2-day Brussels Itinerary | Perfect for First Time Visitors

Things to do in Brussels

Belgium in Europe is a lovely country that is missed by many international tourists. My sister lives reasonably close by and often spends a weekend in Brussels, the main capital of the country. With stunning historic buildings, delicious food and interesting artwork, there are lots of things to see and do in this amazing city. I have therefore created this handy 2-day Brussels itinerary for you if you are planning to check out this city.

This vibrant city is known for being many things at once, and that versatility extends to its attractions. A statue of a boy peeing, the Atomium and the Grand Palace are just a couple of those attractions that you can check out when in Brussels.

So, in this post, I will show you some of the best things to do in Brussels, but also what food to get, where to stay, how to get around and much more all compacted into a 2-day Brussels itinerary.

ABOUT BRUSSEL | SOME BASIC INFORMATION 

I always love sharing and researching cities when I write a post about it.  This is, of course, also the case for this Brussels post. Underneath you can find some general information about this city. What currency they use, the languages they speak, the best time to visit and where to stay can all be found below.

Money and Prices

The currency in Brussels is the Euro, as Belgium is part of the European Union. As it is home to the EU parliament, the city attracts a lot of business travellers. Meaning, it is more expensive, as it caters for the most part to this traveller’s group. Additionally, everyday items like transportation and food can be a bit rough on the budget.

Past travellers have spent, on average, € 25, – on meals for one day and € 13,- on local transportation. Wich is $40 AUD for meals and $ 20 AUD for transportation.

Double rooms in Brussels go for as little as $ 23,- AUD but the average price is $225,- AUD. 3-star hotels are available from $112,- AUD and 4-star hotels from $147,- AUD (Of course, accommodation prices vary, so make sure to do some research before booking)

Underneath are also a couple of food prices, to help a bit more with your budget:

Lunch  | Around 15 EUR
Plain Waffle from a food stall | Around 2 EUR
Basic dinner for two in a pub | Around 40 EUR (for 2 people)
Dinner in a normal restaurant | Around 55 EUR
A beer in a pub (500ml) |Around 3.50 EUR

Hopefully, this will give you a bit of an idea of what to expect.

Language

Brussels is officially bilingual, but French is much wider used than Flemish. People generally understand and speak English. And, of course, Brussels is very multicultural, since it is the home of the EU commission and administration.

FRENCH PHRASES & USEFUL TRAVEL PHRASES

Underneath are just a couple of handy words in French, just in case you need it:

English  French  
Hello / Good morning Bonjour
Good afternoon Bonne après-midi
Good evening Bonsoir
Thank you Merci
Please S’il vous plaît
Thank you very much Merci beaucoup
Yes Oui
No Non
Excuse me Excusez-moi
My name is… Je m’appelle…
Do you speak English? Parlez-vous anglais?

Best times to visit Brussels

Whether you are planning to visit in summer or winter, Brussels has its charms all year-round.

In my personal opinion, the best time to visit the city is from June to August, when the weather is mild, and the trees are luscious green.
On average the weather year-round is pretty chilly and damp. And summer temperatures usually don’t climb much higher than 30 degrees.

Spring and fall are considered shoulder seasons that see fewer tourists and cooler temperatures, with average highs hovering in the 10 degrees.

Things to do in Brussels

Language French
Time Zone GMT/UTC +1
Electricity Type C two-prong plug. Electrical power in Belgium and in most of Western Europe runs on a cycle of 50hz, and a voltage of 230 Volt, alternating current.
Currency Euro (€)
Tipping Like in most of Europe, tipping isn’t generally expected. However, it’s polite to leave extra change or round up.

How do I Get from Brussels Airport to City Center?

There are two airports that are serving Brussels. You can either fly to Zaventem Airport and the more remote Charleroi Airport. I would suggest flying into Zaventem if your main destination is Brussels, as it is located a lot closer to the city.

ZAVENTEM AIRPORT 

Underneath are a couple of options o how you can get to the city from this airport.

