next point on the itinerary. It’s the largest courthouse in Europe. Its monumentality will amaze you. Tourists are also attracted by one of the best free viewing platforms in Brussels with the Ferris wheel. Behind the Ferris wheel is a monument to the Belgian infantrymen who fought in World Wars I and II.
Egmont Palace is a neoclassical palace in Brussels in the Sablon district with a lovely garden and medieval sculptures.
Sablon Square is a very pleasant place for a walk with a well-kept square and fountain surrounded by old houses and the Gothic Church of Our Lady of Victory in Sablon
Royal Palace and Park Brussels . Inspecting the exteriors of the palace, strolling a bit through the park and walking to the main goal of our walk.
The Mountain of Arts with the observation deck is between the Upper and Lower Towns. Here you will take beautiful pictures of the Belgian capital, see the main museums of Brussels, and be sure to stop by the Palais des dynasties to see the interesting clocks.
The monument to Charles Buels is the most famous sculpture in the city, combined with a fountain in honor of the mayor of Brussels, who led the city in the 19th century and thanks to whom the city made a breakthrough in development without losing its medieval entourage.
The Royal Galleries St. Hubert is an ensemble of glazed arcades in the center of Brussels, built in the mid-19th century, where there are many stores, including chocolate departments.
The Grand Place and Brussels City Hall are the main focus of our walk. The square is ahead of many similar places in European cities in terms of beauty. It can easily take more than one hour to study the architectural forms and elements of all the buildings. The Baroque guild houses, the Bread House and the Town Hall look especially rich. But if you want to have time to see the maximum, then hurry to Belgium’s most famous landmark.
The Pissing Boy is a small sculpture in the form of a fountain. We wrote about the history of this object in the sights of Brussels. Most tourists, however, take fun selfies, buy a waffle at one of the neighboring shops, and go to study the beautiful graffiti on comic books, of which there are many in the area.
Lunch . Lunch at a traditional Belgian restaurant, Fin De Siècle, or seafood at the fish market.
St. Catherine’s Church . We walk to the Church of St. Catherine through the streets with graffiti and the unusual Pee Dog sculpture.
Go down to Sint-Katelijne subway station and go to Heizel station, where the famous Atomium is located. The trip will have to change at the station Beekkant, where you have to transfer to the 6 line of the Brussels metro. No time to climb the Atomium, we had better walk through the beautiful Laken Park with several places of interest: the Laken Palace, Cirque, Concert Hall, Japanese Tower, Chinese Pavilion, Planetarium, Monument of the Dynasty, Océade Aquapark, Fountain, and Orangery.
Departure to the center of Brussels from the streetcar stop Araucaria to the metro station Montgomery, where the Arc de Triomphe and the Park of the Pentecost are located . The most convenient way is to take the direct streetcar number 7. The trip time is 30 minutes, during which you take a break and see the city. From the Arc de Triomphe you can easily walk to the European quarter and stroll between the glass modern buildings where the fate of the European Union is decided.
That’s the end of our busy walk. Let’s count the distance we covered.
Section 1 in the center: 4.7 km.
Section #2 Atomium and Park Laquin: 3.7 km.
Section #3 Arc de Triomphe and the European Quarter: 3.1 km.
Total distance walked on this walking route: 11.5 km. Based on personal experience, I can add that this distance could increase up to 20 km, because for sure during the walk you will deviate from the route a little bit, look for places to eat, maybe somewhere you will spend more time walking in the park.
Keep in mind that this route is designed for a very long walk in a good warm season, when the daylight hours are quite long. If you come to Brussels in winter, early spring or late autumn, it is worth to split the route into 2 days. For example, the first day to devote only to sights. And for the second day go to the Atomium, the European Quarter, and the Park of the Pentecost.
In the itinerary we have included the most popular sites. If you are interested in all the classic sights and unconventional places in Brussels, I advise you to read the following articles:
To see Brussels will also help you with the handy “Brussels 1 Day Ready Walking Itinerary”, which creates the best walking route, the most interesting places and information on where to eat good food.
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Brussels: What to see in 1 day?
I did not know what to write about this city for a long time. Brussels is like Tottenham in soccer: it doesn’t really suck, but it’s not exactly top flight. I came here for 1 day – and somehow very quickly ran through the local skyscraper district, saw the Grand Place (which on that day was full of delivery trucks), and then dived headlong into the local old town.
I liked the Royal Palace and the park in front of it, the local cathedral (and especially its interior decoration)… But I’ve seen many cities like Brussels before. So it didn’t really stick in my memory.
In general, I confess at once… This is probably not going to be the most detailed article about Brussels, but it’s definitely the most honest. What to see in the capital of Belgium in 1 day? Which sights you can miss and which, on the contrary, are worth visiting first of all? If you read this article to the end, I will give you a $40 gift. I hope I intrigued you? Well, let’s do it!
The skyscraper district
My walk around Brussels started from Bruxelles-Nord station. I took out my phone, punched in the Grand Place square, and in a few minutes I was in… the Brussels skyscraper district.
I usually like something like that. Just a month ago I was in Frankfurt, Germany and before that I went to Beijing, where I took epic pictures like this on the streets.
But Brussels City really didn’t impress me. How much time to devote to it? Well… How fast do you walk? I walked it almost without stopping.
The Old Town, the Grand Place and the boy who pissed.
The real Brussels for me began with these covered galleries, which led to the shopping street Rue Neuve, which was hung with the names of different brands of clothes and shoes.
