There are many reasons why at times, I wish I didn’t live in London. Proximity to the Eurostar is not one of them. I bloody love the Eurostar, and not just because of the access it gives me to new places to explore. I also love the Eurostar because it is so much fun to ride. Like a bullet through the sea, it’s easy to board (unlike planes), comfortable to travel in (unlike planes) and it had this mystique to people like me who watched it being built.

I digress. Having been to Brussels several times for work and enjoyed what I’d seen, I wanted to explore it as a tourist. With the short journey times and fairly compact city I grabbed my Mum and we set about exploring the Belgian capital in one day.

Brussels In One Day

Getting Around

Brussels is just a hop, skip and a jump away from London via Eurostar. I paid £75 return about 2 months in advance for my ticket, which is mind blowing when you think I’ve paid far more than that just to get to Birmingham. If you aren’t in close proximity to London then of course there are plenty of budget flight options too.

Additionally, if you are holidaying in France, Northern Germany or even elsewhere in Belgium, you can totally hop on a train easily and cheaply for the day if you fancy a change of scene.

Once you are there, they have a fantastic metro system, but if you are just visiting for a day, you definitely won’t need it. We spent the day walking around (in the snow I might add) and even though we clocked up a hefty 18,000 steps for the day, the city is very easy to see on foot.

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Got a day and fancy culture, beer + waffles to die for? Here's a one day city guide to BrusselsClick To Tweet

What To Do

As Brussels is a fairly compact city, you can get a good idea of the places of interest fairly quickly. We spent the morning touring the main sites by foot and the afternoon exploring the shops and markets leaving us more than enough time to guzzle down the chocolate, waffles and beer!

Brussels In One Day

To give you an idea of timescales, we arrived at Brussels Midi station at 10.05am and departed at 19.52pm giving us lots of opportunity to fit everything in. We did everything listed here by foot.

Grand-Place

The centre of Brussels and absolutely the place you want to start any day off in. The buildings on the square mainly date back to the 17th Century, and are some of the most beautiful (and opulent) I have seen in Europe. Mostly covered in gold gilt (and one of the buildings was a home to Victor Hugo for a while), the square also houses the beautiful City Hall and the incredibly gothic King’s House opposite and in the summer you can sit outside with a beer and watch the world go by.

Brussels In One Day

La Grand-Place is a UNESCO World Heritage site, so it will always be preserved for generations to come.

Manneken Pis

Consistently voted as one of the most disappointing tourist attractions in the world, The Manneken Pis (translated literally as Little Man Pee) is a 61cm high statute of…a little boy pissing. Located at the junction of Rue de l’Étuve/Stoofstraat and Rue du Chêne/Eikstraat just off Grand-Place it is often swarmed with tourists so you won’t miss it.

Brussels In One Day

This little boy also has a range of clothes made for him – in fact he has worn over 900 outfits! A museum houses all of these called the GardeRobe where you can get a look at them. Come back on Christmas Day and you may be lucky enough to see him in a Santa outfit!

Jeanneke Pis

Slightly more inexplicable is the Jeanneke Pis, which is, as I’m sure you’ve guessed by now a statue of a little girl having a wee. Oh the Belgians do have a sense of humour! Found South of the Grand-Place, it was commissioned in order to form a counterpoint to the Mannekin Pis. Girl power (I think?)

Brussels In One Day

It’s much newer than the original statue, having only been erected in 1985. That’s pretty much all I can say on the matter, but I don’t think you can see one without the other!

(Apparently there is a 3rd statue – Zinneke Pis, which is a dog. The legend goes that Manneken and Jeanneke trained their dog the only way they had also be taught. To find a public place and do a little wee. I have no words to this, really).

Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula

If you think this looks familiar, you’d be kinda right. The gothic architecture is similar to many other churches and cathedrals in Europe, and I think it looks a bit like St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague. Except the reason why this building is so beautiful (IMHO) is the beautiful pale coloured stone. It really talk my breath away as we walked up the hill to reach it.

Brussels In One Day

You can visit inside too, but on a day trip we just didn’t have time.

Royal Palace of Brussels

Although stunningly beautiful, this palace is not used as a royal residence, as the king and his family live in the Royal Palace of Laeken on the outskirts of Brussels. So what is the palace used for? Well, it’s more of a political building, in that this is where the King deals with affairs of state. Sounds a bit old school right?

Brussels In One Day

You can pay a visit inside, and you can also take a wander round the beautiful Brussels Park (preferably not when it is snowing like us eh?) which is situated right next door. To give you a sense of how big and impressive this building is,  it has a facade 50% longer than that of Buckingham Palace. That’s pretty big!

Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert

This is a glazed shopping arcade in the centre of Brussels, and boy is it gorgeous! Split into two major sections, each more than 100m in length, not only is it beautiful to wander through, it is also full of excellent shopping opportunity. Leather, jewellery, chocolates, macrons, designer clothing – it’s worth it even if you are only in the business of window shopping!