TAXI | A taxi from Zaventem to the city centre will cost roughly € 45,-. This, however, depends on your time of travelling and how bust it is on that time of day.

if you don’t mind hopping on public transport after a day of travelling, then underneath are a couple of options:

BUS | If you stay somewhere close to the European District in the city, then the bus may be your best bet. There are two buses services running between the district and the Airport.
LINE 12 |  This line operates from Monday to Friday till 8 pm.
LINE 21 | operates after 8 pm on weekdays and weekends and offers more stops than line 12. The last one is just outside the Royal Palace.

TRAIN | The airport train will take you to Brussels’ Central Station.  The service operates between 5 am and midnight, every day of the week and will take about 20 minutes to get to Central. A single ticket is current € 12.50.

CHARLEROI AIRPORT

The Charleroi Airport is located 60 kilometres from Brussels, because of this there is unfortunately only one way to get to Brussels, and that’s the airport shuttle. You can get your shuttle bus tickets at the ticket offices or ticket machines at the airport or you can buy them directly from the driver.  If you pre-book online, the tickets are a bit cheaper.

Getting around in Brussels

In general, I would say that public transportation in Brussels is excellent! It has a large metro network, many trams, and bus routes. You will be able to pretty much go where ever you want by public transport.  The prices are pretty reasonable, a 1-hour ticket costs €2.10 and a 24-hour ticket costs €7.50.

Taxis can be found plentiful in the city! Of course, they are way more expensive than public transport, but sometimes you ain’t got time to wait for a bus. The default starting fee for a taxi pick up is €3.70 plus €1.80 per km within the 19 city communes and €4.50 per km outside of the city. Plus a €2 surcharge applies between 10 pm and 6 am.

Where to Stay in Brussels?

Since Brussels attracts a lot of business travel, there is no shortage of luxury hotels, but this comes with a bit of a price tag.

A couple of great luxury hotels are:

  • Sofitel Brussels Europe |  5-star luxury hotel in Brussels European District set serenely among leafy parks cafés and museums.​

  • Pullman Brussels Centre Midi | An upscale 4-star hotel located in the city centre next to a river.

  • Warwick Brussels | A luxurious hotel located in the heart of Brussels, only a 2-minute walk from the Grand-Place and Brussels Central Station.

Boutique hotels in renovated historic buildings are also reasonably common and a lovely unique stay: 

  • The Augustin | A boutique hotel refurbished in modern design style just a 5-minute walk from Brussels’ Grand Place. 
  • Made in Louise charming hotel | Delightful and well-priced hotel in a turn-of-the-century building in the Ixelles district

Brussels also has a wide selection of top-notch affordable hostels for those looking to spend less money.

Underneath are a couple of good neighbourhoods to stay in. 

The City Center  | Won’t be the cheapest option, but this will be the most convenient as most of its major attractions are in/near the city centre. Home to Grand Place, many beautiful shopping arcades such as Les Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert, and a multitude of museums to spend hours in. 

Ixelles | This is one of the most central municipalities in the city and also one of the most international ones. This makes it very diverse in terms of things to do and see. 

Sablon | Not far from Brussels city centre is the charming district of Sablon. This is one of the best areas to stay in foodies.

SOUVENIRS TO BUY IN BRUSSELS? 

Bring back souvenirs is always fun, especially when travelling to a new country or city. Underneath are just a couple of good options to bring back from Brussels:

  • Lots of BonBons aka Belgian Chocolates
  • A bottle or two of Brussels beer
  • Tasty Speculoos
  • Comic Books
  • Some Belgian lace

TRAVEL VISA/TRAVEL DOCUMENTS

Brussels is located in Belgium, which belongs to the Schengen Zone. So if you have a non-visa exempt passport for Schengen countries, you will require a visa to travel. Learn more about the Schengen Visa here. If you have a European Union passport, you are, of course,  visa-exempt.

2-day Brussels itinerary

Underneath you can find some of the things to do in Brussels when you are heading to the city for 2 days.

Day 1 |  Things to do in Brussels

1 | Manneken Pis

If you have been wanting to go to Brussels, then I am certain you have heard of this… uhhm… unique statue.

Manneken Pis (little pee man in Flemish) is a small bronze statue of a boy… ‘peeing’. The statue most probably started out as a public fountain, with the peeing boy as a homage to the tanners, as medieval tanners let children and street urchins pee on leather to make it more supple. Often naked, but sometimes dressed in fancy suits or costumes, it is just a bit of a unique attraction that you should check out.