If you go through it, you’ll find yourself in the Grand Place, which is considered one of the main attractions of Brussels. It’s really a beautiful place. But I think the photos tell it better than I do. There’s the local Town Hall, the King’s House, and the “Pissing Boy” just around the corner.
It’s literally 200 meters from Grand Place. The statue itself is small, so it’s easy to miss. What you definitely won’t miss is the crowd of tourists next to it. They’re taking pictures. He’s peeing. Everyone is happy. You can move on. There’s no point in sticking around for too long.
Even when you’re on the other side of town, Piss Boy will still follow you. He’s all over the place. He pisses on passersby from the walls of houses, pisses on the counters in chocolate stores, and on the stacks of waffles in local candy shops.
At first it seems funny, but then it gets annoying. To be honest, I don’t understand this “pissing fashion” of Brussels.
Brussels graffiti and Belgian comics
In general, Belgians have a special passion for strange characters. It was in this country that Smurfs, Tintin and dozens of other heroes appeared, whose names are unlikely to tell you anything (or do you know who “Lucky Luke” is)?
Comics were officially recognized as an art form in 20th century Belgium, and in 2016, one of Tintin’s rare drawings was sold at auction for €1.55 million.
Today, Brussels even has a separate Museum of Comics (operating at Rue du Marche aux Herbes 116). An adult ticket costs 12 euros. And for kids 3€. But even if you ignore it you’ll see these characters in the form of souvenirs in the tourist shops or even graffiti on the walls.
You can learn about the history of Brussels comics on a daily guided tour of the city. At the time of publication of this article, it costs 20 euros. I think it’s a great option for getting to know the city.
Brussels Cathedral, the Royal Palace and the park across the street
I really liked this trio. The royal palace even though it did not fit in the camera lens, but it looked just great.
I was also impressed by the royal park in Brussels with its fountains and beautiful lawns. You should definitely go for a walk there, if the weather on the day of your trip is good. I think you will like it.
I also recommend you don’t pass by the cathedral of Saint-Michel-e Gudule .
Admission to the temple is free. Inside are beautiful stained glass windows and massive Gothic columns. The place looks rather gloomy in places. But that’s its special charm.
And then there’s the almost constant sound of the organ. And those sounds just give you goosebumps.
European Parliament and Parlamentarium
As I wrote in the beginning of this article, Brussels is a nice city, but I can’t say that it stuck in my heart. No… I’ve been to 30 different countries and I’ve seen a lot of similar cities (with palaces, cathedrals and parks) in my life. The only really unique place in Brussels is the European Parliament, the place where decisions are made which influence the destiny of almost half a billion people! Yes, I know that you can get into the Bundestag in Berlin or the Knesset in Jerusalem by appointment. But I HAVE never been to one of these places before. So the trip to the European Parliament was really memorable.
You can enter the famous hall free of charge any day of the week. Bring your passport and be prepared for a security check (like at the airport). Inside there is wi-fi, toilets, photo areas, checkroom, and other joys of life. At the entrance you are even given a free audio guide (though, without the Russian language in the settings). In general – if you find yourself in Brussels, be sure to visit this place. I personally really liked it.
Also I recommend you to go to a free museum called the Parliamentarium. It is relatively small, but very stylish and modern. In a long corridor you can hear greetings in 27 languages of the European Union, and in the interactive rooms there are screens broadcasting videos about the formation of the EU…
All in all it will take you about 1.5 hours to see Parliament and the museum. On the way you can also see Luxembourg Square and the futuristic buildings in the government quarter of the European Village.
For me personally, walking in this part of Brussels was the highlight of the day.
Atomium and Mini-Europa Park
All of the attractions I wrote about above are located in the historic part of the Belgian capital. You can get around them on foot without thinking about transport at all. The only way to get around is to see the famous Atomium, built for the 1958 World’s Fair.
Initially the project was temporary, but the concept of a “giant atom” was so beloved by the citizens that the Belgian authorities decided to keep it forever. Thus appeared one of the most recognizable symbols of Brussels.
To get here, catch streetcar number 81 near the Grand Place and take it to the “Heizel” stop. You can also take the Metro to the station with the same name. A single ticket costs 2.1 euros.
As for the Atomium itself, the ticket here costs 16 euros. To avoid standing in huge lines – I recommend to buy a ticket in advance (for example, here).
Just a few hundred meters from the Atomium there is another popular attraction of Brussels – the park “Mini Europe”. where there are miniatures of the most famous buildings of the EU.
Some models are so realistic that they cost hundreds of thousands of euros to create. The park is also famous for numerous animations – moving trains, mills, the erupting crater of Vesuvius, etc.).
Families with children, I think, will be very interesting there. To save time and avoid lines – it is best to buy tickets in advance (for example, on this site).
Other Belgian cities
If you come to Brussels for more than one day – find time to visit other cities in the Belgian kingdom.
Not too far from the capital are:
- Antwerp (1 hour by car)
- Ghent (1 hour)
- Bruges (1.5 hours)
The cheapest way to get to these cities is by bus. You can buy tickets on this site. If you don’t have anything at this site, go to Belgian Railways (belgiantrain.be). Trains are more expensive than buses, but there are more. You can arrange a trip to any of these cities in one day (morning there, evening back).
How to find lodging for a trip?
Belgium is a very small country, so to see all the most interesting things in it, enough to settle in a city and then make day trips to the surrounding area. Personally, I chose for myself Antwerp, but to settle in Brussels would also be a good decision.
You can save money on hotels in Belgium with the help of this website. It automatically compares all available options, allowing you to always find the best rates and discounts. Why rent a room for 30 euros when it costs 27 euros somewhere else?