Brussels In One Day

 Even if you aren’t into shopping, architecturally it’s absolutely worth visiting one of the first shopping arcades built in Europe!
Comic Strip Murals

Brussels/Belgium has a unique history with the comic book scene, what with it being the birthplace of Tin Tin and all. And Brussels has seriously embraced that. The city actually has a whole route of full length wall murals across the city that you can follow, and see if you can find all 42 of them.

You’ll find them off the beaten track, so definitely go exploring – I’ll will 100% be making a visit in warmer weather to find them all!

Brussels In One Day

Brussels In One Day

Brussels In One Day

What To Eat + Drink

Brussels and Belgium as a whole is probably best known for its beer, but chocolate, waffles and frites score pretty highly on the must do Belgium foodie trail. In just a day it was difficult to sample every bit of foodie delight Brussels has to offer, but boy did we try!

What I would stay straight up is to try and plan in advance what you will eat for meals – it’s super easy to get sucked into the tourist trap restaurants, and if I can give you one piece of foodie advice, avoid the Rue des Bouchers. The quality of food here is often poor and it really is a smash and grab on tourist wallets (but definitely have a wander through to soak up the atmosphere!

Chocolate

Oh Brussels. You cannot visit without sampling and bringing home some wonderful chocolate goodies. Belgium is known for it’s Chocolatiers and you’ll find both good and bad in the heart of Brussels. After doing some research online and asking around, we discovered that Mary and Pierre Marcolini are among the best in terms of quality. But it isn’t cheap.

Brussels In One Day

We opted for Pierre Marcolini chocolates as we loved the modern flavours, and it was worth every penny. Mary’s is definitely more traditional, but it is just a matter of taste.

Waffles

Continuing the search of foods to satisfy our sweet tooth, you can’t come to Brussels without sampling a waffle or two. Sure, you can seek out proper, authentic waffles in Brussels, but we wanted to stand on the street and wolf down our 1 euro waffles with pride. Cheap, cheerful, messy and super good.

Brussels In One Day

Beer

As I think I said in my Prague city guide, I’m not a huge lover of beer. At least, not the stuff that is sold in pubs in the UK. But proper, mirco-brewed beer? Sure, hit me. It wouldn’t be a day trip to Brussels without finding some decent beer, so we headed straight to Moeder Lambic to try some.

Brussels In One Day

Moeder Lambic is a gorgeous craft beer bar (in fact, there are two of them), with a huge range on offer, a cosy environment and some awesome beer snacks. My Mum and I holed ourselves up for a couple of hours on bar stools whilst the staff helped us choose (this is a great touch) and we tucked into a cheese platter. Heaven.

I just want to put out there that I have found many craft beer establishments in the UK to be not that welcoming or comfortable for women (when not accompanied by a man – shock horror). This could not be more different, and I’d even suggest solo female trips here would be a-ok!

In Conclusion

I’d heard mixed views about visiting Brussels as a tourist – many suggested I’d need more than a day, and many felt that I was wasting my time altogether. Whilst there is certainly more to see in Brussels, visiting for just one day gave me a great taste of this city and the relatively inexpensive cost makes for an excellent day trip or overnight break.

Brussels In One Day

Next time I’d like to come for a little longer – to visit the antiques markets of Le Sablon, to sample more awesome beer and to hop on the train to Bruge and Ghent. But for now, I consider myself totally satisfied with my quick jaunt around the Belgian capital.

Give Brussels a go – you may be pleasant surprised!

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Brussels | European Travel | Brussels Day Trip | Travel Tips

Brussels | European Travel | Brussels Day Trip | Travel Tips
Brussels | European Travel | Brussels Day Trip | Travel Tips

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  • It looks like you had an ace time! Definitely need to get this place on my list x
    Sophie Cliff

  • Brussels is one of my favourite city break destinations, and the biggest surprise! Bruges and Ghent are also beautiful ?

  • We visited Brussels quite recently too and loved all the sights. Didn’t get to Moeder Lambie so will have to visit there if we return!

  • Nicole LaBarge

    Funny enough I lived in London for two years and never took the Eurostar. I don’t know why I didn’t! Brussels is one of those cities that surprises you. Great photos.

  • TravelwithBIRD

    Beautiful Brussels! This is one of the spots still to visit in Europe. I had no idea actually that Brussels has such an amazing architecture. It looks really beautiful! Great to see that there is now also a Jeanneke Piss 😀
    The waffles look fantastic, would be a perfect dish for me after a long sightseeing day!

  • Hang Around The World

    We know this place perfectly, we have been last year! If you visit Brussels you cant miss the Grand Place, don’t you agree? Oh and we ate the most delicious waffles there. Thank you for the share 🙂

  • That’s a super helpful guide! And as a side note, your blog design is lovely!

  • Laura Lynch

    We just moved to London from Seattle and we’ve already booked our first Eurostar journey. I am definitely going to do the Brussels trip. I mean 75 for this journey is insane. We’ve never been able to travel that cheaply. It just opens up so many places for us. And I LOVE Brussels. Can’t wait to go back.

  • Ellis Veen

    Wow you managed to see a lot in one day. I visited Brussels several times. From Holland it is just two hours by train. I love the city. It is beautiful and great food. You should have tried the belgium fries as well.