The female counterpart of Mannekke Pis is Jeanneke Pis.  If you want to see more statues of peeing people, then check her out as well. She is located at  Rue des Bouchers whilst Manneken Pis is can be found at the corner of Rue de L’Etuve and Rue du Chêne, and Rue des Grands Carmes

2 | Grand-Place de Bruxelles

Grand-Place de Bruxelles

An incredibly beautiful cobbled square also known as La Grand-Place is a must-see! This place is without a doubt the beating heart of the city and is surrounded by the guild houses, the City Hall and the Maison du Roi. Listed on the UNESCO world heritage list, the grand-place is simply not to be missed!

Grand Place and particularly the Guild Houses are a must-see when in Brussels. The impressive gold decoration is astonishing whether there is sunshine! They are simply gorgeous buildings which were made by different guides adorn the main square in Brussels. The level of detail and architectural splendour is simply amazing.

Brussels City Museum

When you are at Grand-Place, make sure to check out Brussels City Museum. This museum is located in the Gothic Revival Maison du Roi, also called Kins house.

The museum is dedicated to the history and folklore of the City of Brussels from its foundation to modern times. The perfect museum to check out if you want to know more about the city of Brussels.

Entrance Price

Combined ticket giving access to the Brussels City Museum (Maison du Roi) and the Garderobe MannekenPis.

Adult € 8.00
Senior, Group € 6.00
Student, job seeker € 4.00
Article 27 € 1.25
European Disability Card € 6.00

Visit 3 museums for the price of 2: Brussels City Museum, fashion & Lace Museum, Sewer museum

3 | Royal Gallery of Saint Hubert

Located in the centre of Brussels, next to the Grand-Place, is Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert, a two hundred meters long glazed shopping arcade lined with high-end luxury stores, auditoriums, cafés, restaurants, theatres and more.

Split into two major sections, this is the oldest commercial galleries in Europe opening in 1847.

Royal Gallery of Saint Hubert

It is a really beautiful place to take a look at and wander around and enjoy its beauty. A word of warning, this place is not cheap, so buying a coffee is pretty expensive but well worth it.

4 | St Michael and St Gudula Cathedral

Less then a 10-minute walk from Royal Gallery of Saint Hubert lies the stunning St Michael and St Gudula Cathedral.

This is a Beautiful Cathedral inside and out. There’s a lot of great detailing on the outside structure of the building. The spire detailing would be lovely to see up close. The stain glass windows are amazing very beautiful and detailed.

St Michael and St Gudula Cathedral 

Cathedral

Opening times:

  • Monday to Friday: 7 am to 6 pm
  • Saturday: 8.00 am to 6 pm (visits from 8.00 am to 3.30 pm only)
  • Sunday: 8.00 am to 6 pm (visits from 2 pm only)

Entrance fee: free

If you still have time and energy left, underneath a couple of quick stops you could also check out on day 1:

  • Mont des Arts | meaning “hill/mount of the arts”, is a beautiful elevated public park that connects the lower, working-class part of the city with the upper, aristocratic part. Nearby is the Royal Library of Belgium, the National Archives of Belgium, and the Brussels Meeting Centre.
  • National Basilica of the Sacred Heart (Basilique Nationale du Sacré-Cœur) | The Koekelberg Basilica ranks fifth among the world’s largest churches.

Day 2 |  Things to do in Brussels

1 | Royal Palace of Brussels

This is the official palace of the King and Queen of Belgium. Only if you are in Brussels at the right time, When the king and queen are on vacation, the Palacesis open to the public free of charge and it is well worth your time!

Besides knowing how they live, you will see Incredible chandeliers, stunning artwork and a few pieces of furniture painted ceilings some uniforms from the King, a few family photographs and more. So a fun experience, but you need to be in luck to experience this.

2 | Atomium

The Atomium stand 102 meters tall and is composed of nine spheres of 18 meters in diameter connected to each other by tubes with escalators. The nine spheres of the Atomium represent an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times. They symbolize the faith one had in the power of science and in nuclear power.

Atomium in Brussels

Inside these spheres are permanent and temporary exhibitions with the top-most sphere including a restaurant with wonderful panoramic views of the city.

Originally constructed for the 1958 Brussels World Expo and was supposed to be demolished 6 months later. Now an important tourist attraction for the city.

Senior [≥65] € 14.00
Adult [18-64] € 16.00
Teenager [>115cm-17] € 8.50
Child [≤115cm] € 0.00
Student [with card] € 8.50
Person with a disability € 8.50

The Atomium is open from 10 am to 6 pm.

3 | Royal Greenhouses of Laeken

Located near the Atomium are the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken.

Built towards the end of the 19th century for King Leopold II, who adored plants and flowers, this place is an absolute must for all those who visit Brussels during the months of April and May, when the royal greenhouses can be visited.

4 | Park of the Fiftieth Anniversary

Covering approximately thirty hectares, this park features various spacious gardens, a large arch, and three museums including the Cinquantenaire Museum, Autoworld (a collection of more than 350 cars from different eras), and the Royal Museum of the Armed Forces.

For epic views over Brussels and the European Quarter, head to the top of the arch via the entrance at the Royal Museum of the Armed Forces. Admission is free!

5 | Place du Petit Sablon

Place du Petit Sablon is a beautiful lovely little garden/parc with a very nice fountain and a statue of two counts whose heads had been decapitated in the year 1568 because they tried to prevent from King Phillipe the second of Spain to bring the Inquisition into Belgium. The statue is surrounded by 12 figures of people from the Fifteenth & Sixteenth centuries. On the fence surrounding the garden, there are 48 lovely statues.

When you still have energy and motivation to check out more, below a couple of amazing Museums and Tours you could check out!

6 | MUSEUMS

  • Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium | The Royal Museums contains over 20,000 drawings, sculptures, and paintings, which date from the early 15th century to the present.
  • Magritte Museum | dedicated to the work of the Belgian surrealist artist, René Magritte.
  • Art & History Museum |  It is one of the largest museums in Europe, home to displays of Belgian artifacts from prehistory to the Merovingians, plus finds from Egypt & Iran
  • Belgian Comic Strip Center | The Belgian Comic Strip Center is a museum in Brussels dedicated to Belgian comics.
  • Choco-Story Brussels | A small museum featuring chocolate-related exhibits & live demonstrations with a master chocolatier.
  • Coudenberg | Museum & archaeological site on medieval palace foundations with excavations on display

7 | WALKING TOURS 

The city has a bunch of cool walking tours that you can do. Underneath just a couple of options.

  • Best of Brussels Tour: Highlights & Hidden Gems | From the stunning Gran Place to the must-see Manneken Pis Statue. Or how about a hidden Art Deco gem plus many more local secrets? This 3-hour private tour shows you the best of both worlds!

  • Marc’s Belgian beer tour in Brussels | Connect with your beer-loving guide and small group in central Brussels, and head out on foot to some of the city’s best and oldest brew houses.
  • Brussels all-in discovery tour: beer, waffles, mussels, and chocolates | Explore the long history and rich culinary culture of Brussels on a walking food tour. Visit landmarks like the Grand Place and Royal Galleries with a guide, stopping along the way to sample Belgian specialties like waffles, mussels, and, of course, chocolate and beer. It’s a great way to combine sightseeing with the best bites in town

The Comic book route is a great walk that you can do yourself.  There is plenty of huge comic street paintings all around the grand place surroundings. You will walk a fair bit to photographed most of the comic picture walls. Treat it like a treasure hunt and its quite fun.

What and where to Eat in Brussels – Typical Belgian Food to try

What and where to Eat in Brussels

Some of the most authentic snacks, like Belgian Waffles or Frites (French Fries), will be a euro or less from stands in the street. Branch out into Brussels’ classic mussels and try Chez Léon near Grand Place or La Brouette nearby for a cozy, intimate dining feeling.