  • I love they have embraced their Tin Tin History – I’d really enjoy wandering the city to find them all. it would be like a real life treasure hunt! Although I’m not sure about the pis statues, I might give them a miss!

  • Stacey Sandlin Veikalas

    I love Brussels, but it always feels overwhelming to me so thank you for the great ideas! I love little Manneken Pis and all his clothes! My kids would love the cartoons and of course we all love the chocolate YUM! I had to pin for later travels!

  • Danik Bates

    Not the biggest fan of Bruxelles as I used to live and work nearby but its ok if passing through. For me there are better cities in Belgium and I ain’t just talking about Gent, Brugge and Antwerpen 😀 Still, this is a great post and everyone should see the pissing boy statue 😀

    • I’d love to know more about your Belgium city recommendations!

  • Adventurous Travels

    I visited Brussels during a stopover – I spent 8 hours there – it’s a nice enough city but I’m not that willing to go back there. However, I liked the Atomium monument – it’s original and different 🙂 The beer bars and restaurants were also amazing! I can see you loved Belgian choclates – for me, it seems it’s marketing and I kind of got disappointed with them – so expensive – I expected something truly spectacular and that something wasn’t there – maybe I’m not a chocolate expert 😉
    Tom

  • This is quite a doable itinerary for a day in Brussels. I did a similar one, though I missed the little kids. Searched high and low but couldn’t locate them. The comic strips were easier to spot.

  • Meg Marie

    Good old Brussels and their statues of children using the bathroom haha. I would get so fat if I spent more than a day here! Looks like you made the most of your time.

  • Christina

    OMG those waffles! As a foodie you sold me with your food segment. It all looked and sounded amazing! I laughed hysterically after the second statue of a child peeing (a little had to do with your commentating too haha). It is nice to see and hear that by foot you are capable of seeing almost everything Brussels has to offer. Besides chocolate, waffles and beer the coolest thing to me were the cartoon murals. I think that is very unique and I would love to try and find them all.

  • Milijana

    I love Belgian humour with the children statues! Lol ! And walks in Bruxelles can be much fun with all the fabulous street art!

  • I sadly only had a few hours stopover in Brussels. Such a unique city- I wish I had more time to explore it (and eat all the waffles and chocolate I could stomach!)

  • Aneesha Rai

    Just reading your post took me back to my trip to Brussels about a decade ago! I remember right outside the Godiva store I wolfed down possibly the best waffles of my life!

  • Agnes Aasmaa

    The Manneken Pis does not disappoint me, I find it a little whimsical as well as the others “Pis” statues. I would love to hear how the author of these monuments presented his idea. I have read quite a few posts about Brussels, but yours brings out some nice hidden gems that I have not heard of and makes the city a lot more interesting. I have only been at the train station, but hopefully will see more one day 🙂

  • I absolutely love Brussels! You hit the best things to do in one day for sure. I love Pierre Marcolini chocolate, and I also like Frederic Blondeel and Meert. The Mannekin Pis is truly not that exciting, but his costumes are loads of fun. I like his little Batman costume that I saw in the museum!

  • travelwithtarah

    When I was in Europe a few years ago I unfortunately didn’t have time to make it to Brussels. Ever since, I have wanted to go back! This is a perfect way to see so much in one day so I will have to make sure to save this for when I get a chance to go! Thanks!

  • Jenn Brown

    Brussels just look so quintessentially European! I love it! Your photos are beautiful too, even though it was a cloudy day. Bookmarking this for the future, thanks for sharing 🙂

  • Tracy Gilchrist Kuhl

    The Architecture in Eurooe never ceases to amaze me.. coming from the baby country of Canada. Brussels is no different, aside from the statues of the children weeing in the street. lol

  • christopher mitchell

    It looks like it was typical Brussels, just a little bit cloudy and dreary, but all kinds of wonderful!

  • Karla Ramos

    I’m going to Brussels this May and I am really excited about it. I want to spend more days per place to really go not just to the touristy stuff but also the local stuff

  • Brussels is such a beautiful city 🙂
    But the memories of Marcolini’s chocolate… Possibly my favorite truffels. Ever. Yum!

  • Anita Sane

    Your post reminded me of my Brussels visit few years ago. I love Belgian chocolate and cherry beer first of all. Brussels is nice place to visit and your tips are great for the first time travelers. Thanks for sharing!

  • Suruchi Mittal

    Brussels looks nice. I liked Mannekin Pis and interesting to know that he has changed almost 900 costumes. And these Belgium chocolates are to die for, Waffles also looks tempting.

  • Wish I’d seen this post before I went to Belgium last month :)hahaha Also was so nice to meet you with Sophie in Amsterdam – I don’t know if you remember? Sophie xxx
    http://www.fashionnomads.com

    • Totally remember! Was so awesome to meet you. Did you have a good rest of you time there? xx

  • Tiffany Twisted

    LOL @ those statues! And that chocolate omg…nothing quite like Belgian chocolate. Your photos are beautiful, I’ve pinned this to my travel board on Pinterest!

    • Awww thanks! Brussels was so much fun. I’m really trying to work on my photos, so that means alot . Thanks for commenting 🙂

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