Underneath I will show you a couple of incredible restaurants that are worth checking out:

Chez Leon | This is one of Brussels’ most authentic restaurants. Founded in 1893 and is family-owned. The star of the menu is “Moules Frites”, the quintessential must-try Belgian dish.
Location | Rue des Bouchers 18, Brussels 1000

‘T Kelderke | located in a centuries-old cellar, now converted into a cozy restaurant.
Location: Grand-Place 15, Brussels 1000

Au Brasseur |  Belgian beer is as world-famous, probably more, as Belgian food. Belgium is the world’s number 1 beer producer and has many amazing lesser know beers locally.  at Au Brasseur, you can try all the most popular beers in Belgium.
Location: Rue des Chapeliers 9, Brussels 1000

Underneath are some local must-have culinary delights (snacks as well as dinner):

  • Moules Frites |  Cooked mussels and French fries
  • Belgian waffles | Toppings vary from whipped cream, confectioners sugar, soft fruit, and chocolate spread, to syrup and butter or margarine
  • Belgium chocolates | The famous bonbons should not be missed
  • Stoemp |  Potato puree mixed with one or more types of mashed vegetables
  • Carbonade flamande |  Stew made with meat, beer, carrot, onion and brown sugar
  • Speculoos | A type of spiced shortcrust biscuit, traditionally baked for consumption on or just before St Nicholas’ day
  • Belgian beers. 

IS 2 DAYS IN BRUSSELS ENOUGH?

There is a lot to see and do in this incredible city. I would say that the minimum time you should spend in the city is 2 days. 1 day is definitely not enough to see everything this city has to offer. And if you have never been to Belgium, then I suggest adding on a couple more days and maybe checking out some more cool cities.

Bruges is located only a short train journey away from Brussels. It is home to some stunning buildings, incredible market squares, and amazing food. Here is a handy Bruges itinerary, so you won’t miss anything.

Of course, it depends on what you would like to see, but if you are just flying into Brussels to check out the city, I would say 2 days is the minimum of days that you require.

Day trip to Bruges

How to spend the perfcet weekend in Bruges, Belgium

If you got a day to spare, what better way to do it but exploring more of beautiful Belgium. I suggest heading to the stunning city of Bruges. This city is one of those places that grabs you and will be in your hearth forever. From stunning buildings from the Middle Ages to impressive churches, museums and lots of delicious restaurants. This city has it all!

In my extensive Bruges one day itinerary, I will show my must-see recommendations, but also my things to see and do, what to eat, and some recommended hotels. If you have time Bruges is truly a must-see city and it will not disappoint. So I highly recommend checking it out.

WHERE TO GO AFTER YOUR 2-DAY TRIP TO BRUSSELS? 

Because of Brussels awesome location, there are many other amazing cities that you can check out as well. Underneath are just a couple of cool options for you:

  • Rotterdam, The Netherlands  |  Home to incredible architecture, amazing food and harming neighbourhoods, you’ll want at least 1 day in Rotterdam.
  • Amsterdam, The Netherlands | the capital city of the Netherlands and home to beautiful canals, historic buildings and amazing museums.
  • London, UK |  Spend 4 days in London exploring this stunning and imposing city.
  • Paris, France | The city of lights is a bucket list city on many travellers! Home to the famous Eifel Tower, amazing food and incredible historic buildings. This city has to be seen! Here is a handy 1 day Paris Itinerary, so you know all the must-see highlights.

ADDITIONAL EUROPE RESOURCES

In my opinion, this is everything you need to see and do in Brussels. What are your best tips for things to do in Brussel? Let me know in the comments below.

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4 Comments

  1. February 22, 2020 / 11:31 pm

    Oh this is a handy guide! I’ll be flying into Brussels this summer (But staying in Bruges) and we’ll have a day at either side of the trip to explore Brussels so I’m looking forward to seeing what we can!

    • bonditobasic
      Author
      February 25, 2020 / 9:53 am

      Ahhh awesome Katie, I am glad you like it. I also have a handy guide to Bruges If you need some information on that city as well 🙂 xx

  2. March 5, 2020 / 11:25 pm

    What a handy post! I hadn’t really thought about visiting Brussels until I read this post – it looks so pretty and picturesque!

    Holly x
    http://www.adailydoseofholly.com

    • bonditobasic
      Author
      March 6, 2020 / 10:07 am

      Thank you so much, Holly. Brussels is stunning and definitely worth a visit xx Manon

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